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Duck Lake is an unlikely candidate for one of the best fishing lakes in southwestern Washington but holds its own with the best of contenders! Located within the community of Ocean Shores on the Point Brown Peninsula in the Olympic Peninsula and Pacific Coast region of Washington, Duck Lake is a freshwater lake surrounded by oceans of salt water. Narrow Point Brown is less than a mile wide in most areas, surrounded by the Pacific on the west and Grey's Harbor on the east. Duck Lake consists of three main basins stretched in a narrow band north to south parallel to the Grey's Harbor beachfront. Originally much smaller, Duck Lake was dredged and enlarged with canals and channels to provide more shoreline for housing development. The lake itself is less than 300 acres; canals add another 150 acres of water surface. The fresh water comes primarily from ground water seepage and precipitation-and unfortunately receives increasing amounts of storm water run-off from the surrounding developments.
It seems unusual that this small freshwater lake would be an important tourist focus on this beautiful Pacific peninsula but several features keep Duck Lake an attractive place to visit. First, the fishery is managed for 'put-and-take' trout, so cutthroat trout and rainbow trout are available for the catching.Thanks to the moderating ocean climate, Duck Lake warms earlier than inland fishing destinations so anglers appear early to try their luck with largemouth bass, bluegill and crappie. Two public boat launch ramps are operated by the City of Ocean Shores: North Bay Park has a public dock, boat ramp, fishing, restroom facilities, parking area, picnic area, baseball diamonds and a tennis court. Chinook Park provides a boat launch and fishing pier and is handicapped accessible. The lake itself allows motor boats, although electric motors are recommended in the scenic canal system. One of the most highly recommended visitor activities is to rent an enclosed electric boat and tour Duck Lake and the canals from the water.
A second reason for Duck Lake's enduring popularity are the acres of protected land sheltering a variety of waterfowl, birds and small mammals. Over 23 miles of shoreline, much of which is ringed with native plants, encourage amphibians, song birds and wading birds. The Duck Lake Unit of the Johns River Wildlife Area encompasses 40 acres near the shoreline while the Oyehut Wildlife Area protects another 682 acres of wildlife habitat, wetlands, tidal flats and shoreline growth suitable for bird-watching. Next to the Oyehut Wildlife Area, Damon Point State Park extends almost a mile into the Grey's Harbor entrance. Commonly called 'Protection Island', the state park not only offers excellent viewing points across the shipping lanes toward Westport but a natural area for walking, beach combing, and bird watching. There is abundant wildlife in all of these areas. None of these allow camping but there is an RV camping park with full hook-ups near the Ocean Shores Marina fronting Grey's Harbor. More camping, including the only beach camping in the area, is located at Pacific Beach State Park 18 miles north of Ocean Shores. To make the area even more attractive to nature-lovers, the southern Lake Quinault entrance to Olympus National Park is only 40 miles northeast of Ocean Shores and Duck Lake.
A third reason to visit Duck Lake is the wealth of activities focused on the beaches of the city. Looking toward saltwater attractions, the Ocean Shores Marina is home to the commercial fishing fleet, dockside seafood sales and the starting point for fishing charters and whale-watching tours. Transient berths are available to visiting sailors. Whale-watching is also possible in early spring from the North Jetty at the southern tip of the peninsula. Certain areas of the beaches are open to razor clamming on days specified by the Washington Dept of Fish and Wildlife. Permits are necessary and 'catch' limits strictly enforced. Ocean Shores is a cycle-friendly community, and bicycle and moped rentals are available for getting around the small area. Horseback riding along the beaches north of the city is also a popular activity. Although swimming in the Pacific isn't recommended due to unpredictable currents, swimming is available in Grey's harbor near the marina. And Ocean Shores produces a year-long schedule of activities and special events sure to please just about anyone.
When not fishing in Duck Lake, the visitor can take advantage of such annual attractions as the Sand & Sawdust Festival, where teams including both professionals and amateurs compete to build the most elaborate sand castles. At the same time, demonstrations of chainsaw carving produce excellent original pieces of rustic art. The Razor Clam Festival showcases the culinary expertise of area chefs in producing their specialty chowders and entrees to win the coveted "The Best of Washington's Coast" award in June. The Sun and Surf event draws over 2000 motorcyclists to enjoy fireworks, motorcycle parades, stunt riders, bike events, vendors and beach bonfires. Kite-flying on the beach is always popular and several kite shops in town offer the latest designs. The sport is highlighted during the Ocean Shores International Kite Challenge each year. Jazz at the Beach and the Celtic Music Festival draw thousands of visitors, while art festivals, antiques shows and marathons all bring their fans here in force. For all of these reasons and more, South Sound Magazine voted Ocean Shores the 2010 Best Weekend Getaway.
Duck Lake and Ocean Shores are prepared for guests: many resorts, hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfasts and private housekeeping cabins offer plenty of lodgings for the vacationer or week-end visitor. Located only two-and-a-half hours from either Seattle or Portland, Duck Lake is an easy afternoon's trip and someplace the entire family will enjoy. The community offers all of the expected amenities such as golf courses, movie theaters, health services, restaurants and specialty shops to make this either the perfect vacation destination or even a permanent home. There is real estate available, primarily established homes which are often located along Duck lake's many canals and channels. The entire Point Brown Peninsula invites you to stay-and to play. Fish, frolic and feast-it is all here. Come visit Duck Lake. You many never leave!
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