DURING THE HOLIDAYS we often wonder what to get the fishermen on our gift list.
Who wouldn’t thrill to a Guide Model Tape Measure that can add up to 25 percent to the length and girth of a fish in just seconds?
Or how about a Fisherman’s Scale that will have you catching more 20-pound steelhead than the rest of the ham-and-eggers hook in a life time?
Or maybe a high-tech gift like The Fisherman’s Lie Detector would be more appropriate.
With its sturdy Velcro straps and space-age electro-shock technology, this is a gift the whole family can enjoy while getting to the bottom of the murkiest fish story.
Anything would be a better gift than the chunk of coal we got in our Christmas stocking from the comanagers of our fisheries at the North of Falcon meeting last week.
The NOF is an annual charade contest where the West Coast salmon fishing guidelines are set.
The state must reach a compromise with tribal governments to have non-tribal fishing seasons.
The co-managers just emerged from this secret court mediated meeting like bureaucratic ground hogs fresh from hibernation, saw their shadows and predicted we are going to have another 10 years of bad fishing.
Their Comprehensive Management Plan for Puget Sound Chinook was released just in time for the holidays.
If you thought the salmon fishing season was lousy last year, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
It’s bound to get worse before we kill off what’s left of the salmon altogether.
We’ve been told that the results of this meeting could devastate fishing opportunities around Puget Sound.
That could include a total closure in the waters off the San Juan Islands, Port Townsend and Possession Point.
We might lose what’s left of our salmon fishing heritage but an 18-month federal review process will now get underway and this will include opportunities for public comment on the plan.
They are sure to be thrilled with your input.
While there is a shortage of salmon there is an abundance of blame to go around.
Some say it’s the fouled habitat that killed off the salmon.
Others say it’s the pollution in all its forms from nylon fishing line and nets to net pens.
Then there is the fact that we have failed to mitigate the engineered extinction of the salmon by our industrial fisheries with a commensurate increase in fish hatchery production that might have preserved the resource.
As a result, the ecosystems which depend on salmon are breaking down.
The orcas are starving from a lack of salmon and their inability to compete with an estimated 20,000 harbor seals, which along with the sea lions, cormorants and other fish ducks, represent an inescapable ring of predators to salmon of all ages.
All of which leads back to the question of what to get the fisherman on your gift list.
The perfect gift for a salmon fisher might be a gift that keeps giving all year.
Like one of those “learn a foreign language” programs.
You could learn how to speak Canadian.
There’s just something about that imaginary line between our two great nations that seems to make the fishing better on their side.
It’s a simple matter of if you can’t beat ’em, join them and learn to speak Canadian, eh?
Just remember the Canadian word for king salmon is “spring.”
The Canadian word for silver salmon is “coho.”
A triple-heade, or three salmon hooked at once, is a “hat trick.”
Learning Canadian is quick and easy.
It could be your passport to a merry Christmas and a fishing New Year.
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]