An Aikens Tradition Renewed: Like Father, Like Mother, Like Daughter
Dec. 06, 2018
When Michael Peterson first booked a buddies fishing trip to a rustic Canadian fly-in camp called Aikens Lake some 50 years ago, he couldn’t have anticipated the lodge’s evolution or its significant role in his family’s life in the half century since.
Michael’s wife, Lynn, loved to fish as much as Michael and often as not ended up out-fishing her dear husband, so when Michael returned to Aikens several consecutive years with his group of friends, Lynn made a decision.
“You can’t go anymore unless I go, too,” said Lynn, sparking a wonderful tradition for the couple who began visiting Aikens each year to celebrate their anniversary. Back then, Aikens was far from a luxury lodge and the couple was entirely on their own fishing without guides and making their own shorelunch (chopping firewood and all).
The lake’s pristine scenery, remote setting and bountiful, big walleyes amazed the couple and their Aikens adventures quickly became the annual vacation they dreamed about all year long.
Over the years, stories of Michael and Lynn’s epic adventures were passed down to their own children, who always remembered the tales of Aikens Lake and its giant walleyes. Their daughter Amanda, an avid angler, was especially captivated by the stories. This past year, Amanda finally experienced Aikens firsthand with her lifelong fishing partner and husband, Adam Paschal, in a manner her father and mother (who passed away 8 years ago), would have loved and appreciated: An Aikens Lake vacation to celebrate the Colorado couple’s 10th wedding anniversary.
From the very first moment of the trip, the Aikens Experience was pure magic for the Paschals.
“Trip of a lifetime for us. My parents had always said Aikens was an amazing place, but I think until you actually go it doesn’t put it all in perspective,” Amanda said. “For us celebrating our 10-year anniversary together it was pretty remarkable, from the very start getting picked up for the floatplane and then the welcome from the staff was hands down one of the most amazing pieces because they’re all there to welcome you by name. It’s like, oh my gosh! You’re royalty on this plane that just came in and everybody wants to see you.”
Amanda’s arrival and introductory walk on the dock carried extra meaning because she was wearing a keepsake from her late mother: a 40-year old Aikens shirt her mom used to wear. The Aikens team couldn’t believe it, and all the staff members were asking where Amanda got the vintage shirt and joking that if she left it laying around they would borrow it and start wearing it themselves.
“That was one of the memories I remember most. The fact that I was wearing that, on our welcome day, and it was mom’s, will be forever in my heart,” Amanda said. “It was the perfect way to start the perfect trip.”
The fishing itself could not have started any better either, as Amanda and Adam BOTH made the Century Club on their first day! Incredibly, the fishing only got better from there, with Amanda making the Century Club again the very next day, the duo getting a crazy 27-inch double with a small guy on the same jig in Lost Lake and Amanda and Adam each independently landing at 99 or 99.5” for their biggest four walleyes each day.
As amazing as the fishing began for them, the Paschals saved the best for last, switching gears and targeting lake trout on their last day. The couple loves to fly fish for trout back home in Colorado, so on a calm, sunny day Adam especially wanted to chase Aikens’ large-but-elusive lake trout.
The day was epic from the start, with Adam quickly hooking (and eventually catching) a Master Angler laker that took 47 minutes to reel in. The day was so legendary, in fact, it deserved a spotlight article all of its own. Click here to read the spotlight of their incredible lake trout day. For a teaser, here’s the quick scoop: The amazing day included the Paschals’ guide jumping out of the boat in celebration not once but twice, two lake trout 37 inches or bigger, and the husband and wife catching a double (two trout at the same time) in route to a 9 lake trout day, all before shorelunch.
“Fishing was bonkers for them,” Pit said, summing it up well. Pit also appreciated the significance of the Paschals following in Michael and Lynn’s footsteps.
“Being a second-generation lodge owner, I derive great happiness and find a lot of satisfaction in hosting a second-generation couple at Aikens. My parents hosted Michael and Lynn for decades, and now I will hopefully have the opportunity to host Amanda and Adam for many years to come,” Pit said. “It goes to show that the Aikens Experience is a powerful draw that carries on through generations.”
The Paschals said the family-like atmosphere was a huge part of their Aikens Experience.
“It’s just one big family. It’s secluded. You can choose whether or not you want to be a part of what they offer with hanging out in Big Molly’s bar, or you can be on your own. You have a lot of freedom, but it’s also like one big family party because you’re in a small area with a lot of welcoming people,” Amanda said. “Everyone was sharing stories of their days on the water, and everyone had a smile on their face. The environment in which you were in, it was just this warm, fuzzy feeling. It was hard to wipe the smile off your face because it was such a happy to place.”
“I felt like Aikens had a lot to live up to because of my parents. They raved about this place for decades, and it lived up to every expectation and more,” Amanda said. “Adam travels a lot for work and we’re busy with two active kids, so this was an escape to be away together. I know in today’s world a lot of people don’t get a chance to truly get away. For my husband and me to get the quality of time we had together at Aikens, it is irreplaceable.”
The Paschals are already eagerly scheming their return trip, when they plan to introduce their 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son to Aikens while re-introducing Amanda’s father to the special place and family tradition he started all those decades ago on a “buddies fishing trip” that turned into so much more.
“For us to be able to share that special time together, doing what we both love, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Amanda said of their trip. “The only thing better would be that our kids would be with us!”