Guided Fly Fishing Trips

Washington - Alaska

Steelhead - Coastal Cutthroat

Guided fishing tripsMy Business is built on honesty

I'm proud to have built my business by being honest with people. And as part of that, one thing I like to do is let people know where I'm coming from so that they can make the choice as to whether or not I'm the guide that will fit them. I'd rather turn away business than have a customer be unhappy. If you're interested in a guided fishing trip, please read through this page thoroughly so that you know what to expect from a guided trip with me.

References

Listed below are some links to what some of my guests have written on public fly fishing forums about their experiences with me.

Report Regarding Steve Buckner

What I learned in one day of Steelhead Fishing

Bio from Washington Council of FFF Organization

Dreams of Steelhead Come True

Fly Fishing Only!

I'm one of the few guides in Washington state that provide fly fishing only guided trips. If you're looking to improve your odds and/or shorten your fly fishing learning curve, I'm here to help. There are plenty of "fly fishing" guides who offer fly fishing mixed with gear fishing, but I'm not one of them. I choose to run my business to help those that are truly interested in learning the art of fly fishing.

Catch & Release Only

Even on those systems where hatchery fish exist, I require catch and release only. Why? The short answer is because those fish that are apt to take a fly ought to have their genetics kept so that future generations of fish have these same attributes. Historically, there are/were some races of steelhead that tend to take flies and others that do not. As an angler, I'd like to do what I can to keep the genetics of those fish that will chase a fly in the river. And secondly, as Lee Wulff said, "Game fish are to valuable to be caught only once".

What do I guide for?

I guide for steelhead and sea run cutthroat trout. I guide for steelhead nearly year-round, and guide for sea run cutthroat trout in the fall (early september through mid-October). If you're just starting out fly fishing, I would strongly suggest taking a fly casting class. Also, I guide for other species such as bluegill and bass during the summer months. Bluegill are a great fish to "wet your feet" so to speak in fly fishing. I offer fly casting classes in conjunction with guiding for bluegill if you're interested.

Where do I guide?

For the 2010 season, I will be guiding exclusively on the Cowlitz River in Southwest Washington state. My home sits along the banks of this river and I know it well. The Cowlitz river can be very busy in some areas, but for the most part, once you get away from those places, rivers is very quiet.

Setting Expectations

If you're relatively new to fishing, one thing to keep in mind is that more often than not, a day on the river is not like the ESPN show you watched on Saturday morning! Some people don't realize that the 1/2 hour program on fly fishing you saw showing fish after fish caught may have only been possible after a full week's worth of filming to produce that one, 1/2 hour episode. The hard cold reality is that some days you may not touch a thing.

Over my lifetime of fishing, if there is one thing I've learned it's that fishing is always changing. Here in the Pacific Northwest, our fish are migratory and that means that on some days, there are simply more fish in the system than on other days. Succinctly stated, some days are simply better than others! And also keep in mind that some species of fish are easier to catch. As an example, I wouldn't necessarily recommend that Steelhead be the first species one pursues with a fly rod.

Every angler I guide comes with a different skill set and it is my goal to help each of them become a better fly fisherman. My objective is to teach you what I know about the species we're targeting, where they're found, when they're in the rivers, what techniques work consistently, how to read water, how to pick flies, help to improve your casting, and if everthing goes well, land a fish or two. It's my mission to help you have a great day on the water!

Rates

Here are the rates* as of 01/01/2014: Please understand that these prices may fluctuate.

For the Cowlitz - $375.00 for 1 person, $425.00 for 2, includes boat, lunch, flies, and shuttle.

Rods can also be rented for an additional $25.00 per rod/reel/line per day. Any damage, loss, or breakage will also be the repsonsibility of the renter.

* Note that rates are subject to change so please inquire when you schedule your date. Maximum of 2 anglers per scheduled day. Larger groups require additional coordination so please inquire early.

Drift Boat What's Included

I’ll provide instruction on reading water, casting, fly presentation, fly retrieval, and fly selection. I'm happy to give personalized service to improve your skills as a fly fisherman so that you'll have the confidence to fish on your home water. Although many of the techniques used for catching Pacific salmonids are somewhat specialized, they can also be used very successfully for catching all trout. The techniques that you'll be taught on the water will shave years off of your learning curve.

We generally begin the day early and will normally spend 10+ hours on the river. We'll float the river using my Hyde Drift boat. The majority of the rivers that I guide on are within a relatively short drive from Seattle, Washington and from Portland, Oregon. If business or pleasure brings you out to either of these cities you could easily slip out for a day or two of fishing or casting lessons.

Pacific Salmonids are fish that are constantly using the water ways to migrate great distances. They have the ability to travel many river miles in a given day so utilizing the boat will give us an edge on being successful. While I cannot guarantee that you'll hook a fish, I will do what I can to give you the best opportunity possible to be successful. I don't take clients out on the water unless I believe there are catchable fish in the river system. I'll supply you with all of the flies that you'll need for the day. Lunch and drinks will be provided.

What you'll need to bring

You'll be responsible for having a valid Washington fishing license, waders, boots, rain coat, rod/reel/line, and anything else that will make you comfortable. Some other suggested items include polarized glasses, camera, hat, and believe it or not, sunscreen during the summer months!

A note about Steelhead Fly Fishing - This ain't no jig and bobber show! (oh...I mean indicator and egg patterns...)

When it comes to Steelhead fishing, I guide using traditional methods, i.e., the wet fly swing. It is my belief that this is the most sporting method for catching a fish as magnificent as a Steelhead. These fish deserve our respect. Our Pacific Northwest Steelhead fly fishing is patterned after English/Scottish Atlantic salmon fishing. An angler fishing in the U.K. would never be allowed to use nymphing equipment and/or techniques like using an indicator, lead, and an egg pattern! It's simply not considered sporting so I choose not to guide using those methods.

Unfortunately there are guides who put their guest right on top of the redds where steelhead are preparing to spawn and have them fish using an indicator and an egg pattern. This is a very effective method, but not a sporting one, and is simply not an ethical way to fish. The fish that are on their redds ought to be left alone, so that they are able to reproduce the next generation of fish. I would suggest that you not hire those guides who fish in this manner as it hurts the fishing for everyone

To this day, it's still a Scottish tradition to wear a coat and tie while fishing for Atlantic salmon. And while I don't certainly adovacate that my guest show up in a coat and tie, I do hope to show the mighty Steelhead of the Northwest the respect it deserves.

Another note as it comes to Steelhead fishing. Steelhead fishing is a challenge for someone who has good casting and fishing skills and knows where and when to find them. And while I'm not trying to scare anybody off, "good Steelhead fishing" almost always requires long days with hundreds of casts (or many more) between fish. Some days you may get a fish or two, some days you won't touch a thing. Due to many factors, including your ability to cast, the migration of fish on any given day, and other factors, I cannot guarantee that you'll catch a Steelhead. That's the risk with trophy fish, you just don't catch them everyday.

Steelhead come into the rivers every month of the year and are constantly migrating through the river systems. With migratory fish, some days you'll find them and some days you won't. It's the fish and the magic of their existence that draws people to them. We tend to cherish those things that one has to work for, and Steelhead fidhinh fitd this description well. When a person has reached the level in his fly fishing career where numbers aren't important, then one should consider fly fishing for Steelhead. Once you hook a Steelhead, you'll never be the same.

What gets people addicted to Steelhead are the amazing life stories of these fish, the extremely beautiful places that they inhabit, and of course, the fish themselves. Most Steelhead will average 7-15 lbs., but everybody dreams of hooking that 20lb. fish of a lifetime.

Even if you're unsuccessful at catching Steelhead, you'll learn a great deal about casting, presentation, and where these fish are found so that your odds will increase on your next outing.

Copyright © 2001 The Northwest Fly Fisherman