Our History


EPIC Angling & Adventure was created in 2004 when I, Rus Schwausch (pronounced in one syllable  “ss·wow·sh”), took over Alaska Wilderness SAFARI from the former owner after guiding for him a few seasons. The SAFARI camp had already been established in its current location since 1993, but there was an interesting series of events that occurred before I became an Alaskan fishing guide.

Getting dropped at headwaters of remote Alaska river

In 1995 myself and 2 friends boldly embarked, with all our own gear, upon a 100 mile unguided float trip in southwest Alaska. I’ll never forget the moments after the floatplane dropped us and our gear off, turned and quickly headed back to town due to the worsening weather conditions… After the plane had disappeared out of sight, it was “the quietest quiet I had ever heard.”

This trip was supposed to be a once in a lifetime deal, but we had such a great adventure, we vowed to return and do it again. And so we did…

During the summer of ‘97 in Alaska, while continuing to work as a design engineer in Austin, TX, I made a plan (as any engineer would do). That fall I moved out of a spacious apartment into an 8’ x 10’ room of a friend’s house (thanks, Blake!) where rent was cheap so I could pack away some money… with a purpose, of course.

In 2001 I landed a guide job at Alaska Wilderness SAFARI, quit my regular day job, but continued engineering consulting work while back in Austin.

The first unguided float trip in Alaska made a lasting impression.

During my first few years at the SAFARI camp, I had the good fortune to apprentice under J.W. Smith, who was 25+ years my senior but could still out work and out walk any guide in camp. J.W. was as tough as nails and was harder working than anyone I had known (except perhaps my own father), and I learned valuable lessons of tenacity and customer service while working with and for him.

Then the day came in 2003, albeit sooner than I expected, when J.W. declared he was “tired of this sh*t!” And so a new opportunity was born for me… I started EPIC (I already had the idea for the name) and took over the camp the following season.

As of 2016 that’s 19 summers adventuring and fishing in Alaska, all stemming from that single unguided float trip in remote southwest Alaska.