“Wyatt Earp,” “Mr. Clean” “Crash” “Sizzler” are all nicknames for our current operations manager at Alaska West, Rick Sisler. With over 16 years of guiding experience, Rick is an integral part of our team at Deneki Outdoors and the foundation at our Alaska West Lodge. Rick first moved up to Alaska via Oregon after high school, with no plan, and no idea of what he was going to do. All Rick was seeking was adventure and fishing and boy did he find it.
After moving to Alaska in 1991, Rick worked at the local sporting good store. While working with local fishing guides who worked in the store, he was approached about working at the world-famous Alaska West, and the rest is history. Rick has over 16 years of experience guiding in Alaska, Chile, and the Bahamas. He learned through experience and sheer will.
Rick is currently living in Alaska with his wife, Vilma whom he met in Chile, and they both worked at Alaska West as well. They have two boys Elias and Rowen, who have both been a part of the “lodge life.” Rick is the grease between the wheels and keeps the operation running smoothly at Alaska West. With his leadership and experience, Alaska West is in good hands.
Whether Alaska Salmon, Chilean Brown Trout, or Bonefish from The Bahamas, Rick has been there and done that. So, get to know Rick Sisler and we hope you get an opportunity to come and meet him at Alaska West.
DO: Deneki Outdoors, RS: Rick Sisler
DO: Did you always want to be a fishing guide?
RS: No. I came up to Alaska from Oregon after high school because I had family here and I wanted to experience something different. Mainly I just wanted to fish a bunch. I worked at a local sporting goods store in Anchorage, Gary Kings, which gave me my first view of fishing life in Alaska and eventually led to meeting the guys that hired me at Alaska West.
DO: When did you first start at Alaska West?
RS: I started at Alaska West in 1999 and soon after that I had an opportunity to guide in Chile during our winters. After 4 seasons in Chile I was offered a management job at Andros South Lodge in The Bahamas where I spent the next 5 seasons (winters). In between Chile and the Bahamas I would go back to Alaska West for the summers through 2012. I’ve also been extremely fortunate to guide multiple seasons at Sandy River Lodge for Kings and Steelhead.
DO: With all that experience what is the most aggressive fish you’ve fished for?
RS: Barracuda and Pike, bar none. Grayling comes in a solid 3rd for me!
DO: In your opinion, what are three personality traits that make an excellent fishing guide?
RS: Number one is patience. You have to have patience, especially with clients who have never been fishing or have very little fishing experience. With those clients, you have to not only be patient but also be willing to instruct and teach the “hows” and “whys” and when you can do that, that makes for a great experience not only for the client but also the guide. As for the other traits, you have to be mindful, to adapt and anticipate the needs of your clients. Finally, you have to have a sense of humor. Things don’t always go the way they should and it’s during those times a great sense of humor comes in handy.
DO: What do you like best about the Alaska West Lodge?
RS: Just knowing the history and the family tree of this lodge in Western Alaska. Fishermen from across the world know Western Alaska and Alaska West specifically as a mecca for fly-fishing and many dream for years before finally being able to fish it with this operation. It is a bucket list destination for Spey fisherman, Kings, and Trout and I just love being a part of a special place like Alaska West. Also, “the bus.”
DO: What’s “the bus?”
RS: You’ll know when you get here.
DO: What in your world makes a successful fishing trip?
RS: The experience. It’s not so much the size of the fish or the number of fish that you catch, but it has a lot do with how you caught the fish, where you caught the fish…the entire thing. It’s amazing the different techniques, and different types of water you can fish. I want to make sure we don’t have any “poopy pants” when we’re out there so I always try to stay positive and upbeat, with humor at the forefront.
DO: What does “poopy pants” mean?
RS: Again… you’ll know when you get here.
DO: What advice do you have for someone who wants to be a guide at Alaska West?
RS: Become a lodge hand first. That way you’ll understand the inner workings of the lodge. The Alaska West operation is a well-oiled machine filled with a lot of parts and pieces that are in sync and work together. Whether you have guiding experience, or you’re a really “fishy” person, being a lodge hand will help you learn the essence of the on-goings at Alaska West.
DO: If you could only fish for one fish for the rest of your life what fish would it be?
RS: Spey fish for steelhead.
DO: If you could learn a skill right now what would it be?
RS: I want to learn how to fly a plane.
DO: If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
RS: Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
One of the best quotes from Rick is “if your ass aint in the water, then you aint fishin’.” Thanks to Rick “Wyatt Earp” “Mr. Clean” “Crash” “Sizzler” Sisler for taking the time to do this. We look forward to seeing you at Alaska West Lodge.
Other Guide Corner Interviews: