Alaska West Lodge has featured many bonafide fly fishing personalities who have established themselves and made a mark on the fly fishing industry. Being a guide at Alaska West Lodge is a badge of honor. All our guides at Alaska West Lodge take pride in their work and what they do.
Tom Schafer guides at Alaska West Lodge. Well-traveled from East to West, Tom is one fishy dude. Having a passion for all things fishing, Thai food, and fly fishing, particularly saltwater fly fishing. Good thing for Tom, Alaska West Lodge is close to the Salt.
Let’s get to know Tom.
Deneki Outdoors (DO): What would you be doing if you weren’t a fly fishing guide?
Tom Schaefer (TS): Probably working in the building trades. I love building and doing carpentry, but I’m happy that I get to pursue my true passion, which is guiding. Being on the water beats huffing sawdust any day.
DO: What is the last book you read?
TS: Body of Water by Chris Dombrowski. A really great book about the history of bonefishing in The Bahamas. I love saltwater fly fishing, and I try to do it as much as possible.
DO: What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
TS: I’m half Mexican and half Norwegian
DO: What’s one skill you wish you could learn?
TS: It would be great to know some welding/fabrication and have a shop. I think anglers, in general, are constantly tweaking stuff; boats, trucks, vehicles. It just seems like it would be handy.
DO: What made you want to be a fly fishing guide?
TO: The lifestyle. It can be hard, and it’s definitely a grind sometimes. But ultimately, it’s very rewarding, and it allows you to learn the subtleties of a fishery. That’s the best part for me, trying to pattern things and getting to explore and fish as much as possible.
DO: What personality trait makes a great guide?
TO: Patience. Being a good communicator and being able to read people.
DO: What is the best part about Alaska West Lodge?
TO: I think everyone says this, but it’s the people. All the guides are really knowledgeable, but there are no egos. Everyone in camp brings something to the table, and it’s an enjoyable team to be a part of.
DO: What do you think are the biggest challenges the fishing industry will face in the next five years?
TO: That’s tricky. I can think of a lot of the top of my head. With the outdoor industry experiencing massive growth right now, we need to make sure that people are responsible and conservation-minded. As anglers, we are dealing with a finite resource. I want to be inclusive and get people into the sport, but I also want people to understand all of this can go away if we don’t take care of it. Leave it better than you found it.
DO: What advice do you have for someone who wants to be a guide?
TO: Don’t let guiding be your first job. Do something for a while and learn how to work hard and overcome adversity. Everyone loves fishing. Not everyone can handle hard work and less-than-ideal conditions.
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