When he cast into the clear waters of Point Lake, Conrad Pilon probably didn’t expect to remain on the other end of that line for the next five hours. With Lake Trout clearing 40 pounds easily, some can put up a good fight – Pilon’s certainly did.
He played that fish for hours with the help of his guide until the rod broke, followed soon after by the line.
So, there was nothing to do but book another trip back to Peterson’s Point Lake Lodge to take another run at it. And he did.
Built from the bottom up 34 years ago on the edge of the Northwest Territories Barrenlands, Peterson’s Point Lake Lodge is a family-owned and operated business that brings guests back year after year – and for many more years after that. George Kimmel first visited the lodge in 1989 with his father. For them, it was the amazing wildlife viewing that stood out in those first few visits.
We saw caribou, moose, grizzly bear, wolf, wolverine and many species of birds. We fell in love with the pristine beauty of the Barrens. It is really an experience being in true wilderness where there are no roads and the only humans you encounter are your fellow fishermen and lodge staff.
As well as the sights on land, the size and number of Lake Trout they were able to catch brought the father-son duo back regularly. After his father’s passing a few years back, George still makes his way to the lodge to indulge in some freshly caught Lake Trout. And how could he not return when the Petersons treated both him and his elderly father like family from the beginning?
“We really emphasize quality,” says owner Margaret Peterson. “We don’t take a lot of people, typically we’ll will have around 10 people max – we can accommodate a few more but our groups are generally small.”
The small group-sizes allow for staffing ratios of one guide to every two guests, ensuring a quality experience and significant attention for every person on the trip. It also means that trips to the lodge can be catered to each group – it’s choose-your-own-adventure, with all of the provisions.
One group of connoisseurs plans ahead with the Petersons to pair their menu with choice wines, and makes sure to really soak in every shore lunch – a daily staple of a fishing trip at the lodge. One of the guests, Steve Cohen, even prefers to do a share of the cooking, frying up the shore lunches every day with the help of the guides.
Because of the numbers, the timing of when you’re going to fish and come in for dinner is very flexible. It’s a small group, so they work around us. They’re very accommodating in the sense that I can have the run of whatever they’ve got in terms of supplies to do the shore lunches. They’re really lots of fun and we bring wine, and beer too, but it’s less important than the wine.
Making the experience work for the guests is their goal at Peterson’s Point Lake Lodge – whatever the guests’ requirements. About an hour-and-a-half flight from Yellowknife, the lodge has four separate cabins offering different suites, both shared and independent. There’s a lounge area where guests relax and recall the full days of fish and food, and a shower house and sauna for added luxury.
Guides and guests all eat together and Cohen says staff are sure to make the experience fit everyone who comes up.
We had one of the fellows that went with us who had difficulty moving, transferring from boat to land and so on. Because of the structure of where they are, they can accommodate people who are a bit impaired in terms of their movement. I think that’s a really key thing. When he was there, they basically built a step for him to get up into the boat, and one of his legs had to be raised, so they built a step so he could rest his foot inside the boat. Those are things that are really important.
While the level of service keeps guests coming back, it’s the fishing that brings people up to the lodge in the first place. The largest recorded fish caught in Point Lake was a whopping 58-pound Lake Trout. And, being the only lodge on the lake, getting fished out is of little concern.
Both Grayling and Lake Trout are common in the waters, and many guests report a catch nearing 40 pounds. Some, like Joseph Labernik, are even luckier.
I think we’ve had two 40-pound Lake Trout and they’re very memorable. I had a 35-pound Lake Trout last year and my rod broke and we had to land it with the broken rod. Chad (Peterson) was helping hold the rod together. There’s two anglers and a guide in the boat – one pulling, one holding the rod, and the third was laughing.
Counting six return-trips to the lodge, with another planned for this summer, Cohen’s experience has been equally fruitful. And now knowing the area after so much time, the group gets involved with planning out their fishing spots, whether out on the lake or the smaller rivers that connect to the Coppermine River.
We were fishing in the river and one instance caught a 43-pound fish – that’s the biggest freshwater fish I’ve ever caught. It was really outstanding and took quite a while to bring it in. That was amazing. The other thing, too, is they have fly rods up there. It’s very difficult to fly fish with three in a boat, but you can put your fly out and troll it. Like what you might do in Western Canada with a mooching rod in the ocean, you can catch Lake Trout on a fly. I caught a 17-pounder and that was an outstanding experience.
The experience certainly doesn’t end with the fishing and hospitality. The Barrenlands that surround the lodge are silent and stunning – often surprising guests on their first visit. Peterson says many people come up just to have an entirely different experience, and that’s exactly what they get, from the winding sand eskers to the unpredictable wildlife sighting.
Moments like a caribou crossing that Labernik’s group was lucky enough to witness, seeing herds of 75 to 100 caribou cross their path every half hour or so, are also among the reasons the Petersons encourage anglers to bring along their cameras.
Having come up with a group of five to eight friends for the past five years, Labernik says they have no plans to cast away from Peterson’s Point Lake Lodge any time soon.
We plan on going back many, many more years. It’s the perfect place, as far as we’re concerned.