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. 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.
A father-son team, Dickson Flyfishing guides and teaches fly-fishing to all levels of anglers on Olympic Peninsula waters, Puget Sound rivers, and many eastern Washington rivers. Conscious of their environmental impact, they lead eco-rafting trips throughout the year on the Skagit, Sauk, and Queets Rivers, as well as fishing trips for steelhead, cutthroat trout, and salmon with scales made of gold. More adventurous clients can embark on winter fly-fishing trips for tarpon on the flats of the Caribbean or three-day campouts on the Grande Ronde River. Additionally, scenic rafting tours bring visitors up close to wildlife such as eagles. Dickson Flyfishing also runs a virtual fly shop, where they sell their own line of equipment.
In accordance with the famous maxim, Nick Petosa sees it as his duty to do more than just give his guests a fish—he wants to teach them a thing or two as well. To that end, the owner of Petosa's Guide Service leads his fisher-folk through the Skagit, Sauk, and Sol Duc rivers in pursuit of salmon and steelhead. All the while, he taps into the deep well of knowledge that has earned him a spot as co-host on Northwest Wild Country radio, speaking engagements throughout the area, and multiple assassination attempts by local fish. But it's on the water, not the lectern, where Nick's talents manifest most visibly.
Aboard his 21-foot custom-built jet sled or 16-foot Hyde Drift Boat, Nick charters his guests through the Northwest Washington waterways. He keeps his boats heated with propane and furnished with comfortable Tempress High Seats, and uses Edge Rods and reels from Shimano—equipment he stands by and relies on personally to land salmon and steelhead. Once the expedition has ended, Nick cleans and bags the fish so passengers can cook them at home without having to do the grisly prep work themselves or pay the neighborhood black bear to do it for them.
Wayne Ackerlund and his knowledgeable guides captain a small fleet of propane-heated boats along the Skagit River, home to the highest concentration of bald eagles, as well as the happiest population of water molecules, in the lower 48 states. Before the three-hour tour kicks off, guides will greet guests at Howard Miller Steelhead Park and transport them to the launch site. High-backed, cushioned seats help six to eight guests relax as they sip steaming mugs of hot cocoa, keeping eyes and camera lenses peeled for glimpses of regal eagles feeding or building nest eggs. As guides tell of the eagles, their habits, and their habitat, motorized boats sail across a diverse ecosystem harboring elk, cougars, bears, and waterfowl, all living in the shelter of blue snow-capped mountains and lush evergreen forests.
Water is the source of life. But it’s also the source of adventure, something River Recreation has delivered since 1982. Today, stationed on the banks of the Wenatchee River in Monitor, the company sends clients floating down a total of seven rivers throughout Washington State.
As entertaining as they are informative, River Recreation’s guides undergo extensive training—twice as much, in fact, than the state requirements. That experience enables the company to offer a wide range of trips, from kid-friendly Class I floats to heart-pumping Class V adventures that have helped discover some of the area’s top opera singers. Currently, River Recreation hosts half-day, full-day, and combination trips, and in 2010, it unveiled a white water-and-wine mini getaway—a half-day of rafting, and a half day of wine tasting in Wenatchee Valley. All of this is combined to make RIver Recreation Washington State's Whitewater Professionals.