The first time I was introduced to the Aikens Lake experience was 2006. I was working for Travel Manitoba at the time and Aikens was hosting the first ever PWT Celebrity Shootout. The top ten finishers on the Professional Walleye Trail were invited to Aikens to participate in this first of a kind event. They would be teamed with celebrities from across North America who were vying for cash and prices, all for a good cause. In fact more than a $100,000 was raised for the Boomer Esiason Foundation for Cystic Fibrosis. I was teamed up with Andy Kuffer, a charter boat captain from Michigan who had been fishing the PWT Circuit for ten years. While we didn’t win, we had a great time in the boat together, just part of the three great visits I have had to Aikens.
The latest came the first week in September this year when General Manager Pit Turenne asked Hooked magazine to bring some friends and visit their new outpost camp on Lost Lake. A beautiful log cabin, this outpost is one of the first of its kind anywhere. It’s really hard to call it an outpost, since it has absolutely everything a person might need, including 24 hour power, ice machine, two fridges, depth finders, two bathrooms plus sleeping accommodation for eight.
Now you do have to cook your own food, and put a bit of gas in the boat now and again but if you lack anything, the lodge is just an email away. That’s right they have Wi-Fi service that keeps you in touch with the lodge (and the world!).
Lost Lake adjoins Aikens and is connected by a small river channel. This means you can fish both lakes with the boats that are supplied. They are nice roomy 16 foot aluminum models, with 20 horsepower four stroke motors. This allowed us to see almost every corner of the two lakes during our three day stay. While we caught quite a few fish during this visit, we didn’t catch any big fish. It seems with the extremely hot weather that we experienced, the bigger walleye had decided to stay deep until evening when they would move up the water column to feed on the ciscoes this lake holds. This pattern held over the deep water in the lake, and I mean deep! Aikens is over 300 feet deep, so there are also lake trout to be caught, though the walleye fishery is the mainstay.
If there is one thing that Pit Turenne learned from his dad that keeps Aikens the destination it is today were these words of wisdom. “You can’t control how good the fishing is, but you can try and control everything else!” Aikens staff live by that motto, and there is not a stone unturned to make your stay the best possible. When you arrive at the dock at the main lodge, the whole staff is on hand to greet the plane. That is just the start of the Aikens experience, which should include a visit to Big Molly’s Bar if you are staying at the main lodge. It’s outfitted with a couple pool tables, shuffle board and a full stocked bar, a great place to talk about the days fishing.
Many master angler fish are caught every year and the guides on this lake are excellent with the best equipment. Each drives a fully outfitted guide boat that has troll motors and top of the line electronics. While some times of the year are better than others you can expect to catch fish.
When Gerry and Lorraine Turenne sold part of the lodge to a group of American investors in 2005, Aikens now had the cash flow to take things to the next level. What really helped was the foresight the family had in building their own sawmill. This occurred just after the Turenne’s, along with partners Philippe & Jackie Lavack bought the lodge in 1988. This allowed them to produce their own wood, which not only saved the great expense of buying the wood and flying it in, but gave them the unique opportunity to build hand-crafted log structures. These cabins, especially the Great Gray Owl and Boardwalk Chalets, have become some of the most beautiful and unique accommodations among Canada fishing resorts. To check out the Aikens experience yourself, visit their website at www.aikenslake.com.
In Memoriam of Gerry Turenne
I first met Gerry Turenne during my days at Travel Manitoba. He wanted to meet at the Red Top Drive In to talk about fishing and the lodge industry. He was there to share some wisdom from his time in the same position I had just signed on for. That initial meeting had a huge impact on my time there, and we were to be friends until he passed away this past year. He wore many hats, such as the work with the Festival Du Voyageur, an event that is now an international success. Gerry was not afraid of hard work or telling people what he thought. He also had a huge soft spot for charity, especially when it involved young people. Gerry requested that when he passed away, he wanted any donations sent to the Fish Winnipeg Learn to Fish program. More than $3000 has been gifted to this event. He had a huge impact on this industry in Manitoba and he will be missed. Thank you for all your wisdom and generosity Gerry. It lives on with your family.