Love is in the Air
May. 19, 2016
Denise Kozlowski was determined. It was the last day of her trip at Aikens Lake, and she so desperately wanted to make The Century Club that she asked her husband and their fishing guide to skip shorelunch in order to save time and fish all day. At 4:40pm––20 minutes until the final bell––she got a bite, set the hook, and reeled in the walleye that brought her to the magical mark of 100 inches.
“It was down to the wire,” said Denise, of Lake Oswego, Oregon. The coolest part of the whole thing? Denise was at Aikens celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary with her husband, Greg.
The couple, who loves to travel and have lived overseas in Singapore and Germany, had decided they wanted to do a luxury fishing trip to celebrate their anniversary in 2014.
“We wanted somewhere we wouldn’t have to do any work and a place where we could have our own guide, but also could go out fishing by ourselves in the evenings,” Denise said. “Everything I could find about Aikens Lake rated it so highly, I figured all these people couldn’t be wrong.”
Silver is the traditional anniversary gift for 25 years of marriage, but for Denise and Greg, a luxury fly-in fishing adventure proved more meaningful, more memorable, and more exciting.
“We saw some cool wildlife, like moose and caribou,” Denise recalled. “We have some beautiful pictures from our anniversary trip and it’s all thanks to the guides. They’re equipped with cameras and took all the photos so we could just enjoy the moment.”
The couple planned on enjoying their actual anniversary night––May 27––with a late night celebration at Big Molly’s and some champagne, so they asked their guide if they could push back their start and begin fishing in the afternoon the following day.
“Eric was so accommodating. He was happy to change his schedule and take us out in the afternoon and evening instead that day,” said Denise, adding that Eric’s enthusiasm made fishing extra fun––especially when Greg caught a 26-inch, Master Angler whitefish that made the record books as one of the largest 15 whitefish ever caught in Manitoba. “I thought Eric was going to pee his pants when Greg pulled that fish in. Eric said, ‘It’s a whitefish, and it’s a beauty!’ His hands were shaking.”
The couple had so much fun they decided to return to Aikens the following year.
“To be honest with you, my husband and I never go back to the same place twice. We’re big travelers and we always like to try new things,” Denise explained. “But we loved it so much at Aikens, we knew by the end of our first week we’d be back. It’s just how well they take care of you there. They make you feel like you’re part of the family.”
The Kozlowskis brought a couple more family members with them for Year Two, Denise’s father, Jim, and her nephew, Joe. Both newbies fit in well at the lodge and had a great time, with Jim catching a Master Angler trophy walleye. A highlight for the group this visit was a day trip to the portage lake, Bonaventure.
“It was an adventure just getting to the lake,” Denise said. “There’s a little waterfall, and there are some logs in the river way so it takes some time to get there, but we were catching fish so fast. Literally, I would put my hook in the water and pull up another walleye.”
The group appreciated how hard the guides worked getting them out to the portage lake and serving up tasty shorelunches.
“Phenomenal. They’re such experts with the shorelunches that they have it down to a science,” Denise said. “They’re also open to other ideas on how to cook the fish. One day my dad said, ‘You should try it this way.’ So the guides changed up the batter and it tasted even better.”
Denise said no matter how full she is from the day’s meals, the end of the night always finds her sitting at Big Molly’s Bar eating popcorn. Who can blame her?
Another couple who enjoys a trip to Aikens Lake as a husband-wife vacation is James and Moni Derksen, from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
“Being away from our phones and computers really helps us spend quality time together at Aikens,” James said. “It’s just you and nature.”
Shorelunches, stories at Big Molly’s, fun times with the staff and––of course, great fishing––are always highlights to James and Moni. One year they even found themselves in the midst of the Olympics!
“We were lucky to be there for the Aikens Olympics,” James said. “All the competitions are a ton of fun––and Pit and Julie got us involved which was really cool.”
James, whose own father passed away from ALS ten years ago, was also touched by Pit participating in the ALS ice bucket challenge. “I would say at least ten coolers full of ice and water dumped on him and he ran down the line,” James recalled. “It meant a lot to my wife and me to see him and his staff support that cause.”
At Aikens, we love seeing wives bring their husbands, and vice versa. We’re glad our accommodations, meal plans and customer service appeal to couples.
“I would have never thought about taking my wife to a fishing lodge, especially a fly-in,” James said. “I had a friend tell me about Aikens so we went there together one day to check it out. When I saw how great the lodge was, how great the guides were, and how Pit and Pat treated you, I thought it would be great to come here with a bunch of couples.”
“We came to Aikens with our wives, and wow was it great! When we took our wives fishing before back home we were the driver, the guide, the baiter, the cleaner, etc., etc.” James said. “Now we sit in the front and let the guide do all that. My wife loves it, and I love it.”