TU volunteer Steve Zakur found the right place for his adventure a couple years ago.
I’m always a bit apprehensive about dropping big money on a far-flung fishing adventure to some distant lodge in the middle of nowhere. There are just so many things to consider, and the price and location are just a couple of them.
This summer, I and a bunch of my family members (uncles, cousins, siblings, etc.) are planning a trip to chase trophy pike, lake trout, walleye and grayling in Canada’s north woods. My uncle and I have been searching for the right lodge for our group, and it’s been a process. There are a lot of moving parts to consider.
But, just this weekend, we settled on a lodge in northern Saskatchewan that was able to meet our needs for price, schedule and all the other details that that seemed to spring up at every turn. Planning these trips isn’t easy, but now that I’ve done it, it’ll be easier next time.
Here are some tips if you find yourself looking for a lodge or a camp for your group anytime soon:
- The internet is your friend, but nothing beats direct communications with lodge owners and operators. The web is good for sifting through your options, but email and phone conversations are vital. Even better, if you can attend one of the many sportsmen’s expos or shows this time of year, you can get some face time with owners and operators and that is hugely helpful.
- Know your price range and negotiate. Check with your group. Find the sweet spot when it comes to your budget, and feel free to negotiate with lodges on their posted rates. Often, at expos and shows, they post “show specials”—discounted rates for those who buy trips at the show. But, even if they don’t, don’t be shy about asking for a group rate or ask them to “give me your best rate.” Remember, you’re the customer with a price goal, and these folks are trying to fill their lodges and camps for the coming season at a price they can live with.
- Have your list of questions handy. With a large group, you’ll need to consider everything from dietary issues, to needed amenities at the lodge, to other more nuanced issues, like, “How far of a boat ride is is to good fishing?” Know your group and know their limits. Make sure you pick a lodge that can best meet everyone’s needs.
- Consider other expenses when picking a lodge or camp. Some places are easier to get to than others, and there are always expenses associated with travel, like plane fare, hotels and even rental cars. If the lodge rate is great, but travel to the lodge is prohibitive, make sure you consider that when making a final decision.
- Go with your gut. I love to fly fish, and I’m very passionate about it, especially if I’m going to throw down big money for the chance to go after big fish. I like it when people who manage these adventures are just as excited about what they do as I am about what I do. That’s where attending a show or an expo can really help. Some operators are just “working” at the expo and they’re not really all that into it. I worry that that attitude might translate to the actual experience. I’m buying that experience, and I want the person or people managing that experience to be as into it as I am.
Once you pick the spot, the rest is just following through with your group, making sure deposits are made and, since you’re the guy on the front lines, answering questions. The goal, of course, is to make sure everyone has a great adventure and comes home with memories that will endure.
And, honestly, the planning isn’t horrible—I enjoyed it quite a bit, and I learned a lot that will help me if I ever need to do it again. Now… if summer would just hurry up and get here.
— Chris Hunt