PAT NEAL: How’s the fishing on Enceladus?

IT WAS A rare good week for those of us who call the Earth our home, with the discovery of what could be the next salmon fishing capital of the universe.

Let’s face it. Lately, the news on our home planet has been getting worse by the minute. It’s a perfect storm of wars, pestilence, famine, mass extinction, climate change and an explosion in the human population that begs the question: What will it do to the fishing?

Plenty, that’s what.

North Olympic Peninsula residents are not alone in wondering what happened to the salmon this summer. In August, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game shut down all commercial and sport fishing for king salmon in southeast Alaska.

British Columbia has also experienced low salmon returns in the Taku and Stikine rivers. Fishing was slow in Haida Gwaii, the former Queen Charlotte Islands.

It was also noted throughout the region that the king salmon were smaller than they have been in recent years.

It would be nice to think that someone was studying the problem, but a recent report by the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences concluded that Canada’s efforts to conserve Pacific salmon have “continued to erode.”

This should come as no surprise since Canada’s “Wild Salmon Policy,” implemented in 2005 to protect salmon in B.C. and the Yukon, has failed to come up with an actual plan to protect salmon at this time. Canadian officials are unable to assess the health of their runs because they don’t even bother to count the fish returning to half of their rivers.

All the Canadians know for sure is that the B.C. fisheries, which started in the 1870s, had wiped out half of their salmon by 1950. Canadians have already wiped out their Atlantic cod; it would seem the Pacific salmon will be their next victim.

The only rare bit of good news is that three king salmon were observed above the former Glines Canyon Dam site on the upper Elwha River. While the results of the $325 million Elwha dam removal project are encouraging, we probably shouldn’t light the smokehouse just yet.

Still, there could be a bright spot in our fishing future, but we might have to travel a little further to fish and adapt our gear with a new set of angling skills to further pursue our passion for the fishing adventure of a lifetime. It’s going to cost a lot more, too.

This should not be a problem to people who buy $500 waders and $1,000 fishing rods. Money is no object when you’re going to fish where no man has fished before in the unexplored angling paradise at Enceladus.

Last week, the unmanned robotic space probe Cassini disintegrated in the atmosphere of Saturn, but not before discovering water on Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons. The water periodically erupts into giant geysers like the space version of Old Faithful in Yellowstone without the crowds of gawkers.

This makes Enceladus, according to one Cassini scientist, “the most exciting place in the solar system.”

All of which begs the question: How’s the fishing? It can’t be too much worse than it is here on Earth.

If there are fish on Enceladus, they’ve probably never seen a lure. If there aren’t any fish, we can plant some.

The fact is, the Earth is fished out. The planet is dying.

If we are going to keep fishing, we’re going to have to find another place to fish. Don’t want to miss out on this golden opportunity.

Book your trip to Enceladus now. It could be the next salmon capital of the universe.


Pat Neal is a 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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