The purpose of this column is to highlight some of the guides we have here in the Pacific Northwest for our readers to aid in the selection of a guide who fits your needs. We are hoping that this helps to outline some of the things that make guides successful, fun to fish with and for other guides, tips on how to become a better guide, both on the water and as a business owner.
Brett and his wife, Pattie, have owned and operated Highliner and R&R Charters for 14 years as of April 2022. They run a very professional and smooth operation, taking care of everything for their clients so that their clients can focus on fishing.
For this edition of the Guide Spotlight, I would like to highlight Brett Rosson, owner/operator of Highliner Charters and R&R Charters, operating since 2008 in Anacortes, Washington.
This was not my traditional method of contacting and interviewing a guide. The wife of an old friend reached out to me and a few other buddies to surprise her husband, Jon with a halibut trip in Washington. Brett came highly recommended, so she booked a trip for the four of us as a birthday gift to Jon. I have fished for halibut in Alaska, but never here in Washington and I was looking forward to it.
We all met up at Skyline Marina in Anacortes at noon. Late start, but that is how it works. We got the afternoon trip, giving us time to meet for lunch and have a beer before we headed out. The reports had not been great, with few fish being caught, however, our optimism was high that we would get into some fish.
As we left Skyline, the wind was coming in from the Southeast at 10-20 knots. The bay was calm, but the moment we left protected waters, it started to get rough. We were headed out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, so it was only going to get worse. After about an hour, we settled on a bank in the middle of open water and set an anchor and float. This set us on top of the fishing grounds to intercept halibut as they fed and moved around.
I have never been one to get seasick, but I started to get a little green as the boat pitched and rolled in the large swells. We were settled in the trough and the rollers were coming in at 5-7 feet. Luckily the wind laid down after about 90 minutes and conditions got much better, making it easier to focus on fishing as opposed to whether I needed to hang off the side of the boat and feed my lunch to the fish. Thank God I was able to keep my lunch where it belonged.
We spent about 4 or 5 hours on the grounds before we called it. Brett did everything that he could to call in the fish and worked his tail off, but all that we caught were dogfish. In the end, we had a great day and realized that as a group, we had not fished together since about 2014. As we parted, we committed to not waiting too long to get together again soon.
Brett and his wife, Pattie, have owned and operated Highliner and R&R Charters for 14 years as of April 2022. They run a very professional and smooth operation, taking care of everything for their clients so that their clients can focus on fishing. With access to some of the best fishing grounds in the lower 48, they are a perfect option for saltwater anglers to get out for halibut, bottom fish, and coho salmon in the fall. The Chinook fishery has all but disappeared up in that area, with only a three-day season allotted in 2022. R&R Charters offers whale watching trips as well, which is a favorite pastime in the San Juan Islands and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Brett and Pattie start trips for halibut in early April and fish through the fall coho season in late September. Unfortunately, the summer and fall Chinook fisheries and winter Blackmouth are all but gone now.
Brett grew up in Southern California and grew to love fishing with his father in the Sierra Nevada from the age of four. From the first moment that Brett had a fishing rod in his hand, he was hooked and still loves to fish today. Some of Brett’s greatest memories include days on the streams and lakes of the Sierra Nevada with his father.
Brett met Pattie in middle school and the two began dating in the 11th grade. They have been together for more than 40 years and raised two sons and a daughter. At graduation, Pattie headed to college and Brett to the Navy. When Brett got out of the Navy, they married and started a family while Brett went to college. Brett re-enlisted in the Navy after college and began flying helicopters and aircraft, his other love.
Captain Brett Rosson is a retired Navy pilot and rescue swimmer. He is Coast Guard certified, licensed, and insured. This is very important since Brett spends much of his time in open water. I felt very safe with Brett, and he was extremely cautious. In fact, we started our trip out with a detailed safety briefing, including what to do if he ended up in the water. We were all given personal floatation devices (PFD’s) for our safety, and he made sure that we were comfortable.
Brett and Pattie moved to Washington in 2000 where he spent 20 years working at NAS Whidbey in Oak Harbor.
When he’s not fishing, Brett fly’s cargo internationally for FedEx, based in Anchorage, with a two-week, monthly rotation. His work takes him to Asia to fly freight, but luckily, they have two other guides, Nick, and Rick, who hold down the operation while Brett is away.
I asked Brett what motivates him to work as a fishing guide. He replied by saying, “throughout my life, there’s been one consistent passion, and that is fishing. I inherited my obsession from my dad. Along the way I’ve discovered the only activity better than catching a fish is help-ing someone else land one, and that’s why I guide. Nothing beats the excitement of putting folks on their first king salmon, giant lingcod, or huge halibut. The smile is from ear to ear, you can almost see their hearts pounding through their chests, and their hands shake for an hour afterward in response to the adrenaline. The stories get told and the memories last a lifetime.”
When I asked Brett about his favorite fishery, he responded without hesitation. Like me, Brett loves to fish winter steelhead. Now he does not guide on the rivers for steelhead but spends as much time as he can fishing with other guides on some of our Northwest Washington and coastal rivers. Brett prefers hands-on methods such as bobber dogging bait or side drifting.
Brett with a winter steelhead.
In the salt, most of his time is spent trolling for salmon or mooching for halibut and bottom fish. For our trip, Brett set two bait buckets filled with smelly bait using custom downriggers and we had four lines out in the heavy current. Amazingly, we only had one tangle and that was due to a dogfish that swam through another line.
Like most of the guides I fish with and write about, Brett is a true professional and feels strongly about the experience that he delivers to his clients. He was calm, patient, and conversational. He felt us out to get a sense of our experience and did not let us risk our safety by accessing the bow rods on the boat. Like I said, he worked his tail off and did everything in his power to call in fish.
I would fish with Brett again and again. I just like him and know that he is always going to put our experience first. Whether it be a fisherman who is in their elder years, a family with young children or experienced anglers, Brett is going to deliver a great experience.
It is very admirable that Brett and Pattie donate 20% of Highliner’s after-tax profits to Engedi Refuge Ministries, a great cause that they believe in.
To get a hold of Brett and Pattie and schedule a trip, you can reach them via their website at www.highlinercharters.com, via email at email@example.com, or by calling them at (360) 770-0341.
To nominate your favorite guide or to request an interview, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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