Weather Continues to Hinder Flight to Gangler’s

by | Jun 25, 2019 | Ganglers North Seal River Lodge | 2 comments

Thompson-ManitobaIt gets light in Thompson, Manitoba at around 4 AM.  I was up and ready hoping the weather would permit us to fly north to Gangler’s North Seal River Lodge.  At 5:15 our taxis arrived and eight of us headed back to the landing strip. But when we arrived there was thick fog and we received word that Gangler’s was being doused with heavy rain.  No flying yet.

 

Ganglers-LodgeBased on the fog eventually lifting and the forecast for up north improving, our pilot, who was on hand, estimated we’d be able to leave around 11 AM.  At this point, any plan to at least get up to Gangler’s sounded good.  I filled my Yeti with coffee and went outside to watch the fog slowly lift from around our waiting plane.

 

jeff-currier-fly-fishing-blogThe fog wasn’t exactly lifting fast.  It was like watching paint dry so I went back in the shack and fired up my computer.  We’re very fortunate that the shack has internet and I caught up on my Cape Cod blogs from last week.

 

fish-canadaWhen 11 AM came around our pilot returned to the shack with bad news.  They need 600 feet of visibility to land a plane and although we now had it in Thompson, up at Gangler’s they were at about 400 feet.  Still no chance to fly.  At least he delivered fresh donuts.

 

Flyfishing-pikeAt noon we got word that Gangler’s was ready.  The problem was now things were getting worse in Thompson.  Our pilot said we’ll give it one more hour and try to leave at 1.  I think the dude had lunch plans!

 

fly-in-fishingIt wasn’t until 2 that our pilot felt comfortable enough to head for Gangler’s.  Off we went.  I took the front seat with the pilot which is always a fun place to sit.

 

manitobaThe flight from Thompson to Gangler’s Lodge in this particular plane is 1 hour 34 minutes.  With the bad weather this pilot chose to fly at 740 feet above the tree tops all the way in order to keep his eye on the ground.  It’s really cool flying this way because you can see every tree, lake, pond and sometimes animals.  From the pilot’s side of the plane they saw a moose.

 

pike-fishingThe weather was no doubt sketchy.  Every once in awhile I’d see a rainstorm ahead of the plane.  I’d see our pilots hands clenching as if he was nervous.  We’d lose sight of everything and he’d show his edginess more.  It wasn’t comforting to me to see the pilot this way.  Luckily we’d pop out of the squall and see the ground again.

 

dangerous-flightBut soon we hit a squall that was more serious than others.  Exactly 55 minutes into the flight we went into the rain and after 3 minutes it didn’t clear up.  The pilot gave us a hand signal that we were turning around to go back to Thompson.  Our nightmare continued.

 

Thompson-ManitobaOur heads were down as we deboarded the plane back in Thompson.  We were told we’d wait until tomorrow.  It was official, we missed the first two days of a five day fishing trip all of us had been looking forward too for months.  About this time I got a text from Ken Gangler up at the Lodge.  “Where are you guys?  The ceiling is high and will be easy for you to land now.  You guys must be close.”

 

When I texted back that we returned to Thompson he was shocked.  He did say it’s the pilots call but I could tell that he was as frustrated as we were.  When I told him our pilot said we’d try again tomorrow he said, “Don’t give up.  I have another option.”

 

Our shack staff and pilot sent us back to Thompson to get hotels.  We did.  We got all checked in and all of us were about to head to Boston Pizza to drown our sorrows when we got a text from Ken, “Be at the airport at 4:35.  I have a friend picking you up.”

 

piper-navajoThis caught us all by huge surprise.  Seriously?  We were all checked in to our hotel.  Then we cleared our brains.  We had exactly 20 minutes!  We got taxis and hauled butt back to the landing strip and shack.  Just as we got there a small plane landed and pulled right up to the shack.

 

Gangler's-LodgeOur original pilot was closing the shack down as this plane pulled up.  He asked what’s going on?  When I told him I swear he turned white.  Then I said get our luggage out of the storage.  It must have been humiliating for him.

 

 

bush-plane-pilots

Long story short, Ken got ahold of this friend of his that evidently is the best small plane pilot in Manitoba.  He’s a kamikaze for sure.  It was like we were getting in a minivan as we loaded.  No stress.  No rules.  He said load your stuff in and climb aboard.

 

I took the front seat again and talked with him as we were taking off.  He was cool as heck and told me he thrived on the more challenging days for flying.  Instead of having white knuckles like our pilot earlier, this guy (Brad) was texting as we were taking off!

 

fly-fishingBrad flies a Piper Navajo which is a better faster plane than what we attempted with earlier.  Brads approach was head high over the storm clouds.  That’s what we did.  And in his plane the flight was 1 hour 22 minutes.  I watched the clock on the dashboard countdown backwards as we went.  The skies were beautiful above the storm.

 

Canada-pike-fishingWhen the 20 minutes from arriving hit, Brad began to descend.  No doubt, the weather below us was awful.  We dropped a long way and still couldn’t see the ground.  All we saw now was rain pounding the plane.  Brad showed no signs of doubt.  I on the other hand was concerned.  Not only was the rain pounding the windshield but it was leaking through a repaired crack.

 

scary-flightsWe descended some more and finally Brad looked surprised he couldn’t see the ground.  We both knew it had to be so close we were in danger.  He dropped more.  The clock said we were 6 minutes away.

 

Gangler's-LodgeFinally the tree tops showed.  Oh man, the weather was horrible and we were only a 400 feet off the ground.  The 600 foot rule was no longer in effect.  The GPS had us 2 minutes from the runway now and finally Brad spotted it.

 

Ganglers-ManitobaThis was a relief to me and the rest of us for sure.  I guess if things got too bad Brad could have aborted and flew us back to Thompson (we had rooms!).  But still, now he had to land us on the dirt strip.  We were off course so he turned the plane sharply and down we went.

 

Ken-GanglerBrad is an ace of a pilot.  This landing was tough but for him it was a cinch.  We bounced a few times then came to a stop.  There was Ken and his crew bundled in raingear.  Also there were guests who’d been trying to get out of Gangler’s since yesterday.

 

ganglers-lodgeWe made it!  Ken welcomed us all to Gangler’s North Seal Lodge then we shuttled from the airstrip to it.  There were drinks and dinner waiting.  And a delicious dinner to be exact.  Shaun and I crushed the food then headed for our cabin.  We need a good sleep tonight.  Tomorrow we’ll be fishing!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

2 Comments

  1. Lance

    Another example of “getting there is always a experience” . Sometimes you need those grip-it-and-rip-it pilots! Great story Jeff

  2. Jeffrey Currier

    When it comes to fishing for cool fish there’s always going to be some weather issues. Indeed we need more grip it and rip it pilots!

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I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!

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