October Fishing Madness.

IT WAS ANOTHER tough week in the news.

An invasion of desperate anglers spread quickly across the Olympic Peninsula from the Dungeness River, west to the Quileute, then south to the Humptulips and every river in-between.

Tourists have been coming here for salmon ever since July 1790, when the old Spanish Sea Captain Manuel Quimper purchased some 100-pound salmon from the Klallam somewhere off the mouth of the Elwha River.

These 100-pound salmon have probably been extinct for about 100 years or more, but the tourists don’t care. They still come here trying to catch one.

No one in recent history has witnessed such crowded conditions on our waters.

The rivers and the roads leading to them were in a state of gridlock.

Boat launches were plugged with people who obviously did not back up with a boat trailer more than once a year, resulting in a round of pungent witticisms from the crowd as the rush of visitors attempted to fish in the solitude that they, and flocks of their fellow anglers, came here to discover and enjoy.

In the old days, we used to say that, when the rivers got crowded with people, you would have to bring your own rock to stand on if you wanted a place to fish, but no more. Putting a rock in or along the river is probably illegal these days. You may want to check what the current fishing regulations say about moving rocks before possibly incurring a criminal record. You may require an attorney to understand the Washington fishing laws. If you cannot afford an attorney, you probably can’t afford fishing.

Although, financial considerations often go out the window when it comes to fishing these days.

This is not a cane pole, safety pin for a hook and a worm for bait kind of fishing.

Fishing poles are now called rods that can cost many hundreds of dollars.

Fishing lures come in a dizzying variety of types and sizes that cost at least $5 or more.

At some of the more popular fishing holes, the tree limbs are festooned with a festive display of lures that make you wonder if some people are fishing for squirrels.

Fish don’t usually get up in the tree limbs until the water is higher.

People who fish for salmon don’t care how much it costs.

It’s like we say on the river, “One man’s hoarding disorder is another’s tackle collection.”

We figure whoever dies with the biggest tackle box wins.

River boats can cost many thousands of dollars, even though internal-combustion motors are illegal on our rivers.

It doesn’t matter.

Even without a motor, it is possible to pump a small fortune into the hole in the water also known as a boat. A heated pole-holder alone can cost many thousands of dollars.

Still, there are times in the murk of morning fog, beneath the dim shape of the overhanging rain forest, that the magic happens.

The rod goes down. The line peels out.

There is something big on the other end.

It’s moving downstream like it’s going to swim back out to the ocean. We pull the anchor to chase it down and try to pull it in.

Is it a hundred-pound salmon brought back from the brink of extinction? No.

It turns out to be a black plastic garbage sack full of water.

They can put up quite a fight if you snag them just right.

Maybe we didn’t catch a salmon, but we did our small part to clean up the river.

Fish on!

A Star is Born.

IT WAS GOING to be one of those days when anything could happen.

I was embarking on a new reality television career.

My agent said it was a part that would give me more exposure and expand my career into limitless horizons.

There was almost no doubt the money, fame and tax shelters would soon follow. Not to mention the fine-tuned sense of revenge on the Cretans who said I would never make it in show business.

Still, it was humbling just to be offered a chance to be part of a new television series that would revolutionize our modern entertainment experience.

For far too long, watching television has been a harrowing experience of shock and horror.

Our senses have been overwhelmed with screen images filled with violent, senseless examples of a divided culture in a final state of decline, disruption and decadence that reminds one of the fall of the Roman Empire with smartphones — and that’s just the evening news.

The rest of the TV lineup is worse than that.

And here I was being offered a chance to change television as we know it.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to introduce to American audiences an educational, inspirational and uplifting viewing experience that would provide a shining beacon to humanity.

Well, forget the fame and fortune. It was enough to help others with a strong story line and a happy ending.

Excited beyond words, I began prepping for the audition.

It was a harrowing experience not unlike what we professional actors call method acting. That’s where the actor attempts to perform a sincere and emotionally expressive performance by fully inhabiting the role of the character.

Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman are all method actors, and I figured anything they could do, I could do better.

Truly inhabiting the character in this new reality show seemed to take forever, but it was necessary to get into the flow of the story.

I began prepping the day before the audition by drinking a gallon or so of a certain beverage.

In the interest of full-disclosure let me just say, I did require drugs to fully get into character, but these were not recreational pharmaceuticals, no.

Just a certain tonic to get my body to perform.

Sometimes you have to do what you have to do to meet the director’s bizarre demands, and if that’s what it takes, we method actors do what we have to do to practice our craft and get the part.

I had a lot riding on my new career.

Failure was not an option because if I blew it, I would have to endure a second audition.

After I was sufficiently prepared, I checked into the luxury suites at the Olympic Medical Center.

This was the secret location for the new reality show, “Colonoscopy with the Stars,” where each week some of the biggest colons in show business will drop by for a video tour of their colons.

Then, a panel of judges, audience members and all the folks at home will match the mystery colons to the stars for cash and prizes.

“Colonoscopy with the Stars” is diagnostic and therapeutic.

It could help you avoid the fate of 50,000 Americans who die from colorectal cancer every year.

I knew I had to get my colonoscopy first before all the other show business weasels horned in on my idea.

At one point, things got very sleepy.

I went away to a happy place and came back again with a pristine colon. And that is how a star is born.

Dogs I Have Known.

OFTEN ALONG ABOUT this time of year I get to thinking about my old hunting dogs.

There was Finn the Irish Wolfhound who liked to chase coyotes.

There was Boone the Basset Hound who liked to chase anything. He even got picked up by the Game Warden for chasing deer. He brought Boone back home because a Basset Hound just isn’t going to chase a deer very far. In fact, Boone wasn’t all that great of an all-around hunting dog anyway. He hated water or even getting his feet wet, and he never retrieved anything he didn’t eat first.

So, if you were planning on a Sunday chicken dinner using a grouse you just shot, you had better get to the bird before Boone did.

Then there was George, a five-dollar terrier-spaniel mutt that was like the Tasmanian Devil on steroids. By the time George retrieved a bird it was tenderized.

So, once again, if you planned on sharing the coveted game bird in a sumptuous repast with family and friends, you had best get to it before George did.

Then there was Bert the Airedale. Bert wasn’t much of a hunting dog, but it didn’t matter.

Whoever thought up the term “heart wrapped in fur” might well have been referring to the Airedale.

Being with Bert in the woods was like having a seeing-eye dog or, more precisely, a smelling-nose dog.

This country is so brushy it’s hard to see anything. And since a human’s nose isn’t near as sharp as a dog’s, they can tell you what they are smelling long before you can get a whiff. Bert could anyway.

You could tell what Bert was smelling by the way he growled.

He had a different growl for cougar or bear. Another growl for deer and elk, and yet another quiet growl if there were other humans about.

With Bert by your side, you could tell what was in the vicinity long before you saw it.

Maybe I don’t have a dog now because it’s just too hard to lose them.

You can sugarcoat it any way you want and figure that humans generally live longer than dogs, so we can have a lot of them in our lives, but that does us no darned good when we lose another one like Maisy.

She was just another chocolate lab in a fish camp when I met her.

I knew something was terribly wrong with her.

Labrador retrievers usually bark at you just as a sort of introduction and as a way to get you to throw them a stick or a ball — not Maisy.

She was curled up on her bed looking at the floor.

Was she sick? Did she eat a spawned-out salmon? That can make some dogs very sick, but no, Maisy had just spoken to her humans, the girls back home, on the telephone.

After the call she collapsed on her pet pillow in a fit of despair.

And why not? Here she was stranded hundreds of miles from home in a fish camp full of humans smelling like fish instead of ducks and geese.

Maisy hated fish and fishing. She wanted to go hunting.

I’ll never forget the look she gave us one afternoon as we were reeling in fish after fish.

Maisy sulked in the back of the boat. A huge flock of geese flew over.

She looked at the geese and looked at us with an expression of pure disgust.

Now she is gone to that great flyway in the sky, and we will all miss her.

A Modest Fish Proposal.

THANK YOU FOR reading this.

Sometimes it seems if you didn’t read this, no one would. But you do. You ask questions like, what can be done to restore the Olympic Peninsula’s legendary salmon runs?

As previously mentioned, in the last 20 years we have spent over a billion dollars on salmon restoration in Washington state.

Restoration efforts typically include but are not limited to buying property from willing sellers, spraying herbicides on invasive weeds and building log jams, with no corresponding increase in fish populations.

Meanwhile, the orca are starving for a lack of salmon and our watersheds are starving for the most important element in the temperate rainforest ecosystem, the carcasses of spawned-out salmon. Our salmon have been managed like a garden that is continually harvested but seldom planted.

Maybe if we look back in history, we could learn a thing or two about how the old-timers helped the salmon.

It was known that Native Americans planted salmon eggs in the gravel of streams with no salmon.

This method is currently being used in Maine by the Penobscot Indian Nation to restore Atlantic Salmon.

Sounds pretty simple.

Why can’t we plant salmon eggs in dead creeks here on the Olympic Peninsula? Someone already did.

Missy Barlow, grand-daughter of John Huelsdonk, the Iron Man of the Hoh, was a natural historian with a lifetime of knowledge gained from homesteading at Oil City, at the mouth of the Hoh River.

She was an artist whose work reflected her love of children, cats and the Hoh River country.

Missy had her own method of salmon restoration that might sound familiar to some.

While raising her children on the banks of the Hoh River, she started a 4-H project with some local students.

They hatched salmon and steelhead eggs in Fossil Creek, a small tributary of the lower Hoh River.

“We wanted good fisheries science,” Barlow said in an interview before she passed.

Science is something Missy Barlow would know something about, having a degree in botany from the University of Washington. But she had more than science to guide her restoration efforts.

It was a something that would be considered a rare commodity in our modern world, common sense.

It was this home-grown instinct of responsible stewardship of the land that told her that if there weren’t any salmon in the creek, you put salmon in the creek.

It was as simple as that.

Barlow bought salmon from the Hoh Tribal fishermen.

The 4-H’ers mixed the eggs and milt from the fish in a bucket, let it stand for an hour, then set the eggs into baskets with a slow stream of water running through them.

In a couple of months, the eggs were “eyed out,” that is, almost starting to look like fish.

When their egg sacks were absorbed, the 4-H’ers took the baby fish out to local streams and released them.

The baby 4-H fish acted just like the wild fish. They were wild fish, spawned from fish that swam up the Hoh River.

The baby fish were imprinted to survive a life in the wild.

Shoals of salmon and steelhead returned to the creeks where they had been hatched.

I told Missy that would never work these days.

With no helicopters, excavators or consultants to hire or herbicides to spray, planting fish eggs in creeks wouldn’t cost enough money for the government to even bother with.

Remote-site incubators are a low-budget, low-tech solution that could bring our salmon back — but the fish are worth more as an endangered species, so we won’t even try it.