Minipi Guides Report – August 2017

Over the past few weeks at Anne Marie Lake the evening fishing has been spectacular with rising trout in every cove. With fish up to 8 pounds sipping green drakes until the moon rises and dark settles on the hills around Loverboy, Petches Pond, West Bay and Man O’ War Key. While the wind has reached gusts of 50 to 70 km/h in recent weeks, it calmed off after supper allowing clients to enjoy the sight of rising fish! Evening fishing in stream areas such as The Pantry has also been productive, giving up a fish of 7 pounds caught and released on an orange bomber. Big Harry Outlet has also produced some great action on the orange bomber as well, giving up a 7 pounder and multiple 5+ pound brook trout; surprisingly the area also produced an 8 ½ pound fish thought to be a hybrid arctic char/brook trout. Labrador certainly is the land of opportunity for both angler and fish alike.

Wildlife around Anne Marie Lake has been prevalent with frequent moose sightings, various waterfowl, spruce and ruffed grouse, a black bear or two and even two woodland caribou seen at Little Loon Pond!

The beginning of August sees the end of the green drake hatch, and time for large flies to be tossed to willing trout throughout the Minipi watershed. Large brook trout and char of dark red and orange line the pools, streams and inlets eager to take whatever passes by! Large bombers, wooly buggers, muddlers and even deer hair poppers will trigger a powerful strike that will leave your line tight and a big smile on your face.

Trips to Little Minipi and Minipi have been highly successful with a few fish being caught weighing in at 8 ½ pounds on dry flies! Talk about bucket list experiences! A few arctic char were caught and released by the clients of Minipi Lake Lodge on nymphs such as copper johns and pheasant tails. It surely has been an eventful summer so far with another month of outstanding brook trout and arctic char fishing ahead!

Duncan Lewis recalls 25 years of fishing at Coopers’ Minipi Lodges

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.

Catch a beautiful sunset!

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!

One Hundred Minipi Brookies!

When you are from Michigan you are quite used to catching 6 to 12 inch Brook Trout. Occasionally, but not often, you will catch a 15 to 16 inch “monster.”

I’m still waiting for my monster Michigan Brookie. My personal best was about 13 inches. Mind you, I’m not complaining.  Each and every one of them is a jewel! In my opinion, the prettiest trout in the world. I especially like looking at parr marked Brookies. I enjoy catching Brook Trout in the AuSable or Manistee Rivers or any of a number of smaller rivers or streams.

My first trip to Labrador was a revelation. No one even counts the “little” Brookies that we would consider trophies in Michigan. At Minipi Lodges only 3-pound trout are “book” fish. It’s easy to lose ones perspective.

The Brook Trout in my painting above is a Michigan trophy… but not in Labrador. Unless you consider that ANY such beautiful fish is a trophy, and I do. But Minipi is a world treasure, managed carefully and protected by the Coopers. You simply can’t take this precious resource for granted and the Coopers don’t.

On one of my trips to Minipi the water temperatures went up to dangerous levels and it put every trophy trout hooked in jeopardy. So guide Kelly Groves took Bear Andrews and me on a hike. We went over the mountain behind the lodge and down the other side to a place where a cold, spring fed stream entered the river. There the trout had a safe place to wait for temperatures to go back down.

There weren’t any “monster” trout in that spot but Bear and I fished for hours there and I know we caught at least 100 Brookies. All of them 7-to-15 inches long. Trophies one and all in my book. It was the highlight of my trip.