PAT NEAL: What good is a fishing license?

Multitudes of happy tourists fished the Hoh this summer totally unaware they were breaking the law.

IT WAS ANOTHER tough week in the news.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife stopped sales of fishing and hunting licenses after hackers broke into a license vendor’s computer to access the personal information of several million license holders.

That includes names, addresses, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers and the last four digits of Social Security numbers.

To residents of Washington, this computer problem should come as no surprise after last year’s discovery that up to 3,200 convicts were released from prison due to another computer glitch that took the Department of Corrections 13 years to figure out.

To its credit, Fish and Wildlife allowed people to fish without a license until today, which would be good news except for one thing: Most local waters are closed to fishing anyway.

The Strait of Juan de Fuca was closed after a pathetically short king salmon season.

The Dungeness River, a stream with two fish hatcheries, is closed most of the year so biologists can study it.

The Elwha River is still closed due to a fishing moratorium that began in 2010 with the $325 million dam removal project and is set to expire March 1, 2017.

Fishing in Lake Mills and Lake Aldwell is definitely closed, since they disappeared with the dam removal.

The Quileute River system might as well be closed since it’s dried up.

Despite an earlier computer glitch that said it opened Aug. 1, the Hoh River remains closed to hook-and-line fishing all summer.

When the Hoh River opens to fishing, a few words of caution:

The Hoh, a river only about 50 miles long, flows through myriad federal, state and tribal land holdings that have divided the river into seven different administrative zones, each with its own seasons, limits and gear restrictions.

The rules are so complicated, almost no one can figure them out.

There are few signs or boundary markers that would indicate to the angler where they are and what they can use to fish for whatever.

Not that this mattered this summer as multitudes of happy tourists fished the Hoh totally unaware that they were breaking the law.

Why should I care?

I am not going to ruin someone’s vacation by being a know-it-all, and besides, most of these unknowing scofflaws were fly-fishing.

Or rather, fly-casting.

They never catch anything, no matter how hard they try, and the great thing is it doesn’t matter.

All that matters in fly-fishing is wearing the right fashions and seeing how far you can cast.

If you think the fishing laws are complicated now, just wait.

Fish and Wildlife has 62 new fishing rule proposals just waiting for your approval.

Happy fishing!

Fortunately, the suspension of hunting-license sales was less problematic now that it’s legal to keep roadkills.

This puts a whole new spin on road hunting.

In the bad old days of road hunting, you could ruin a lot of meat hitting a deer with your car.

Not to mention what it did to your vehicle.

That’s where good old-fashioned American know-how came to the rescue with the “Buck Buster Bumper,” a no-nonsense brush bumper designed for today’s tough road hunting conditions.

Bagging big game with your truck can be just as sporting as hunting with a firearm or bow and arrow.

Order your Buck Buster Bumper today before the do-gooders pass another law, and we’ll include a free “Grouse Grill” attachment that makes bird hunting a snap.

Good luck, and happy hunting.

_________

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 wildlife@gmail.com.

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