Thursday, 30 May 2013

First Fishing Report of 2013


The 2013 fish slaying season has started with a bang! The first guests at the lodge are 2 brothers from the southern United States. They insisted on being the very first anglers of the year: no exceptions. As fishing season was fast approaching, we were desperately awaiting the ice to vacate our summer paradise.

With exactly 4 days before opening day, the ice drew its last breath and Lloyd Lake resumed its more comfortable summer state. But...we'd never fished Lloyd this close to ice out. Would the fish inherit poor lessons from the lazy ice? Or would they be ready to bring spring and slam anything and everything?

We present to you the evidence from the first couple of days.You be the judge.






The fish gods have smiled on us. Here’s to a grand start to a grand opening year!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Saskatchewan Tourism Awards of Excellence

Last Thursday was quite the day. We received 2 Saskatchewan Tourism Awards of Excellence: Rookie of the Year and also the Online Marketing Award. Woohoo!! It all started with a phone call over a year ago.

Shortly after we bought the lodge, we received some emails from Tourism Saskatchewan. They were highlighting their excellence award winners for 2011. Deep inside the planning phase of our first year as lodge owners, and with heads spinning from all that had to be organized, we still couldn’t help but notice the “Rookie of the Year” award. I picked up the phone and called Derrick, “Hey bro, we’re only going to be a rookie once, and I think we should win this award.” Derrick’s answer, “Sounds good!!”

Flash forward one year...
We’re all boarding a Regina-bound plane. It feels surreal, but we’re dressed to the nines just in case, because you only get to do this once. We’re finalists in not 1, but 2 categories at the awards we dreamed about a year ago. 

The 1 hour 40 minute flight is filled with laughter and recent memories of just how far we’ve come in a year. There’s an unspoken agreement: no one asks what are we going to do if we actually win. Maybe it’s because it all still feels unreal.

As the wheels touch the tarmac in Regina, the sun shines on us and there’s a certain electricity in the air. All 6 of us attending are trying not to think too hard about what it will feel like to be recognized. Our hearts are in Lloyd Lake Lodge. We schmooze our way through the cocktail hour, meeting other finalists, judges, and the who’s who of Saskatchewan’s tourism industry. Being just one part of such an amazingly talented puzzle is humbling. I can’t help but think, “How cool to be nominated and in the presence of our peers who are also doing great things.” I listen to stories from other finalists. They’re all giddy with that same electric anticipation we’re feeling.

Before we know it, we’re being welcomed by the Honourable Tim McMillan, minister responsible for Tourism, Government of Saskatchewan. I flip through the program, and realize that the 3-course dinner we’re about to eat is kind of like the last supper, because Rookie of the Year is up first.

My heart is pounding. Derrick’s palms are sweaty, and while everyone around the table is making small talk with our Saskatchewan Tourism companions, we’re all hyper aware that each course served brings us one dish closer to judgment day. Finally, it’s coffee time. I ask for tea, but can’t concentrate enough to take a sip. The MC cracks a joke or 2, and things get serious. Government representatives are thanking tourism operators who go “above and beyond.”

“We’re part of this group,” I think, “Wow.” Brief warm and fuzzy feelings register between the panic slowly building. 6 heartbeats are thumping around our table. It’s a weird time of wishing the presenters would hurry up and get the formalities over with and hoping they’ll keep talking for just one more minute so we can keep the excitement alive, but the big moment inevitably arrives.

The Rookie of the Year presenter announces each of the 3 finalists: Lloyd Lake Lodge, Southern Prairie Railway, and Wounded Warriors Weekend. He has an envelope. It’s like the Oscars. You can cut the tension in the room with a knife. Time stops. I’m overwhelmed by thoughts of all we’ve done in the last year. Here we are: I’m sitting at a table surrounded by the people I love the most, and in that moment, winning no longer matters. Then, “Rookie of the Year goes to...LLOYD LAKE LODGE.” Our name snaps me out of the time warp I’m in. “Really? Wow!!!” I get up and high five my brother. He’s so proud. I register cheers and clapping. My mom is crying, and I’m pretty sure dad’s blinking too fast. Everyone’s overwhelmed.
We have to make a speech and I’m completely overwhelmed. I’m pretty sure Derrick is too. That’s pretty much the word for the next 2 minutes. We get to the stage. I’m thinking, “Remember to thank everybody who is responsible for us getting to this point. And congratulate the other 2 finalists, because we’re not the only ones who worked hard. The first year of any business is blood sweat and tears.” And then, “Enjoy this moment.”

And so we did. Our speech went great. The post-award interview and photo op was stellar. Not sure what we said, but 20 minutes later, we were doing it all over again with the Online Marketing Award. Who would have thought lightning would strike twice in one unforgettable night? This time, when they announced our name, I hugged Derrick tight. The awards mean the world, but none of it would have been possible without him and the incredible team around us.
In the plane on the way home, we shared laughter and good memories of my grandfather. He and my granny have been the inspiration behind this lodge all along. Their faith in us has never wavered, and it brings us great pleasure to make them proud.

We want to recognize Tourism Saskatchewan for giving us the opportunity to receive these awards, the sponsors who make the awards gala possible, and all of the nominees for their hard work and dedication to sharing Saskatchewan with the world. Many thanks also go to our Lloyd Lake Lodge family: our guests, our guides for their enthusiasm on the water, our housekeeping staff, our web designer, and each member of our family, who gives their all to help us continue our dream.

2012’s a wrap. See you on the water in 2013!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Ice Road 2013

Derrick digs out the Argo. Let the journey begin.
Just over 2 weeks ago, we returned from what is becoming our annual ice road adventure. The water level will be nice and high this year at Lloyd Lake—there has been record snowfalls. Around the lodge, the snow is 4 feet deep in many places. Thanks to the enormous amount of snow, getting into the lodge also meant getting stuck at least 30 times. No exaggeration. And we’re not talking a little bit stuck, folks. We’re talking standing-in-waist-deep-snow-shovelling-out-a-buried-Argo-and-snowmobile stuck. It was fun!
The shallow snow, as modelled by Dez.
"Which way is the road supposed to go? I'm standing on 6 feet of snow!"
Stuck for the second time in 2 minutes.
Making our own path to the middle of nowhere.
Yes, we have to cross that. It's called the beginnings of an ice road, people.
We made it to the lake!
Hello cabin 3. Glad you're still standing under all that snow!
Hard to believe, but this is the dock and beach. Fear not, guests of 2013. It will melt.
Over a week, we resupplied the lodge with essentials, like 1,200 pounds of quarts counter tops for the kitchen, new heaters for all the cabins, and a solid mahogany poker table…you know, the essentials. These will all be installed and ready to go when our first guests arrive on May 26.
Say hello to the Ranger, a.k.a. the shiny new transport from the airstrip to the lodge and between lakes. Oh yeah! Who can say they've driven a Polaris Ranger over an ice road to a fishing lodge? Derrick's got one fewer item on his bucket list.
We hauled everything in as fast as possible so that we could maximize our ice fishing time. Even at that pace, it took 6.5 days. Hauling in each load took 4.5 hours, meaning we could do 3 trips a day if we were out the door at 6 a.m. It was hard work. We slept like babies every night.
Last load!

Derrick is dreaming about the fishing...after we unpack and organize everything we've hauled in.
And after all that, we had a blast exploring Lloyd Lake and Big Fish Lake in winter. After long days of work, it was so rewarding to drop a line and hook into some trophy fish. There was one incredible evening where the fish gods smiled down on us and we hooked into a couple of gorgeous pike, mere minutes apart.
"Um...Dez? Do we have a bigger auger?"
All is right in the world.
Little brother.
BIG brother. (Real story: Derrick hooked this one and passed Dez the rod. Thanks bro.)
As much as we would like to paint a glamorous picture that everything ran smoothly, it didn't. While the wild beauty of northern Saskatchewan is breathtaking, it becomes downright treacherous in a second when your machine breaks down. We all agree that buying and properly maintaining the Argo is the best money we have spent at the lodge yet. We definitely had to rely on each other and on the trustworthiness of our equipment. On the final day, with everything having gone way too good to be true, we found ourselves hiking 4 miles in pretty deep snow. Mr. Argo had (temporarily) had enough. 
Gorgeous. And scary.
It’s moments like this when you truly feel alive. What made the walk so much better was when I reached into my pocket and found 2 chocolate bars. We laughed over it after. Here’s the thing: initially the feeling of isolation and even desperation is overwhelming and makes you panicked. Lucky for us, by talking things out and using our heads, we were able to troubleshoot the problem and repair it so we could get back on the way. Nevertheless, for those moments, if you can’t rely on the people around you and don't have a positive attitude, you could find yourself in great danger.

But enough about the serious stuff. We look forward to seeing everyone in 2013. Tight lines until then!
The man who "can't catch walleye." Good one, dad!
"Whoa! It's bright out here. Where's my shades, man?!"

Monday, 11 February 2013

New Year’s Ice Fishing Adventure

We've been quiet for a few weeks, but we're busy as can be planning this spring and summer's Lloyd Lake Lodge fun. Still, you've got to make time for fishing, and we just couldn’t wait until spring. We headed up to Lloyd right after Christmas. Getting there in winter takes some doing, but we were determined. It’s fair to say that 4 people have never been more grateful for the heat of a wood-burning stove!

Winter is breathtaking at Lloyd. The trees are bent under the snow’s weight, and it’s completely silent, save for the cruch-crunch of snow under your boots. We were, of course, eager to go fishing. Once we found the fish, it was awesome fun. Pike after pike, walleye, and even whitefish waited at the end of our hooks. No showers for 7 days, but it was worth it!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Happy 2013!


Looking back on 2012, we can’t help but smile with pride. We’ve accomplished a lot. We could talk about the renovated cabins, the new Lund boats, the sweet EZ-Dock, or the complete revamp of Lloyd Lake Lodge, but those things (which were necessary and very cool) are small when compared to how much heart it took to get them done. We want to thank our family, first and foremost our grandma and grandpa. When they introduced us to Lloyd Lake as kids, they gave us a place where we could make memories. They set the foundation of strong family values, teaching us to love, share and help each other make our dreams realities. Lloyd Lake is their legacy.

We were able to spend unforgettable time fishing with our grandmother this summer. Catching walleye off the dock, long into the night, as the stars shone down with my grandpa smiling on us from above, was a personal highlight.
We would like to thank the person behind the scenes, our mom, whose incredible organizational skill and years of business experience makes everything run smoothly. She makes it all seem effortless. You’re remarkable.
From L to R: Uncle Terry, Granny, Mom, Derrick and Dad.
Our dad was also instrumental in the past year’s success. He spent the entire summer at the lodge playing with his tractor and making the airstrip smooth as butter. While the airstrip is no small feat, he also played architect, engineer, demolition man, and contractor. And yet he still managed to pick blueberries until his thumbs hurt. You’re welcome, dad. In all seriousness, though, our favourite part of having you up there was the chance, after a long day, to cast a line with you.
Through all our crazy lodge adventures in 2012, we added to the Uniat family. Dez married Elize. He simply has had the best year of his life to date. Derrick is also grateful for this development because she’s taken Desi off his hands and landed the largest fish of the season. (No, really, we’re talking about an actual fish.)
Thank you to our clients, who are now part of our extended Lloyd Lake Lodge family. You’ve had an opportunity to experience our slice of paradise, catch a bunch of fish, and create priceless memories. Perhaps we’re biased, but our clients have all come to the lodge with great attitudes, ready to have fun, and that has made it a blast for us.

Being an outdoorsperson means more than just catching fish. It means sharing laughter and wisdom, teaching old friends something new, playing pranks, being silly, trading stories, and really listening. The lodge simply creates a point in time where people connect. People live in the moment when they’re here – they’re without the daily pressures of life – and that’s really cool for us because we get to share these key moments in our guests’ lives where they’re worry-free and can feel at ease. At the end of the day, they hook into a walleye and are able to share that moment with someone else – whether it’s the guide in the boat, the best friend sitting across from them, or one of us waiting eagerly at the dock when they return. It’s not just one of us who can do this. It’s all of us together, and we want to thank our many awesome guests for choosing Lloyd Lake last year and allowing us to be a part of their lives.
We promise that we’ll continue to work hard. We’ll continue to follow our passion and make the lodge the best it can be. A wise person once said that good people attract good people, and we hope to open the doors of our lives and business and make those words come true. We want to hook our guests for years to come. It makes us so proud that we have several repeat guests from 2012 who have already booked for 2013. Their happiness inspires us.

We are thankful. Here’s to a 2013 full of tight lines.

Monday, 12 November 2012

5 Northern Pikes

Lloyd Lake has always produced great northern pike. So have our other lakes. In fact, you can catch pike in any of the 4 lakes we have on offer. There are lots of them in the 5 to 25 lb range, and they're aggressive once you have 'em hooked. This past season, none of the boats fishing for pike ever came home without having caught at least one decent pike.

Here are 5 great sharks we saw in our 2012 season. Tight lines!

The first beauty of the season. Caught by our very first guest at the end of May.
One of the beautiful pike this group caught on an afternoon in early June on Lloyd Lake.
Trevor's first hour of his first evening. Caught on the fly. 20 lbs or so.

One of the season's beauties, caught on Preston Lake.

Although he's usually fishing for walleye, Derrick occasionally hooks up with a nice pike too.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Before and After

We’ve talked a lot about the renovations we did to the lodge this year. In total, we renovated 6 cabins and the dining room and rec hall. New roofs, new paint, new floors, new showers, new beds, lights, blah blah blah on and on. Check out this selection of before and after photos instead. They say it better than we ever could.


Created with flickr slideshow.