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Home Story The phone call of the wild

The phone call of the wild

Margaret Peterson founded Peterson’s Point Lake Lodge with her husband Jim more than 35 years ago. She has a saying: you come up as a guest, and you leave as friend and family

No one embodies that motto more than George Kimmel, a resident of El Paso, Texas, who has been making the annual migration north to the lodge every year since striking up a friendship with Jim over the phone in 1989. 

Peterson’s Point Lake Lodge offers fantastic trophy fishing, as well as magnificent fall Aurora viewing and unparalleled wildlife photography opportunities, due to the lodge’s location in the remote Barrenlands that explode with colours every fall. Kimmel, who first travelled north with his father to hunt and fish, is pretty much part of the family, having forged an unbreakable bond with the Peterson family.

Here’s Amanda Peterson, Margaret and Jim’s daughter and co-owner of the lodge, telling the story of one of the lodge’s extended family members:

George Kimmel has put on some serious miles. Over the last 30 years, he’s driven the 9,000 kilometres (5,600 miles) round-trip from El Paso, Texas to Yellowknife two dozen times. (The other six times, he’s accumulated air miles.) That’s more than a few trips around the world!

It was 1989, George made the call to my father, Jim Peterson, founder of Peterson’s Point Lake Lodge, to inquire about caribou hunting. That phone call changed their lives forever: George and Jim hit it off right from the start. George booked two spots and he headed north with his father Ray. With one great trip behind them, father and son came back annually.

In the early years, George and Ray hit the road with their fiberglass boat in tow so they could fish local waters in Yellowknife before flying up to Peterson’s Point Lake Lodge. Sometimes they came to hunt. Sometimes to fish. Most times, it was a bit of both. Each trip was unique and memorable in its own way. And each trip solidified the friendship between George and my father, along with the rest of our family. Friendly competitions and practical jokes kept everyone on their toes. The jokes and laughs were never in short supply.

George has almost become one of the staff. If he’s not holding a fishing rod in his hand, you can find him looking after some lodge tasks, like filling out the weather and wildlife sighting reports. George captivates fellow guests and staff alike, telling jokes around the dining room table and sharing stories of the day’s adventures and times past.

One such adventure was the day he got a strike and had a fish on his line. It wasn’t typical trophy trout action; the fish was not fighting very hard until George had reeled it in half way. “My fishing rod bent right over,” he says, in his southern drawl. “It took some time to reel in my catch.” George’s guide, John, got the net out. As the fish came into view, they could see a large lake trout had latched on to the fish hooked on the lure. “The big laker was not going to give up his prize. We had lots of laughs from the catch and both fish were released.” It wasn’t the first time George had seen evidence of a fish going after his catch, having seen bite marks or gouges before. But this time the trophy laker refused to let go of his bait!

Another story George likes to share is the time he went fishing with his buddy, Jack Levesque, with my brother, Chad, acting as guide. Fishing had been really good that morning and after catching several lake trout, George’s luck turned sour. “I was getting a lot of strikes but I could not hook a fish.” This went on for some time. George accused Chad and Jack of putting a hex on him. When it was time to reel in and meet up with others for a shore lunch, George found the hook on his lure was missing.

George has lost track of the number of record trophy lake trout he’s caught and released, and the caribou he got to see long ago. He’s experienced the beauty of the changing seasons at the lodge and in life. The lodge has transformed over the years: the original roots in hunting left behind to cater to trophy lake trout anglers, photographers, Aurora chasers and outdoor enthusiasts. George’s father Ray was 87 when he made his last trip to the lodge in 2001. Ray and Jim always kept in touch until Ray’s passing in 2006.

George has experienced all that the lodge offers. He has honed his photography skills through the many workshops. He knows the terrain and the lake well after years of fishing, hiking and berry picking. All the while, he keeps a watchful eye for grizzly bears (some stories can only be told first-hand) and, of course, viewing the incredible aurora.

Despite the interruption in his annual trip this year due to travel restrictions from COVID-19, George and my family keep in touch, along with the lifelong friendships forged with the lodge guides and regular guests. “The best times of my life were the times I spent at Point Lake,” says George, reflecting back to that fateful phone call with Jim back in 1989. “I still come to Point Lake all because of that call”.

 

Amanda Peterson,

Co-owner of Peterson’s Point Lake Lodge

 

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