Way up north in northern Saskatchewan on the 60th Parallel within sight of Northwest Territories is a massive body of almost-virgin fishing water called Ena Lake. The owners describe it–and the overall experience–as “unspoiled, uncrowded, and unforgettable.” Since I was fortunate enough to spend a few days this year, I know that slogan isn’t merely marketing hype. It’s more like an understatement.
Ena Lake Lodge is the only speck of civilization on the enormous lake and many miles of trackless wilderness in every direction, so you not only get that feeling of remoteness, you know Ena Lake and several other smaller lakes lodge guests can fish have incredibly low fishing pressure.
And the fishing is only part of the memorable experience. You can also expect exceptional hospitality akin to any five-star resort. Even better, Ena Lake Lodge is one of those increasingly rare “all exclusive” resorts. That means there are no hidden, nickel-and-dime costs. Instead, everything is included in the price, even the fishing license and open bar.
I guess that’s already enough to differentiate Ena Lake Lodge from most of the other two hundred fishing camps in northern Saskatchewan, but according to the new owners, Randy and Patty Burke, there’s more.
Even on those rare days where the wind whips up, Randy answered to my what’s-different-about-your-lodge question, you never get blown off the lake and not be able to fish.
“Ena Lake has a lot of sheltered bays and islands, so you can always find a quiet place to fish,” he explained. “If somebody wants to fish only a half-day and hang out at the lodge the rest of the day, that’s easy for us to do.”
And on even a calm day, he added, “you don’t have a 45-minute boat ride before you start fishing” because a lot of the best fishing is close by the lodge.
Another difference, according to Patty, is: “We also offer an experience attractive to couples and females.”
I’ve been to a lot of fishing lodges, and I know what she’s saying. You don’t see a lot of women at fly-in fishing lodges, but at Ena Lake, the main lodge and cabins have a tinge of that “woman’s touch” you don’t find at most fishing camps. Here, she noted, you can have a quality fishing experience without too much roughing it.
“As far as service and accommodations go,” Patty added, “we are definitely among the top lodges.”
And there is another big difference instantly obvious to anybody who goes to Ena Lake. The owners didn’t brag it up because they didn’t have to. Ena Lake Lodge is not only new, but also stately and elegant.
Sadly, in 2004, Ena Lake Lodge burnt to the ground, and when the former owners rebuilt it, they spared little expense in making it one of the–if not, the–grandest and impressive lodgs in Saskatchewan.
Which is probably one reason the Burkes bought it, and now, they’re obviously anxious to continue the tradition of a lot of luxury surrounded by a lot of wilderness. As an example of the exceptional hospitality, the staff delivers fresh coffee, tea and pre-breakfast munchies to the guest cabins bright and early every morning. The meals are, well, fine dining, and the furnishings and décor are the nicest I’ve seen at a fly-in fishing lodge, even nicer than most drive-to resorts. (Also, for an Internet Guy like me, I have to say Ena Lake Lodge has one of the best websites I’ve seen put up by the fishing lodge industry.)
Ena Lake Lodge also caters to corporate groups, so it has the technology these customers want–satellite TV and phone and Wifi.
An entire wall is devoted to fancy plaques and photos of the biggest fish (pike and laker) of the year, and there are some real whoppers up there–50-inch pike, and 46-pound lakers. The lodge, like many others, also has “the board” with minimum lengths (40 inches for pike, 30 inches for lake trout) so guests can “make it on the board.”
And the fishing, well, there’s that, too. Ena Lake (pronounced “eenah”) is probably best known for it’s big lake trout, so we spent most of our short stay there trying to find a few of those monsters. Even though we didn’t have the best weather, we managed to hook a few, including the two biggest lakers I’ve ever gotten “on the board.”
The pike fishing is also excellent, and we spent some time casting for the water wolf and caught some nice fish–and also, fortunately, a few “eaters” we needed for shore lunch, which is a well-orchestrated treat at Ena Lake Lodge.
The guides tend to use a few established shore lunch sites, instead of impacting new sites each day, so they have filleting stands, grills and picnic tables to make lunch easier, faster and more relaxing.
In addition to expansive Ena Lake (17 miles long, 22,000 acres), the lodge has rights to portage into four smaller lakes, and it also operates one outpost camp (sleeping eight) at the far south end of the lake.
Unlike some lodges, Ena Lake guides exercise extreme care with fish to make sure they can be released properly. They don’t even like guests holding the fish for a photo op.
Even without that photo, though, your stay at Ena Lake is sure to be memorable.