The longer I’m in this racket the more amazed I become. Just when we think we’ve got it figured out things tend to go sideways, upside down and maybe even backwards.
With this issue of TRN we’re celebrating 34 years in print. In the past decade we’ve watched many of our associate publications fold or greatly reduce their page numbers, frequency and distribution. The Northwestern iconic Fishing & Hunting News (which my father often wrote for 50 years ago) went away a few years back. Even Sports Illustrated is no longer a weekly publication and I heard some ugly rumors about Outdoor Life.
Are we still in print because we’ve got it figured out? Hell no! I guess that’s the excitement of it all, not knowing what’s around the next bend in the trail, what’s in the water’s depths. And what is lurking in the echoing marble halls of the state capitols.
It’s all somewhat magical to me but not always in a good way.
Convincing magicians often use deceptive tools to hide or distort the truth and deceive the audience. The smoke and mirrors create nothing more than an illusion where things appear or disappear by reflections and a burst of smoke. Hmmm…sound familiar? Sometimes it feels like we’re surrounded by magical deception.
Here are a few recent examples of wizardry from the Washington side of the river (Oregon often seems better managed to me…and they don’t have the Boldt decision to contend with):
- All at once Washington’s Governor Inslee came out of the hypnotic state and proclaimed we need more hatchery fish. It’s meant to be protein for the declining population of resident Orcas. For now more hatchery production of Chinook means more fish in the water and, if things turn out well, eventually more catching for the Orcas and the people.
- The last I heard, Chinook are not much more than vitamins for the Orca but hey absolutely love seals and sea lions. Now we’re talking a substantial meal! Pow!
- Years ago there was a bounty on seals ($3 per nose?) but now the do-gooders think we need to protect them and the sea lions, even though it’s well documented the pinnipeds are eating the Orca’s endangered salmon. Escape from that fact!
- Washington’s tribes get half the fish. They also seem to have more money, better biologists, and a louder voice in the capitol. They want more fish. We want more fish. Why can’t we start working together instead of hiding in the smokescreens behind closed doors?
- Every spring Washington goes through the same setting of salmon seasons in the North of Falcon process for 6+ weeks. Every spring the tribal fisheries commission dictates what the fishery will be. Kind of like, what’s behind a reflection in The Looking Glass, however, the glass is cracked.
- Washington’s F&W Commission is searching for the next director…still…thank goodness. The last director recently went out in a cloud of smoke. Hopefully the next one won’t be a cracked reflection of the past so-many years. Can they pull a rabbit out of their hat?
One of the most magical things to me is that, regardless of fishery politics, broken policies, mismanagement, lack of access and greed, here in the Pacific Northwest we still have some sort of fishing, hunting, harvesting and outdoor recreation year-around.
I have to chuckle at the buzz-word “transparency” which implies openness, communication and accountability. Scotch Tape is transparent – you can see through it. A Band-Aid cannot be see through. Double-pane glass is transparent…you can view the world. Mirrors only reflect what we’ve already seen. How great it would be if we stop covering things up with a Band-Aid and actually repaired the wound. Why is it that we keep looking back at ourselves in the mirror when we could be looking through it into the future.
I so enjoy this magical ride, regardless of the stupid and crazy things that show up on my monitor every day. It often makes me smile, but sometimes with tears.
So, what has kept TRN going for so long? Our advertisers allow for it to be free, the writers are passionate, the overall industry is tight and connected, and the sport is thrilling.
What has kept me going for so long? YOU!
Kind of magical isn’t it?