To say Mark Coleman knows how to fish is an understatement. Coleman, the owner of All Rivers & Saltwater Charters, has mastered the art of side drifting, float fishing, hover fishing, back bouncing, and jigging during his more than 10 years exploring the Pacific Northwest’s waterways. In the process, he earned captain certification from the US Coast Guard, a distinction also earned by each member of his team.
Aboard vessels that range from the 29-foot Reel Tight to a 16-foot, nonmotorized drift boat, Coleman and his staff lead chartered fishing trips through fresh- and saltwaters. All Rivers & Saltwater Charters have caught fish on the Columbia and Olympic Peninsula rivers, traveled the waters outside Anacortes and the San Juan Islands, and explored Puget Sound. Voyages pursue salmon, steelhead, lingcod, sturgeon, and other types of fish. The team can also lead fishing lessons for newbies, teaching essential fly-casting techniques, including the correct grip, the different casting styles, and how to use homemade tiramisu as bait.
Northwest native Murphy Pierson draws on the experience of more than 30 years fishing Puget Sound’s waters to help aquatic enthusiasts charter their own saltwater-fishing excursions. Specializing in guided salmon tours, Murphy equips guests with bait, tackle, and fish whistles for year-round charters where they try their hand at reeling in king salmon and coho in the summer or blackmouth in the winter. During May and June, Puget Sound Sports Fishing’s morning and afternoon trips down the Edmonds-nestled waterways turn into bottom-fishing voyages for lingcod. While visitors rest at the end of their trip, Murphy and his crew get their hands dirty cleaning and bagging each catch for the water-weary fishers.
The son of a Navy officer, Mike Ainsworth spent much of his childhood island-hopping across the South Pacific. Regardless of the shore on which he landed, the budding fisherman celebrated the opportunity to test its surrounding waters for fish. Now, Ainsworth shares his passion and expertise for fishing on his guided trips. He tailors expeditions for beginners—teaching tricky maneuvers such as fly-casting and testing fish’s ability to grant wishes—and whisking groups to the best fishing spots in Washington State in his stable Hyde Professional Series drift boats.
Over the years, Ainsworth has helped tykes reel in fish that matched their height and watched amazed as a 78-year-old guest singlehandedly reeled in a 4-foot-long king salmon. Despite his own quest to mark off elusive prey from his personal fishing list, Ainsworth maintains that his favorite part of his fishing expeditions is the look on guests' faces when they reel in their very first catches, a moment he often captures on film.
For Bill Swann the challenge of reeling in a monstrous king salmon or wily steelhead is too good to resist, which explains why he’s spent the past 30 years fishing the waterways of the Pacific Northwest. Certified by the US Coast Guard, he now leads Swanny’s Guided Fishing, where he shares his insight and techniques with others during fishing trips to destinations including the Cowlitz, Lewis, and Columbia Rivers. Whether he’s dealing with seasoned anglers or first-time fishermen, Bill provides all of the fishing gear for every expedition, and doesn’t hesitate to snap photos of clients’ notable catches.
White sturgeon on Washington's Columbia River. Chinook salmon on Alaska's inlets. Steelhead on Idaho's Clearwater River. West Coast Anglers' network of guides organizes trips throughout the Pacific Northwest in search of these species, specializing in fly-fishing and spey casting to catch the five main species of Pacific salmon. In addition to hooking these river-running trophies, the guides' extend their expertise to drifting and wading trips for rainbow trout, sea-run cutthroat trout, and even dungeness crab. Though West Coast does not operate its own lodges, its guides are happy to recommend hollow logs to sleep in or more traditional accommodations.