déc. 26, 2017
June 1, 2017 was a remarkable day at Aikens Lake. So incredible, in fact, that its fishing feat will likely never be duplicated. For what we believe is the first time in Aikens history, a Manitoba Master Angler fish of all six primary gamefish was caught on the same day.
Walleye, pike, lake trout, sucker, whitefish and burbot, each species producing a trophy. Just how unlikely is that? Well, to put it in perspective, consider this: Prior to that day, a Master Angler burbot hadn’t been caught on Aikens in twelve years. In the entire 2017 season, only five Master Angler whitefish were caught.
This monumental feat required the combined efforts of our 20-some guests and working staff to land a trophy whitefish for which we basically average one per month, a trophy burbot that hadn’t happened in over a decade, a trophy sucker which aren’t frequently targeted … and then conquer the top of the food chain by catching a fish-of-a-lifetime-type trophy walleye, pike and lake trout!
It was all started by guest Nate Siegel, who had a ridiculous trip having already caught a 42.5-inch and 43-inch pike in the two previous days. One June 1 at 10am on a perfect sunny day, line started peeling off his rod with a cisco rig on it and he set the hook on a hog. He was hooked up with a top predator in the lake, and expertly played it to catch a gorgeous 38-inch lake trout.
The second Master Angler came right before lunch, when Tom Frain of Winnipeg caught a 22¾-inch whitefish at noon. His spot? The Falls, which proved to be a crucial component of this epic day.
Surprisingly, Team Aikens didn’t get on the board again with a Master Angler until eight hours later, when Brian Hogan caught a 21.5-inch sucker at The Falls while casting a purple Flickr Minnow.
An hour later at 9pm, Secret Bay gave up a massive 42-inch pike to Steve Finerty. The fish came on a cisco rig, guided by Evan via an approach his brother, Austin, used with great success on a memorable day one week earlier while guiding OutdoorHub editor Dave Maas to a monster 45- and 47-inch pike.
While Evan was out guiding, many of our off-duty staff took a couple boats out to enjoy an evening relaxing together on the water. Of course, as long as you’re out you might as well wet a few lines, right?
Sure enough, at 9:45pm staff member Gabrielle Marquis caught a 28-inch Master Angler walleye at The Saddle on a jig and a minnow. The crew erupted in cheers when Gabrielle landed the fish, bringing the presumed end to a remarkable day––FIVE different species of Master Anglers fish.
A few minutes later, the crew started joking about what if someone caught a Master Angler burbot. Everyone laughed it off, though, since Aikens Lake hadn’t produced a trophy burbot in over a decade. By that time, Evan was finished guiding and had joined the group.
He had a strike about 15 minutes after Gabrielle’s walleye and set the hook on a solid fish.
“Oh, it’s a trophy burbot!!” Evan yelled out in jest, prompting the entire crew to study him as he reeled in the fish.
“Sure enough, I saw this huge burbot and I couldn’t believe it,” Evan said. “As soon as we netted it we knew for sure it was a Master Angler and we just lost it. We all started hooting and hollering and going nuts.”
The fish, measuring 31.5 inches, completed the cycle to finish off the historic day. The crew was extra excited because they were aware of the significance June 1 already has at Aikens.
“It was the two-year anniversary of Pit’s dad passing away,” said Evan, referring to Gerry Turenne’s death in 2015. “We all knew it was a tough day for Pit, and we couldn’t believe what happened.”
The crew zipped back to the main lodge and burst into Big Molly’s Bar, where Pit was hanging out with a bunch of our guests.
“Pit wondered what was going on when we ran into Big Molly’s because he could see we were all so excited,” Evan recalled. “Jesse got up and said a few words to Pit about the anniversary of his dad’s death and then explained what had just happened on the lake that day. It was really cool. We all thought The Big Guy was looking down at Aikens that day and probably had something to do with it.”
Needless to say, the day made quite an impression on Pit.
“I knew the staff were not planning on being in Big Molly’s Bar that night, and we were enjoying a quiet evening with a few guests. When I saw them all pile into Big Molly’s, I was pretty curious as to what was going on,” Pit said. “Everyone was in party shirts, and when Jesse got up on a chair and start talking about my dad, I thought they were there to cheer me up on June 1st… which was certainly part of it. I was touched by their thoughtfulness. But then to hear all the stories of trophy fish in all these different species, especially how they targeted burbot at the end of the night to try and cap it all off, was incredibly special.”
“The Big Guy was certainly present at Aikens that day, and I am grateful to the staff for including all of us in their celebrations that evening. That moment is something I’ll never forget.”