PAT NEAL: Happy New Year

THANK YOU FOR reading this. Sometimes I think if you didn’t read this, no one would.

Writing our nation’s only weekly wilderness gossip column is a serious responsibility.

Especially with the coming new year, when it might not be time to map out a New Year’s resolution strategy that would have a positive effect on our personal lives, the society in which we live and the planet as a whole.

When making New Year’s resolutions, it is a good idea to establish realistic goals that might be reasonably attained with a minimum of effort instead of wasting our time with grandiose schemes that only leave us with a sense of failure.

New Year’s resolutions are like a journey that begins with a single step toward an attainable goal.

For example, last year I decided to make two New Year’s resolutions: to shovel out my house and go to the dump.

It was a natural inclination toward self-improvement through cleaning, organization and getting rid of counter clutter.

That was stupid. One man’s hoarding obsession is another’s fishing lure collection.

Once I started cleaning, I began finding lures I thought I had lost.

Long story short, I couldn’t throw anything away, so the dump run was off the table.

Then I found an abandoned vacuum cleaner and was pleasantly surprised when it worked for a while.

It’s not my fault.

Lately, our president has pointed out that America’s toilets, showers and dishwashers are not performing to the exacting standards required by modern Americans.

After starting up this vacuum cleaner for just a few minutes, I could only agree with this strategic analysis.

While the vacuum cleaner worked like a champ at first, sucking up fish hooks, lead sinkers, swivels and chunks of dried fish eggs, it suddenly stopped in a big cloud of smoke.

It turned out the president was right.

As it stands, our nation’s time-saving appliances cannot meet the tough industry standards established long ago by our demanding consumers.

Upon inspection it was revealed the vacuum cleaner was bound up tighter than a drum with lengths of 20-pound monofilament fishing line.

Obviously, wreckers and saboteurs had thwarted my best efforts toward New Year’s resolutions.

Vacuuming was another New Year’s resolution checked off the list.

That’s when it occurred to me that sometimes when dealing with New Year’s resolutions it is better to resolve to not do things you won’t do instead of promising things you can’t do.

We must prioritize, delegate and move on.

For example, this year I am not going to get a new truck.

Sure, it’s a problem when you spend so much time in the shop the mechanic offers to rent you a room in the back, but I just got this truck broke in.

For years, my New Year’s resolution was to catch a 40-pound native steelhead. That’s stupid.

After 100 years of planting hatchery steelhead in every river in the state there are no native steelhead left. The steelhead we do catch have big heads with small bodies, indicating a lack of feed in the ocean, so the best you’re going to get these days is a 30-pounder.

This year’s resolutions also include a promise to not find Bigfoot. The past year’s topless hunt for Bigfoot was a total failure due to a lack of sunscreen and mosquito repellent. From now on, Bigfoot will have to find me.

Despite repeated requests, I will not stop writing this column this year. Critics will have to pry the crayon from my cold, dead fingers for that to happen. Have a Happy New Year.


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

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via

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