One-on-one with Minipi pilot Chris Woodward

Minipi pilot Chris Woodward takes a moment to tell us what it’s like to fly the Minipi De Havilland Beaver and interact with guests at Minipi Lodges.

When did you know you wanted to be a pilot?

I grew up around the base here in Goose Bay and my father managed the biggest refueling contractor for military and civil aircraft, so I always loved aircraft, but knew I wanted to make it my career when I was in high school. I started flying in 1996.

When did you start working for the Coopers?

I started working for the Coopers back in 2009 while I was working as chief pilot of a corporate Jet operation, so for 2 years I worked both jobs. They need an operations manager and I love flying floatplanes so it fit for all of us. I started as their full time pilot in the summer of 2012.

Minipi beaver in flightTell me how a typical day runs while you’re doing a fly-out to Little Minipi.

Breakfast first at 8 a.m. and some planning with head guide Ray Best. Depending on the number of guests it could be 1 or two 2 flights to the fly out spot. If there is no other work to be done that day, and if there is room, I sometimes hang out do some fishing or helping around the guests. Terrible life I know but someone has to do it! *winks

What is your favorite thing about your job?

My favorite thing? Let’s see, there are so many but I can easily say two of them are a flat calm day on the lake and when guests are catching a lot of fish!

What is the strangest and/or funniest thing you’ve witnessed from the air?

Years ago when I was flying a Caravan for a local operator I was on my way back from Rigolet and the ice was covered in seals. Most didn’t mind the plane flying over, some would just rumble off back in to their holes. But there was one hole with 3 large seals by it and when they heard me coming, all three went for the tiny hole at the same time! Even from 300 feet above I could see their blubber ripple as the 3 large seals came together head first in a hole barely big enough for one. As I went by I could see them looking at each other but never did see one of them try to go down the hole again.

What is your most memorable moment from your time working as a bush pilot?

There are many. I really enjoyed flying with Mike Byrne as I learned the ropes of flying the bush.

Preparing for a fly-outWhat should future guests know about the ins-and-outs of a fly-out?

We are always looking for some new places to go on a fly out. The best thing is to sit down with Ray and I the day before and decide if you want to go to the places we know are great like Little Minipi and Big Minipi. Or take a chance on somewhere new. Who knows it might be great or not so great, but that’s all part of the adventure isn’t it?

Can you tell us some safety tips for travelling in the Beaver?

1) Always watch your head, the beavers wings are low when tied to a dock.
2) Be aware of exits and how they work. Take a look at the safety briefing card before departure.
3) Listen to the guides and the pilot, they have done this a few times in the past!
4) Have fun. And don’t poke the bear in the left seat.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Sure! I hope everyone has a great 2014 season. Take some great stories home and leave only your footprints behind.

Chris and guest Lisa and one of many brookies caught during a fly-out!

The Minipi Logbook

The days of having your friends throw their heads back and laugh at your ‘tall tales’ about that massive brookie you caught are over. Or at least they’re over for those who fish at Coopers’ Minipi Lodges.

No longer can you say the brookie you caught at Lover Boy was “definitely over 8 pounds..” and have people doubt your sanity. No, because now we’ve got our fish records online. The proof is in the pudding.

Yes, we waited a while to get these put back up again. There was some missing information – some guides were clearly so excited about the catch that their scribbles were unreadable, and some people preferred to remain anonymous. So after care was taken and tinkering behind the scenes on the web was complete, here they are, our fish records from 1980 right up until the end of last season in 2013.

Over 30 years of fish data records which can be sorted by the type of fish, the time of day, the weight, angler, fly and so on. This was a massive undertaking made possible by years of record-keeping by our guides and staff.

Jeff Andrews

“It helps to remember previous trips, valuable information on flies, and certainly gives credibility for others about the fishery,” says Jeffery Andrews, who has been fishing the Minipi watershed since 1982 and has a number of his own record-breaking brook trout registered in the Minipi logbooks.

“I think it also helps to show some fluctuations in the fishery as they go through cycles like other wildlife,” says Andrews.

So, what do you think? Up for being on the list in 2014?