Quick with both a joke and wisdom about fly fishing, Neil Amundson, owner of Bigwaters Guide Service of Anderson, California, provides more than just guided fishing tours. “I strive to both teach the novice and hone the skills of any professional angler,” he says. “Being in the industry for more than 30 years, I enjoy passing on my knowledge and telling humorous stories to keep it fun all day long.”

His sense of humor was put to the test during the worst of COVID, and he is still playing catch up. “When the pandemic arrived, we really took a direct hit,” says Amundson. “Much of my business comes from out of town, so with people traveling less, it hurt. We are still digging out, but I’m optimistic about the next year.”

Part of that optimism is rooted in his love of nature and its restorative powers, and that is why he is excited to partner with Columbia Bank’s Pass It On Project. Through the project, Bigwaters Guide Service is providing free fishing trips to a few special families and Columbia Bank is covering the bill. “I’m passing it on to several families I know who have been hit really hard this last year,” says Amundson. “With this generous gift from Columbia Bank, I’m going to help lift their spirits by getting them out on the water and simply allowing the outdoors to heal their soul.”