Hooked for Life Guide Service’s founder and head guide, Jarrod Kelso, caught his first fish at the age of 4 and has adored the sport ever since. As a native Oregonian, Jarrod has developed an intimate understanding of the state’s waters. He puts that knowledge to work during guided trips, some of which track down salmon and steelhead, others of which chase mammoth redband and brown trout up to 15 pounds in size. Jarrod leads fellow anglers into Oregon’s waters aboard his new Willie custom drift boat.
The seasoned head guide of Oregon River Excursions and the McKenzie River are worthy adversaries. Armed with 10 years of guiding experience and secure rafts, he leads groups down through portions of the river's churning rapids on full-day excursions. On trips, rafters come ashore for a fully catered lunch or to test whether their arms have turned into flippers yet.
The McKenzie River flows past some of Oregon's most awe-inspiring natural scenery—douglas fir–blanketed mountainsides, bald eagles diving to catch trout, and gargantuan boulders splitting the current into Class II and III rapids. Guides like Captain "Wild Matty" equip outdoorsmen with fly or spinning rigs and guide vistors on fishing trips on the McKenzie River, Siuslaw River, and Lake Creek to catch rainbow and cutthroat trout, spring- and fall-run chinook, and steelhead. The guides can also arrange lunch options for every outing, such as deli-style sandwiches, Wild West barbecue, or hot dogs on a hook.
Down the McKenzie River, the staff members of River Trail Guides steer rafts through Class II and III rapids, taking thrill seekers as young as aged 6 along for the ride. Full- and half-day trips float down up to 14.5 miles of churning river, splashing over gurgling rapids before rafters stop to eat lunch. The guides also offer river drift-boat fishing, wherein visitors cast their lines toward seasonal catches, such as trout, steelhead, and smallmouth bass.
Bryan Gill grew up fishing the Umpqua River, and has more than 35 years of experience capturing its finned inhabitants. As the Umpqua Angler, Bryan shares his vast knowledge of the river and its surrounding areas by leading fellow fishermen on trips throughout the year. During those adventures, Bryan targets fish according to the season, navigating groups to prime areas and deploying unique lures to bait bites from trophy catches.
Captain Tim Abraham has spent more than 30 years fishing, both in fresh water (the Umpqua River) and salt water (the Pacific Ocean). So he knows his way around his 25-foot heated Alumaweld boat. On charter trips, he shares his expertise with his passengers, taking them on quests for fish that include everything from Chinook salmon and small-mouthed bass to perch. He's not intimidated by sturgeon's size, either. He'll help passengers catch those too.