Don't take a kid fishing
"How's fishing?" I asked a pair of teenage boys trudging down the road on a hot August afternoon. One look told me fishing was bad but what the heck, misery loves company and these boys were beyond misery. Limping along the hot asphalt in leaky rubber boots, they looked like they had been drug through a knothole, backwards.
Creek fishing on the Olympic Peninsula can do that to a person. It's not really fishing in the truest sense of the word, more like mountain climbing with a fishing pole. You lower yourself down into a canyon on tree limbs, then spend the rest of the day looking for a way out.
"We didn't catch anything," the boys said. I thought that was very strange. I explained to the boys how fishing in the Dungeness River should be very good about now, especially since it's been closed since last February.
"The Dungeness is closed?" the boys asked.
"Sure is," I said. "All the fish in the Dungeness are either threatened, endangered or extinct. You're just lucky I ain't a fish cop. They're meaner than pepper-sprayed skinheads. They'd take your car and your boat if you had one. If they catch you now they'll probably just take your fishing gear and lock you in a federal prison with a bunch of drug dealers and sex offenders until your parents can mortgage the house to pay the fines and court costs."
"W e just wanted to go fishing_ ," the boys said.
"Sorry boys," I said. "Fishing is a hanging offense these days. Unless you work for the government, then they'll pay you to catch a bull trout, stuff a transmitter in its gullet and follow the poor brute long enough to get another grant. Stay in school boys. Get good grades and maybe you can get a government job where they'll let you fish."
"But isn't there a fish hatchery on the Dungeness?" the boys protested.
"Actually there are two fish hatcheries on the Dungeness," I explained. "But the state is trying to get rid of our fish hatcheries because they claim fish hatcheries don't work here. Runs of hatchery-raised salmon, steelhead and trout always tend to fail once you cut the feed budget, fire the crew and stop spawning the fish, so they want to do away with fish hatcheries altogether and wait for the wild fish to return on their own."
"How will they do that?" the boys asked.
"No problem," I explained, "Calamity County is buying up real estate along the Dungeness from `willing sellers.' These are people who suddenly can't get flood insurance or a permit to fix their dike, their house or their septic system. Their family homes are reclassified as `salmon habitat.' The owners miraculously become `willing sellers' before their houses are condemned and they lose everything.
Sequim Gazette columnist Pat Neal is a fishing guide who lives in the Olympic Mountains. He can be reached at 360-6839867 or via e-mail at patneal@ sequimgazette.com. His Web site is patneal wildlife. com.
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