Trusted By Experts: Jens Heig of Bowen Lodge

A Lake to Call Home

On the northern reaches of Minnesota, fed by the Mississippi river, lies Lake Winnibigoshish. Better known and more easily pronounced as “Lake Winnie” by the locals, the waters of this walleye oasis beckon anglers and adventurers from all over the country in search of an escape from the fast-moving currents of city life. The lake’s vast expanse covers more than 67,000 acres, and is the fourth largest lake in the state. Embraced by towering pines and home to deer, tropical migratory birds, ruffed grouse, and an array of wildlife that mirrors the region's natural grandeur.

Since 1925, Bowen Lodge has rested along Lake Winnie's banks, a haven for families creating lasting memories. Bob Heig, enamored by its beauty, bought the lodge in 1982, envisioning it as a peaceful retreat for retirement, a place to fish and spend time with family. However, the reality of running such a beloved fishing camp proved more demanding than expected. Bob's son Bill and wife Gail stepped in, transforming it into not just a family business but a cherished home.


The Beginning of a Legacy

Jens Heig, Bob's grandson, spent his formative years at Bowen Lodge, alongside his brother, Dane, becoming the third generation of Heigs to call Lake Winnie home. Their days were filled with fishing, biking, hunting, and exploring the woods, a childhood seemingly idyllic but rooted in their everyday reality. To most it would seem like a fantasy, a permanent vacation. But for Jens, this was all he knew…this was reality.

“As early as I can remember, this place was a playground. Of course there was a lot of work, but there was just something really special about being a kid here on the lake, the beach, and in the woods…there was just this energy that we could do whatever we wanted.”


Witnessing his family's tireless dedication, working from sunup to sundown, instilled in Jens a strong work ethic and pride.

“My parents absolutely had to make sacrifices for me to have the fun, carefree life that I had here as a kid.  When we were open,  we couldn’t leave. It's really hard because there are guests here seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and we don't have the freedom that most families would have on weekends. Saturday is the busiest day of the week. And so while my friends were going camping and were going away for the weekend, I had to be here.”

Jens yearned for new horizons, seeking a different path beyond Deer River, Minnesota, and Lake Winnie. Desiring a sense of normalcy and aspiring to forge his own success, his parents supported his decision to venture off to college in the city.

“I never resented being in a small town, but I saw the opportunity to be in a place where there's energy and things happening. But I never thought I would ever come home. It was like, okay, how, how can I, what is the opposite of this? Because I want that. And so I went to school at the University of Minnesota and in Minneapolis and the city, and that's where I met my now wife, Ashley…”

Going Back to Bowen

During his time away, Jens explored the world, from Africa to Europe, experiencing diverse cultures, oceans, and mountains. Yet, the waters of Lake Winnie drew him back, a magnetic force he could no longer resist. He needed to get back to where he grew up.

“I've had the fortune of going to a lot of really beautiful places all around the world and, and places that really represent what beauty means to a lot of people…they are absolutely incredible. This (Lake Winnie) is just as beautiful.”

A small boat glides across the lake at high speed, seen from above.


Preserving the Lodge, Making New Memories

Stepping into the cabins or the lodge evokes a tangible sense of generations past— energies and memories interwoven with the lake's fishing tales. The Heigs modernized the lodge while preserving its rustic charm, retaining 70-year-old paneling adorned with photographs narrating decades of fishing lore. Jens returned to Bowen Lodge for his wedding to Ashley. Now, like his predecessors, he rises before dawn to assist guests in crafting enduring memories. Perhaps these experiences will beckon them back to Bowen Lodge, just as it did for him.


“There is an energy that draws them back, and I wish I could explain it, but that’s the mystery. But there's power in that mystery of not being able to explain something. And I really think that the sense of adventure is what draws people into a place that makes them want to come back.

“I am rooted to this place…my hand print is forever in the concrete…I can continue to build my family's legacy. And that opportunity is remarkable.”

Learn more about Bowen Lodge here.

Stay out longer and go deeper into the wild below with the Benchmade Water Collection.

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