Division No. 18
Corey and Sean are back again with episode no. 12 of the Beneath the Surface Podcast: Division No. 18. In this episode, we travel back in time to a trip dreamt up by BOTE Creative Director, Rob McAbee, as he and several members of the BOTE family venture off-the-grid. They are headed to a place known only as Division No. 18, but to most fishermen it’s known as one of the best places on earth to fish for Northern Pike and Rob and the crew were looking to be the first people to ever fish this area on stand up paddle boards.
“The trip is a tale of good friends going into the wild and challenging ourselves to go after incredible fish….the entire trip was something I would repeat in a heartbeat” - Rob McAbee, BOTE Creative Director
COMING AT YOU DIRECT, FROM THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, TO THE CENTER OF EVERYWHERE.
Who's In The Episode
Lead Designer, Co-Founder, and CEO at BOTE, Corey Cooper is a licensed engineer hailing from Auburn University. Corey is the pioneer of the DarkRoom, assisting with the design of the machinery, concepting the layout and ultimately developing the workflow used in DarkRoom production. Corey’s passion for this project is so strong that on any given day, regardless of how busy things are at BOTE, you will often find Corey working in the DarkRoom.
Sean Murphy is the Director of Photography at BOTE and a world-renowned photographer based in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. After spending most of his career based in Los Angeles, shooting for brands like Adidas, Red Bull, and Toyota, just to name a few, Sean moved back to the Redneck Riviera. You can find Sean capturing gritty America and spontaneous moments that translate into visually stunning photography.
BOTE Creative Director, Rob McAbee, brings the style when it comes to designing eye-catching stand up paddle boards and developing color palettes, patterns, fonts, and illustrations that unite and define the BOTE brand. With over 25 years of professional brand building and marketing experience, Rob combined his love for fishing with his love for creative design when he joined the BOTE family in 2013. An avid fly fisher, Rob is the founder of BugslingerTM Fly Gear and, in collaboration with Corey, the creative brain behind the BOTE brand.
Rebekka Redd is an accomplished global fly angler, photographer, adventurer, published writer, speaker, conservationist and TV show host. Along with her work in television, she has garnered a worldwide following through her photography and writing.
Nick Pujic is the founder of Vantage Point Media House and is also the co-founder of the International Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4), a widely popular touring event throughout North America. Nick’s productions continue to air in over 170 countries around the World on leading broadcasters such as Discovery Channel, SportsNet, ESPN, Outdoor Channel, WildTV, WFN, Canal+, and Caza y Pesca.
Yoshi Aoki is also known as the “ninja” at Vantage Point. Not only is he outright deadly with a camera in his hands, but he is up a mountain and filming before anyone else has even left the parking lot. Yoshi’s talent with photographs, illustrations and cinematography are only rivaled by his passion for the outdoors.
“I think getting to the great places left in this world take adventure.” - Rebekka Redd
“Being in the middle of nowhere, in the wilderness and be able to take those inflatable stand up paddle boards out put them to work and be able to chase pike on the fly was amazing.” - Rebekka Redd
"The fishing was incredible, and the people who run the lodge were amazing. Not many people know about The Milton Lake Lodge and Division no.18. I used to be one of them, but now that I do, I’ll certainly never forget it." - Rob McAbee / Creative Director
Welcome back for another episode of the Beneath the Surface podcast. This week Corey and Sean sit down with two previous guests, Wil Beaucher and Rob McAbee, to discuss their off-the-grid fishing adventure to a place few have ever experienced.
00:02:00 The Early Days
Corey sets the stage for Rob to dive into how he came up with the idea to travel to such a remote place and the purpose behind the trip. Rob reflects on the early days of launching BOTE’s inflatable SUP line, traveling to Belize for product testing, and really wanting to see how far they can push these stand up paddle boards.
“What could we do aspirational wise that would really show that you really can for real travel with these boards?” - Rob McAbee / BOTE Creative Director
00:03:05 Meet Nick Pujic
Rob calls up an old buddy, Nick Pujic, who runs a film production company in Canada to pitch the idea. After hearing Rob’s plan for off-the-grid Nick jumps on board without hesitation.
00:03:55 Split crew
While Rob and his crew are headed North to shoot content of the team fly fishing for Northern Pike on BOTE’s inflatable SUP boards in the remote regions of northern Canada, Corey and Sean have made their way to the Everglades to do a product shoot for the Rover.
00:04:45 Where we're going we don't need roads!
Packed down with six inflatables, camera and production gear, waders, boots, rainwear, and their fly gear Rob and the crew take off headed for Division No. 18. Located in Saskatchewan Canada’s far north and only accessible by float plane, this place is as remote as it gets.
00:05:35 The first leg
The crew arrives in Saskatoon, one of the northernmost airports you can fly into, and settle in for the night to rest up before their final leg to Milton Lake Lodge.
00:05:46 A thousand miles of nothing
Taking a prop plane several hours further north Rob and Wil get their first glimpse of the true remoteness of the region. Looking down through the small, oval shaped window of the prop plane, all that is visible for thousands of miles is lakes broken up by small patches of land with criss-crossing animal trails.
“I had never been on such an adventure of that scale” - Wil Beaucher
00:06:15 The gravel pit airstrip
Finally reaching the fourth and final leg of the trip they land in the gravel pit airstip and begin transferring all their gear to the float plane. After a few funny looks from the crew they become worried that they might have too much weight for the float plane.
“The people that obviously own the place don’t mind you flying with whatever gear. They’ve already got your money for the ticket. It’s the people that are loading it. And they’re not talking to you… you just hear them saying ‘this is a lot of gear. Oh, that’s going too?’” Wil says as he and Rob reminisce and laugh about the experience.
00:08:15 Another two hours further North
With the whole crew on board the float plane–Rob, Wil, Nick, Yoshi, & Rebekka Red–and a little booze running through everyone’s system the psyche is high for the final leg of the trip to the Milton Lake Lodge.
00:08:34 The gang reunites
On a fishing trip in Niagara years before, Rob Meets Nick, Yoshi, and Rebekka. Over the years they keep in touch. Knowing that Nick is located in Alaska, Rob calls him to get his help on the shoot. Nick brings Yoshi, a photographer, videographer, and fishing ninja into the mix. Then he calls up Rebekka Redd, famed in the fly fishing world, but brand new to stand up paddle board fishing, to see if she is available to join.
00:10:53 The final descent
With the float plane packed to the brim and the crew onboard, the plane begins its final descent towards Milton Lake Lodge. Just before landing the pilot takes them for a loop to get one last aerial view of the surrounding landscape and the lodge which sits on the edge of a rocky cliff overlooking the lake below.
00:12:50 Otherworldly scenery
Rob and Wil reflect on the surrounding landscape of the area and the sharp contrast created by the wildfire the year before. Charred trees are visible for miles yet an abundance of wildlife surrounds them.
00:13:51 Experiencing Milton Lake Lodge
When the crew arrives at the Lodge they are met by a dozen or so people all there to help them have the greatest few days of their lives fishing for Northern Pike. Every day you are spoiled with multiple 5-star meals. After you’ve been fishing all day you take a lunch break to a remote island and you’re greeted with a spread fit for a king. Fresh caught fish. Fresh vegetables. Drinks. The works.
00:15:34 Where the sun don’t set
After a great day of shooting or a great day of fishing you head back to the lodge for dinner. Much like everything else at Milton Lake Lodge, dinner does not disappoint. The evening starts with a 5-course meal and then it’s time to head to the bar. And because the sun doesn’t ever really set during the summer time has a way of escaping you.
“We’ll have a drink. And then Rob and I will say ‘Let’s have one more!’ And with the typical lodge windows, huge windows it’s still light out. So we stay there laughing with the people, having a great time until 4 or 5 in the morning every night. And we’re like ‘Oh, shit! We gotta be up in like 30 minutes.’”
00:16:49 The gear
Rob gives the rundown and logistics of the gear they used and how inflatables increased their ability to navigate the waters in stealth and make this adventure a world class experience and the first of its kind on Milton Lake.
“Being in the middle of nowhere, in the wilderness and be able to take those inflatable stand up paddle boards out put them to work and be able to chase pike on the fly was amazing” - Rebekka Redd
00:18:31 The fish
Rob dives into the fishing experience, why Northern Pike are a fun fish to fly fish for, and the techniques for catching them. Will, who is typically more comfortable behind the lens than a rod and reel, chimes in with his brief, but successful experience throwing a duckling fly on the line and two casts later landing the biggest fish of the trip.
00:22:08 The highs and lows
With a big storm moving in, the crew tried to get on the water as early as possible. Despite trying to miss the storm it ended up rolling in while they were on the water forcing them to hunker down on the side of a hill of a burned out forest. Surrounded by lighting and getting hammered in every which way by rain and hail the crews waited out the storm.
“That’s kind of the great thing about our videos. You get the highs and lows, right? ...I think that’s one of the cool things about a lot of the stuff we do is we want real.” – Corey Cooper
00:23:59 Adventure travel made easy
From packing it up in the trunk of your car to flying to one of the most remote places in North America, BOTE’s inflatable SUP line makes adventure travel with your own gear easy.
Wil and Rob reflect on what a great experience it was to travel to Division No. 18. Not only the fishing, but also their interactions with the crew at Milton Lake Lodge and how one of the best things that comes from all of these experiences doing product shoots are the relationships they build and the friends they make along the way.