PAT NEAL: Feeling love for the new guy


According to a recent press release you have been chosen as the new director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Please allow me to be the first to offer my most sincere condolences.

You have some big boots to fill.

Whatever misfortune drove you down this career path, it’s not necessarily a sign of a personal or professional failure, but are you sure this was a good idea?

The director of the DFW gets fired so often we just call him the new guy.

As the new guy, you’ll be like the canary in the coal mine that dies when the air is toxic.

Unfortunately, at the DFW when the atmosphere is toxic, everyone blames the canary.

The last new guy was a retired Idaho wolf-lover who championed a ground-breaking study that revealed that wolves have had no effect on Washington state’s ungulate populations.

Ungulates are deer and elk that have already been decimated by wolves in civilized countries such as Idaho and Montana.

Oddly enough, the study suggested that Washington’s wolves must be vegetarians.

We’re studying the problem.

The last new guy was also able to negotiate the fishing regulations for the upcoming 2018 season in a new public process without the delay, hassle or interference of the Fish and Wildlife Commission or those other meddling ingrates, the fishing license buyers.

While details of this year’s secret North of Falcon negotiations, which divide salmon harvest between the various abuser groups and the 20 Treaty Tribes in Washington, remains unclear, thank you for your input.

Making fishing laws must be a lot like making sausage.

You probably don’t want to watch.

You might never buy sausage again.

As it is, Washington’s fishing laws are so complicated almost no one can understand them.

The last new guy had to nail posters on trees along the river in an attempt to make the laws understandable before the fish cops got carpal tunnel syndrome from writing tickets.

The brain trust at the DFW came out with a smartphone app to explain the fishing rules, but many fishermen wouldn’t know a smartphone app if it snagged them with a single barbless treble hook.

The last new guy described his three chaotic years as the director of the DFW as “a challenging, educational, and often rewarding experience.”

That’s his side of the story.

Rumor has it he left so fast he didn’t attend his retirement party or open his retirement gifts, which might have included a bucket of hot tar and some busted up goose down pillows from everyone who bought a fishing license in the state of Washington.

Now that you are the new guy, you have to face the facts.

The orcas are starving.

Seals, sea lions and people have been accused of eating what’s left of the orcas’ salmon.

Even if you can convince the orca to eat the seals and get the people to eat tofu, our salmon are still doomed.

Now that we can track fishing boats by satellite, scientists have determined our fisheries are being strip-mined just offshore over the horizon by the fishing fleets of China, Spain, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, who catch 85 percent of the fish caught worldwide outside their economic zones.

Failure is not just an option to salmon recovery anymore, it’s the future.

Try to remember a few key phrases that might help when questioned about the continuing loss of our fishing opportunities.

They include, “We’re studying the problem,” “Thank you for your input” and “abandon hope all ye who fish in Washington.”


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 patnealwild [email protected]

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