LAKE PLACID - Lake Placid resident and fly fishing guide Ken Kalil has always had a pretty good idea of what he's wanted to do with his life - be outside, preferably fly fishing on a river.
"I was the kid that was going to kick and drag to bring my fishing rod with me anywhere," he said. "Wherever there was water, I was dragging my fishing rod to it. Wherever there was water, I was going to stand next to it. It was just that way."
Kalil said he started thinking about becoming a professional bass fisherman at the age of five, growing up in the town of New Hartford, near Utica. By the time he was 11 that dream changed a little. He wanted to become a fly fishing guide in Montana. Not only was the fishing great, but there were majestic mountains.
Fishing guide Ken Kalil stands next to the West Branch of the AuSable River in Lake Placid.
"I used to love a lot of the mountaineering stuff," he said. "I knew I wanted to be near mountains. I knew I wanted to be in mountainous terrain, for sure. And that's why I think that Montana really lit a fire in me."
His passion for the outdoors came in a large part from spending time with his family in the Adirondacks. His dad's family has lived in the Inlet area for generations, owning Kalil's Grocery, one of the oldest businesses in town. He remembers going there as a kid and seeing anglers come in with their large lake trout caught in the Fulton Chain. He knew he wanted to live some place with an outdoors lifestyle.
When he was old enough, Kalil moved to Jackson Hole, Wy. to pursue his dream of living out west. But after several months, he decided to return home. It wasn't for him. He had too much family in northern New York, and he didn't want to leave them behind.
"When I drive from here to Utica, I stop in almost every town (and visit family)," he said.
Instead of moving to Montana, he settled in Lake Placid at about the age of 20. That was about two decades ago.
For a number of years, Kalil worked for the late Don Jones at Jones Outfitters, an Orvis Dealer, in Lake Placid. He credits Jones with teaching him a lot of what he knows about the fishing business. He continued to work there with the current ownership of Chris Williamson and Zach Horrocks and still does some guiding for them.
But he's also expanded his own guiding business, developing Kalil's High Peaks Wildlife in recent years.
In the warmer months, Kalil can be often be found on the West Branch of the AuSable, Saranac and Boquet rivers with clients.
But like most Adirondacks guides, Kalil has to string together a few jobs. He works with dog owners, helping them train hunting dogs and also pets. Plus, in the winter, he works at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Ski Center as a ski coach and teacher.
"I consider my skiing in the winter as my training for guiding season," he said. "Plus, I enjoy it. It's a good low impact sport. It keeps your heart pumping strong. It all carries over."
It's all part of his philosophy that life is best spent outdoors doing something active in a scenic place like Lake Placid.
"Often times, at this point in my life, I sit back and feel so damn lucky," he said. "I think we live in an awesome area."