When Eddie Bauer made the call to return to fishing, it was a return to the roots of our brand. Eddie Bauer’s first Sport Shop in downtown Seattle focused on hunting and fishing and his passion for the pursuits was so strong that he would close his shop for weeks at a time each fall to disappear to the rivers, lakes and coastal waters within his home state. His time in the field influenced the products he trusted, the gear he sold and the clothing he put his name on.
This field mentality is why we linked up with a team of world-class fishing guides to build our new fishing collection and why we looked to the fishing in our home state as a testing ground. Few locations match the fishing diversity in Washington, including everything from saltwater and coastal streams to mountain creeks, freestone rivers and desert tailwaters. But Washington is known for its steelhead and our eastside rivers offer some of the best summer run steelhead fishing in the US. In addition, the Yakima is a classic tailwater and Washington’s blue ribbon trout stream. Yet for destination fishing trips, Washington is often overlooked.
“When people think about fly-fishing in the west they think trout. Steelhead are not on the minds of most anglers and therefore these high desert eastside rivers don’t draw people in the same way the Henry’s Fork or the Salmon draw people. That’s fine with me,” Sport Shop guide Lucas St. Clair says. “To be hundreds of river miles from the ocean and connect with a fish that has spent most of its life in the ocean is an amazing feeling. Being in a wide-open landscape, looking up at 8000-foot, snow-capped peaks is pretty surreal for me.”
Our guide team headed east of the mountains to put our new fishing line to the test, on the Yakima, the Methow and the Twisp rivers last season in addition to the time our guides put in on Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula. Collectively, it was a tough test. “We get everything thrown at us,” St. Clair says. “On the east side we have days where it is 100 degrees in the summer and days when it is 10 degrees in the winter. The winter steelhead fishing on the Olympic Peninsula provides wettest conditions imaginable and very cold long days searching for fish. The saltwater fishing hammers gear and there is nothing like salt to find flaws in construction of gear. We hike, row, wade, and motor all over the state in search of fish and continue to push our gear to the limits. And at the end of a long day it is nice to walk into a Seattle restaurant and not look like a fishing bum. I couldn’t think of a more dynamic place to test gear.” —LYA Editor
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