Labrador is a brook trout angler’s dream – Photo Essay

Harvey and Betty Calden are veteran sporting camp owners who offer the very best in hospitality and outdoor experiences, focused on hunting and fishing. Tim Pond Camps in Eustis, Maine was always Betty’s project while Harvey focused on their camps in northern Quebec and Labrador. In August of 1999 I took my son Josh, when he was 16, to Harvey’s Little Minipi Camp in Labrador and we had a phenomenal experience, catching huge brook trout. Here’s our story, with lots of photos.

the lodge


Little Minipi Lodge in Labrador is Paradise for any angler who loves wild brook trout. Josh and I caught over 50 brook trout over 5 pounds – topped by Josh’s 7 pound brookie and 7 ½ pound Arctic Char.



Josh in the river


The views of Little Minipi Lake from the lodge and the home pool, only a 5-minute walk – were great, but a short boat ride across the lake put us on the river.




Josh tying flies



Josh kept all the guests well supplied with flies – wooly buggers and mice worked best.




Josh with trout

We fished about a mile of the river, enjoying a variety of weather, and caught big fish every day. Here is a beautiful fish and happy angler, shown in a favorite pool on the Little Minipi River. We lost as many fish as we landed, had many more rises and strikes, and were into heavy fish constantly. We also caught some “small” trout – 2 and 3 pounds!



netted trout


Fishing the “Honey Hole” was a favorite, about a half mile down the left side of the river, where we caught lots of trout and most of our char.





nice trout


Every brookie was beautiful.





Boulder Pool


The boulder pool was another favorite, where we always saw fish rising and pulled out both pike and trout on a regular basis.




Josh with pike


One of Josh’s smaller pike.






Josh with troutAlthough brook trout were our targets, we caught a few arctic char – just starting their spawning run up the river – and northern pike which put on a real acrobatic show and strong fight. Josh took top honors with the 7 ½ pound char while I landed a 10-pound pike. We hit the Triple Crown – trout, char, and pike – on 2 different days.



netting a fish


Our Newfoundland guide, Marvin, was very protective of the fish, and made sure every fish was released alive and well, after slipping out the barbless hook.




Josh restingOn Thursday, Josh put on a show at the Boulder Pool, keeping me running for the camera as he pulled in fish after fish. Josh’s excellent casting ability was impressive to all the anglers in camp, and allowed him to reach pools none of the rest of us could cast to. Beautiful water, beautiful fish, beautiful days. Finally, Josh took a break so I could fish!



Josh rainy day troutOur last day was a rainy deluge, but Josh and I persevered to enjoy the finest day a father and son could ever hope for: 5 trout each, all over 5 pounds.





me with trout
My last 2 fish from this pool were brookies that took me right into the backing on my reel.





sunset at camp


Motoring across the lake on our final trip back to the lodge, we looked back to see a full rainbow spanning the lake – a magnificent end to a spectacular trip, a lifetime memory for both of us.




Lunker Trout at Labrador’s Little Minipi

This is the story that was published in the SAM News shortly after our return in 1999.

Maine must have been like Labrador at one time, a wilderness full of large lakes and magnificent rivers teeming with huge trout – a sportsman’s paradise. Fortunately, Labrador still has the trout.

In August of 1999, my 16-year-old son Josh and I traveled back in time to the Little Minipi Lodge about 60 miles southwest of Goose Bay, Labrador, where we could pretend we were fishing the lakes and rivers in Maine’s Rangeley Region a hundred years ago.

In five days of fishing we caught over 50 brook trout over 5 pounds, plus huge Arctic Char and even a few toothy northern pike. Josh took top honors with a 7 pound brookie and a 7 ½ pound char. I caught three 6 ½ pound brook trout, one of which was only 20 inches long – a veritable football on the end of my fly line.

One of the lodge’s guests, Marty Faley of New Jersey, was stunned with a brookie over ten pounds – on his first day of fishing here. The 26 inch beauty had a girth of 17 inches. Our other fishing partners for the week, Ed Stout of Pennsylvania and Dennis Murphy of Massachusetts, each enjoyed days where they pulled trout after trout from a single pool.

Each night after a scrumptious dinner at the lodge, Josh tied the flies we would use for the next day’s fishing. Each day began with a tasty breakfast and a short boat ride to the Little Minipi River, a wadeable water harboring pool after pool of giant trout. We fished just the first mile of the river, but the lodge has now purchased an out-camp further down the river to offer several more miles of fishing – for those who can get past those spectacular pools in the first mile of water.

Little Minipi Lodge is owned by Harvey Calden of Jay, Maine and Dave Little of Westbrook, Maine. Calden and his wife Betty also own Tim Pond Camps in western Maine. And they have a caribou hunting lodge in Labrador as well.

At Little Minipi Lodge, no fish are kept. That catch-and-release ethic keeps these big trout in the water for all of us. The same fish that Josh and I caught in 1999 may still be there for you.

But just because all fish are released, you should not think that you can’t have a beautiful mount. In fact, Marty Faley commissioned a wooden carving of his 10-pound trout from Maine’s own Gene Bahr, one of the finest wildlife carvers and artists in the nation. Gene has fished the Little Minipi himself and can duplicate the colors of your fish precisely. Give him a few photos and measurements, and you’ll have a trophy for the wall that will last through many generations. Your family will still be talking about your fish a hundred years from now!

I netted a 6-pound trout that spit out a fly our guide had lost over a month before when his client broke off the fish. Who knows how many times each Minipi trout thrills visiting anglers? For any Maine brook trout fanatic, the Little Minipi is a heavenly river.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.