Minipi has a way of catching hold of some people, the memories people make – not just from the big brookies – are enough to keep the adventurous angler coming back year after year. Case in point, Duncan Lewis. Duncan has been fishing with us for 25 years now, our web manager Mandy sat down for a Q&A session with Duncan to find out what makes Minipi so special to him.
How many years have you been coming to Coopers’ Minipi Lodges?
I’m going to say it’s been close to 25 although I did miss a couple of years because I had an injury.
How did you first hear about the lodges?
I read about it in fishing magazines. I didn’t know of anyone who had come up here but my grandfather used to collect old Field and Stream’s and Outdoor Life down in his cellar and when I’d go visit I’d always be thumbing through the magazines and there were ads prominently in all of the magazines. At some point in my teen years I must have written up here and inquired about rates or something and got on the mailing list! At that point Lorraine used to print out a paper newsletter and I have many many years of newsletters. That increased my interest, reading all of the personalities.
What do you remember about your first trip here?
I went first to Minipi and it would have been around the first of August, which I know now is a little late in the season for what I was hoping to find. Conway was in charge, and another gal as a guide, Paulette, and an a fella from Newfoundland who was an Atlantic salmon guide, Kennedy. They were all bigger than life characters. Everything was pretty exciting. I was hoping to see more risers to flies but it had been past most of the hatches but I ended up catching a great big one on a giant bass bug! Frog imitation! I caught enough fish. Everyone talked about coming a little earlier.
Is there a special spot on the Minipi Watershed that you consider your favorite? Why?
I wouldn’t say at the present time any particular favorite. I do seem to like the more remote places. That changes over time depending on what lodges are being filled, but I always liked Minonipi in the early going, that was out on the frontier if you will. But Anne Marie was always the central point, but as you grew up and got skilled enough and got far enough up the list you got to go and stay at Anne Marie. Now that I go to Anne Marie I always look forward to getting a day up to Minonipi, or lets fly over to Little Minipi! So I always have a special feeling about more remote ones. I’ve had the good fortune to discover a couple of good spots, you have to understand you go through 10 or a dozen dead ends, as long as there’s a chance of one out there somewhere it’s always worth the effort to try.
Having fished for many years at the Lodges, what is it that keeps you coming back?
In the early days I guess I wanted to catch big brook trout, and at some point I guess I wanted to catch LOTS of big brook trout, I’ve had some luck in both of those areas. I’m not obsessed anymore with doing either one of those. What keeps me coming back now is it’s a lovely geographical place and I love all the characters I meet up here, both staff and the guests – it just feels good. It doesn’t hurt that it’s 115F at home either! At home there’s traffic and noise and police sirens and phones ringing, up here it’s a cry of a loon! It’s almost too quiet sometimes. My personality is more inclined to the quiet.
What about fly and tackle – is there a special fly that you find works best for either trout, pike or char?
If I could only pick one I like the visual aspect of the dry fly, I’d pick a big stimulator which is a giant caddis imitation, but it works for all sorts of other insects as well. I tie my own flies and it’s kind of fun to use them and try different things, so I’ll always have a few fun things in my kit that I can try. Over the years some of them work and some don’t, but one that seems to have produced the most pleasant surprises is a great huge frog pattern so that would be my next favorite. It makes no sense because there aren’t particularly any frogs up here.
Do you remember the biggest trout you’ve caught at Minipi? How big was it?
I have caught two that were 8.5 pounds. I’ve caught a char or two that were that size or larger. It’s kind of ironic, all the years that I’ve come up there have been so many experienced guides and other anglers that I’ve learned from but both of the two fish I mentioned were caught with one of the lesser experienced guides.
Can you recall a favorite memory of yours from your time fishing at Coopers’ Minipi Lodges?
I don’t know if I could pinpoint one particular incident, it’s just kind of the camaraderie of the whole thing. I think my fondest memories are probably from up at Minonipi when I used to be partnered up with Dan Edgerton. Dorman and Marj were the cook and manager and for many years it was like a nice little family group there, they were very fun times. Marj loved to play poker and her brother Randy would play once and a while. That whole experience I look back on very fondly.
What are your hopes for this trip?
I haven’t any goals of catching many or sizeable fish, just to enjoy the whole experience. Maybe find a new pond or two! Maybe they’ll name one after me! There’s a Duncan’s Cove up there somewhere. Let’s put that on a map!
Anything you’d like to add?
I hope there’s another 25 years!