Entrance to Peterson’s Lodge
Monday, July 22: Flew to Yellowknife via Calgary with my fishing buddies, Steve, Art, Harold and Larry for a week at Peterson’s Lodge on Point Lake, 200 km north of Yellowknife. We overnight at the Yellowknife Inn and fly to the fishing lodge by float plane in the morning.
We picked up a bottle of Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2012 from the local LCBO and consumed it in Harold’s room before being picked up by Margaret Peterson to have dinner at The Wildcat Café, housed in a log cabin and one of the oldest buildings in Yellowknife, dating back to 1937. I had a bison burger with cheddar and mayo, tomato and lettuce, fennel slaw, and baked bannock. The wine is offered in mason jars, not the best vessel for drinking two bottles of Wirra Wirra Church Block Shiraz 2010. Dessert, bread pudding with blueberries. Amazed at the prices here.
Tuesday, July 23: Up at 6 am to have our traditional breakfast on the dock at Air Tindi prior to our flight to the lodge – Pol Roger Brut, bannock and jam, fresh strawberries and cheese. The flight took 90 minutes during which I read The Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England – a book I bought on Salt Spring Island in June. I have only ever bought two books because I was intrigued by the title – this one and Erotica Judaica: A Sexual History of the Jews (which was disappointing; mainly about substituting penis for references to fingers).
Champagne breakfast in Yellowknife
At the lodge we were greeted by Margaret’s son Chad, George Kimmell, Jack Levesque, and our guides John Milner and Trent Hamm. The communal dining room/sitting room is decorated with caribou heads and jocular signs like “Vegetarian: An old Indian word for lousy hunter” and a picture of two bears raising a glass – “A Toast to Tourists. They are yummy.” The WCs are a few yards from the cabins.
Caribou racks with my cabin in the background
Tanya, the lodge’s cook, prepared a lunch of sandwiches and salad before we embarked on our afternoon of fishing; I fished with Harold with Chad guiding. Caught 8 lake trout; the largest was 12 lbs. A glass of Macallan 12 Year old Single Malt before dinner, with Steve’s home-made chicken liver pâté and smoked mackerel pâté. Dined on smoked meat from the Centre Street Deli in Thornhill with home fries, pickled cabbage and cherry pie. The wines: Burrowing Owl Syrah 2006, Sumac Ridge Meritage 2004 and Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon 2004. Finished off with Art’s wife Ellie’s baked goods and Larry’s wife Susan’s butterscotch and chocolate squares. Delicious.
(l to r) Tony, Harold, Art, Steve and Larry
Wednesday, July 24: 28 degrees today. A windy day, which means no bugs but white caps on the lake that makes for a kidney-pounding, bone-rattling ride to and from the fishing sites. A breakfast of omelette and bacon and toast. Today I fished with Larry with John guiding. Caught 3 fish in the morning of no great size while Larry, the fish magnet, was hauling them in. Steve’s shore lunch: Beer-battered fish with fried potatoes. The wines: Angels Gate Archangel Chardonnay Traditional Method 2010, Creekside Laura’s White 2010 and Creekside Viognier 2010. Got skunked in the afternoon, no fish. For dinner: Moose bourguignonne and salad, with Coyote’s Run Red Paw Pinot Noir 2007, Hidden Bench Pinot Noir 2010, Henschke Keyneton Estate Euphonium and Quinta Nova di Nossa Senhora do Carma CLA Porto Special Reserva.
Thursday, July 25: Breakfast: pancakes and maple syrup and turkey sausage. Fished with Steve today with Trent guiding. Got 3 fish before lunch on a cisco rig. Steve’s shore lunch: BBQ trout with dirty rice. The wines: Vineland Estates St. Urban Riesling 2009, Hidden Bench Riesling 2011 and Daniel Lenko.
Art flavouring the BBQ fish
Almost caught one after lunch. Played it for a few minutes then as Trent was going for the net I lost it. Steve caught 5 fish including a 26 pounder. I got nothing. A 40 km wind across the lake today. Dinner: Smoked salmon that Tanya had brought from Nova Scotia, turkey with stuffing, cauliflower, turnip, mashed potatoes, followed by lemon mousse roll and mince pies. The wines: Takler Reserve Kekfrankos 2007 and Tinhorn Creek Merlot 2007.
Sunrise at Point Lake
Friday, July 26: Breakfast: eggs and bacon. Fished today with Chad and George. Chad took us to his secret spot (last time George was here he was blindfolded). I caught a 27 lb lake trout and a 15-pounder. Since the big one was 20+ pounds my name was later inscribed on the board for that day.
Chad and Tony with the 27-pounder. He’s back in the lake (all catch and release).
Ingredients for Steve’s Truite Italienne with John in the background
Steve’s shore lunch: Truite italienne, with Mission Hill SLC Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2005, Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc 2012 and Rennie Chardonnay 2010. In the afternoon I caught 3 fish, nothing of size but George nearly fell out of the boat and in the process nearly capsized it. Before dinner, a glass of Highland Park 18 Year Old. The meal: Lasagne, moose meat pie and salad followed by Saskatoon berry pie. The wines: Agostino Familia 2008 (Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah), Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc 2006 with stilton, cheddar and brie de Meaux.
George gets into the spirit
Saturday, July 27: Awoke to lashing rain and high winds. Breakfast: French toast and maple syrup. No fishing this morning because of the weather. Spent the time in the lounge listening with closed eyes to Trent try to teach Larry the rules of cribbage. It sounded as if Trent was making up the rules as he went along. Larry settled for Gin Rummy. In the lodge kitchen Steve cooked beer-battered fish, which was served with baked potatoes, beans and salad followed by date squares. The wines: Huff Cuvée Peter F. Huff 2007 and Hidden Bench Riesling 2011.
The rain stopped by 2 pm and it turned out to be a magnificent sunny day. Fished with Harold with John guiding. On the river I hooked into a 12-pounder and then I caught what I thought was the bottom of the lake. The line just didn’t move. John began to back up the boat to try to dislodge my hook from the rocks but it turned out to be a fish – 25 lbs. Back at the lodge Larry made Bloody Marys before dinner. Tanya’s dinner: Chicken Wellington with basmati rice, baked cauliflower, turnips, oriental salad followed by banana cream pie. The wines: Halloran Pinot Noir 1999, Hidden Bench Pinot Noir 2010 and Coriole Marry Kathleen Cabernet Merlot Reserve 2005.
Sunday, July 28: Breakfast: fried eggs, toast and tea. Fished with Art with Trent guiding. In the morning I got three fish, one an 18-pounder. Steve’s shore lunch: Wasabi-crusted fish with wasabi mayo and fried rice with Stoney Ridge Excellence Point Gris 2010, Hidden Bench Gewurztraminer Felseck Vineyard 2011 and Zindhumbrecht Riesling Calcaire 2009. In the afternoon 6 fish, one a 20-pounder.
Tony and 20 lb trout and Harold
On the ride back to the lodge the water was like a mill pond. It began to rain very lightly in what appeared to be a sunny, almost cloudless sky. A vivid rainbow appeared over the lake. Dinner: Steve prepared rack of lamb on the BBQ and Tanya made Greek roast potatoes and Horiatiki salad. The wines: Burrowing Owl Merlot 2007, Mission Hill Quatrain 2009 and Henschke Keyneton Estate Euphonium 2005. With stilton, Warres Vintage Port 1994.
Monday, July 29: Breakfast: pancakes and maple syrup. Our last day of fishing. I fished alone with John guiding. It turned out to be the best fishing I’ve had in the four years coming to Peterson’s Lodge. In the morning I caught 8 fish, the largest 10 pounds.
Steve cooking bouillabaisse
Steve’s shore lunch on the last day is traditionally bouillabaisse with lobster, shrimp, scallops and New Zealand green lip mussels to which he adds lake trout and simmers it in a broth he prepared in Toronto. Served in bowls on garlic-infused toast and garlic rouille. (We leave the mussel shell behind to confuse future archeologists who will wonder how New Zealand mussels migrated to the North West Territories.) The wines: Pol Roger Brut, Flat Rock Cellars Nadja’s vineyard Riesling 2010 and Grosset Polish Hill Reserve Riesling 2003. In the afternoon the fish were fairly jumping onto my line. I didn’t catch anything bigger than 10 lbs but in total I landed 18 fish, making it 26 for the day. Tanya’s dinner: Turkey pot pie and macaroni and cheese. The wines: Saslove Adom Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Takler Regnum 2007 (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Kekfrankos).
Inukshuk at the Lodge
Tuesday, July 30: Packed and swept out the cabin (which I shared with Harold). A breakfast of toast and fruit. Then we boarded the float plane for the trip back to Yellowknife. With a strong tailwind it took us only an hour to complete the journey, during which time I finished The Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England. Margaret Peterson and her daughter Amanda joined us for lunch at Bullocks Bistro. Lunched on fried halibut, chips and salad and Yukon Gold IPA.
Yukon Gold (liquid form)
Caught the flight to Calgary, where I picked up a ham and cheese sandwich and an apple at Starbucks in the airport (to avoid having to eat Air Canada in-flight food on the trip back to Toronto). Arrived at Pearson at 12:45 am and was home by 2 am to a rapturous welcome from a sleepy Pinot the Wonderdog. And an equally sleepy wife.