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Gray whales pass the Long Beach Peninsula twice a year: December to February, on their migration from the Arctic to their winter breeding grounds in Californian and Mexican waters, and March to May, on the return trip north. The view from the North Head Lighthouse is spectacular. The best time for sightings is in the morning, when the water is calm and overcast conditions reduce the glare. Look on the horizon for a whale blow—the vapor, water, or condensation that spouts into the air when the whale exhales. If you spot one blow, you're likely to see others: whales often make several shorter, shallow dives before a longer dive that can last as long as 10 minutes.
The fish that swim in the waters near Ilwaco include salmon, rock cod, lingcod, flounder, perch, sea bass, and sturgeon. Charters generally cost from $100 to $200 per person.
Port of Ilwaco. Free tide charts are available from the port; check the website for information about fishing season and clam-digging dates. Ilwaco, WA, 98624. 360/642–3143. www.portofilwaco.com.