Meet an Academy Alum: Kvichak Aspelund
Are you considering applying for the Academy, but not sure if it’s right for you? Check out what Kvichak had to say about the Academy and where it has taken him!
Name: Kvichak Aspelund
Where are you from: I am from King Salmon, Alaska, where I’ve lived all my life.
Where do you live now: Currently I live in Anchorage, Alaska. Where I am attending college at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Year attended Guide Academy: I’ve attended the guide academy two years. First in 2012 when it was held in my hometown at Alaska Sportsman’s Bear Trail Lodge. Then in 2013 I was fortunate enough to attend once again in Aleknagik at Mission Lodge.
Occupation (summer/winter, if different): Before the guide academy, I commercially fished with my family. Then once I attended both academies and turned 18, I was fortunate enough to work for Alaska Sportsman’s Bear Trail Lodge. Now this upcoming summer I will be working at Bear Trail for my second summer. As for the winter, I’m a full time student at UAA.
What is the most important thing you learned at the Guide Academy? By far the most important thing I learned at the Academy was how to treat the clients, and getting a perspective on what they expected. After guests spend thousands of dollars for a week of what they expect to be perhaps the best week of their lives, it’s imperative that you know how to make it the best week of their lives even if the weather is not cooperative, or the fishing is not too hot. This was one of the most of important skills to take from the academy, because after all, it is Alaska. You never quite know what’s going to happen.
Would you recommend the Academy to a new student? Why? I would definitely recommend it to a new student, even if their goals are not to become a guide. This academy gives a whole perspective on the lodge industry, and how it works. Most of all it’s a good time; you meet a lot of new people, and you get to stay at a lodge for a week! You as well get to fish incredible waterways. Especially at Kulik Lodge, its a really neat piece of water to explore with great fishing right outside.
What advice would you give to an incoming student (either for success at the academy or guiding in general)? I would advise students to really pay attention to the day of tying knots and rigging your gear. It’s really important to be able to rig poles and tie knots on a second’s notice. Also, at the Academy, the people brought in are very intelligent, and I would really urge new incoming students to talk with these people. It’s incredible how much you can learn just by talking with someone.
What is your most memorable day on the water? (either with a client, fishing personally or at the Academy) I would say my most memorable moment at the Academy would have to be my first year attending. On the last day taking a “client” out for the first time was nerve racking, but turned out to be a great day. Teaching your client to cast for the first time, and putting your client onto their first fish is an incredible moment. Doing it for my first time I believe made it one of the most memorable days for me personally.
Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us, Kvichak, and congratulations on your successful guiding career thus far!
Potential students, we hope you are inspired by Kvichak’s story and will apply for the Academy! Feel free to ask any questions in the comment box below or by emailing jlynes [at] tu.org.