My first Canadian Fly in was in June of 1959. Over the years I’ve fished in Ontario, Saskatchewan, of course Manitoba, Minnesota, South Dakota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Wyoming and the Grand Caymans. The places I’ve stayed range from Out post to Resorts and everything in between.
I’ve been coming to Aikens lake for several years, 84 days on the lake so far with 12 more planed for 2018. Some years have been double trips. Some with my - I don’t fish I just catch - Wife, my Son, old friends, new friends I met at Aikens and by myself. Hot, cold, sunny, windy, calm, rain, snow, May, June,July, August, and September I ‘ve seen them all. I’ve caught hundreds of fish and have hundreds of great memories. I, myself have nine Master Anglers caught at Aikens. (Seven Pike, One Lake Trout and a Walleye) We have stayed in every cabin at the main lodge except Park Place.
With these credentials I think I can speak with some credibility as to the “Aikens Experience” and why I keep returning.
I’ll start with the planning. Fly in locations have flight schedules. Many have specific arrival and departure dates. At Aiken, “you” pick the arrival and departure dates. If you fly to Winnipeg and are lucky to have a flight that arrives early enough, they will meet you IN the airport for a 90-minute ride to the float plane base. Then a 30- minute flight to the lake, where you’ll have plenty of time to settle in and prep your gear, and be ready for happy hour at 5:30, dinner at 6:30, and on the water about 7:00. Can’t make it early enough – stay overnight in Winnipeg (there are several hotels at or near the airport ) the van will pick you up at your hotel about 6:00 am the next morning and you’ll be at the lake before 9:00. Hungry? They will have breakfast for you. I’ve done both.
The staff- what can I say. They greet you at the dock when you arrive, your guide, the chef, the dogs, Pit, Julie, Janelle, Patrick, Lorraine, the kids, and the rest of the staff that’s not out fishing. How they find and keep so many polite, friendly, courteous, intelligent, and attentive people year after year I have no idea. You forgot something or have a question, just ask any one of the staff, they’ll get you what you need or tell someone who can. They learn your like and dislikes (my only dislike is broccoli- which has become quite the joke- at least once a trip a sprig of broccoli will show up somewhere unexpected – like on my desert or eggs). They make you feel welcome and relaxed.
The food is outrageous! No weight loss program here. Breakfast starts at seven after coffee or whatever you prefer, is delivered to your cabin at 6:30. Shore lunch is unbelievable. Beer batter, Cajun. lemon pepper, salt and pepper, yellow mustard has become a favorite of mine, baked, fried, walleye, pike, perch and if you’re lucky lake trout, done them all! Dinner – Gordan Ramsey would be happy. Just be warned – we met up with some friends one year and shared a table - they brought out a plate of
standing ribs. We all thought it was for the table until they brought 3 more plates full. Then there’s desert. Enough said.
The boats, guides and the fishing are all top of the line. The Lund Alaskan is a great boat to fish from, stable and open. They keep them updated and well maintained, from the seat to the electronics, the outboards to the decks, all well cared for. The guides are what one would hope for, they know the lake the fish and the conditions. They can assist you with everything or follow your directions. Never fished before, they will teach you. My wife never fished before Griff got ahold of her – now she tells people, “I don’t fish, I just catch.” If you are a well-seasoned angler, tell them what you’re looking for and they’ll do their best to make it happen. I always ask for the guides advice, because they often think of something I haven’t thought of trying. They spend a lot of time on the water. I like to have at least one day of what I call Guides choice. They pick the place and the technique. Aikens Lake is a dream to fish.
You have all the structures and features you could want, deep holes, islands, narrows, falls, rapids, weed beds, bays and the river. After walleyes, well, there have been days that we had a hard time catching small enough walleyes for lunch. Although this is not an issue as the guides can easily produce a perfect boneless pike filet. If you are after either quantity, quality or specific species, they are there, it’s up to the angler. The waters are full of fish.
The lodging is top notch. The cabins are clean, comfortable, roomy, and modern, with stunning details. They have AC, heat, screened porches, and tons of hot water. Every year there is something new at the Lodge and every year I’m surprised at what they’ve done.
They say “you get what you pay for” at Aikens you get more. They know what they’re doing, and it shows. Its called “The Aikens Experience.”