The Sucker Hole.

 IT WAS GOING to be one of those days.I remember it like it was yesterday, because maybe it was. It all started with a bright light in the eastern horizon that grew stronger and brighter with each passing minute, until it was impossible to look at. Oddly enough, the air started to get warmer as the brilliant orb gained altitude and burned through the early morning mist.

Being seriously disturbed, I would have dialed 9-1-1 if I could only have remembered the number.

“It’s the sun,” my fancy friend said.

I knew that, but it had been raining for so long I’d forgotten what the sun looked like.

Every winter along about this time, it seems as if the sun comes out. Causing some of the more sensitive types to declare that winter is over. It’s not.

This is what we call a sucker hole, designed to make you think we can avoid the coming long months of interminable precipitation. Causing the locals to panic with the mistaken notion that spring time is near. No. It is only a short cessation of the atmospheric river lulling us into a cozy deception that winter is over.

Creatures great and small show themselves in the unseasonably warm weather, which some optimistically delusional humans mistake for spring.

Sighting the first baby slug of the year is not an experience that warms the cockles of a gardener’s heart, but there it was. Alive and well, and feasting on the skeletal remains of a ravaged strawberry plant poking out of the soggy earth. The baby slug was about the size of a double-aught buckshot and just as cute. I was so overcome with emotion at seeing the little devil, I wanted to soak the garden with gasoline, fire up the blow torch and cook the first couple inches of soil, then start over with a whole new crop of slugs.

Things could be worse. I found that out a few minutes later.

There was a loud buzzing sound in my ear followed by a painful burning sensation that marked the appearance of the first mosquito of the new year.

The dramatic appearance of the first mosquito of the year has never been a cause for celebration. With global warming and enhanced evolutionary processes possibly accelerated with increased industrial pollution, our mosquitoes seem to be getting larger with each passing year. The one I saw was big enough to be considered a small bird, although it was a little too small for the shotgun. A .22 rifle with birdshot might be just the ticket for dealing with this new breed of super mosquitoes.

This year’s bug season is bound to be the worst ever — raising fears that these biting pests will soon be able to drain the bodily fluids from their human victims in a matter of minutes. You’ll want to stock up on my all-new pine-tar and lavender bug repellent before you hit the backwoods this summer.

This unique formula is guaranteed to stop the hungriest bugs in their tracks, as long as you do your part and don’t bathe between applications. Allow this new and improved mosquito repellent to form a hard glaze, which, after a few weeks, will form an armor coating on your hide that no mosquito can penetrate.

So, enjoy the winter sun if you must, but just remember — when we inevitably return to another round of rain and wind, you can rest assured that we will be safe from the slugs and bugs, secure in the knowledge that spring is a long ways off.

Yet Another Bad Idea.


 THAT WAS YET another bad idea in last week’s column.When out of concern for the well-being of our fellow sportsmen and women who pursue their passion for fishing for one of the rarest fish that swim, the steelhead of the Olympic Peninsula, I may have mistakenly shared an angling technique that, while revolutionary in concept and execution, was not a responsible method for enjoying the great outdoors.

It takes a big person to admit they were wrong, and I have had plenty of practice.

In the interest of full disclosure, it might be appropriate to reflect on other regrettable misstatements that, with 20/20 hindsight in the cold light of day, should never be attempted by a sane individual.

I should never had said it was a good idea to go crabbing before the expected tsunami that will accompany the impending Cascadia subduction event.

Disaster preparedness experts have warned us to expect an extremely low tide before the 100-foot-tall tsunami races ashore at speeds that modern science tells us could be up to 500 mph.

Crabbing could be phenomenal during the predicted seismic event. However, caution is advised.

It could be hard to outrun the tsunami even if you aren’t carrying a bucket of crabs.

In the interest of journalistic integrity, it would only be fair to state that you would have to be out of your mind to go crabbing in a tsunami.

Similarly, you would have to be out of your mind to take the plug out of your boat when you go steelhead fishing down one of the wild rivers of the Olympic Peninsula in the middle of winter, in the dark.

It’s yet another bad idea. One of many expressed in this column which, upon sober reflection, did not exhibit a responsible approach to safe boating.

In fact, no one in their right mind would get in a sinking boat to go on a guided winter steelhead fishing trip.

However, in my own defense, it would only be fair to point out that, as a professional fishing guide, if I only took people fishing who were in their right minds, I would seldom be employed.

The idea that people who fish for steelhead are clinically insane is not a new one.

How else could you explain someone spending thousands of dollars, traveling thousands of miles, to slowly freeze to death trying to catch a fish that, on any given day, may or may not actually exist given the rarity with which they are caught?

The only people crazier than steelhead fishers are the deranged cabal of self-serving career bureaucrats who have managed the steelhead into endangered species status with a byzantine system of inane regulations that subject the angling public to legal jeopardy every time they try to go fishing.

My suggestion to take the plug out of your boat when you go fishing was a response to the latest rule that says you cannot fish out of a floating device.

By not putting the plug in your boat, it would no longer be a floating device. It would be a sinking device. But that was a bad idea.

Instead of sinking the boat, it might be more productive to explore other angling options such as running the boat aground.

That should not be a problem.

In 30 years of guiding, I have hit every rock in the Hoh River at least a dozen times.

By running the boat up on the rocks, you are no longer a floating device, so you can fish from your boat.

Problem solved.

Steelhead Season’s Sinking Feeling.

  •  EVEN WITH GLOBAL warming, January is the coldest month. When all the rabid chickens come home to roost. When the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune find their mark in the darkest night of the soul.

Unless you fish for steelhead. Or what we call the winter run.

Then, January can be the best month of the year.

This is when the biggest trout that swim come up our rivers. When fishing is all that really matters. Unless it’s raining so hard there’s a river running down your driveway.

Or, unless the government has shut down your river to fishing, as has happened throughout much of Washington, where even catch-and-release steelhead fishing has been outlawed.

Causing what’s left of the hard-core anglers to crowd into one of the last few places left to fish for steelhead, the Olympic Peninsula.

Our bungling bureaucracies have accomplished this miracle of mismanagement through a three-step program of extinction for profit that is still going on today.

Step one involves the elimination of the hatchery production of steelhead that would otherwise mitigate the harvest of fish.

Step two restricts the rules by allowing only catch-and-release fishing.

Step three is a total shutdown of even catch-and-release fishing when the runs mysteriously vanish.

Here on the Olympic Peninsula, step one has largely been accomplished.

Hatcheries have been shut down due to the mistaken notion that steelhead that start their lives in a hatchery are somehow inferior to fish that are spawned in the river.

It is somehow supposed that after a hundred years of fish hatcheries raising and planting salmon and steelhead in every river in Washington, we are going turn back the pages of history in hopes the hundred-pound salmon will magically appear.

On the Peninsula, we are now between catch-and-release fishing and an imminent shutdown.

In the meantime, we’ve been hit with a mess of new rules that I call the Fish Cop Employment Security Act.

That is a set of fishing regulations that are so complicated no one can figure them out.

At one point, things got so bad the game wardens put posters along the river in an attempt to explain the rules because they were getting carpal tunnel syndrome from writing too many tickets.

Lately, we were handed another devastating rule designed to end steelhead fishing on the Peninsula.

As of Dec. 14, “Fishing from a floating device is prohibited.”

Now, I am not an attorney, and as we say on the river, if you cannot afford an attorney, you probably can’t afford to go fishing. But from what I hear, a “floating device” means a boat.

Darwin said it ain’t the smartest or the strongest that survive, it’s the ones that can adapt.

Not fishing from a floating device should not be a problem.

Without a boat plug, the boat will no longer be a floating device. It will be a sinking device.

A sinking boat in a river could be dangerous, but do you really want to catch a steelhead? Toughen up.

You’re thinking that fishing in a sinking boat on one of our rivers is totally insane, and you’re right.

But you have to be crazy to go fishing in the winter anyway, even if your boat’s not sinking.

Many boaters have already used this revolutionary technique without really trying.

I did it myself a couple of times just to get the hang of it.

So, forget the boat plug.

Bring a water-tight lunch box, wet suit, mask, snorkel, search-and-rescue beacon, and a helmet for the fishing adventure of a lifetime!

New Year’s Resolutions.

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OFTEN, NEW YEAR’S resolutions that seem like a good idea on New Year’s Eve can seem like a bad idea in the harsh light of the following New Year’s morning.

Traditionally, many of us break our New Year’s resolutions before the first Christmas bills arrive anyway.

Every New Year’s resolution we make is one more we can break.

The secret to making and keeping New Year’s resolutions is to set realistic goals and expectations for the coming year.

With the global pandemic, looming recession and continued global strife, the sooner you realize your expectations are unrealistic the better.

There can be no better time than the present to adjust our view of outdated New Year’s resolutions.

I tried them all and failed — saving you the trouble and keeping you from making the same mistakes.

So here are a few of the most popular New Year’s resolutions from past years that we should all avoid making in these troubled times.

• Getting out of debt: That’s stupid.

With interest rates at an all-time low, getting out of debt makes absolutely no sense to anyone except the people you owe money to.

You simply need to look at debt in a more positive perspective. Don’t think of debt as a sign-post on the road to financial ruin. Debt is a measure of the esteem with which others regard you.

Our national debt is $27 trillion and climbing. Consumer debt is currently 102 percent of our gross domestic product, which means our debt is larger than the economy.

Just because everyone else is in debt, does that make it right?

The answer is yes!

• Get a puppy: According to PETA, this is a selfish desire to possess and receive love from an animal that causes immeasurable suffering and deprives them of the opportunity to engage in their natural behavior.

Not only are puppies hard to find during a pandemic, they are expensive.

Getting a puppy may be a good way to increase your debt — if you don’t mind the stress of watching all of your material possessions being systematically destroyed. Don’t do it.

• Travel more: After decades of giving billions of dollars of foreign aid to nations around the world, most of them hate our guts anyway, no matter how much money we give them.

These days, few other countries will tolerate Americans now that we are the Typhoid Mary of the global village.

Traveling around our own country is expensive and a great way to get further in debt, but how can you go anywhere now that you have a puppy?

• Learning new things can be another dead-end road to nowhere, since the more you learn, the more there is to know.

Learning new things is a vicious cycle that can leave you feeling ignorant.

Given the sense of frustration, futility and failure ingrained in the New Year’s resolution ritual, perhaps the best New Year’s resolution is to do nothing.

You can do nothing to ensure you make and maintain a transformative, life-changing New Year’s resolution for the coming year.

For example, last year my New Year’s resolutions were to get a better job and get better friends.

After a year of trying, I could do nothing to get a better job or better friends.

Modern science is only just now discovering the benefits of doing nothing.

Doing nothing is a good way to maintain social distancing.

You can do nothing to avoid being infected with COVID-19. In addition, our politicians haven’t figured out how to tax us for doing nothing but don’t give them any ideas.

Maybe it’s time we all resolved to join the millions of other Americans, like me, that are already doing nothing.

There’s nothing like it!