Vintage Bush Plane Flies Adventurous Anglers to Never-Before-Fished Trout Waters

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Fifty years ago this little "brute" of a plane first opened the North Territories. Now Minipi Lodges' Jack Cooper uses the Beaver to open up Labrador's wilderness to fly fishers eager to stalk trophy brook trout, pike and Arctic char in some of the planet's last "undiscovered" waters.

This summer, adventurous guests staying at Labrador's Minipi Lodges can climb into the co-pilot's seat of lodge owner Jack Cooper's 1950s-era de Havilland Beaver aircraft and spend a day of their fishing vacation literally traveling back in time. Credited with opening the Canadian far-north half a century ago, this intrepid little bush plane now carries Minipi fishermen deep into Labrador's vast, uninhabited watershed -- where they can be the first ever to fish these remote, still-pristine lakes and streams.

"Airborne Jeep" takes fly fishermen to known honey holes or into the unknown.

A different type of fishing experience is offered by each of Coopers' four fly fishing lodges perched on the edge of Labrador's Minipi, Anne Marie and Minonipi lakes, and on the Little Minipi River. For example, Minonipi Lodge is known for its up to 10-pound Arctic Char and - as the logbooks on the Minipi website show - catches of 9-pound brook trout (and that famous 10-pounder). And now, thanks to Cooper's de Havilland Beaver, guests at one lodge can fly out for a day trip to another lodge.

Or, guests can fly off into the Minipi watershed to continue the adventure begun in the 1950s when fly fishing legend Lee Wulff first explored these waters. But Wulff had a little Piper Cub - Minipi guests fly out to still-undiscovered wilderness lakes and streams via the far-tougher Beaver, the rugged aircraft that defined the bush plane category.

Fly back in time

The first Beaver was delivered to the Canadian government in 1948. Pilots described it as "a brute with steel from the engine to the firewall." That rugged construction is why so many Beavers (like the one at Minipi) are still flying today. In 1949, U.S. Air Force officials discovered the Beaver during a fishing expedition: they marveled at the plane's effortless ability to land and take off on a remote Alaskan river -- packed with a full load of fishermen and their fishing gear.

With its powerful Pratt & Whitney 450-horsepower Wasp engine, extra-wide doors for loading and unloading, and an oil reservoir that could be refilled even during flight, the Beaver had the power, durability and versatility the military needed. From 1949 to 1967, de Havilland built 1,657 Beavers - and the U.S. Army bought 1,000 of them. Many were used during the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Try some real fly fishing!

Minipi Lodges are situated in the Minipi watershed deep within the 130 square miles of the Labradorean wilderness. The Coopers are now taking reservations for the Summer 2009 season and they can add a Beaver fly-out to your Minipi fly-fishing adventure. Check the "RESERVATIONS AND INFORMATION" section of the website for more information.

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Robin Cooper
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