Photo Essay: An Aikens Weekend
Jun. 22, 2018
Editor’s Note: Travel journalist Tony Capecchi has produced media for television, magazine and radio outlets such as NBC, CBS, ESPN2 and In-Fisherman. He visited Aikens this May to write a series of articles. Here is a photo essay he wrote about his weekend at Aikens Lake.
Photo Essay: A Weekend at Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge
By: Tony Capecchi
Sharing photos from a fly-in fishing adventure with my dad at Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge over Memorial Weekend weekend. Here’s photos from Saturday – the day’s theme seemed to be fine dining and fine fishing. In the second part of this photo essay, I’ll share pics from Sunday, which was all about up-close encounters with wildlife!
Our day began with coffee delivered to our cabin at 6:30, then breakfast at 7 before meeting our guide at the dock around 8am.
About 5 minutes into fishing on Saturday morning we had a "double" - each catching a wallleye at the same time! Caught a bunch of walleyes like this and even saw some of the walleyes hit the bait in shallow water.
Later our guide took us to catch more walleyes and pike at the falls - very scenic.
Dad loved Aikens' shorelunch stations, and we went to a different site each day for a fresh walleye lunch!
Our guide prepared our fish 3 different ways - beer batter, mustard fry and Aikens cajun. SO delicious!
After catching so many walleyes, we decided to try for lake trout for a couple hours post-lunch. We caught a pair of 23-inch walleyes in the process and then landed this massive laker. It was such a thrill! Other than one morning at Aikens last year, we had never before fished for lake trout.
We enjoyed fine dining and fine fishing, but not fine shuffleboard play. Dad and I got whipped (as you can tell by the grin on the face of our competitor) – but it was still fun hanging out with other guests at Aikens’ bar for their daily, complimentary happy hour. Bad shuffleboard play ... great atmosphere!
As if shorelunch wasn't enough, we had bacon-wrapped steak for dinner on Saturday in the dining room.
Dessert was cheesecake!
After dinner, Dad and I went out fishing on our own. Aikens provides boats and gear/tackle/bait to use in the evenings, and my guide even gave me the jig & minnow I used for the lake trout that afternoon, which I used that night for this walleye. It was crazy how sunny and warm it was there - I'm usually a freeze baby but was comfortable in a t-shirt most of the evening. With the full moon, we could fish until almost 10pm!
Here are photos from our Sunday at Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge when we went exploring - past the rapids into the Gammon River, boating over to a portage lake to see the Lost Lake outpost cabin and going back to the falls. One of our all-time best wildlife days - watched a moose swim across the river, watched a bear for nearly 45 minutes and for a night-cap saw a moose with a 10-day-old calf. What a day!
I noticed a dot in the distance that looked suspicious ... so we boated over and got to watch this young moose swing across the river.
Eventually, the moose noticed us, too.
Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge is a full-service, guided fly-in resort. They also have an outpost cabin on the far side of the lake which we went and explored before lunch. Here's a video about the outpost cabin compared to the main lodge, where we stayed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNNLenRhhR8https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch?
Dad pondering the meaning of life while our guide prepared shore lunch and I snapped photos of the scenery.
Beer batter never tasted better!
This bald eagle enjoyed our shore lunch, too, picking up the discarded walleye fillet and digging right in.
Trying to keep the Sunday post about wildlife/scenery, but Dad caught too many nice walleyes like this not to include at least one photo.
Aikens Lake is located in historic Atikaki Provincial Park. The lake is filled with precambrian rock formations, several of which have old pictographs painted by First Nation people (i.e. Native Americans). For our day of exploration, our guide Dennis boated us to several and pointed them out, likely made my the shaman or medicine men.
After dinner we went back out fishing and saw a bear taking an evening drink. We were able to get super close to the bear - was awesome to view it for an extended period of time.
A beautiful full moon lit up the lake for night fishing, when the walleyes really went into feeding mode. Was gorgeous on the lake at 10pm.
What a day, and what a weekend! These photos fail to do it justice, but hopefully it provides a glimpse at an Aikens Lake weekend.