The Best Stories from Sunset Country in 2015

It's been a great year full of remarkable sights, unforgettable milestones and heartwarming stories in Sunset Country.

It hard to believe that 2015 will soon be coming to an end. It seems like only yesterday that I was putting away last year's Christmas decorations under the alcove and wondering where the time had gone.

In less than two weeks we'll be north of another chilly December and will begin to wade the waters of a new year filled with good intentions and musings of the things to come. As we push forward through another portion life's adventure, we would like to reflect on some of the great things that have happened in our communities in the past year.

At Sunset Country, we have the privilege of being to be able to work with and represent a large demographic of sportsmen and women, as well as business owners and townspeople and we're truly honoured to be able to hear and relay all of the astonishing stories of so many great people in our communities.

We've dug through our shared posts from the last 12 months as well as reached out to the members of our community for stories and ideas. We've have compiled a short list of some of the most noteworthy, funniest, and inspiring events that have happened throughout the season. See you in the new year!

Muskies. Muskies everywhere.

You never know what you're going to find in the waters in the great, white north. It's not always certain that you'll land a lunker, though you're always guaranteed to leave with great memories. These people got the best of both worlds in 2015.

Temple Bay Lodge

Eagle Lake, Ontario

"My story starts with one of our bus drivers that did not fish until he came to our camp. I loaned him a rod and reel and showed him how to fish off the dock for whatever would bite his line. Wouldn't luck have it that he landed a Muskie on his first day and, though it ended up getting away, he immediately became hooked on fishing. Two days later, one of our dock hands ran to me and explained that the driver had a massive fish on his line and needed help. I sauntered to the dock thinking he might only have one of our pet northerns on the line

When I got there (now 30 min into the fight) I was surprised to see that he'd landed another muskie, and a sizeable one at that. I ran as quickly as I could to get my GoPro and came back to coach him on how to play this fish to the surface. He was only using 8 LBS test line which, when landing a fish as large as this, can prove to be challenging for even the most experienced anglers. We got a few glimpses of the beast here and there and guessed it was at least 50" in size.

We managed to pull this monster out and, once we got it measured, found it to be a staggering 51"! We we're shocked that he managed to hold on to the fish for that long, let alone pull it out of the water. If you've ever seen our dock you'd realize the enormous task it was to reel in this giant as we have many boats and motors tied to the dock; making it quite difficult to get a good position. Needless to say that the driver now is hooked on fishing. His new motto is, "You don't need a boat - just fish off the dock (to land a big fish)". Incredible!

Temple Bay Lodge
Enormous Muskie caught off the docks at Temple Bay Lodge

Anderson's Lodge

Sioux Lookout, Ontario

"Jeff Nepote and his father had been coming to Anderson’s Lodge for years. When Jeff’s father was no longer able to come up, he decided to continue the tradition with his wife and daughters. He was hoping that they would enjoy the sport of fishing though he wasn't certain of the outcome.

In their first year together at Anderson’s, they focused on walleye with a bit of casting for Northern thrown into the mix. Jeff wanted to keep things fun for the girls so that hopefully they would want to continue the tradition.

Andersons Lodge1
Jeff's wife Sharon and two daughters in the early years at Anderson's

Fast forward 10 years and Jeff, Sharon, Nicole, and Kendall are still visiting us each season. We've had the great pleasure of watching the girls grow up, catching many trophy fish along the way. This competitive crew gives it their all when it comes to fishing for walleye, Northern and their favorite species, the ever elusive Muskie.

The walleye and northern bite was on during their last visit, though it had been a tough go muskie fishing as a cold front and low pressure systems coming through made the waters unsuitable for Muskies to feed. They were seeing a few Muskies, but they were usually lazy follows. On day three the sky broke and the sun shone through. The fish were ready to eat; you could feel it in the air.

The highlight of this trip had to be when they caught 3, yes 3 trophy muskie on that one afternoon! They caught and released a 46”, a 48” and a beautiful 50 incher.

Little did Jeff know when he first brought his wife and daughters that they would develop what he calls 'Muskie Fever!' Well, we’re glad they did and we look forward to their visit again in 2016."

Andersons Lodge2
The whole family still enjoys fishing years later

Searching for a Midnight Snack...

You really, really never know what you're going to find up here. Nature never seizes to amaze.

Woman River Camp

Ear Falls, Ontario - September

"I was heading home one night from a meeting in Red Lake. I stopped at Tim Horton's for a coffee.

On my way out of the drive-thru, I see this fella crossing the road. By the time I spun around for another look, I have to speculate he was planning on doing some dumpster diving for Timbits."

Woman River Camp Sept 142
Bear casually looking to cross the road in Red Lake

Why did the bear cross the road? To get to Tim Horton's, of course.

Woman River Camp Sept 14
Searching for a snack 

...Or Just a Snack in General

Sometimes you're simply in the right place at the right time.

Big North Lodge & Outposts

Minaki, Ontario - October

This photo was taken by a guest of Big North Lodge, Tim Carr, during his visit last fall. What an incredible shot!

See all the photos here:

Big North Lodge and Outposts Oct 4
Eagle catching its prey Photo: Tim Carr 

An Adventure Of Truly Epic Proportions

More often than not the best adventures are had with spontaneity and determination.

Damian Gilbert and Crew

Thunder Bay - September

"A month ago I ran into my friend Jeff Carlson. He had commented on one of my Mt. McKay photos. I said to him, “you know… it would be amazing to bring you up there, we are going to do this!" For those of you that don’t know, Jeff has been in a wheelchair his whole life.

He had never been to the top of a mountain before. In order to complete the journey, we would need a few strong bodies to each take a handle on the stretcher, videographers, photographers, and to carry supplies as well as Jeff's wheelchair. That day I made a facebook post looking for likeminded friends to accomplish this adventure with us.

In less than 24 hours we had more than 12 friends coming together and received incredible support from the community and media.

Mt. McKay can be a difficult task to climb on its own let alone carrying someone up the 1000ft above sea level. It's steep, jagged, and full of sliding shale. (Nevertheless, with handwork and commitment to a great cause) this dream team made it happen and in great time!"

Follow Damien's Adventures here:

Photos by Jakub Sisak

Epic Adventure Sept 82
Base of the mountain

Epic Adventure Sept 8
Just incredible 

Centennial Birthdays Plus One

Birthdays are fantastic - especially when the person's who's birthday it is reaches triple digits. It's not every day that someone turns 100, but when it happens it's definitely worthy of a celebration.

Crow Rock Lodge

Kenora, Ontario

Grandpa Westfall from Kansas City celebrated his 100th birthday at Crow Rock Lodge. What better way to celebrate your 100th year on this planet by reeling in a massive walleye.

Grandpa Westfall 100 Crow Rock
Grandpa Westfall ringing in his 100th with a beautiful walleye

Viking Island

Red Lake, Ontario

Mrs. Florence Carlson, the Matriarch and co-founder of Viking Island, turned 101 in September.

Visit Viking Island: or

Florence Carlson 101 Viking
Mrs. Carlson (Bottom Right) at her 101st birthday

Northern Lights Every Night

No really, breathtaking lights engulfed the skies all over the province. Every. Single. Night. 

Lake of the Woods

Kenora, Ontario - July

The sights this past summer has been, for lack of a better word, simply incredible. A series of powerful solar storms clashed with the Earth's magnetic field creating the most spectacular auroras that I've ever seen.

Jakub Sisak of Thunder Bay is one of many talented photographers throughout the region who captured highly detailed photos of the lights by using long exposures on tripods. There are many pictures worthy of this list, though the colours in this photo are too amazing to not showcase.

More pictures by Jakub Sisak:

More amazing Northern Lights photos:

Jakub Sisak Photography July 29
Stunning Colours Photo by: Jakob Sisak 

Normal Activity

Gord Ellis

Thunder Bay, Ontario September

Radio personality and outdoorsman Gord Ellis from Thunder Bay, Ontario, is well known as an avid fisherman and hunter in the Superior Region.

Part of his outdoor adventures involves tracking the movement of wildlife by using automated cameras. He places the trail cams into the surrounding wilderness and lets nature do the rest, producing some of the most spectacularly candid wildlife photos imaginable.

Find more amazing trail cam moments:

Gord Elis
Mom with two cubs casually ambling in the woods 

Gord Elis 2
He looks hungry

It's evident that 2015 was a full of fantastic feats accomplished by some great people all over the province. If 2016 is even only a little bit like this one, were in for another solid year.

About Travis Heath

Travis Heath is a graduate of the Film Production Program in Thunder Bay. He worked as a Writing Intern providing content for Ontario's Sunset Country in Kenora.

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