In Print: Eric Jackson’s Snow, Surf and Steelhead

portrait, eric jackson with red flannel and big brown beard

Eric Jackson is always ready for a challenge. You may recognize him from the massive hucks in his latest snowboarding film, Alignment. Or perhaps you’ve seen photos of him fly-fishing some of the most pristine rivers in the world as a sponsored fisherman. Either way, “envy” might describe how you feel about it his life.

Where do you call home?

My wife and I live in Bellingham, Washington. We’ve lived here for a few years and moved up from Mammoth, CA, though I’ve spent a lot of years traveling up here.

What brought you to the Northwest?

The NW has the mountains that I like to ride and the rivers I like to fish. I’d actually wanted to move to the Northwest since I was pretty young. I’ve been coming up here since I was 14, whether to ride Baker or Whistler since I’m sponsored by Lib Tech and they’re based up here. I would pack my truck in January and I’d drive to up to Washington from California and snowboard for the season. I wouldn’t go back home to California until May. I finally reached a point where I was like man, this is way too much. I just really wanted a place in the NW that I could snowboard for a week or a couple weeks and come home and reset – not just be on the road for months.

eric with surfboard in coat walking toward water

How does surfing fit into your lifestyle?

I get super stoked to get in the water. I love the ocean. I love the power that it has and how it changes. I feel pretty connected to it. And then surfing is so much fun! I love it. It’s this thing that I’m not an expert at – but I understand what it means to be very good at something from snowboarding. In this sport there’s so much room for me to learn.

When did you start surfing?

I didn’t grow up surfing as my main sport, though I started surfing when I was pretty young. You know Newport, Huntington, waves like that. But I wouldn’t consider myself a good surfer. My grandmother lives in Costa Mesa, Southern California and we would go there for all the holidays. I was sponsored by a boardshop down there. They would give me surf gear and I was pretty stoked on that as a kid.

eric tying on a fly

When did you get into fishing?

Fishing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My dad taught me at a very young age. I was actually homeschooled and some days he would convince my mom that we were going to do “school work” on the boat… but really we just went fishing. Sometimes on my lunch break I would go out to the stream behind our house and catch a trout to cook for lunch.

How do you feel fishing has impacted your life?

I think that introduction to nature early on in life really shaped me into what I am today. I’d like to pass that knowledge and experience on to the next generation. I think it’s really important to keep that simple lifestyle relevant, now more than ever as we live in such a digital world.

eric and his wife and dog getting ready at the river

What does your fishing season look like?

I try to fish as much as possible, especially in the fall. It can be hard to find the time during my snowboard season, but it really helps balance the inevitable stress that comes with life. I actually just released a movie called “Alignment” where I spent the entire winter in northern BC snowboarding and fishing for Steelhead in search of that perfect balance. It was an incredible experience and definitely one of the best winters of my life.

How is fishing different than the other crazy stuff you do?

Fishing is a lot like a relaxation state. For me, snowboarding – that’s full on adrenaline – your heart is pumping, you drop in, there’s a lot to it. Fishing is just kind of the exact opposite. It’s more of the peaceful part of it where you’re just kind of going to recharge. Whatever you have going on in your life you can just go to the river and chill out.

eric playing his banjo by a camp fire

Do you have a favorite river to fish?

I love the Skagit. The Skagit is an awesome river. I bought a boat specifically for the Skagit and another river up north – they’re big rivers. I wanted to learn the Skagit because it’s really close to home and it’s a legendary river. The first year I started fishing it I caught a very memorable fish. I just worked really hard for it, fished for weeks and didn’t catch anything. Then, I finally got one. It was incredible, a big and perfect fish. It was an experience that I’ll never forget.