Kids and Pacific Ocean Adventures

While chatting with a couple of my grown Hucklings about the possibilities for Westport Beach, camping and Pacific Ocean play with them and miscellaneous Grand-Hucklings this summer, I kept having flashbacks. “Well,” they insisted, “what could we do? Is it still like it was when we were kids? What could we do with these little brats?” Calling upon those joyful days – with deep gratitude that Oceanside possibilities haven’t really changed much in these 15+ years – I laid out a plan.

“Alright,” I said, “listen to the following menu, because some options have changed. Not really, but here you go.”

“On a late afternoon we’ll set up our camp at Twin Harbors State Park, just south of Westport, and get a fire going. We will enjoy a classic Huckling meal of hot dogs slightly burned on a stick and slapped onto buns with miscellaneous condiments, potato salad and baked beans heated in the can. At some point, as the elder and still unsurpassed Marshmallow Master, I will teach the little brats how a marshmallow wants to be carefully browned. If they behave themselves, I will even teach them the Family Marshmallow Hymn. Somewhere in there we will wash dinner down with carefully crafted s’mores, enjoyed as we gather ‘round the Huckling Camp Hearth. We will turn in with visions of crab pots, sea bass (black rockfish), ling cod and salmon.

“More or less early the next morning, we will wander to the Westport Marina. There we will set up a couple folding chairs on the dock and read, watch fishing boats and wait for 15-minute periods as the Dungeness crabs fight over the fish carcass bait in our ring pots. Of course, there will be others on the dock with the same idea. The crabs will be plentiful, and each time we pull one of our ring pots, it will hold a variety of sizes of Dungeness. About every sixth pull, there will be a legal keeper male, and occasionally a keeper-size red rock crab (always a favorite). In between pulls, the boys and girls – the next generation of Hucklings – will find mussels or other shell critters to use for bait on their fishing rigs to catch the little pile perch and sculpins which will keep them laughing and entertained. Somewhere in there, we will visit with other crabbers from all over the country. At lunch time somebody will take the brats into town for a bite to eat and one of those 150 flavors of ice cream you guys always wanted. By the end of the day we will have three or four crabs large enough to keep, and plenty of stories to tell.

“After steaming and icing our crab, and another gourmet meal of hot dogs chased down with s’mores, the fire will burn down and we will turn in early.

‘The next morning well before daylight we will be on Captain Don Davenport’s Ranger heading up the coast under a perfect sky and on a smooth ocean. After a nice ride, we will be off the coast from Moclips, dropping lines. Our bait will settle into the midst of thousands of hungry black sea bass and lings, as dozens of sea lions on the big sea stacks bark and growl their welcome. Now and again, one or two will swim around the boat, chatting loudly in their north-coast dialect, but they will never interfere with our fishing. We will fill our limits and head for the harbor. What a great day!”

“That evening, we’ll catch a few more crabs, steam them up and enjoy another gourmet meal of stick-roasted hot dogs and s’mores around the Huckling Hearth.

“The next day, we’ll hang out in the Marina and Westport, catch more crabs, do a little reading, relaxing and ice cream eating and find our way back to camp. The kids can go play on the beach while we prepare another gourmet meal and steam up a few more crabs. We’ll turn in early, because the following morning we’ll be back on the Ranger, waiting for daylight as we cruise out to Captain Don’s favorite salmon grounds.

“I will probably catch the first salmon – likely a 25 or 30 pound king – right after we start fishing. Soon, however, the kids will be hooked up and laughing and terrified as they make laps around the boat trying to get their salmon in. They’ll catch and release wild salmon and catch a few keepers. The day will go like that until we all have limits and turn toward port. We’ll see sharks and catch a few odd fish nobody ever heard of and it will be another great day. After we dock, we may go back to camp and play on the beach or some of you may go beach it while others of us stay and catch more crabs.

“After another gourmet camp meal and s’mores, we’ll turn in. The next day, we’ll come back over the Cascades to Paradise and relax a bit. Maybe I’ll take the kids to the Army’s Yakima Training Center to fish that loaded kids’ pond.”

“Well, whadya think?” I asked.

“We’re already packing the van,” they replied.

You gotta love summer at the ocean.

Written by Jim Huckabay. Posted in Uncategorized

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