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Posted by akkona on May 02 2006
The abundance of small clams is the result of a big recruitment event from a successful spawning event 2-3 years ago.
When a large number of juvenile clams grows to a size where they make a show that people can see - usually at about 3-4 years of age - the shows from the small clams swamp the shows of larger clams and it appears like there are few if any big clams. There are still harvestable sized clams to be had at Clam Gulch and digging effort should be spread out on all the beaches and just not focus on one particular area. No idea how much beach has the "many small/few large" clam phenomenon but it seems to be from at least 3 miles south of the clam gulch access to about 1 mile north.
Big recruitment events occur about every 5 or so years. What's different this year is that it's been awhile since there have been spawning events that were so successful (1994-1997 was the last one).
Razor clams at Clam Gulch are not over harvested. Abundance estimates in the area within 4 miles north and south of the access road have ranged from over 6 million to about 16 million clams bigger than 3 inches. The harvest from those years ranged from a little over 185,000 clams to almost 287,000 clams. That means only 1-3 percent of the clams were harvested. The percent of clams harvested at Clam Gulch likely continues to be low because total harvests are stable and there hasn't been a big influx of diggers to Clam Gulch. The total razor clam harvest from all beaches between Kasilof and Anchor Point has been stable at about 780,000 since 1999. The total harvest is a small proportion of the number of clams that are likely located just in that 4 mile stretch at Clam Gulch.
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