Doctors Take to Aikens Lake
May. 25, 2015
“Julie Turenne is the most amazing woman in Manitoba,” Steve Andersen told the border patrolman inspecting passports and guarding the entrance into Canada.
“I agree,” the guard responded. “You can go ahead, I’m not even going to check your passport.”
Steve tells this true story with a chuckle, recalling last year’s border crossing. The guard noticed Steve’s Aikens shirt and commented, “My cousin is a co-owner of Aikens.” Steve figured out who the cousin was (Julie), then made the above statement proclaiming how impressed he is by Julie’s ability to manage lodge logistics and help take care of every detail an Aikens guest could possibly want. Just like that, he was across the border.
According to Steve, that level of service is a key reason why he and a large group of doctors are returning to Aikens this June for the 34th annual Cornhusker-Canadian Clinical Conference (CCCC).
“You think you’re at a Ritz-Carlton, you seriously get that level of treatment and amenities,” said Steve, who’s been attending annual CCCC fishing trip for the past 25 years. “You walk into the lodge off the dock and it looks like you’re in a showroom at Cabela’s displaying high-end cabin furniture––and here it’s a fly-in in the wilderness! The operation is immaculate, and everything from the cabins to the boats it top of the line.”
The conference combines qualifiying lectures for the physicians’ continued medical education with outstanding fishing, fellowship and a chance to enjoy wilderness beauty at Atikaki Provincial Park. It’s a smart group. Participants include cardiologists, urologists, dentists, family practice physicians, the head physician of Nebraska’s state penitentiary, and orthopedic surgeons––along with a few spouses and friends. The doctors are also professors for Nebraska’s renowned medical school, but during their time at Aikens their assignment is to relax, fish and be students for a couple hours a day at various lectures.
Last year the group enjoyed excellent fishing. Dr. Ron Craig, for example, caught two different species of Master Angler fish … in one day! A 38-inch lake trout coupled with a monster, 31-inch walleye.
It was gratifying for Steve to see the various physicians, some of whom rarely get a chance to fish other than their annual Aikens adventure, have such outstanding action. When the group was looking to upgrade after nearly 30 years of fishing trips at various lodges across Manitoba, Steve was one of three people who selected Aikens as the host location for the conference
“Steve’s an elite angler who’s competed in In-Fisherman’s Professional Walleye Trail (PWT) tournaments across the U.S. and has caught five different species of Master Angler fish in Manitoba,” said Pit Turenne, noting Steve’s win at a major tournament in Chamberlain, South Dakota. “You could just see, with his level of expertise, that he recognized the quality of our fishery and realized right away what type of fishing experience Aikens would provide this group.”
“The three of us responsible for finding the new location to host the conference did a bunch of research to identify the elite lodges in Canada, then we visited and fished the three best resorts we were considering,” Steve explained. “All three of us immediately said, ‘We’re going to Aikens!’ I’ve walleye fished everywhere from Lake of the Woods (on the Minnesota-Ontario border) to Bull Shoals in Arkansas––so I’ve learned what to look for in a lake––and Aikens is without question a world-class fishery.”
Steve detected another advantage in Aikens Lake which was unique compared to many of Canada’s other most famous lakes: its manageable size and proximity of quality fishing spots. “A lot of these other top lakes are massive. You’re running an hour-plus in the boat one-way before you even start fishing, and depending on the wind you’re getting pounded that whole time,” said Steve, who’s already tied over 200 customized snells for the upcoming Aikens trip. “At Aikens you might make a 10 or 15-minute run at the most, and there are so many good fishing spots near the lodge you’re actually fishing more hours per day at Aikens Lake than other lakes because you’re not wasting two or three hours a day running to and from spots.”
This year, the CCCC is implementing a few clever changes to its schedule to even further maximize fishing time. Instead of doing a lecture in the morning and then hitting the water at 9am, they’re going to go fishing right away and have lecturers present at noon, while the guides are cleaning the fish and preparing the shorelunch.
Talk about a scenic way to complete a required continuing education lecture. Sit back at a picturesque shorelunch station and listen to the lecture with the waves lapping against the shore in the background while your guide prepares beer batter fillets cooked over the open fire with walleyes that were swimming free just an hour before. If only med school classes could be taught in this format!
The shorelunch scene and Aikens Experience would surely appeal to students, as it does to people from all walks of life.
“Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge is honeymoon-ready,” said Steve. “The bride would be thrilled with her husband if he picked this place for a honeymoon––the facilities are that nice.”
As it turns out, a physician in the CCCC actually married her husband at Aikens during the conference several years ago. “I applied to the province and received certification to preside at the wedding,” Julie said. “We did the wedding in Big Molly’s Bar, and it went really well.”
The couple went fishing on their wedding day. “That was the most pressure I’ve ever felt guiding,” said Tyler, the guide who took them out that day. “Fortunately, we had good fishing and they had a blast.”
We’re thrilled to welcome back Steve and this special group for their 4th consecutive year of hosting the conference at Aikens. Our guides have had nothing but great things to say about fishing with the doctors, and we had a blast interacting with the group throughout the day and hanging out with them each night at Big Molly’s. Receiving such positive feedback from Steve and seeing first-hand how much fun this group has at Aikens is exact what we love most about sharing the Aikens Experience.
“Nobody in Manitoba can compete with Aikens for the quality of the fishing, the quality of the staff, and the quality of the facilities,” Steve said. “I’ve been all over Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and fished across the U.S. with the PWT, and Aikens is simply the best gig.”
If you’re a physician interested in attending this year’s CCCC event, click here to visit the CCCC website, or contact Aikens directly at 800-565-2595 or firstname.lastname@example.org.