nov. 14, 2016
What’s better than coming to Aikens Lake for your honeymoon? Coming back just as happy and in love 40 years later with your family to share the experience. Just ask Jerry Kottschade of Mankato, Minnesota.
He and his wife, Gerry, honeymooned at Aikens back in 1972 when the lodge was owned by Arthur Gaffrey. The newlyweds had a terrific experience with excellent fishing and came back several times in the early years of their marriage.
Young kids, busy jobs and hectic schedules then kept them away for several decades until they returned with their two adult kids in 2013––and have since made it an annual family vacation!
“After the kids grew up, we decided the four of us to go on a trip,” Jerry said. “We all have a great time at Aikens.”
After being away for so many years, the Kottschades certainly noticed how much Aikens had upgraded over the years.
“It’s completely different,” Jerry said. “New cabins, nice boats with nice-sized motors on them. When we very first came they had old Viking motors, I think 7.5 horsepower, that didn’t run very well. We’d bring sparkplugs.”
“The accommodations were OK, and the cabins were heated with a wood stove,” he said. “Years and years ago, you never knew exactly when you’d fly out. It was, ‘If the planes can go, we’ll get out there.’ Now, they’re always on time. The whole thing’s a well-run, oiled machine.”
Both Jerry and his wife love to fish and are quite good at it. You often hear stories about how much better the fishing was “back in the day” at many popular, famous lakes, but Jerry offered a good perspective on how Aikens Lake has actually seen its fishing improve thanks to its exclusive nature and early adoption of catch and release.
“I like that you can’t take any fish home anymore because the size of the fish has gotten bigger as a whole,” he said. “It’s become more of a trophy fishery. Also, when we first started coming up, nobody fished trout. Only in the last years that they’re concentrating on trout.”
Jerry’s kids, Dan and Laura, now have a tradition (largely successful) of trying to catch a lake trout on the last day of their trip. The family often spends a day in Bonaventure, which they call Johnson Lake, and also frequents Lost Lake in the evenings.
“The sunsets are absolutely gorgeous,” Laura said in her 2016 TripAdvisor review. “We honestly do not even feel like guests when we are there, we feel more like family and the staff is always so welcoming! I always look forward to going back and literally drag my feet getting onto the airplane to go back home because I love it so much there!”
Laura has been to Aikens five times now and along with her brother Dan is a real staff favorite. Based on her kind review, it appears the feelings are mutual.
“Aikens staff is more than amazing! The staff does not act like this is their job, but more of a passion,” she said. “There was never a time I have seen staff members not enjoying what they do. It makes it an even better place by seeing how much the staff loves their job and doesn't treat their guests like actual guests.”
Jerry and Gerry have seen one Aikens staff member grow up over the years: Pit.
“Jerry probably has a bunch of stories about me that I will want to censor, especially from when I was a young punk,” Pit said. “We love hearing his stories about the old days though, and it’s cool to see him and Gerry bring their kids and family. They can definitely fish.”
“Pit was a good kid,” Jerry says, rather generously. “He got along with everybody.”
When you meet the Kottschades you quickly realize they get along with everybody quite easily, too. And they certainly have their Aikens routine down.
“My kids ofen fish with guides at Aikens, but I fish unguided. I like doing our own shorelunches. The shorelunches are always great.”
We’re thrilled Jerry and Gerry continue to make shorelunches together, and are honored they choose to do so at Aikens. Our entire team enjoys seeing their honeymoon––and family tradition––continue.