One group of friends, all of whom have Kansas ties, has made the trek several times and have had some amazing experiences during their Northern journeys.
Jerry Waldschmidt, of Topeka, again joined his friends Jim Lane, of Olathe; Mark Beck, of Topeka; and Paul and Jason Oswald, of Alpharetta, Ga., this summer at Manitoba’s Elk Island Lodge on God’s Lake in search of giant walleye, lake trout and pike, and they weren’t disappointed.
“Elk Island Lodge is an incredible fishing destination, with native guides, first-class boats and motors and cabins with individual bedrooms and baths,” Waldschmidt said. “The shore lunch is a daily treat, and breakfast and dinners are four-star. Owner Greg Dick and his staff do an incredible job to make the whole experience unforgettable.”
The group had made a similar trip two years ago, marking the first Canadian fishing experience for everyone but Waldschmidt, who also returned last year with friend Ned Albro and caught a 41-inch trophy Northern pike.
“It was a great first experience for the novices, with lots of great catches of lake trout, walleye and Northern pike,” Waldschmidt recalled.
Hayden graduate Paul Oswald, a former offensive lineman for the Kansas Jayhawks and several NFL teams, brought his son, Jason, along on the trip, and the young angler made a memory that will last a lifetime by catching the only trophy pike of that initial outing.
While they were thrilled for the youngster to catch such a nice fish the last time out, Waldschmidt said their competitive nature got the best of them on this trip.
Not that Jason was doing much to ease the tensions, mind you.
“While generally a quiet and very bright young man, Jason took more than one opportunity to remind his elders that he was the only one with a Master Anglers Award for his trophy pike,” Waldschmidt said of the friendly gloating.
Waldschmidt, Lane and Beck made the 12-hour drive to Winnipeg, where they met with the Oswalds before heading to Manitoba.
When they finally started fishing, however, the elders worried it might be more of the same.
“There was some doubt when Jason landed a 41-inch, trophy pike the first morning,” Waldschmidt said. “However, fishing in the same cove a short time later, I yelled at him to look at the 42-incher I was holding.”
Lane, who calls the beautiful location his “happy place,” said he was disappointed that he slept through what by all accounts was an amazing aurora borealis while on the trip, but other than that, he had no complaints.
“Pike fishing was outstanding,” Lane said. “When the guide put you in a bay over a good weed bed, it felt like you were catching fish with about every other cast. Northern pike are so aggressive, it was fun to catch them whether or not they were 15 inches or 40 inches — although the 40s are special. Pike will strike about anything that catches their eye, but especially diamonds spoons, any bucktail spinners and the occasional baby duck lure.”
“This year, the we didn’t have the trout success as expected, but trolling for walleye proved fruitful with Berkley Flicker Minnows and Flicker Shad,” Lane said. He added that the shore lunches of breaded and fried fresh walleye or pike, prepared by the First Nation guide, still ranks among the highlights of the trip.
Waldschmidt said that the fishing experience over the next few days was “incredible,” but it was nothing compared to that final morning.
“With only a morning of fishing left before the return flight to Winnipeg, we had landed seven trophy pike and a 28-inch walleye that Mark caught,” Waldschmidt said. “Paul had caught three himself and the only one without a trophy fish was Jim.
“With all feeling a little bad for him, he took off with a guide by himself, quietly determined to get his trophy.”
“Several hours later he was back at the dock, quietly grinning, with iPhone pictures (Manitoba is catch and release) of not one, but two monster pikes, giving our group an unbelievable 10 trophy fish for the trip, in addition to dozens of lake trout and walleye caught.”
That’s just the type of fishing you can expect from a great Northern lake.