Nestled beside the scenic Vedder River, Pacific River Outfitters Company is the place to go when it comes to fishing in Chilliwack and the surrounding area. With knowledgeable staff who share a passion for fishing, you will walk into the doors feeling like you’re talking to family. Offering amazing educational workshops and fly-tying lessons, you can start feeling like a pro-fly-fisher in no time!
We recently sat down with Willie Holmes, the manager of Pacific Rivers Outfitting Company, and talked about his passion for fishing, his journey to working in this industry, and everything else in between!
Can you introduce yourself and your business?
My name is Willie Holmes! I am the manager of Pacific Rivers Outfitting Company here in Chilliwack, we are the sister store to Atlantic Rivers Outfitting Company in St. John’s Newfoundland.
We are an outdoor store catering to novice and experienced outdoor enthusiasts with a focus on building communities at our two venues of outdoor enthusiasts with a passion, a purpose, and a conscience. I’m an avid fisherman and Fly casting instructor who loves BC and Chilliwack.
Where did this journey start for you? Tell us about the first time you fished. Did your passion start there?
My journey started for me many years ago in Ireland. I loved to go fishing at my grandparent’s house during the summer months. My brother and I would spend large portions of our summer holidays in the Upperlands, fishing every day for brown trout.
This early passion became evident later in life when in the late 1990’s I built and owned a stillwater trout fishery that was open to the general public with a fishing store, campsite, and coffee shop. To show a professional approach to the fishery I worked towards qualification as a professional fly casting and angling instructor. So, what started as a kid’s hobby at my grandparent’s back many moons ago turned into a career that I have been involved in for the past 25 years.
What is one piece of advice you would give to visitors who are looking to start fishing?
Call your local store and ask for advice! Make sure to look for a store that is proactive with clinics courses and qualified instructors on staff, that will make your journey fun and informed. If you’re thinking of fly fishing, get a lesson from an FFI (Fly Fishers International) or GAIA (Game Angling Instructors Association) qualified instructor before buying any tackle. If you’re in the immediate area, call our store for a friendly relaxed chat. We can help you with most disciplines of the fishing world!
What does your shop have to offer? What can people expect when visiting?
At PROC we offer a friendly greeting and a positive experience. We offer fly-casting courses, clinics, and private lessons in both single and double-handed casting.
We have fly-tying nights along with one-on-one instruction as well and offer a full guiding service on all the local fisheries. We will be offering worldwide angling holidays with Loop Travel too.
We also have a dedicated social space/classroom that has been used for private board meetings, a film premier, and even a 10-year olds fly-tying birthday party! This space provides a friendly meeting area for people to meet and chat about their outdoor experiences and goals.
Tell us a bit about your workshops and the programs you run.
We offer many workshops for single and double-hand (Spey) fly-casting for beginners, improvers, and advanced clinics. We also offer qualified mentoring services for anglers looking to work towards becoming fly-casting instructors. And lastly, we offer information on all other forms of fishing from simple setup info to tactics and even Stillwater camps.
We are rolling out our Fishing Academy program which you will be able to check out on our website very soon. We have already run a few youth fly-tying and casting clinics and this will be the heartbeat of our Academy program.
Where did your passion for teaching come from?
I was a qualified driving instructor at 21 years old and it seemed like a natural progression when I opened the fishery that I would become qualified to teach professionally. My passion for it grows with each lesson or clinic that I help out at, to see and hear the positive comments from clients about what these new skills will let them do really fills me with joy.
Fishing is a great therapy and if I can help clients on their journey, it really makes me feel good. I get a real buzz from someone getting that cast right for the first time or that look on someone’s face when they catch a fish for the first time. Fishing is proven to be good for a person’s state of mind and can help many through adverse times in their lives.
Can you tell us a bit about your life outside of the Pacific River?
We are open 7 days a week which means PROC takes up a lot of my time, I do love the challenge. My son loves hockey and lacrosse and although Tina (the boss) does most of the running around I do like to follow his sporting journey. Obviously, this whole life journey started because of my love of fishing, so I like to get on the water at any possible time I can.
In your opinion, what is better for fishing? River or Lake?
That’s like asking an Irishman what way he likes his potatoes; we can have 4 different potatoes in the same dish. I do love the allure of running water and fishing for Anadromous fish (Spawn in Freshwater and go to sea) but still love to fish Lakes. This is a question that many would ponder their answer on, if I’m fishing I’m happy, that in itself is the best.
You have a pretty cool neighbor, Banter Ice Cream. If you had to choose, what’s your favourite Banter Ice Cream Flavour?
Now that’s a doozy, so many wonderful flavours so little time! If I was to go for one it would be the Lemon Curd – tasty and refreshing. Laura, Zach, and the Banter team make this the hardest question you have asked me.
Where can we learn more about your workshops and/or get involved?
You can call in person to the store and chat with staff to find the best way forward for you, or you can follow us on social media like Instagram and Facebook. You can also visit our website www.pacificrivers.com and look at our events, community, and academy sections. We will soon have our own Youtube channel as well, for a reference base.
What’s next for Pacific River Outfitters?
Our full guide service will roll out shortly, where clients can fish with members of staff. We plan to continue our friendly professional service that helps people to enjoy and respect the great BC outdoors. Integrating PROC into the local community is paramount, Chilliwack is a strong vibrant community that we love living in and hope to play a part in its growth.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I would like to thank you guys at Tourism Chilliwack for your enthusiastic and positive response to what we are offering here at PROC, as well as the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce for their proactive support since we opened. We feel a real team spirit from both organizations.
If you haven’t called into the store, please do, it would be great to meet you. And to our existing clients, thank you so much for your support and we look forward to the future and helping you in any way we can. If you’re too far away to call in, visit our website or check in on social media to keep up with what we have going on.
Make sure you stop by and say hi to Willie, and the staff the next time you are around the area, and sign up for a fun fly-tying lesson with friends. There’s no better place to learn to fly-fish, than from those who are the most passionate about it.
Visit them in-store, open seven days a week located at 45530 Vedder Mountain Road, or online at https://www.pacificrivers.com/.