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.
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.
Lang Nguyen sat at his cubicle, alternating between closing insurance deals and thinking about his next weekend fishing trip. Seeing how much her husband enjoyed being on the water—and recognizing there's only so much time to split between a job, a dream, and a family—Nguyen's wife encouraged him to turn his passion for aquatic adventure into a full-time career. He returned to work, took his office supplies out for a goodbye lunch, and then found a new cubicle aboard a 22-foot North River boat.
Today, Nguyen and his guides—all possessing at least 15 years of experience—lead anglers in search of sturgeon and salmon during fishing trips along the Fraser River's dramatic terrain. They also organize walk-and-wade trips to catch steelhead and trout with casting or fly tackle.
Still more of a fisherman than businessman at heart, Nguyen values the experience of being on the water above all else. He backs every full-day sturgeon trip with a catch guarantee, observing, "My competitors hate me because of that." He'll also reschedule clients' trips should conditions look unfavorable. Though he's experienced working with every level of angler, his favorite clients are the ones who have never caught a fish before and can't hide the excitement inspired by their first haul.
The trees that shade the banks of the River of Golden Dreams have been there longer than anyone can remember, lining a mostly undeveloped area that continues to attract visitors to its natural spoils. Along with Atla Lake—which remains free of oil slicks and pollution due to bans on water-skiing, wakeboarding, and cigarette breaks for working beavers—the area still thrives with wildflowers dotting its riverbanks and bald eagles flying overhead. For the past 25 years, Backroads Whistler has done its share to help keep the environment pristine by hosting a variety of nonpolluting recreation, which include paddling sports, fishing, and cycling. Paddle past distant snow-capped mountains and bike along winding woodland trails on unguided, semiguided, or guided tours, the latter of which includes plenty of tidbits on Whistler's history and wildlife. Canoe, kayak, and boat rentals grant further access to the lake, while aluminum fishing boats come loaded with gear for catch-and-release sessions where guests can swap kelp recipes with 3- to 5-pound trout. Around nightfall, twilight tours drift down the river as wild birds and black bears emerge to greet the evening.