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“This was an amazing adventure. I was so humbled and honored to have been a part of this once in a lifetime experience. Thanks to Project Healing Waters for this amazing healing trip.”

Located some 235 miles north of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Miminiska Lodge is built on a section of the famous Albany River where it widens to form Miminiska Lake. Anglers enjoy immense variety at Miminiska; honey holes in weeded areas, and near water falls, extended exploration through portages and fly-out opportunities, and the option for both lake and river fishing, Miminiska has it all. The Albany watershed has long been famous among anglers due to its dozens of fast moving rivers and miles of lakes ‚Äď all with quality northern and walleye fishing along with a world-renowned brook trout fishery. With access to both lake and river fishing, the possibilities are endless!

Bruce Chandler from our Casper, Wyoming program shares his experiences from this special trip with 3 U.S Army Veterans from our Rocky Mountain Northeast region below! Be sure to check out the photo gallery at the bottom of the post.

Day 1 …¬† We started our day of travel to lake miminska. I met Gary at the airport. We were there at 630 or so. Our flight was at 755. We sat and started to get to know each other better. I knew Gary from our chapter meetings but it is cool getting to know him better.¬† As we were talking I noticed that our flight to Denver was delayed. I got up to check and make sure our connecting flights were still good and they were. I got some food and waited for our flight. Our flight got delayed again. This time I anticipated it getting cancelled and had them¬† rebook us on flights to Chicago. That was the only way to get us to Toronto on time. Long story short we made it to Toronto on time to meet up with Peter and Bruce. I’m so glad you finally meet up with them. We got some food and got on our last flight of the day. When we got to thunder bay I found that they had lost my bag in Chicago. They said they would get it on Wednesday and get it to the lodge for me. The lodge picked us up about 1245am and took us to the hotel.¬†

Day 2…

We got up after only a few hours of sleep. We had a great view from our hotel room. It overlooked a small marina. It was a beautiful view. We had breakfast and were off to the airport. We went to the private airport at the end of the main airport. When we got there, another group was getting in from the lodge as we were leaving. We asked them all about their trip. What lures they used,¬† how the fishing was, how the food was and how the lodge was. We said goodbye and got on our plane. It was a little 7 seat plane. The flight was a little bumpy but ok. We landed on a grass airstrip. From the air it looked smooth but when you got on the ground it looked uneven and bumpy.¬† We were greeted by the lodge staff. They were very friendly. They walked us to the lodge which was a hundred yards or so away from the airstrip. Gary got a ride and met us at the lodge. We were shown our cabin and dropped our stuff there. The place was beautiful. The wood work in the cabin was awesome. There were three rooms on the bottom floor and one big room on the second floor. Pete took the top floor. After we looked at the cabin for a second¬† we met at the main lodge for a greeting. Before¬† we went in, Pete and I walked around the front of the lodge and admired the beauty of the lake. It was jaw dropping gorgeous. After our welcome briefing we went to the cabin. We had some lunch and took a nap. After a short nap we had dinner and got ready to go fish. We got in our boats and headed out. Gary and I went in the boat with our guide Joe. Peter and Bruce took the other boat. The water was warm and clear. We fished for three and a half hours and headed back. The fishing was good. Everyone was catching fish. Except for Peter. He didn’t catch any on our first day. Gary and I were missing fish because¬† we couldn’t detect the subtle bites we were getting and couldn’t set the hook properly. All in all it was a good day. We went back to the cabin and went to bed.¬†

Day 3…

This day started at 7am with a great big breakfast. After breakfast one of the managers took me out to the sand bar in front of the lodge to watch the pontoon plane take off. The plane started to warm up and drive around the lake. As it was getting closer Peter joined us. The plane got closer and started to take off. It flew so close  we could feel the vibration of the engine and felt the airstream from the plane. It was so freaking awesome. We then got in our boats and headed out for the day.  The fishing was great. This time we had to catch our lunch. We needed about eight fish for everyone to eat. We all were catching fish. Peter and Bruce were killing it. I would often take time out of fishing and watch them. At this point of the trip we had all started to bond. It was really great hanging out with these awesome warriors. We all had unspoken things in common. It felt good being around these strong heroes. It was time for lunch and we went to shore lunch island. They had people there cooking on a big wood fired grille. Joe went to the cleaning station and cleaned the fish we caught. They cooked the fish and served it up. The lunch experience was amazing. One of the coolest things ever. We finished our day on the water with more great fishing and watching an eagle fly around us. We went back to the lodge and had dinner. The food was really good. After dinner we all retired and went to bed. This was an awesome day! 

Day 4…

The day started a little later due to a thunder storm. We finally got on the water and started fishing. We had the same boat arrangements. Today was a little rough due to all of the sun we all got. I still didn’t have my bag so I had to borrow sun screen and everything else I needed.¬† Today I covered up. I borrowed a long sleeve shirt and bought a neck gaiter. It was much better. Fishing was again great and the scenery was breathtaking. Our guide was taking us to good spots all day. We then headed to shore lunch island for lunch. This had become or favorite thing. We fished up until dinner and went back to the lodge. For tonight, we requested that the staff join us. At first it was awkward. But a after a short time everyone loosened up and had a great time. Come to find out this was the first time anyone had asked the entire staff to join them. We wanted everyone there because they were so nice and had gone above and beyond for all of us. After the great dining experience we went back to the cabin and got some good rest. Another remarkable day.¬†

Day 5…

This is our last full day of fishing. I set out on a mission to catch a fish on a fly rod. Up to this point I had only caught bluegill. I really wanted a legit fish on the fly. We went to a cool spot. To get there we had to pass through a channel that was about a foot and a half deep. It was a marsh looking area. Really neat looking place. We stopped at a place that was a stream that fed into the lake. I started fly fishing here. I was throwing a white deer hair streamer with lots of flash. After a few casts I got the fly in the right spot. I got a good strike. I panicked and could decide to strip the fish in or put him on the reel. While I was over thinking all of this I lost the fish. I regrouped and casted out again. I got a good strike and this time I landed the fish. It was a fifteen inch walleye. I was so EXCITED. I started casting out again but I was still pumped up and my casts were garbage for a few. I got it under control and we continued fishing. We heard thunder so we headed in for lunch. We elected to have lunch at the lodge due to the thunder storms. The staff joined us for lunch. After lunch we went back to fishing. The weather changed and it was now windy. This made the water really choppy. We got to a spot on the huge lake where we were drifting for pike. It was so much fun. Everyone was catching nice pike. We ended the fishing day and headed back to the lodge. We gathered for one last dinner together. It was a good time. After dinner we went back to the cabin to sleep. Today was amazing. 

Day 6…

This was our travel day home. We had breakfast and said our goodbyes. We shook hands and have hugs to the wonderful staff at this bucket list lodge. We boarded our plane on the grass runway and took off. It was bitter sweet. We all had a wonderful time at this amazing place that we didn’t want to leave but we were ready to go home and sleep in our own beds. We arrived back at the airport and met the next group of folks headed to the lodge. We were asked the same questions we asked when we got to the private hanger. It was a really cool moment. Almost felt like a right of passage. Now at the airport we started the journey home. It was a good travel day. We all stayed together and helped each other though the airport. Gary couldn’t walk for too long so we took turns pushing him though the airports. It was a great feeling of team. We didn’t plan it out, it just happened. We made it to Denver and that’s where Gary and I had to leave Peter and Bruce. It was such a pleasure spending this week with these humble warriors. One Gary and I got back we shook hands and parted ways. This was an amazing adventure. I was so humbled and honored to have been a part of this once in a lifetime experience. Thanks to healing waters for this amazing healing trip.¬†