The go-to fishing guide
By Chase Seabolt

Tom Perkins catches a fish while his dog, Fisher, looks out on Rough River Lake. He has been fishing central Kentucky lakes all his life and guiding clients on them for 14 years.

For as long as he can remember, Tom Perkins has been fishing central Kentucky lakes. For the past 14 years, he has been making money doing it.

“I retired in 2011 and was going to be fishing anyway,” the former firefighter says. “I figured why not make some money while doing it?”

“I’m not trying to make a living,” says Tom, the go-to guide on Rough River Lake. “ I just like to fish.”

To Tom, fishing is more than money. As he says, "When you fish with me, we’re friends."
He still gets excited about going with someone new. “When I quit getting excited, that's the day,” Tom says. “That’s when I’m going to quit fishing with people.”

After a lifetime of fishing, he knows how central Kentucky fish behave. “If there’s anyone catching crappie on these lakes,” he says, “it's gonna be me.”

Tom says he strives to run an honest business from his home in Sonora, near Elizabethtown. “If I tell you we’re going to catch 20 or 25 fish and we don’t, I won’t take your money," he says.
And there's no need for marketing. “I never thought word-of-mouth would work as good as it does.” he says. “You know, I had four or five people and their friends told their friends, who told their friends.”

Tom said he has never thought of moving anywhere else.

“It’s where I’m from,” he says. “My grandad took me fishing here from the time I was a boy. There’s nowhere else I’d go.”

Tom looks at an old map of Rough River Lake before putting his boat in.

Tom feeds his dog, Josie, eggs from crappie that he caught earlier that morning.

Tom fishes with Jim Leopold (center) and Dan Kilchenman (right) on Nolin Lake.

Tom ties a jig on his fishing line.

Bob Corcoran (left) Tom and Larry Wells (right) fish from Tom’s boat on Rough River Lake.

Tom takes a crappie off the hook during a guided fishing trip.

Tom uses a live well in his boat to keep fish he catches fresh.

Tom talks to client and friend Joe Leopold while filleting crappie he caught on Nolin Lake.

Tom sits on Nolin Lake with clients as the sun rises.