The Cowlitz River winds below Adytum like a milky emerald snake, rich with minerals, making its way to Mayfield Lake. The Tilton, a softer blue is right behind it visible from the library on the third floor. Ike Kinswa State Park divides the two rivers before they merge into Lake Mayfield. We kayak the Tilton and have caught 2’ long rainbow trout right off the kayak as they swarm in large schools. The local word is that the Tilton is overstocked, and we can vouch for that. The eagles hunt freely overhead and the water ouzels bob for their daily fare. It’s the ultimate Pacific Northwest experience.
Until now we’ve never ventured into the cold waters of the Cowlitz. That is about to change as we got a personal invitation to experience our first guided fishing trip with professional guide, Andy Coleman of Andy’s Angling Adventures (www.andysanglingadventures.com) who was at Adytum today checking out the suites for his fishing clients and corporate groups. He has clients flying in from all over the US to experience the pristine waters of the great Pacific Northwest, and they never leave disappointed.
Andy, on the right, fishes many different Northwest rivers including the Cowlitz, Lewis, Wynoochee, Columbia and the Chehalis. About 70% of his guiding trips are on the Cowlitz which is a few minutes from our door. He never drives more than half an hour to get into the water. We are in the heart of recreation country here. He tells me that we’re just getting into Spring Chinook season, and he’s invited Donn and I to experience a guided fishing trip- our first. When I got the courage to tell him we were vegetarian, Donn completely and myself eating fish a few times a month, he assured me that a lot of people enjoy the relaxation of catch and release. They come for the experience and the memory, to be in nature and to learn something new.
I shared my “first fish” story with Andy: age 10, cold mountain creek, cricket on the end of my pole impaled by my dad…me feeling concerned about the cricket having to hold his breath underwater so long… making sure I let him up to take a breath every now and then…and ending up with a 10” rainbow trout – the sacrificed cricket quite forgotten in the joy of the moment. I was hooked! Back then, I learned to clean what I caught. But now that I’ve gone all soft and don’t eat things with a face much, Andy said he’d handle it for me…and anyone else that doesn’t relish the idea. He will send us home with our filets ready to put on the grill but we will know our incredible skill and talent lured them out of their hidey holes at the irresistible enticement of our technique (:
We have a gas BBQ for guests at Adytum and the Orion Suite has a well-stocked kitchenette where a great Northwest meal can be created and enjoyed from the catch of the day. I wish I had known about Andy last summer when we hosted an environmental lawyer – a vegetarian, and his meat eating Veterinarian wife. They cancelled plans to see Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier in favor of relaxing at Adytum. It seemed so right at the time. But the beauty of Andy’s Adventures is the lack of driving! Get up, get out, get poles in the water, get home and enjoy!
There is a whole list of fish for me to get to know that he’s quite familiar with: Winter Steelhead, Spring Chinook, Summer Steelhead, Fall Chinook and Coho “Silvers”. Since we are adamant about taking our fish oil for the Omega 3 fatty acids, I’m all for fresh caught fish in our clean rivers instead of the farmed fish at the box stores and especially fish with high Omega 3 profiles. Even the ocean going trout will have a good fatty acid balance that fits in well with our Mediterranean Diet at Adytum.
I asked him why an experienced fisherman would need him. He said that the difference in having a guide is not only knowing to the best spots to fish, but all the nuances of the river, timing the drift of the boat against the sure knowledge that fish are biting at a certain time of day. Having the wisdom to encourage guests to get their poles in the water all at once because that’s what fish love, and to hold on a little longer when he’s sure they will be biting if they just have the patience to wait. He’s been on every river since he was a small boy. He knows them like the back of his hand. He also mentioned he teaches the application of skill and technique and knows the best bait and equipment to use. Especially if you’re not from this area or not used to fishing, I can see how indispensible a guide is.
Andy has been guiding fishing parties since he was 21, ten years past now and is 4th generation in the area. He laughed when he told me about a recent bachelorette party with the bride to be in her wedding veil with her closest friends around her, all fishing and celebrating most likely with some champagne. What a memorable “out of the box” party! We have a bachelorette party scheduled this summer at Adytum and I will recommend that they consider adding a fishing expedition to their spa time/girls’ night out here. By the way the wedding party did well and caught a lot of big fish! Something to brag about to the guys back home…
He loves to teach novices as well as guide for established anglers and does annual guiding trips with larger corporations which require hiring another boat or two. His riverboat allows 5, plus himself. He shared a story about guiding annually for a group of Texas oilmen who fish for Chinook and Coho and ship the filets back home to their wives on dry ice. It’s really expensive to ship it. We were laughing about the scene in Brokeback Mountain where the wife tied a note on the end of the fishing pole that never ended up seeing water…Busted! So even though the “evidence” cost more to ship home than the fish would have cost, they ponied up! No associations to the movie intended (:
All the gear is provided, the best bait and poles. So all that is needed is the right clothing, a lunch, drinks of choice, and a license which can be bought for the day at Smith and Sons Grocery in Mossyrock or the tackle shop. He guides for a full day starting before first light. He assured me that there are bathroom facilities at each boat ramp if the women don’t want to rough it and he has all the proper certifications and training should someone need help. I’d feel safe with him in any circumstance the unpredictable Pacific Northwest could throw at us! Andy’s easy going nature and professional, confident demeanor will blend well with any guest we’ve ever had at Adytum that wanted to combine a day in nature with the luxury of returning back in the evening to soak in the salt water hot tub and enjoy a glass of wine while the fresh caught fish cooks on the BBQ. Quintessential Northwest….Lewis and Clark. Sacajawea… I’ve clearly entered the fantasy zone…