Eli Rico spends more than 300 days a year on the river, guiding his clients on their quest to land salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, and trout. Whether hitting up Skykomish River in the autumn and winter for steelhead as big as 30 pounds, angling for Chinook salmon in the Columbia in the spring and summer, or fly-fishing for trout on the Olympic Peninsula, Rico has the expertise to help clients bring home the swimming bacon. Beyond simply catching fish, he also offers on-water classes that cover boat handling, reading water, and other essential fishing skills.
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.
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.
Now in its 32nd year, the Lake Union Boats Afloat Show gives guests the chance to check out hundreds of seaworthy craft, including sailboats, yachts, and trawlers. The more than 50 brands of yachts on display will include Bayliner, Westport, and Sunseeker, with roughly 30 vendors of insurance, maintenance, and other supplemental services on hand to help boat owners protect their investment. Attendees will also get to climb aboard and inspect the 64-foot Ocean Watch—which circumnavigated the Americas for a year in support of oceanic health—and discuss the epic voyage with the crew, as well as take part in interactive activities.
Poking the water with long, stringy lines is the easiest way to access the rich fecundity of the underwater realm. Emerald Water Anglers teaches pupils what it takes to establish a quiet communion with beautiful aquatic bodies by instilling the basics of various casting methods and how to assemble a rod and reel. The two-hour single-handed group casting clinic provides students with all the equipment required and an instructional guide whose friendly nature embodies the calm serenity of this maritime sport. Small classes of up to six people give participants plenty of individualized attention as they learn the techniques behind overhead casting and roll casting, teaching their limbs the maneuvers required for future competent fishing ventures.
John Thomas has spent more than two decades fishing the Snohomish River system, and under the name Rotten Chum Guide Service, he lets others in on his expertise and tricks. Using a 20-foot Alumaweld fishing boat, Thomas gives guided fishing trips on the Snohomish River and Lake Stevens that range from 4 to 10 hours, which is just the right amount of time to compose an epic sea ballad. Each leisurely outing is designed to put guests in touch with nature as they ply the waters for kokanee?landlocked sockeye salmon?as well as steelhead and chinook, depending on the season. Rods and reels by Lamiglas or Okuma, Gamakatsu hooks, and Power Pro lines provide professional-grade assistance for hauling in the catches.