Fishers of all skill levels now have the chance to visit the East Arm of Great Slave Lake on a new Air Tindi flight.

On June 27 the airline flew its first group to Etthen Island, about 140 km east of Yellowknife, where the 10 tourists cast their lines into the waters for a day of fishing.

“It was T-shirt weather and everyone had a good time and caught lots of fish,” said Chris Reynolds, president of Air Tindi. “This past Saturday we were weathered out and didn’t go.”

Brandon Fabien holds the 8.7-lb. lake trout he caught at Etthen Island on June 27 when he joined Air Tindi’s Saturday fishing trip to the East Arm of Great Slave Lake. Air Tindi photo

The day trips are a new feature of Tindi’s summer schedule. They’re an unexpected offering to come out of the economic slowdown of the Covid-19 pandemic because in a normal summer almost all flights would be booked for exploration trips, such as by geologists or by tourists heading to lodges.

“A Twin Otter is the second main tool of a geologist, other than a helicopter,” said Reynolds. “We normally wouldn’t have day trips. There’s (usually) so much demand for the aircraft that it would be impossible to do them (and) those flights would be booked months in advance, and then to have the aircraft sit somewhere all day is unusual. They normally wouldn’t have time to sit there all day.”

The 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. excursions are also a way for Air Tindi to give the community something different while summer travel outside of the NWT during the pandemic has become a challenging option.

“This is a bit of a service for us and for the community. We all feel cooped up and need to get out. A lot of people who’ve lived here for a long time haven’t seen the East Arm, and it’s breathtaking there. I think a lot of people are frustrated here that they aren’t able to get out as much,” Reynolds said.

At $399, the outings are pricier than a day of fishing at Prelude Lake or in Yellowknife Bay, but the angler to catch the largest fish has their fee refunded.

Yellowknife’s Brandon Fabien was the lucky fisher on June 27, when he hooked an 8.7-lb. trout.

“My dad has been her for 40-plus years and it was his first time there (at Etthen Island),” Fabien said. “Unfortunately, he didn’t catch one so we’d likely do it again or try finding another way out there to do it again.”

For less experienced fishers, Tindi staff can help tourists with fishing or with cleaning the fish, acts that aren’t unique to its trips this summer.

“Our pilots love to go out there and show people the land as well,” said Reynolds. “Typically we try to do some customer appreciation flights and I would join and help clean fish. I’m going tonight on one, but that’s pretty normal. It’s a way to show customers the beauty of the North.”

Air Tindi plans to offer the Saturday fishing flights until the end of August.

Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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