Slide Show

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Olympic Peninsula wildlife odyssey

By Pat Neal, fishing guide, Peninsula Daily News  humor columnist and photographer

Now showing at Tyler Street Coffee House, Port Townsend 
September 2009


After graduating Western Washington  University with a history degree in 1977, I began a cultural resource survey of the Olympic Peninsula for the Washington State Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.

I got paid to take pictures of historic buildings, sites and artifacts left here since the melting of the ice cap in 12,000 BC.

Since then I have been photographing the Olympic Peninsula’s rain forest rivers while guiding for steelhead and salmon.

     “Your Dog,” taken in a 1974 Peninsula College photography class with a Kodak Brownie, I believe the photograph documents the destructive nature of this family pest. Boone once got picked up by the game warden for chasing deer.

That’s a real feat for a Basset Hound.

Whenever he got into trouble, and he was always in trouble we would always point at each other and say, that’s “Your Dog.” 

    “Upriver,” is a shot of my friend Harry Reed Sr. fording the upper Dungeness River in 1979 while researching historic structures in the Olympic rain shadow. Harry was a walking encyclopedia of the Dungeness. 

      “Stony Point Shelter” is a representative of backcountry shelters built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during Depression. Very few of these structures survive.

The words and the picture are from “The Fisherman’s Prayer” available on

      “Mount Olympus,” as seen from Richwine Bar on the Quileute River during a morning thunder storm.

I’m allergic to lightning and it’s nuts to be out on a gravel bar in a lightning storm, but look at those guys standing in the water with the graphite fishing rods.

That’s crazy!

      “Lillian Valley.” Grant Humes, one of the first guides on the Peninsula, said the Lillian was the most beautiful river in the Olympics. There’s no way you could take a bad picture of the Lillian.

      “Morning Launch on the Hoh River.” View from a drift boat floating down the Hoh River at daylight, into the teeth of an approaching snowstorm. This is winter run steelhead fishing at its finest!

     “Hoh Canyon in Autumn.” This is the Hoh Oxbow where the river makes a mile-long circle in a canyon. A very scenic fishing hole.

     Hell Roaring Rapids.” These are at the bottom of the Hoh Canyon where the river comes out of the Olympics.    

“Mother Merganser and her brood of chicks,” taken on the Elwha River, west of Port Angeles.

     “The Strait of Juan de Fuca,” as seen from 30,000 feet.”

     “The Sequim Prairie, was once a 1,500 acre savannah grassland maintained by Native Americans by regular burning it to attract game.

     “Quileute Twilight.” View looking west down the Quileute River toward the Pacific Ocean, just as the sun makes its final exit for the day.

     “Upper Dungeness.” This is a tributary of the Dungeness River in autumn. No, I won’t say where.

     “Thunderbird Tracks.” Really, they are Great Blue Heron tracks.

    “The Fisherman’s Serenity Prayer,” steelhead on the Sol Duc River.

     “The Fisherman’s Psalm,” a drift boat at Allen Bar on the Hoh River.

     The Fisherman’s Prayer.” One day I was so desperate for a hookup, I begged God for a fish. The Fisherman’s Prayer is base on the Lord’s Prayer given to us 2,000 years ago by Jesus.

Fishing has gotten a lot tougher since then. The Fisherman’s Prayer is specially formulated for today’s tough fishing conditions. Do not go fishing without a prayer.

From book, “The Fisherman’s Prayer,” available on


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