Getting to Know My Outfitter

An Interview with Ryan Runge, Owner, Slate Falls Outposts

https://slatefallsoutposts.com/


As I have mentioned on this site before this year is a big year for my group, it’s a trip year! We spend so much time planning for our fly in trips that being 60 something days out is a big deal. Our 2020 trip is with Slate Falls Outfitters out of Sioux Lookout, Ontario. In a normal year this would be huge, but with COVID 19 making 2020 quite the dud so far, I think it’s fair to say it feels like a bigger deal.


I checked in recently with Ryan Runge, Owner and Operator of Slate Falls Outposts and as always it was a great chat. 2020 is turning out to be hellacious for outfitters like Ryan. After we talked logistics our chat meandered into Northern Jacks and the intent behind my site. One of my goals for Northern Jacks has been to introduce as many people as possible to the joy of spending time outdoors. More specifically introducing people to the wonders of Canada and Northern Ontario. After hanging up with Ryan I started thinking through how, if at all Northern Jacks could help in anyway for operators like Ryan. As I cut the lawn in 30 degree heat a lightbulb went off, perhaps it was dehydration or inspiration but I decided to do an interview with Ryan. Here it is “Getting to Know my Outfitter”

Ryan with a nice pike at Miniss Lake, 2020

Andrew:

Ryan, thanks for doing this today. With everything going on in the world I am really hurting for content so this is timely, lol. Seriously though let’s jump into the questions. Tell us a bit about yourself

Ryan:

Andrew, thanks for taking the time to put this together. I have been working Slate Falls Outposts since 2007 when I first met Verne, the previous owner and started helping part time between my guiding business. In 2014 I started working full time as the “right hand” Most recently I purchased the camp and I am now the proud owner of Slate Falls Outposts. I am also a husband and father and live in Sioux Lookout with my wife Marissa and 3 kids Vaughn, Luke and Quinn. I am sure it sounds tacky but my true passion (besides my family) is working at SFO. When I do have some free time, it is spent in the bush looking for moose horns or fishing and hunting.

Ryan and SFO guide Richard with some impressive Moose antlers

Andrew:

How did you get into the tourism business?


Ryan:

I have been in the camp business practically my whole life. My grandparents owned a camp on Eagle Lake and when I was 12, I got a job on the lake myself as a dock hand. Ever since then I have been working in the Outdoor tourism business. I love it and can’t picture myself doing anything else!

Andrew:

I think I know the answer but what would you call the Slate Falls difference?


Ryan:

I believe we offer a distinct level of Customer Service at Slate Falls Outposts. We connect with out groups via email and phone calls prior to the trip answering questions, providing updates and offering tips for packing for each lake. Once guests arrive in Sioux Lookout, we visit with guests in our bunkhouse the night ahead of their trip. The mornings of the trip we go over any last-minute news, review maps and talk about what has been working on the destination lake for fishing. We know its important for our guests to have success. Once our guests are in camp guests will typically see us every two days for a camp check. In my experience this is more than most operators offer. About 90% of our guests are repeat visitors which we are very proud of. I think it speaks to the level of service we provide, the quality of our camps and the overall experience.

Andrew:

In a regular season what does running an operation like Slate Falls Outposts include?


Ryan:

A regular season is a busy life! Winters are spent working on the booking sheet and making sure everyone is all set for next summers trips. It’s also when I put on my marketing hat and spend time on our website and reaching out to new clients. Summertime is a busy 7 days a week – answering calls, prepping for new groups, flying guests in and out of camp, conducting camp checks and ensuring everything is running as smoothly as possible. We try to get out groups out as early as possible and most days we are working on camps or conducting check ins after that. It’s both a crazy busy and awesome time. Most day’s start at

4:30 AM and end, well they end when they end.


The SFO crew doing some work at their Root Bay camp on Lake St Joseph

Andrew:

How many camps do you offer?


Ryan:

For 2021 we will offer 10 camps. Most are large lakes for fly-out lakes. Verne has done a great job of building our lake inventory over the years. We have 4 camps on Lake St. Joseph, 2 on Miniss lake, one on Maskara and Hooker lake. Last year we added Arc lake and next year adding another new camp on Carling


Andrew:

If you had to pick a favorite lake what would it be?


Ryan:

That is a tough question, I have fished all the lakes a lot over the years and always find new spots to fish and explore. Some groups like to book lake for the same date every year so they can expand their knowledge. Other’s like myself are always in explore mode. So, saying that I would lean towards St.Joe or Miniss but don’t ever ask me to choose again!

Andrew:

Obviously 2020 has been a tough year, how have you been managing


Ryan:

2020 is something that no one has ever seen our industry and it was so unexpected. It has been devastating for tourism in Northern Ontario. The border being closed to the US is for sure the right choice to keep our country safe, but it has had and will have a huge impact on Slate Falls and many other outfitters. We have been staying as busy as possible with spring maintenance at each camp and the new build at Carling. We are also getting ready to open Root bay for Canadian guests and a few of our other camps for moose hunting.


Andrew:

I am confident that your lakes provide great fishing but any tips for us to increase our odds?


Ryan:

Best way to increase odds is use the SFO rule “don’t fish in a spot with no fish”! Lol easier said then done but my rule is to fish any spot for 5 to 10 minutes and if nothing is biting move on. You don’t have to write off that spot and it may produce at another time but in general there are always active fish on these lakes. Move around, find structure and/or a depth that is producing and then find more!


Andrew:

For someone who has never experienced a fly in trip, other than the fishing what makes the experience unique


Ryan:

One of the best things about a trip with SFO is the peace and quiet. Our cabins are all solar, so no need to have a noisy generator running in the back round to keep the lights on. We have small Honda generators onsite for CPAP machines and charging batteries but only need to be on if you need it on. Being the only people or close to the only people in the Bush on a lake is a special feeling I believe (Editor note I agree and if you have read any of my trip reports it’s one of the best parts IMO Ogoki Lake Trip Report)

Andrew:

I have always wanted to take my family on one of these trips – do any of your lakes pop in mind?


Ryan:

Depending on the size of the family but Maskara has always been a family favorite. Located on a sand beach for swimming, Maskara is a manageable size with access to Cone and Side lake to explore. With easy fishing it’s a great spot to spend a week on your own lake in a beautiful cabin. Another great thing to take advantage of is the kids discounts of 35% off all 16 and under.

Sunset at the Eagle Island Camp on Lake St Joseph

Andrew:

Ryan thanks for taking the time to do this. Anything else


Ryan:

Even though our US guests will not be able to make it this year we will still be able to open for my Canadian clients (as always) but with the cancellations we have some great dates at Root bay in Mid August and early September for fishing. We will also have some openings for Moose in the fall. If any of the readers of Northern Jacks are interested I am offering 10% off for Canadian guests – they can simply call (1(807)737-2903) or email info@slatefallsoutposts.com and quote Northern Jacks10% or contact me through https://slatefallsoutposts.com/contact-us-sioux-lookout-fishing-vacation/ and quote NorthernJacks10% and they can save 10% off their booking.

Andrew:

That’s awesome Ryan – really appreciate it and looking forward to meeting face to face in August


Ryan:

Thanks Andrew looking forward to it as well.

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