National Outdoors Editor Calls Aikens the Best Lodge He’s Ever Experienced
Jun. 16, 2017
Minnesota man Dave Maas has spent nearly 25 years as an editor and writer in the outdoors industry covering all things hunting and fishing––including countless trips to elite hotspots across North America.
While journalism isn’t known to make folks rich, just imagine how many priceless experiences Dave’s had over the years “on the job” fishing with the best guides, at the best locations and lodges, during prime times for success. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it, right?
This May, we were pleased Dave paid us a visit for a series of articles he’s writing for Carbon Media’s popular OutdoorHub.com, where he works as Managing Editor. At the end of his trip, Dave gave us some feedback that absolutely floored us.
“Aikens was the finest I have ever seen in a hunting or fishing camp, bar none,” Dave said. “It was the trip of a lifetime, for sure.”
Coming from someone who’s enjoyed a lifetime of trips, the comment carries a lot of weight.
“From the moment we arrived on the Turbo Otter and all the guests are greeted by the entire working staff, until departure when everyone comes to the dock to say goodbye and by then you’re hugging some of the staff members you interacted with the most, it was fantastic,” Dave said. “It was the whole deal.”
The whole deal to Dave encompassed food, scenery and spending time with his brother, Steve. It also included some serious fishing.
“I had explained to Pit beforehand that I was really interested in getting a guide who was up to speed on gear and electronics, so he matched us up with Austin, who was excellent,” Dave said. “This is his fourth year at Aikens. He’s going to school in the Winnipeg area for fisheries and wildlife. He wants to get a career in that, so he’s very knowledgeable about the environment and surrounding area, which was great, too.”
“We let him know early on that while we wanted to get some walleyes for shore lunch, we mainly wanted to go for trophy pike,” said Dave, who ended up catching a pair of enormous pike at 45 and 47 inches to best the two Master Angler pike his brother caught, which measured 41 and 41.5 inches.
Dave’s a scientific angler with a mathematician’s mind for problem solving, so he loved the innovative approach Austin employed throughout their three days to catch the trophies. While they started casting spinnerbaits and spoons, they gradually switched to soft plastics and ciscos, eventually devising a system in which they pulled a pair of ciscos on rigs off planer boards.
“To catch the big fish was cool. To do it in a way where we used our brain, we figured out the situation and we maximized our opportunities, that’s what it’s all about,” said Dave, who used to guide at legendary Camp Fish founded by Al and Ron Lindner. “Catching fish is fun, figuring out the puzzle is fun, too.”
“It all started with Austin being attuned to his clients,” said Dave. “My brother doesn’t fish quite as much as me so he started to get tired of casting by the afternoon. He took a break from casting for a couple minutes, so Austin noticed that and asked Steve if he wanted to pull a cisco since we had started to catch some big pike on our first cisco rod. From there, Austin kept optimizing it with the planers boards to effectively troll several ciscos. He did an excellent job all around.”
Fine dining was another part of the Aikens Experience that stood out to Dave.
“The food was extraordinary,” Dave said. “If you wanted something a little bit different, they were happy to make it for you. The chef was out of this world. I loved how they gave out the Master Angler Awards at dinner. It’s really classy how all the guides have cameras and they present you with a big glossy photo of your Master Angler catch at dinner.”
He also appreciated the Master Angler photos on display at The Big Guy’s Tackle Shop, noting that it reminds him of how a local bait shop will display pictures of recent catches.
Dave enjoyed his Aikens Experience, and we thoroughly enjoyed hosting him.
“Dave was very inquisitive, which was fun,” said Pit. “It’s cool when you have someone who wants to understand so much about the fishery, the lodge and the whole operation. Dave and Steve are super nice guys, and obviously they did very well fishing.”
Stay tuned to hear more about Dave’s fantastic fishing––we’ll be sure to share links to his upcoming OutdoorHub articles featuring his Aikens Experience, including a detailed piece on their advanced rigging system for big pike.