Dave Button grew up along Washington's Skagit River and had the inspiration to found his own company while navigating the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon under the helm of famed guide Georgie White. Soon after, Dave returned home to create Pacific NW Float Trips in 1974. Today, Dave and his crew of trained, passionate guides share their knowledge of the region's landscapes and hottest nightclubs for 20-something salmon via inspirational tours held year-round on the Skagit, Nooksack, and Wenatchee Rivers. Having scored the No. 5 spot on Sunset magazine's Top 10 Rafting Trips, Pacific NW's famed Bald Eagle Raft Adventure grants tourists a chance to take in the serenity of rustling cottonwoods and the majesty of Mount Baker as their guides quietly point out migratory eagles from Canada and Alaska.
Outer Island Expeditions' fleet of kayaks and boats safely cruises at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour through frothy crests ebbing amid the striking sights and wildlife of the San Juan islands. Venturing as far as 50 miles into Canadian waters, whale-watching excursions foster personal rapport between patrons and boat-side orcas, gray whales, or humpback whales trying to learn human etiquette for future espionage missions. Tours of Stuart Island's Turn Point lighthouse begin aboard a 22-foot Kodiak skiff, which buoys patrons through 16 miles of waters inhabited by sea lions and porpoises before they disembark and hike to the lighthouse's historical museum. Fishing charters set sail in search of ocean creatures and potable salt water from all of Outer Island Expeditions' four launch points: Smuggler's Villa Resort, Semiahmoo Resort, Lopez Island, and The Willows on Lummi Island.
The Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery Visitors Centre aims to educate and entertain visitors with programs and events centred on the world of water-breathing animals. The centre's indoor and outdoor facilities allow guests to observe live fish in aquariums as well as in their natural habitat. Educational programs, which are designed to reach specific age groups, include It's a Trout's Life for grades K–2, What's That Habitat? for grades 2–5, and Trout Fast Food, in which visitors in grades 2–5 analyze the insects that trout seek out when their waterproof refrigerators go empty. In the all-ages Learn to Fish program, aspiring anglers learn how to identify fish and use different lures to attract specific species. The program also focuses on responsible fishing ethics and proper fish-handling techniques to increase survival during catch-and-release.
Fishing can be a solitary pursuit, but Swiftwater Guiding's team knows that sturgeon fishing is a team sport. It can take three or four people to hold a Fraser River sturgeon—the behemoths can measure up to 12 feet long and often weigh more than 1,000 pounds. Even more impressive, sturgeons are known for their verve, executing spectacular leaps when pursued, and chomping on bait so hard that bystander fish feel proud of their own table manners.
Swiftwater Guiding's heated aluminum jet boats—always helmed by an experienced guide—also pursue more docile aquatic life. Salmon trips can capture chinook, pink, coho and sockeye fish during the few days they are in the river. Fly-fishing trips, meanwhile, can target salmon or other species such as the rainbow trout, which is known for swallowing whole rainbows. The boats leisurely glide down a breezy stretch of river between Fort Langley and Hope, which was also an old fur trading route.
Fossil records suggest white sturgeon have been dwelling on rocky river bottoms for more than 200 million years. They bear armored plates rather than scales, and according to the guides at Great River Fishing Adventures, they fight like "a cross between a marlin and a freight train."
Having tagged a record-length sturgeon at 3.8 metres, the team has attracted several notable anglers, including Jimmy Houston and Jakub Vágner of National Geographic Channel's Fish Warrior. They specialize in tracking down the prehistoric river monsters, then catching them to aid in the species' fight for survival. Since 1995, expert anglers and envious goldfish have collected data from more than 90,000 sturgeons as part of an active monitoring program. They regularly lead groups on fishing trips to share the thrill of reeling in the fish while demonstrating proper catch-and-release techniques to keep the fish population flourishing.
Great River Fishing Adventures supplies all necessary equipment for each fishing trip. They also lead excursions to track down steelhead, trout, and Bobby Fischer's pawn lure.
Click here to see video of the record sturgeon.
Fishlander Pontoons and Custom Tackle helps anglers leap from the land to the water with a full line of fly-fishing gear and inflatable fishing boats available for purchase or rental. The company's fleet features both lightweight and heavy-duty vessels, ideal for exploring British Columbia's lakes and rivers. Many of those bodies of water ripple across the company's own province, transforming the property into a convenient location for anglers to test-drive their new rides and equipment.
Mike Dickson plunks his keyboard as he stares into his work computer. But in his mind, he holds a fly rod and looks out onto a river teeming with steelhead. For someone who grew up fly-fishing—including guiding at a river lodge in Alaska and teaching fly-fishing on the weekend—Dickson couldn't endure more than a year at his office job, which he landed out of college. He shuts down his computer one last time and then joins his fisheries biologist dad, Dennis, at Dickson Flyfishing.
Today, the father-son team guides and teaches fly-fishing to all levels of anglers on the waters of the Olympic Peninsula. Conscious of their environmental impact, the Dicksons lead eco-rafting trips throughout the year on the Skagit, Sauk, and Queets Rivers to fish for steelhead, cutthroat trout, and salmon with scales made of gold. For more adventurous clients, Mike and Dennis guide winter fly-fishing trips for tarpon on the flats of the Caribbean and lead three-day campouts on the Grande Ronde River. Additionally, scenic rafting tours bring visitors up close to wildlife such as eagles. The Dicksons also run a virtual fly shop, where they sell their own line of equipment.