by Dave Weiman
Last year, participants in the “Canadian Fishing Fly-Outs” promoted by Midwest Flyer Magazine, had their choice of two fishing lodges, or they could opt to visit both lodges. The trips resulted in good fishing, wonderful pilot camaraderie, and great flying adventures across the Canadian wilderness.
Trips to Miminiska Lodge, Ontario, and Elk Island Lodge, Manitoba, were staggered, so those who wanted to stay at both lodges, could do that. Both lodges have private airstrips, which make them attractive to owners of aircraft on wheels or floats.
A number of us going to Miminiska Lodge chose to stay over at the beautiful Valhalla Inn in Thunder Bay, the night before our arrival to Miminiska to get an earlier start and beat incoming weather. The weather turned ugly by 3:00 pm after we arrived at Miminiska. Those not yet out on the lake, stayed in the lodge. Those on the lake, returned to the docks.
Many of us flew as a group from Thunder Bay to Miminiska, spacing ourselves with the fastest planes in the lead, and stayed in radio contact with one another on 122.75 Mhz. All pilots flying 25 nm beyond their departure point are required to file a flight plan, unless someone at their destination airport is expecting them, and can contact authorities to initiate search and rescue if they do not show up within 1 hour of their ETA. This procedure is referred to as “Flight Notification.” Due to poor radio communications with Winnipeg Flight Service when flying in remote regions of Canada, and no access to a telephone at Miminiska, we have found Flight Notification a valuable tool. Further enhancing safety is flying as a group, staying in radio contact with one another, and giving position reports every 50 miles or so.
For those of us who flew to Miminiska Lodge (CPS5), we cleared Canada Customs in Thunder Bay (CYQT). Miminiska is located 196 nm northeast of Thunder Bay. Lake Nipigon served as a prominent landmark along much of our route. The last airport we flew over was Armstrong (CJF6), located 83 nm south of Miminiska Lodge. There is a road between Thunder Bay and Armstrong, then short mining roads here and there between Armstrong and Miminiska, but it is pretty desolate country. While everyone on the trip has at least a portable GPS, we also keep track of our positions with aeronautical charts.
Those who flew direct to Elk Island Lodge (CKZ3), cleared Canada Customs in Kenora, Ontario. Elk Island Lodge is located 293 nm north of Kenora.
Those of us who stayed at Miminiska one-night, then flew on to Elk Island Lodge the next day, were on a fast track, and fortunately the weather cooperated. We arrived at Miminiska on the 10th in time for lunch and fishing that afternoon, enjoyed both a reception and dinner that evening, fished until shore lunch the following day, then launched at 1:30 pm EDT for Elk Island Lodge, 272 nm northwest of Miminiska with a fuel stop at Pickle Lake, Ontario (CYPL), 62 nm from Miminiska. We arrived at Elk Island Lodge by 5:30 pm CDT.
At the same time we were approaching Elk Island Lodge from the southeast, members of our group that were flying from Kenora to Elk Island Lodge were approaching from the south.
When I made a position announcement on 122.75 Mhz, fellow pilot, Phil Peterson of Oregon, Wisconsin, who was flying with his son, Mark, replied that they had departed Kenora about an hour earlier and were northbound. We were both merging towards Elk Island Lodge.
Miminiska Lodge, Ontario
Miminiska is Wilderness North’s premier American plan lodge and one of Ontario, Canada’s most respected full-service fishing destinations.
Located on the Albany River in northwest Ontario, and miles away from the nearest road, Miminiska Lodge offers guests the opportunity to experience the raw beauty of pristine boreal wilderness. Northern Pike and Walleye were caught in abundance. Fly-outs on a turbo Otter with floats were available to anyone who wanted to fish for Brook Trout.
The all-inclusive package at Miminiska Lodge included our choice of six clean, spacious cabins with room for four to 12 guests; or private accommodations located adjacent to the main lodge – perfect for a couple or a group of two.
Miminiska Lodge has 16 ft. Lund boats with 25 hp Yamaha 4-stroke, electric start motors and fish finders. The main lodge has television and free WI-FI internet service.
Meals were professionally prepared and were superb! Daily shore lunches or box lunches were provided, although we opted to have the staff prepare shore lunches for the group on none other than “Shore Lunch Island.” Evening receptions were complimentary!
Elk Island Lodge, Manitoba
A number of us caught trophy fish at Elk Island Lodge on Gods Lake. Northern Pike, Walleye, and Lake Trout were quite abundant. We caught the Lake Trout at a depth of 120 feet, and our guides smoked some of them for a midnight snack. Reeling in a Lake Trout from those depths is like reeling in a cinder block! Unlike the Albany River Watershed at Miminiska Lodge where you do not need a guide, guides are mandatory on Gods Lake, due to the size and complexity of the lake.
Miminiska Lodge features a 2400 X 50 ft. grass runway with a clear approach over the lake towards the east (CPS5). Elk Island Lodge has a 3800 X 100 ft. gravel runway (CKZ3).
Participants in the 2014 fly-outs included pilots and their friends or spouses from as far as California, but as close to home as Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. In past years, we have had pilots from Minnesota, Michigan, Florida and Arizona.
2015 Canadian Fishing Fly-Out
The first two fishing trips to Miminiska Lodge for 2015 are sold out, so the lodge is now booking two additional trips, August 14-17, and August 14-19, 2015.
For trip details and special group rates, email info@MidwestFlyer.com.
For reservations, contact Wilderness North at 1-888-465-3474 (www.wildernessnorth.com).
“Whether on wheels or floats, this Canadian fishing trip is for you!”
Waiver of Liability/Responsibility: The Canadian Fishing Fly-Outs described herein or elsewhere by the editors of Midwest Flyer Magazine are a service of the hosting lodge and their parent companies, if any. Dave Weiman is acting only as a fellow participant on the trips, and neither he nor Midwest Flyer Magazine, Flyer Publications, Inc., or their staffs and owners assume any liability for the participation of others on the trips or for the trips themselves, and do not assume any responsibility for the reliance upon the information provided on accommodations, or in regards to trip planning. Any information provided by either Dave Weiman, Midwest Flyer Magazine or Flyer Publications, Inc., may be based solely on the experience and information of one pilot, and information available at the time provided. For trip planning, pilots are encouraged to refer to the Canada Flight Supplement published by Nav Canada, navigational charts, and information available from the Federal Aviation Administration, Nav Canada, U.S. and Canada Customs & Border Protection, Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, and other sources.