November 18, 2015

Plummer’s Lodge Fishin’ Story

Posted in family, fishing tagged , , , at 9:28 pm by Mike Milinkovich


Plummers panorama

Last July I went with my two sons and a couple of friends to Plummer’s Lodge on Great Bear Lake in the North-West Territories. This was the trip of a lifetime. If you are into fishing, this place has got to be on your bucket list.

Ben and Nick wrote up what has got to be one of the best brotherly fishing stories going….they each caught a 48lb lake trout on the same day.


For us, fishing trips have been a part of the family DNA since we were young. A lot of our fondest memories growing up come from family fishing trips with our father. So for Ben, it was an obvious choice to pick a fishing trip as a university graduation gift. With the world as our oyster, Ben chose the one place that few people would – the Arctic. The world-class fishing and uniqueness of the setting would result in incredible family memories that were too good to pass up.

Once Nick heard that the family was going up to Great Bear Lake he made plans to join – making the trip all the way from South Africa. It made the journey from Ottawa seem miniscule!

Our travels to and from Plummer’s itself was memorable as the nights spent in Yellowknife allowed us to try local cuisine that we would never experience normally. We were met at the airport by a Plummer’s representative who made us feel comfortable and made sure we got to our hotel safely and with all our gear.

After 2 years of planning, the last night before actually going to Plummer’s felt like an eternity! Not only because we were all so excited to get on the world renowned water, but because we got to experience the midnight sun in Yellowknife. Even come 1am we were still looking out our windows to see some of the best scenery we had ever witnessed.

After getting only about 2 hours of sleep, we were back at the airport with 30 other excited anglers, and some even more excited guides. We had picked the opening week so many of the guides hadn’t even gotten there yet themselves. We got all the gear and people loaded onto the plane and we were off. The views from the plane were something I will never forget as you fly over some of the most beautiful, yet barren landscape you will ever experience.

On the ride itself, we were lucky enough to sit beside one of the guides and pick his brain early about strategies and spots and what works and what doesn’t. It was his third year here and he was literally shaking he was so excited to get there.

The landing itself is something you will never forget. Landing a large jet on a dirt runway with no airport is something I was always interested in seeing. You would never even be able to tell as it was one of the most seamless landings I have ever had.

Stepping off the plane and breathing the freshest air you ever have is one of the greatest feelings you will ever have.  After taking some quick photos of the plane and the runway we quickly grabbed our gear and hurried down to the boats they had waiting to taxi us to the lodge.

When we arrived at the lodge they had a top notch lunch waiting for us with our licenses and everything ready. It was a quick meet and greet for everyone to meet the lodge crew and go over the rules and then we were assigned our cabins.

We quickly brought all of our belongings to the cabin and tossed them on the beds and starting rigging rods. Our three guides came by and went over what we would need and brought us lures that we should use. Luckily for us, the guide we sat beside on the plane was one of our three guides so we were off to a quick start!

We were the first to hit the water that afternoon and it was a perfectly calm day. The water was like nothing I had ever seen before as it was clear, calm, and perfectly blue. It looked like a Caribbean oasis more than an Arctic lake but to me it was perfect.

For both of us, the goal going in was to get a 20 pound lake trout. The guides assured me it would happen and I should get many more. We were beyond excited to finally have our lines in Great Bear Lake after so long of imagining it.

The action was steady right from the start as my father and I each got a few 12-15 pounders the first afternoon. Needless to say, we were quite ready for 5 more days of fishing like that!

Our first night at the lodge was fantastic. The food the chef prepared was absolutely incredible and really hit the spot after a day on the water. The bartender was great as well, somehow already memorizing everyone’s names and stories.

The next morning we woke up ready to go and after a quick breakfast we were on the water again. The morning started off great with plenty of action and we had more than enough for lunch by 10am. The lunches the guides prepared were something you would expect from a 5-star restaurant, not something they can whip up on the shores of a lake in the Arctic. We had lake trout 9 different ways over our time there and each and every one was fantastic. Even the non-fish fans in our group were amazed with how good the lunches were.

By day 3, the promise of 20-pounders had yet to be realized. However, Our father caught a 32 pounder the second day which was deemed ‘The Miracle Fish’ as they thought they were snagged and ending up getting completely spooled before hand-lining the fish in! I thought to myself if a 32 pounder feels like a rock, imagine a 50 or even 60 pounder!

The 5th day of the trip our group did a fly out to ‘The Inlet’ which is where the world record Lake Trout was caught some 40 years ago. Going to bed we all had dreams of catching the big one.

We were out early and the plane ride was short and smooth. If you closed your eyes you never would have been able to tell when you took off or when you landed. All the pilots were extremely professional and talented.

We got going quickly in The Inlet but didn’t have much luck for the early part until about 11am we got into a school of Butterfly Lake Trout. We caught about 15 in a 25 minutes span ranging between 8-15lbs. The monster still eluded us.

At around noon Nick decided it was time for a sandwich. A couple minutes later he had his rod in one hand and sandwich in the other when all of a sudden his line started flying. A few minutes into the fight we finally got a glimpse of the fish and all it took was one view of its tail and the whole boat flew into action – we knew we had our 20 pounder and then some. In a matter of seconds it was utter chaos in the boat.  With Nick battling the fish, our guide working the boat and the net, and Ben videotaping and balancing the boat it truly was a team effort. After about an additional 15 minute fight at the boat (would have been longer but we were in shallow water so it could not dive deep) we wrangled the fish into the boat. It was by far the largest fish I had ever seen and weighed in at an astounding 48lbs!

Nick Plummers

After about 10, ok 20, minutes of celebrating we looked around the boat and it looked like a bomb had gone off. The sandwich my brother was eating was everywhere, boxes were overturned, and lures everywhere. We couldn’t help but laugh.

After we cleaned up the boat we got back to it. Now it was Ben’s turn. With renewed hope and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry – the afternoon was all about getting Ben’s trophy. We chatted with our guide and decided to focus on “hunting monsters” as he put it.

A few more hours of fishing had gone by and we had gotten a few nibbles but nothing big. The plane was coming at 5pm to pick us up so at 4:30 our guide said the famous fishing line: “one more cast”.

Ben threw his spoon back in the water for one more pass across a drop off. As he was conceding defeat and reeling in his last cast at The Inlet , WHAM! A hit like no other hit Ben had ever felt and suddenly he was in battle like never before. Once again chaos overtook our boat. This time we were in much deeper water so the fish was able to run a lot more. After about 10 minutes we saw this fish and thought it was even bigger that the first. 20 more minutes passed and the fish was still diving with ease. Finally, at about the 40 minute mark it was tiring and coming closer and closer to the surface.

After what seemed like an eternity, our second “fish of a lifetime” of the afternoon was in the net. Ben almost collapsed from sheer adrenaline and excitement overload. The guide got the scales out and to our surprise, it was another 48 pounder. After the best day of fishing in our lives, we had come out tied!

Ben Plummers

We each had our 20 pounder, and then some! To this day our smiles are just as big when we talk about our day at The Inlet and our time at Plummer’s. We also wouldn’t have been able to have the experience we did without the heroic efforts of our guide throughout the day. Boating two 48lb fish in an afternoon is really a team effort and his quick thinking, boat manoeuvring, encouragement, and photography skills were a key ingredient to the day of a lifetime.

It was an incredibly unique and special opportunity for us to each be able to battle a beast and to share that experience and memory with each other. In our long history of family fishing memories, this is definitely one that will never be topped.

Plummer’s is truly a special place. From the staff, to the scenery, to the water, and of course the fishing, Plummer’s is a place where memories and stories of a lifetime happen.

Ben & Nick Milinkovich

P.S. The boys’ old man did sort of okay that day as well. A 34-pounder is still a pretty nice fish!


P.P.S. Thanks to Alex, Brandon and Carl for a fantastic week on Great Bear. The guides at Plummer’s are all great, but these young men really made our week.

Plummers group


January 13, 2008

More Dambrowitz Family Video

Posted in family at 3:17 pm by Mike Milinkovich

I’ve had lots of great comments from family members on my Fun on the Farm post. But all I’m really doing is pointing people to the work that Blake has been doing putting together Grandpa’s old Super8 film onto video.

I am happy to report that Blake has been at it again. He has two new videos up. The first one in particular has lots of great family memories.

Thanks Blake!

We’ve Got a Name:

Life in a Northern Town

September 17, 2007

Thanks, Pinecrest

Posted in family at 7:53 am by Mike Milinkovich

For the past 10 seasons we have spent our summer months enjoying little league baseball as part of the Pinecrest Little League community. Yesterday was the annual banquet, an end-of-season event of celebration and recognition.
It was a big day for the Milinkovich family, so please allow me a little paternal pride.

Ben won two awards: the Gordon Desclouds Award (sort of MVP) and the Gold Glove. To be honest, he would have been thrilled to be recognized with one. To win two was unprecedented in my memory.

In addition, the Milinkovich family won the George and Mary Fraser Award for outstanding volunteerism over the past 8-9 years at PLL. Here is what it says on the plaque:

Awarded annually to the family that best reflects the “Pinecrest Family” that the Frasers worked tirelessly to foster. A family that contributed significantly of their time with a sense of humour, a sense of purpose and for the benefit of the ‘ball community’.

Although this award goes to the family, let’s face it: this was primarily in recognition of Cathie. She was on the executive of the league as its Treasurer for many years, and was always at the ball park helping for every single tournament during her tenure. She put an amazing number of hours into supporting the league and its community. The standing ovation we got at the banquet was definitely for her.

PLL has been a big part of our lives for the last ten seasons. Both Nick and Ben went through their system and learned a ton about baseball, commitment, sportsmanship and community. In addition to playing, both boys have volunteered and umpired a little.

PLL is a wonderful local institution. It is widely recognized as a family-oriented little league that puts the kids, their families and their development ahead of all other factors. We’ve really enjoyed being part of the Pinecrest “family”. The volunteer work that we’ve done over the years has been worth every moment. As a community-run organization, PLL is definitely one of those things in life where the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.

Thanks Pinecrest! We will see you at the diamond come spring time.

August 31, 2007

Summer is Over

Posted in family, sci fi at 4:22 pm by Mike Milinkovich

How do I know that?

  1. Labour Day weekend is upon us.
  2. Nick is leaving home to go to Queen‘s tomorrow.
  3. I finished the fifth book in my summer sci-fi reading list.

Yes, my no-longer-little boy is headed off to university. It is certainly a bittersweet moment. But as Cathie said, it would be a lot worse if we weren’t so confident that he is completely ready to go. He is so much more grounded and mature than I was at 17.

On the sci-fi front, by pure luck I managed to save the best for last. I loved Weapons of Choice. It was by far and away the best of the five books on the list. The difference, however, was not its vision of the future as compelling as it was. John Birmingham is just simply a great writer. The quality of the characters, their development and the prose is just head and shoulders above the others.

To be honest, I had seen the book in bookstores several times but had just never bought it. It seemed too close to Harry Turtledove‘s Worldwar series which I had read a few years back. I’ve ordered the next two books in Birmingham’s trilogy. But so far, I like it a lot better than WorldWar.

I found this comment in the Wikipedia article on Weapons of Choice baffling:

Weapons of Choice has been both hailed and criticized by members of the alternate history community. Some believe it to over-emphasize the racism and sexism of the 1942 Allies, to the point of their being barely morally superior to the Axis.

I thought he got the views and social mores of the time exactly right. The US Navy really was all-white in WW II. Racism and segregation was the order of the day. But to say that his writing implied a moral equivalence between the Allies and the Axis seems wildly overblown.

It is chilling to think that a mere 80 years separated the two societies portrayed in the book. The characters from 2021 might have been human, but truthfully, this book has its roots in the alien encounter genre. Highly recommended.

February 11, 2007

Fun on the Farm

Posted in family at 1:32 pm by Mike Milinkovich

My cousin Blake McChristie is a wiz with a video camera. I’m not exactly sure how he did it, but he managed to get a bunch of my grandfather’s old 8mm film onto video, then cut-and-spliced it into a wonderful Dambrowitz family momento. It’s a little grainy, but does a great job of capturing the life and times of the family.

So what are you seeing? My grandfather Earnest (Ernie) John Dambrowitz was born in Boston and moved to Matheson, Ontario in the early 1920’s. The family were literally pioneers, homesteading a 160 acre farm in the Northern Claybelt.

He met and married a local girl, Jesse Graham, and together had 10 children. My mother Sylvia is the second oldest of the brood of five boys and five girls. Although the family lived through the Great Depression, the Second World War and tons of hard work on and off the farm, as you can see there were lots of opportunities for fun.

In two and a half minutes, Blake’s video manages to capture some key highlights of my grandfather’s life: his love of family, his lifelong passion for horses and the fun he had designing and building boats.

Ernie Dambrowitz died in 2004 at the age of 93. He was still living on the farm that he had helped carve from the wilderness, and was still actively farming it. He had over 25 head of pure-bred Hereford cattle in the barn when he passed away. He still had the wit and humour of a man half his age. A patriarch in the finest possible meaning of the word, he was truly a tribute to the old-fashioned virtues of hard work and dedication to family.

Check it out

January 27, 2007

Eclipse on CBC

Posted in family at 3:28 am by Mike Milinkovich

This is kinda cool. The first time I’ve noticed a story that mentions Eclipse on CBC.

January 16, 2007

Loving Winter

Posted in family at 3:27 pm by Mike Milinkovich

I might regret saying this by the time April rolls around, but….so today was really the first day of this winter season where it actually felt like winter. The weather is crisp and cold, with snow that crunches when you walk.

I don’t know why I love walking around when its cold. But ever since I was a kid, walking when its good and cold and I’m dressed warmly is just something I really enjoy. Not that -14 Celsius is all that cold, but its definitely more seasonable than what we’ve had so far this year.

So for you guys in California and Texas: you don’t know what you’re missing!

Ottawa Weather

January 3, 2007

Some pics with the new camera

Posted in cottage, family, photography at 10:42 pm by Mike Milinkovich

Here are some pics I took with the new camera.

The scenery shots are from a walk I took around the cottage on Boxing Day. The pictures of the kids are from New Years Eve when our neighbours the DiCesare’s joined us for dinner, party and sleepover.

If anyone has any idea what kind of track that one picture is, please let me know. It was a big track….had to be something pretty large. But from what I know, dogs, coyotes and lynx all have four toes, not five.

Intrepid Exploring

Posted in cottage, family at 12:09 am by Mike Milinkovich

Every year when we have our Christmas break at the cottage the boys and I go “intrepid exploring” into the trails in the land behind us. Nick is getting too old for this kinda action, so just Ben and I went this year. What a hike!

In past years we’ve slogged through snow or actually snowshoed. This year the ground was mostly frozen, and there was no snow to speak of. Much easier for walking.

Take a look below at the path we walked. (You can check out the satellite photo for greater perspective.) This was the first time we made it all the way around the little “lake” in back. But the day was so nice, and the walking so easy, it was fun. The route took us just under two hours. But now that we know its possible, this route will become the gold standard for our Christmas hikes.

Hiking Path

December 18, 2006

Birthday Surprise

Posted in family at 10:13 pm by Mike Milinkovich

So folks who know me know that Nick went to Europe this summer with the MEI Academy. It was a wonderful experience and he made some lifelong friends.

This weekend, five of his friends from southern Ontario made the trek to Ottawa to surprise Nick for his birthday. I think the photos say it all.

To those who made the trip, thanks! It certainly made for a special birthday for him.


Next page