by Dave Weiman
Published in Midwest Flyer – October/November 2020 issue
I am sitting at my computer having just sent an email to would-be participants of our 2020 “Canada Fishing Fly-Out” to Miminiska Lodge, Ontario. Miminiska is one of very few fishing lodges with its own airstrip (CPS5), located 196 nm north of Thunder Bay, Ontario (CYQT), which makes it ideal for most of our participants who fly with “wheels!”
This great group of guys and gals in our group have looked forward to this year’s trip ever since they made their reservations back in 2019. Yes, for the first time in more than 20 years, our 2020 “group trip” was booked before December 1, 2019 – testament to the trip’s popularity, and a group of pilots who enjoy the trip year after year.
Unfortunately, the Canada government decided to keep the United States/Canada border closed for the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic here in the U.S. They had hoped to reopen the border at some point during the season, but eventually decided against it. While disappointing for our group, it has been a financial disaster for the hundreds of fishing lodges in Canada, as 99 percent of their business comes from the United States.
Under normal circumstances, tourism in northern Ontario generates $500 million in tax revenue each year and contributes $450 million to Ontario’s gross domestic product (GDP). In addition, 90% of the economic benefits of their tourism stays within their region. Still, the tourism industry has received no financial help from its government, and the fixed costs for these lodges has not gone away! For instance, lodges have hundreds of millions of dollars invested in aircraft, and millions more invested in boats and motors, not to mention their employees who are now without a paycheck.
Fortunately for our friends at Wilderness North, owners of Miminiska Lodge, they have some other sources of income, including flying fuel, people and supplies to native villages throughout northern Ontario, and government contracts elsewhere in the world. But they too have had to cut back and mothball some of their aircraft to stay afloat and limit their overhead.
Everyone in our group took the cancellation in stride, knowing that we have to take this pandemic seriously, and that the delay will only make our 2021 trip that much more rewarding.
While our “group trip” is rebooked and completely full for 2021, Wilderness North is now accepting bookings on a plane-by-plane basis to fill any vacancies throughout the season. Contact Wilderness North at 888-465-3474 (wildernessnorth.com) for availability, and once booked, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free copy of my personal “Canada Trip Planning Checklist to Miminiska Lodge.”
One member of our group asked: “So, Dave, is there a “Plan B?” That got me thinking of some great flying destinations here in the U.S., for fishing and other attractions.
A place Peggy and I have visited near Branson, Missouri is “Gaston’s Lodge” in Lakeview, Arkansas. There, you fish for Trout on the White River, although we are told there is a great Walleye lake nearby as well.
Gaston’s has a nice grass airstrip (3M0), Rwy 06/24, 3200 X 55 ft. that lies in a valley between some hills.
The lodge is a fourth-generation business, now operated by Clint Gaston, the great grandson of founder, Al Gaston.
Unlike Miminiska Lodge in which guide service is optional, guide service is highly recommended at Gaston’s because of the current in the river, and fishing hotspots are best known by the experts.
If you are destined for a Northwoods fishing experience south of the border, fly to International Falls, Minnesota (KINL) and stay at a lodge on Lake of the Woods. Just remember to stay on the U.S. side of the lake while the border is closed.
Another option is to fly to someplace like Mackinac Island (KMCD), or any of the other islands in the Great Lakes with airports, which were featured in a recent “Destinations” article by Yasmina Platt in Midwest Flyer Magazine, and charter a boat (midwestflyer.com/?p=13394).
Of course, you can always fly to your favorite airport restaurant, such as “Pat O’Malley’s Jet Room” restaurant, located in the Wisconsin Aviation terminal on the east ramp of Dane County Regional Airport (KMSN) in Madison, Wisconsin. Pat O’Malley’s Jet Room restaurant is open for limited seating; carry-outs are also available. For additional information, call 608-268-5010 (jetroomrestaurant.com). Pat O’Malley’s Jet Room restaurant is open from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Monday thru Saturday, and 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Sunday. For a complete list of all airport restaurants in Wisconsin, go to the “Archives” page at MidwestFlyer.com and see the map published by the Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics on pages 55 and 56.
If you have a list of airport restaurants in your state, please email it to me at email@example.com and I will share it with our readers.
Midwest Flyer Magazine Online & In Print
When Peggy and I started the magazine in 1978, it consisted of 12 black and white pages and distribution was limited to one state. Today, Midwest Flyer Magazine has increased in size (now 64 pages), quality (now color) and distribution (now reaching 12 states and beyond). With this growth has come increased costs, especially in printing and postage. While we have tried to offset these costs by growing our advertising base, we were faced with the decision to either increase rates significantly for 2021 or think outside the box. We chose the latter and thanks to the Internet, we have that option.
If you haven’t visited MidwestFlyer.com lately, I encourage you to do so. Each issue of the magazine is posted online and “archived,” so you can go back as far as 2006 and find articles previously published. Read the articles online, or print them yourself, and read them on paper!
Midwest Flyer Magazine and MidwestFlyer.com feature as many as 25 contributing editors and photographers in any one issue; weekly, and sometimes daily, news when it is news, and provide “free online subscriptions!”
Effective with the December 2020/January 2021 issue, we will publish five (5) issues online, and one (1) issue (April/May 2021) online and in print, and expand our print distribution for that issue.
Subscribe To Midwest Flyer Magazine
If you haven’t yet subscribed for a “free online subscription” to Midwest Flyer Magazine, I encourage you to do so without delay to avoid missing the next issue. Simply go to MidwestFlyer.com and click the “Subscribe Now” banner ad and signup!
Thank you for subscribing to Midwest Flyer Magazine, and to our loyal group of contributing editors, photographers and advertisers! We are looking forward to taking this journey with you in the New Year!