PAT NEAL: Celebrating April Fools’ week

THROUGHOUT THE YEARS, I’ve had enough April Fools’ jokes, pranks and poisonings played on me to make me dread this so-called holiday like the curse that it is.

One of the worst April Fools’ incidents began a day or so after the actual celebration of this feast of fools when I noticed a piquant odor of low tide wafting through the interior of my vehicle.

That was odd.

Usually it smells like Sasquatch repellent, which has become a must-have if you want to keep these woodland pests from trashing your vehicle out in the wilderness these days, ’nuff said.

Two days after April Fools’ Day, the smell in my truck went from a mysterious aroma to an eye-watering stench.

You know it’s time to clean out your truck when the buzzards start circling it.

A cursory cleaning revealed nothing more than a collection of pennies, nickels and dimes which I figured were tips from my fishing clients.

I’d struck it rich.

But the smell in the truck got worse.

By three days after April Fools’ Day, I was convinced there was a dead body under the back seat.

It turns out there were — bodies that is.

A dozen of them, sand shrimp, the fastest rotting substance known to man.

Someone, the list of known suspects was slim, had placed a Styrofoam cup of these succulent steelhead baits under the seat of the truck and let nature take its course until you’d need a gas mask to drive the thing.

This happened many years ago when bait was still legal and I have yet to get my revenge.

Let’s just say I have a package of a dozen bait herring with this particular perpetrator’s name on it.

That would be bad but not near as bad as the worst April Fools’ joke.

That would be the state of Washington requiring us to buy a new fishing license on April Fools’ Day.

It gets even funnier when you figure out the fishing laws don’t come out until July.

But wait there’s more: Buy your fishing license now and get a free halibut punch card, even if you get seasick watching reruns of “The Love Boat.”

Even if you never go halibut fishing, your free halibut punch card is entered into a computerized algorithm that allows you to contributee to the halibut catch quota.

April Fools’ Day has been such a success that this year, the Department of Fish and Wildlife decided to make it last all week.

It began with the dawning of a day I had waited for all winter.

The winter storms were cleared away.

The rivers dropped into perfect shape and the steelhead were still running so hot and heavy, I finally remembered how to catch one.

I was cooking breakfast for my friend Capt. Bill, who was going to fish with me.

It was a simple meal of clams, potatoes, eggs and toast.

Just the kind of gut-bomb you need for a day in a drift boat.

I was stirring the hollandaise with a wire whisk when the call came.

The other angler scheduled to go fishing that day was canceling.

He said the DFW “Fish Washington” app, designed to convey up-to-the-minute fishing regulations, said Olympic Peninsula rivers were closed to steelhead fishing.

That really singed my hollandaise.

It was OK.

As it turned out, Capt. Bill’s fishing license had expired on April Fools’ Day, anyway.

We drove around the rivers feeling smug, watching scores of other anglers fishing illegally.

The fools, they must not have seen the app.

It was the best April Fools’ Day ever.


Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via patneal [email protected]

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