Thursday, December 31, 2009

You should be getting your Outdoors Card soon

Everyone who was at camp or who otherwise fished in Ontario last year should be getting their new non-resident (or resident if they are from here) Ontario Outdoors Card in the mail.

Don't throw it out! You paid $9 for this last summer!

From now on always bring your Outdoors Card when you come fishing in Ontario. We will swipe it through a machine and put a little sticker on the back and presto! you have your new fishing license! No more tedious filling out of license forms.

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources made applying for the Outdoors Cards mandatory for non-residents last summer. Ontario residents have had them for about 10 years.

If you forget to bring your card or haven't got one yet you'll have to shell out another $9 to apply for a new card when you get your 2010 fishing license.

So how do you remember to bring your card when you come up to camp this season?

One person said he planned to put it with his passport since you must have those also to cross the border now.
Another idea is to put it your tackle box. We have been providing people with license holders the last couple of years; so, you could just put it in there, inside your tackle box.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

June reservations for fishing becoming available

View out back of the Lickety Split
Anyone who has been waiting for a cabin to come open in the month of June should check out the Reservation Availability button on the right side of this page.
My letters requesting deposits from guests with existing reservations are finally reaching their destinations and as always happens, some people who booked a cabin last summer are now not able to come as planned. So there are openings in June and other months where there were none a few days ago.
We now need to hear as soon as possible from guests who have reservations but have not sent deposits. We need to know 1. Are you still coming as planned and if so when will you send us a deposit to hold your reservation? 2. Are you coming but your group size has changed? 3. Are you not coming?
We require a deposit of $100 per person for all guests over the age of 12.

You can use a personal check for the deposit or can use Visa or Mastercard by calling us at our winter phone number: 807-475-7246.

We would like to move quickly on the deposits so we will know if there are openings for other guests who have been inquiring about coming.
As always, your deposit is fully refundable upon 60 days notice of cancellation.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Yes, deer, there is a Santa Claus!

Christmas visitor
buck whitetail head to bird feeder

This was the scene out of many of our windows today, Dec. 23.

Deer which seemed to have been sucked off the surface of the earth during deer season are now strolling around the yard like so many pets.
They beat the birds to the bird feeder to eat sunflower seeds.

Deer season, incidentally, closed Dec. 15.

Merry Christmas everybody!

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fast and effective way to make fishing lures

making your own fishing lures
prism tapes

"Do you have any lures in orange? Anything at all? Right now if you've got a lure with orange you can sink the boat with fish. I had one orange spoon and I got it stuck in the rocks!"

This is a common bit of conversation at camp. It's not always orange that the fish want. Sometimes it's red or blue or silver or gold, etc.

If we have anything with the right color in our little tackle store the entire collection is snapped up. Then people want to know if we have any paint in the right color. However, paint is a slow solution. A much better and instant fix is to bring a selection of fishing lure prism tapes.

Prism tapes are absolutely great for modifying spoons and spinners. You just peel off the back and stick it down. It lasts for years.

These tapes come in countless shades and colors and also have holographic and other reflective finishes.

I've discovered that I can make my own ice fishing lures for about 1/100 of the cost. I just buy generic spoon blanks and then add tiny bits of the reflective tapes. These lures are not only cheaper than buying ready-made ice fishing lures, they work better as well.

As you can see in the photos, each strip of tape cost me just 50 cents.

These tapes also come in unusual shapes such as zig-zag and tiny circles.

However, if you want to make your own shape just cut it out with tiny scissors. I find the scissors on my Swiss Army knife work nicely.

You can find the fishing lure tapes at sporting goods stores and on-line catalogs.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Fishing trips cost less this year with tax rebate

We've just received great news!
The Foreign Convention and Tour Incentive Program, known simply as the federal tax rebate to our guests, will apply to one-half of the new Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).
This is an increase of 38% and means our fishing packages, after the rebate, will cost even less than last year!
Here's how it adds up (all figures are Canadian funds. The cost in U.S. depends on the exchange rate but will probably be slightly less):
Our American Plan package costs $860, the same as last year. With the new 13% HST the total is $971.80. The rebate recoups half of the HST; so, the rebate will be $63.17. The net cost of the package then is $908.63.
Last year the package was also $860 but with the combined provincial and federal taxes came to $957.61; however, the tax rebate only amounted to 2.5% for a total of $22.71. The net cost then, for last year, was $934.90.
So our American Plan customers this year will end up paying $26.27 less than they did last season once they receive their tax rebate.
Likewise guests coming on the Housekeeping Plan will pay $18.93 less after receiving their new rebate of $47.74.
The new HST begins July 1, 2010. Guests coming to camp before this date fall under the old system and will pay the old taxes. The previous taxes amounted to two per cent less on our packages but then the tax rebate was also less. So guests coming before July 1 pay exactly what they did last season.
Bow Narrows Camp fishing packages meet the criteria for the tax rebate and our business has been pre-approved by the tax authorities for our guests receiving the rebate.
With rebates of $63.17 for American Plan and $47.74 for Housekeeping Plan, you can't afford to forget to apply.
We will give you the form for the mail-in rebate when you pay for your fishing package at camp. You must fill it out and mail it along with your original invoice once you get home.
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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Johnson Silver Minnow -- ultimate weedless spoon

Johnson Silver Minnow
When it comes to pulling a spoon through weedbeds for northern pike, nothing beats a Johnson Silver Minnow.

This old-time favorite will come not only through the weeds but also through trees, rocks and just about everything else.

The key is to keep that adjustable weedguard turned up so it is just above the single hook. This deflects the weeds but bends down when smacked by a pike.

I like the red-and-white, silver and gold colors best but it's worth getting this spoon in many colors.
You can make this lure about a hundred times more effective by adding a trailer to the single hook. As the photo shows here, my favorite trailer is a plastic curly or twister tail.

This is hooked through the side of the plastic worm, not skewered on like you would with a jig.

The tail needs to be positioned so it is exactly in the sternmost curve of the hook to give the lure its fantastic wiggle that pike find irresistible.

This lure should really come with its own hook sharpener because if you don't keep the hook needle sharp you will miss most hook-ups when a fish strikes. In fact, if you are getting strikes and not hooking fish you always need to sharpen your hooks with any lure.

Retrieve this lure so it develops its maximum wiggle -- too fast and it just spins, too slow and it comes in like a little underwater boat.

Always keep your rod tip low on the retrieve. This makes the lure run deeper.

You also need to really set the hook when it is struck by a fish since you must sink that single hook into flesh.

But that single hook is also a great advantage of using this lure. You can quickly remove it from the fish's mouth and get back to casting for more.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What is the best size of walleye to eat?

perfect size walleye for eating
A conservation concept that has really taken hold is the knowledge that there are certain sizes of fish that should be kept and others that should be released.

Bow Narrows angler Paul Stowick holds up a great eating-size walleye in the photo above. It's not too big but has plenty of meat.

In short, big fish should always be released. They are the top breeders and carry the genes for fast growth and large size that we all want to see passed on to other generations of fish. Every time you release a big fish you are helping build a healthy fish population.

In walleyes, it's best to release all fish over 18 inches even though Ontario fishing regulations allow you to keep one that big or larger. I think the intention of the regulations was to allow an angler to keep a trophy for mounting purposes.

However, the truth is the fish replicas that all taxidermists now produce are far superior to a real-skin mount. They look better and they last forever, unlike a natural skin mount.

All the angler needs to do is measure the length and the girth and take a photo. The big fish can then be released.

Still, no one would begrudge an angler for wanting a memento of a once-in-a-lifetime fish and the thrilling fight it put up.

The problem comes from some fishermen who use the one-over 18-inch rule to just keep the heaviest fish possible for eating. This harkens back to the day when anglers proved their prowess with great stringers and coolers full of fish. That day passed away about 20 years ago but a few people haven't heard about it. Today's anglers want great fishing, not the slaughter of as many fish as possible.

Besides it being unhealthy to fish populations to keep big fish, it's also unhealthy to the angler.

Fish bio-accumulate natural and man-made toxins from the environment. The bigger the fish and the longer it has lived, the greater the level of these toxins. This is true for every water body on Earth, from ponds to oceans.

So getting back to walleye, what is the best size to eat?

I would say 14-18 inch walleyes are about ideal. One fish of this size will easily feed one person.

Walleyes smaller than 14 inches just don't have much flesh on them but from a conservation standpoint it would be better to eat two small walleyes than one over 18 inches.

Walleyes reach sexual maturity at 18 inches. So keeping one 18 inches or larger removes one from the breeding population. Keeping smaller fish isn't as detrimental because many of them wouldn't make it to sexual maturity anyway. In Red Lake a lot of them end up as food for giant northern pike and even lake trout.

Walleyes under 18 inches also cook better than large ones; their fillets are thin enough to cook evenly whereas on big fish you need to over-cook the thin portions of a fillet in order to cook the thickest section.

Man, I can almost smell those fillets cooking right now!

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Do we become slaves to our technology?

Most people would call this a depthfinder and they're common sights at Bow Narrows Camp. In fact I would say the majority of our guests bring them.

But to some people, it's a fishfinder and that's what they try to do with it, find fish.

The difference is that the first group goes fishing and uses the depthfinder to fish at a particular depth. The second group goes driving around looking at the fishfinder to tell them where to fish.

There's not much difference between the two when the fish -- read this, walleyes -- are at 16 feet or deeper because then they show up on the depthfinder/fishfinder.

The problem arises when the fish are shallower than that which they usually are on Red Lake for the first couple of months. The guys with the fishfinders can't find anything until they get over deep water, then they can see fish. There they are, schools of fish suspended half way to the bottom in 50-100 feet of water. They then try everything in the tacklebox but with no success. That's because those lovely marks on their screens are tulibees, not walleyes. Tulibees are lake herring and can be difficult to hook.

The walleyes are back in the shallow bays on the windy shores in probably 8-12 feet of water. Anglers who went trolling at this depth, perhaps using their depthfinders as a guide, did well. The guys with the fishfinders didn't even try there because they "didn't mark anything."

The fish were there; they just didn't show up on the fishfinder either because the transducer "cone angle" was too narrow in the shallow water or because the fish moved away from the boat momentarily as it passed overhead.

For people who are "hooked" on using a fishfinder, I suggest they come from mid-July to the end of the season because they will be able to "see" walleyes on their fishfinders. There will be some in the shallows that they can't see, especially from mid-July to mid-August, but there will be some in the deeper places too.

If you don't think there are people addicted to using fishfinders, consider the following.

We once had a guest who was a lake trout specialist and who returned home to the Midwest without even attempting to fish at camp when he discovered that one of his four on-board fishfinders wasn't working. True story.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Many reasons to give thanks for 2009

Since it is almost Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. (in Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving in October) I thought I would recall a couple of our major blessings at camp for 2009.
The first is our guests.

You know, on our website there is a page called Who We Are and it only talks about Brenda and me and my father, Don. But it should really talk about our guests as well.

Many of these people have been coming to Bow Narrows Camp for nearly as long as us. They have seen hot summers and cold ones, wet seasons and dry, spectacular fishing and tough fishing, forest fires, northern lights and meteor showers and everything else that comes from taking an outdoors vacation in the North. We look forward to seeing them and enjoy their company as much as we do our own families.

Sadly a couple of these friends passed away this year. We will miss them terribly. All we can do is to be thankful for the time we did spend together.

Our other major blessing in 2009 was our wonderful staff.

Nothing makes me as optimistic about the future of the world as knowing there are young people such as these coming up in it.

They had a work ethic that nearly wore me out, were quick learners and resourceful. They were cheerful in the wettest weather we have ever seen and they were just lots of fun.

In the top photo are, from left, Emilie Godin, Ben Godin and Jenn Bucci. In the bottom photo is Joe Cox.

It isn't necessary to be a good fisherman to work at camp but as these photos show these staffers knew how to use a rod and reel.

Those four were our main staffers but others who worked at camp for shorter periods in 2009 were our son Josh Baughman (he rebuilt the boathouse in June) and Jeremy Baldwin and Rosalie Tilley who worked at camp in September. They were all excellent, hard workers and we thank them all.

We also thank our brother-in-law Ron Wink for taking a week in June to help us wire our new water treatment plant and Brenda's brother Gordon Cooper for helping us with some surveying tasks.

We are also fortunate to have so many wonderful merchant and service providers in Red Lake such as the folks at Red Lake Marine, Sobeys Supermarket, Scotia Bank, Green Airways, Viking Outposts, Mike Litwin's PetroCanada, Home Hardware and Northwest TimberMart, to name a few.

Finally, we are grateful for our good friends at the Ministry of Natural Resources whose jobs are to protect the very resources that we count on for a living.

All of these people and many more really deserve to be on the Who We Are page.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

It looks like an El Nino winter ahead

autumn sunset on Red Lake
Virtually all of Canada including Northwestern Ontario is experiencing record high temperatures this November, apparently the result of El Nino, the cyclical warming of the Pacific Ocean west of South America.

This typically happens every 4-6 years but this time around it seems more pronounced than normal.

Daytime temperatures in Northwestern Ontario should be around the freezing mark but instead are 6-10 C (40-50 F).

The weather during a normal El Nino winter in Northwestern Ontario is warmer and often snowier than other years. So far this winter it is much warmer but quite dry. This is particularly welcome after our wet summer last year.

It should be a boost to fish populations as it will mean at least one extra ice-free month. El Nino is also kind to animals since they don't need to expend as much energy keeping warm.

I've got my fingers crossed that it will also lead to an early ice-out next spring. Once in awhile the ice goes out in Red Lake in late April instead of early to mid-May. This is a god-send to us at camp as it lets us get to work mending docks and doing other maintenance before the fishermen arrive. It also almost always leads to spectacular walleye and northern pike spawns.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Consider Lake Superior route to or from camp

If you've never travelled the highway around Lake Superior you might consider adding it to your itinerary when coming or going from camp this summer.
In most cases it will add at least a few hours to your trip but it's one of the most scenic routes in the world and it's a shame if you've never seen it.
Just about all of our American guests cross the border at International Falls/Fort Frances and then proceed to Red Lake on either Hwy 71 going west and then north to Hwy. 17, or they go east and north on Hwy 502 to Hwy 17. They then go to Vermilion Bay where they turn on to Hwy 105 which ends at Red Lake.
Let's be clear, these are the fastest ways to get to Red Lake. And of these two, the Hwy 502 route is perhaps 30 minutes quicker than going via Hwy 71.
These routes also have beautiful scenery in the form of woods and lakes. But you don't see vistas that go on for dozens of miles like you do if you drive around the shore of Lake Superior.
On the west side of Lake Superior you would take Hwy 61 from Duluth to Thunder Bay, then Hwy 11-17 to Vermilion Bay (Hwy 11 splits off towards Atikokan on the way).
Here you drive right next to Lake Superior as well as along cliffs and through tunnels. There are a bunch of quaint little towns on the way including Grand Portage Lodge and Casino and Grand Marais, Minnesota.
You then cross the border at Pigeon River. It's a much smaller border crossing than is the one at International Falls/Fort Frances and during peak travel times should be a lot quicker to get through.
However, if the border crossing times were identical then this route would add about three hours to your trip as compared to going through Int'l Falls.
If you've got some extra time, check out Old Fort William in Thunder Bay. This is an authentic reconstruction of the old fur trading post that used to exist here. Everybody is dressed in period costume and are busy doing the very things the fur traders and courier du bois would have done in the 1800s. There are dramas and events every day.
It's a big place and you can easily spend most of a day at it.
For a longer but even more spectacular ride, take Hwy. 11-17 east of Thunder Bay to Sault Ste. Marie (again, Hwy 11 splits off along the way).
Here you travel almost entirely on the cliffs and hills of eastern Lake Superior where you can see for dozens of miles across the world's largest lake.
We took the photos above on this route this November as we drove to our annual convention of Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario.
Again, there are many neat little towns along the way such as Nipigon, Schreiber, Wawa and White River. Anyone who has taken this route would agree it is one of the most awesome drives in the world.
However it is certainly farther if you are driving from the U.S. Midwest. I would allow an extra day to take this route. You would then cross the border at Sault Ste. Marie in upper peninsula Michigan.
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Sunday, November 15, 2009

We clean all your fish for you

One of the services we offer at Bow Narrows Camp is cleaning all your fish.

You just bring your fish to the fish house, put your cabin number on a plastic tub and put your fish in the tub. We do the rest.

Your fish will either be packaged in shrink wrap on a styrofoam plate to take home with you or will be brought to your cabin or the lodge for you to eat at camp, depending on your instructions.

We remove ALL the bones from fish fillets, including the infamous Y-bones from northern pike.

You get two boneless, delicious fillets from each fish.

We pack the fish that you are taking home on the styrofoam plates so that the fillets can be measured by conservation officers should you be stopped in a roadside check. The COs can tell at a glance that your fish are of legal size. We also leave a small piece of skin attached to the fillets to identify the species.

Conservation officers from Red Lake to the U.S. border now recognize our packaging and have given our customers countless compliments on transporting their fish in such a clear, identifiable manner.

In the photo above former long-timer staffer Janet Schonewille works at the fish cleaning table.

All of our fish cleaners become experts but Janet was one of the best and has been the only girl to do the task.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

2010 reservation availability up, new HST ahead

The 2010 reservation availability is now posted. Just click on it under Favorite Blog Entries to the right.
You can also access Reservation Availability from our main website.
Next I'll update our Rates page on the website. There's not much to change. The rates for 2010 will be the same as for 2009.
The only difference will be in the sales taxes. The Ontario Government is ending its provincial sales tax (PST) in 2010 and is instead combining its tax with the federal government's goods and services tax (GST). The new tax is called the harmonized sales tax (HST).
It goes into effect July 1, 2010. You will only pay the HST from that point.
It will be 13 per cent and will apply to everything.
The former PST and GST also totalled 13 per cent on most things but in the past the accommodation portion of your trip was taxed at a lower rate with the result that the two taxes totalled about 11 per cent on our fishing packages. So the new tax means you will be charged two per cent more in taxes than in the past.
However, it is expected that the federal government will still make available a tax rebate to visitors such as Bow Narrows Camp customers just as before. This was for half of the old GST.
We are still waiting for a ruling on what this will mean under the new HST. If it would again be for half than it would mean that everyone would get a larger rebate.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

The things you discover while hunting

I enjoy discovering things in the fall while I'm grouse or moose hunting almost as much as the hunting itself.
Take this long-forgotten jug that I stumbled on this October.
Was it once filled with moonshine back in the 1926 Red Lake Gold Rush? And how did it end up way back in the bush?
It looks like someone set it down on a stump which has since decayed into just a mound of moss.
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Friday, November 6, 2009

Last summer's flood likely a boost for fish

island in Pipestone Bay
When you live and breathe fishing the way we do here at Bow Narrows Camp the conversation always turns to how whatever weather condition we are experiencing will affect fish populations.

Last summer saw the highest water levels on record for mid-July to mid-September; so what will that do for fishing next year?

It actually should be wonderful. Fish and virtually all other aquatic organisms ultimately benefit from fluctuating water levels provided their annual spawning activities aren't disturbed.

Last year's flood came mid-summer well after northern pike and walleye had spawned in May and was gone by late-September before the lake trout spawned in October.

The benefit comes from the influx of nutrients during the high water and then the aeration and scouring of the bottom by waves in low water. This increases the productivity of this zone of the lake for such things as aquatic vegetation. Water weeds love this fluctuation in water levels. The worst thing for a lake is for the level to remain static as this leads to a decline in weed growth. At least that is the case for relatively cold water lakes such as Red Lake and most other lakes in the Boreal Forest. It might be a different story in the South where too much weed growth can become a problem.

Up here weeds are highly desired as they provide cover for a host of aquatic creatures, from tiny invertebrates to larger things like dragonfly nymphs and of course, minnows and young game fish.

We should see increased weed growth next summer around the edges of the deep bays like Pipestone and the Potato Island basin. It might even be similar to the years soon after a forest fire burned off the north shore of Pipestone Bay in 1986. As any angler knows northern pike fishing blossomed in that region of the lake for years afterwards as deep weedbeds appeared off the sandy shores of this bay.

Shallow bays, or course, continued to produce good weed growth, depending on water temperatures -- more weeds in warm summers and fewer in cold periods.

Another benefit from all the rain last summer is that it provided tons of food for fish in the way of insects and worms.

Fish surveys by the Ministry of Natural Resources last fall showed there is a very large population of young walleye in the lake and this age group in particular should have received a tremendous boost by the extra food sources.

Our expectation is to have a bumper population of eating-sized walleyes next summer in addition to our usual group of lunkers that always provide thrills.

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Thoroughness my favorite northern pike technique

Mepps Black FuryLen Thompson spoon

northern pike territory

Whenever I can get a chance to get away from camp for a couple of hours I like to head out northern pike fishing.

My favorite system is to cast the shoreline while being alert for any fish activity. I always position the boat so that the wind will drift me through the area I want to cast. If it's not too windy I shut off the outboard and let the wind do its thing. If it's very windy I might leave the engine turned on but in neutral, ready to reposition the boat should I drift out of position quickly.

The thing that I do that could be different from other anglers is that I continue to work an area for as long as I get any action whatsoever. For instance on my first drift through a spot I might only get a small pike or even just a strike. That's great, I figure, because it shows fish are here. So I head back upwind and drift through again, this time fishing either a little closer or a little farther out from shore or maybe trying a different lure.

I like to have two radically different lures on hand, usually a small Mepps or Blue Fox spinner in No. 3-5 and a medium-sized spoon.

In the photo above I caught a small hammer-handle pike the first time I went though this little cove on a No. 4 Mepps Black Fury spinner and had one other strike.

The next time I passed through I had another strike but no hook-up. Hmm, I thought, there are fish here but there's something not quite right with what I'm doing. It was evening and the light was starting to fade so I put on a Len Thompson No. 00 spoon, white with a fluorescent orange stripe. They should be able to see this, I thought.

I then caught six more pike in about 10 minutes, including two nice dinner fish about 25 inches long.

On another outing I kept drifting back through the same little spot for about an hour even though I was only catching miniature pike and even a perch. Although the fish were small it was pretty fast action. Finally I drifted through farther away from the shoreline and landed a nice 35-inch pike, the kind most people would like to catch.

I just find that by working an area thoroughly I develop a feel for the place. Sometimes I discover that all the fish are around a certain clump of weeds or some other structure. There may be lots of other weeds and structures around but on this day, every fish is clustered in this one little spot. And if there are little fish there are also likely to be big fish around.

If you don't keep going back to the area where you had fish action you might only get a single fish from this hot spot.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Who's watching camp over the winter?

Here's a quiz for you. What creature does the most damage to the buildings at camp after we close for the winter?






I suspect most people would pick bears as the culprits. They are certainly big and destructive. However, bears are either fast asleep by the time we leave camp in late October or are sitting beside their dens waiting for the first snow before snuggling inside. Nope, bears have actually never damaged anything at camp over the winter.

Timber wolves are right in the yard when we are away. We can tell they were here when we come in the spring by the scat they leave behind. We also find moose marbles (droppings) all over the place and that's what the wolves are looking for: moose. They couldn't care less about the buildings.

There are wolverines in the area. One was known to have ripped apart a beaver house not far from camp a few years ago and eaten all the beavers inside. But unless you had a building full of meat which we don't of course, they too aren't interested in camp.

Beavers are a good guess. They could potentially cut down trees and damage buildings and in fact have done so in the summer. But once the ice covers the lake they are restricted to their houses and forays under the ice.

Porcupines are few and far between here. Apparently they were plentiful back in the gold rush days of the 1920s but I've only ever seen one animal.

Believe it or not, the creature that does the most damage to our buildings are ruffed grouse!

That's right, the chicken-sized upland birds that are favorites with fall hunters.

They fly right through the screens on our screened porches ruining the entire panel of expensive mesh.

Sometimes almost every cabin has been hit by these feathered rockets.

Grouse are not the most agile of fliers. They take off the ground with a thunderous explosion of wings and then glide under the branches of trees to a landing on the ground. Apparently they view the porch roofs as tree branches and look right through the screen.

You would think hitting aluminum screen going 40 mph would be devastating to a 1-2-pound bird. After all the impact leaves a two-foot gash in the screen. But no, the birds almost always survive. For this reason we always leave the porch doors propped open so they can find their way back outside.

This year we are trying to reduce grouse-porch collisions by painting silhouettes of great horned owls on the screens. Staffer-artist Rosalie Tilley made the stencil and did the painting.

Amazingly you cannot see the owl image from the inside, so it doesn't obstruct your view.

Hope it works.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

There was a surprise in the sky tonight

Some old friends came by to visit tonight -- the aurora borealis or northern lights.

I had just gone outside for an armload of firewood to stave off the frost when I glanced up and saw them. They have been absent from the skies for nearly two years, apparently the result of unusually calm solar activity. Solar radiation that erupts from sunspots speeds its way to Earth and lights up the gases in the outer atmosphere. Astronomers reported this spring that the Sun had not begun its usual 11-year cycle of intense solar storms. I didn't need to hear that as I already knew we were missing our usual nighttime show.

And now it's back!

As soon as I saw the lights I reached for my pocket digital camera and took some shots.

After a little experimenting I discovered the setting for candlelight produced the best results.

I know northern lights are ephemeral at the best of times: here one minute and gone the next so I clicked away as fast as I could.

There are few indicators to predict what the lights will do but one that I've noticed is that when the lights spread all over the sky, not just in the north, it's going to be a good show.

So I ran inside, donned my floater coat, got in a boat and went across the narrows for what should be the best seat. And the lights disappeared!

Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Season nearly over for Brenda, Sam and me

The autumn leaves are finally falling and it won't be long before Brenda, Sam and I head home for the winter.

The water systems are almost completely drained, including that of our new water filtration plant and all that remains is to finish construction on the boathouse and put away equipment in their various sheds.

The only other people we've seen on the lake the last few days were Ernie and Mary Leischeid who were setting beaver traps at houses around camp yesterday. They found three houses within 400 yards of camp. We wish them success as it has seemed the aspen trees in our yard have been under attack from all sides by North America's largest rodent. We've lost many this summer even though we have placed metal fencing around the bases of these trees.

Sam and I took a quick boat ride the other day and saw this beautiful tamarack tree on a small island right around the corner from camp. Tamaracks are deciduous conifers. Their needles turn yellow and then fall off in the fall. In the summer they blend right in with the other conifers but really stand out in the fall.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tiny grouse indicative of wet summer

This little ruffed grouse that Sam and I got hunting the other day could be the result of all the wet weather we had last summer. It's about half the size that a young-of-the-year grouse should be at this point.

No doubt this grouse came from a hen that re-nested after its first or even second nest of eggs was destroyed by something, either a predator such as a fox or skunk or just by the weather. Grouse hens are able to incubate their clutch of 8-10 eggs in virtually any temperature, even below freezing, but there's nothing they can do if the nest is flooded which was certainly a possibility this summer.

Sam and I have taken four grouse this fall and this was the only young one. The rest were more than a year old. The ratio should be the other way around: lots of young birds and few old ones.

Incidentally, predators that destroy nests and cause some birds to re-nest actually help the population in the long. The reason is that almost all the birds will usually have their clutches of eggs hatch at the same time and consequently all their young will be exposed to whatever the weather happens to be at that time.

Ruffed grouse and most other upland birds will die if the weather happens to be cold and wet when they first emerge from the egg. So birds that are forced to re-nest after their eggs are destroyed by predators end up with their chicks emerging at a different time.

On the downside these birds are younger and smaller by the time winter sets in and have less chance of survival but sometimes, and perhaps this might be one of those years, they are the only new members of the population to have made it through the summer.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Beauty around every bend

Below-freezing temperatures, heavy frost and snow flurries have created beautiful scenes everywhere here.

This is what greeted us at the end of Trout Bay where Douglas Creek flows into Red Lake.

In the roller coaster weather that we have experienced this year, October is shaping up to be colder than normal with daytime highs just a few degrees above freezing and nighttime temps well below the freezing mark.

A couple of mornings ago we saw lake trout swirling on the surface in front of the lodge as they made their way back to feeding areas after spawning in Pipestone Bay.

Ministry of Natural Resources crews have told us the water temperature is just now cooling off to the preferred 10-11 C for spawning. That's about two weeks later than normal, no doubt due to the record-warm September we experienced.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Snow is on and somebody is home

My two brothers-in-law and I are hunting moose this week and we're seeing a great many impressive beaver houses around the lake.

This one is about six feet tall and has a large feedbed in front. The feedbed is composed of aspen, willow and birch and will serve as food all winter for the beavers inside. They swim through underwater tunnels from the house out to the feedbed, grab a stick and haul it back inside to eat. All of this will be under the ice of course. Incidentally, this activity of beavers moving to and fro prevents the ice from freezing deeply in the area between house and feedbed. Never walk on the ice right up to a beaver house as you are in danger of falling through, even when the ice is three feet thick on the rest of the lake.

Besides the large size and feedbed of this house, you can also tell there are many beaver inside by the melted spot on the top. This is known as the "chimney" and is caused by the body heat of the beavers inside escaping out the top of the house. The bigger the chimney the more beaver are inside. There are a bunch in this place.
Some of these houses may hold a dozen beaver and several dozen muskrats. The 'rats are believed to like the houses because they offer protection from otters (beavers would kill any otter than made the mistake of coming into the house) and the beavers seem to tolerate their smaller rodent cousins perhaps because their body heat is welcome and they don't compete for food. Muskrats eat roots of aquatic plants which they must find under the ice.
Muskrats, beavers and otters have a way of breathing under the ice that extends their distance from open holes and houses. They place their nostrils against the bottom of the ice when they exhale and their exhaled breath forms a bubble which they can then rebreath. (We only consume a portion of the oxygen in each breath. It's the same for all creatures.) They create these "filling stations" of oxygen to create under-ice travel corridors.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Trout spawning project yields fewer eggs

Despite a herculean effort by Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources staff they weren't able to gather as many lake trout eggs this fall as normal.

The water temperature never did get cold enough to bring large quantities of trout into the spawning shoals during the week-long project which ended Wednesday.

So they are sending about half of the normal amount of fertilized eggs to the Dorion fish hatchery near Thunder Bay where they will be raised to fingerling size and released back to Red Lake in a year and a half.

In this photo MNR staffer Christine Apostolov strips a female trout of eggs into a bowl held by Red Lake High School student Nicky while biologist Leslie Barnes looks on.

At the end of the day Jason, the man in the background, still had to make the 6-hour drive with the eggs to the hatchery.

The lake trout stocking project involves many MNR personnel including senior managers in addition to dedicated fish and wildlife personnel.

They pulled out all the stops this year trying to gather enough trout for the project but female trout were hard to find. They are always the last to come to the shoals in Pipestone Bay and the netters could only find one or two at a time whereas there were plenty of male trout.

This brings to a close a season that can only be called bizarre due to the weather.

The temperatures now appear to be headed to normal for this time of year. Snow is expected most of this week with lows below freezing.

The lake level is finally back to near normal high-water levels.

It won't be long before Brenda and Sam and I close camp and head home for the winter.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Lake trout spawning project is underway

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources personnel are here at camp to collect lake trout eggs to be raised in the Dorion fish hatchery and later released back to the lake.

This year the fishers are having a difficult time catching enough trout for the project due to the exceptionally warm water temperature. Trout don't come to their spawning shoals until the temperature is 10-11 C. At the start of the project a few days ago the temperature was 15 C.

It's now down to about 12 and some trout have been collected.

They are kept in underwater pens until enough of them are gathered. Then their eggs and milt will be stripped from them and the fish released back to the lake.

Here project manager Myles Perchuk brings a female lake trout to the pen.

The MNR hopes to collect about 120,000 eggs. Most of those will be raised to fingerlings in the hatchery and then brought back in a year and a half but some will also be placed in underwater incubator boxes to hatch naturally at various places around Red Lake.

For more on the lake trout project, look back through previous blog entries.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Lickety Split fits in the boathouse again

The lake level has now fallen two feet and we were able to get the Lickety Split back under the boathouse again, just barely as the photo shows.

The falling water is a great relief to us as it means our new boathouse docks will be above the ice when it finally forms in the next couple of months. It would have been disastrous if the ice was above the docks.

We can now get back to work putting the finishing touches on the boathouse's motor shed, something that came to a halt when the lake rose more than two months ago.

Here's some interesting facts about the summer's bizarre weather. We received double our normal rainfall which was a record. At the midst of the rainy weather each inch of rain that fell made the lake rise four inches.

Then we went from the ridiculous to the sublime. September will go down as the warmest and driest on record. September was warmer than July. That is also a record.

Many of us believe that the falling lake level had more to do with evaporation than the outflow of water down the Chukuni River which is the outlet to Red Lake. We all noticed that the level fell most on the hottest, windiest days.

Autumn colors have been slow coming this year no doubt due to the hot weather but berries have ripened right on schedule including these mountain ash berries in camp.

Mountain ash berries are favorite foods of migrating song birds including cedar waxwings and robins as well as black bears.

Moose don't eat the berries but love to browse the mountain ash twigs in the winter. In fact it is their favorite food and they will go far out of their way to find it.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Haven't seen this for awhile -- our dock!

The gorgeous fall weather we've received the past three to four weeks has done a number on the flood level to the lake. Yesterday our boathouse dock reappeared as the water continues to drop.

We've even started to re-use the boathouse instead of conducting all our activity from the lodge floating dock. It's just in time too as the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources will soon need the floating dock for its lake trout spawning activities.

Temperatures have been the warmest of the entire summer and it has barely rained a drop.

This has let the lake fall more than a foot and it continues to go down about an inch a day.

If it falls another foot than it will be back to the normal spring high water mark but would still be two feet higher than normal for this time of year.

The forecast is for seasonal temperatures to return starting Monday. That's not all bad. The cool temps will probably get rid of the mosquitoes which have been exceptionally rough lately.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A beautiful day to be on the lake

Sam and I and staffers Rosalie Tilley and Jeremy Baldwin got a chance to go fishing yesterday afternoon and what a beautiful trip it was!

The lake was like glass and the fishing was great. We caught some nice pike for supper and I released a hefty slot-sizer.

Then as we sat down to eat in the lodge, we spied this big bull moose swimming across the narrows right in front of camp!

It was so still we could hear him breathing as he swam and could see steam coming from his nostrils.

He got out of the water right near Cabin #10.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

The very large and the very small

There are few things more impressive than watching a bald eagle and recently I got a photo of one "striking" at a fish carcass to the surprise of an immature eagle on the ground.

At the same time there are also impressive things in miniature to see such as this plump caterpillar which I believe is the larvae of a luna moth.

The caterpillar is about as big around as your thumb and perhaps three inches long.

The luna moth is very beautiful. It is the same color as the caterpillar and perhaps 4-5 inches in length with long swallow tails.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Now that it's fall, summer has arrived!

Everyone is enjoying the beautiful weather we have been getting.
The days are very warm and sunny and there has been a nice breeze to help dry out the soil and evaporate some water from the lake.
We only have a few more inches to go before our boathouse dock will be above water.
The warm weather seems to have stopped the color change in the trees. Most everything is still green.
The nights have also been clear. There has not been any northern lights this summer. I believe it's because of quiet sunspot activity. These solar storms send radiation toward Earth that lights up the night sky as northern lights.
As I understand it we have missed the 11-year cycle to the sunspots. In addition to creating northern lights the sunspots also create the hot, dry weather that was missing from most of North America this summer.
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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Nicest week of the entire summer!

We just had seven consecutive days of warm, even hot, sunny weather.
It was the warmest week of the entire summer.
New staffer Jeremy Baldwin and I were able to get the entire lawn mowed at camp and the yard has dried up very nicely.
Even the lake level fell by about three inches. If it goes down another foot we'll see our boathouse docks again.
There is rain in the forecast again for several days this coming week so I still advise everyone to bring rubber boots. If you don't end up wearing them you can always take them back to the store.
We weren't the only ones that appreciated the sunny weather after about two months of rain. The fish also seem to like it and are biting very well, even the northern pike which have been hard to find.
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Monday, August 31, 2009

Fishing is "different" most anglers report

Despite the flood conditions here we are still catching some nice fish but virtually all of our regular customers have the same thing to say about the fishing by the ends of their weeks.

It's "different."

That's not very helpful for the next groups but it's almost all they ever say about it.

From my observation I would say walleyes are spread out throughout the water column due to the fact the lake is about the same temperature from a few feet below the surface to the bottom.

Northern pike are the real mystery. They are much harder to catch than normal but as the photo above proves, they are still out there.

Some groups did fairly well last week on pike at least as far as sizes were concerned. Tony from North Carolina landed and released this 45 incher and another angler did likewise with a 41.5-inch fish. There were many fish in the mid-to-high 30-inch range caught and released.

Where are they being caught? From what I've heard they are mosty in shallow, weedy bays. Some days they are in the weedbeds growing away from shore and the next they are right on the shore. The key is to make a lot of casts and not to give up on a spot for the entire week just because you weren't successful there one time. If the fish aren't biting there in the morning they might be in the afternoon, etc.

The really good news is it is SUNNY here and is supposed to stay that way for the foreseeable future. Boy, does that make us feel great after months of torrential downpours.
I've also seen a couple flocks of sandhill cranes migrating south. These huge gravel-voiced birds are always the first signs of autumn.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

How wet is it? Do I need really need boots?

Yep. We're still getting those phone calls.

The rising lake level has ruined all our pier docks despite our rebuilding them several times. We've given up trying to save all but our brand new boathouse dock and that too is in jeopardy.

For guests using the now-ruined pier docks you will need to wade out on a now partially-floating dock to get into your boat. That's the way it's going to be for the rest of the season.

If you want to do this in bare feet or don't mind having soaking wet shoes all day, then don't bother to bring rubber boots.

Likewise if you don't mind having your pants muddy up to the knees from walking around the yard that has been soaked with about a hundred inches of rain, then don't bother buying rubber boots.

So how wet is it? Guests who have been here before will be familiar with an island where we dump the fish guts each day for the eagles and gulls to eat.

The top of this island can be seen just breaking the surface in the foreground
in the photo above taken last week. It's now completely submerged.

Do I really need rubber boots? Ben, our outside worker, has worn out several pairs of rubber boots this year. Jenn and Emily, our kitchen and housekeeping staff, wear nothing but boots as they go about their chores outside. I wear boots from morning 'til dark.
Believe us, when we say we're sick of them. But they are still the best footwear going.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fishing is good despite the water level

Some of you have wondered if the extreme high water level is affecting the fishing.
It is, of course, but our anglers are still doing quite well.
We've had lots of walleyes caught, both big ones and nice eating sizes.
Pike fishing seems better right now than it was three weeks ago with many people bringing in good eaters and reporting releasing pike in the 30+ inch range every day.
Yesterday one angler reported a 39.5-inch pike he had released.
I notice that there is a pattern to the anglers' success.
Those who cast for pike and jig for walleye are doing better than those who do nothing but troll.
Also although there are certainly walleyes at all depths this year due to the cool water but the best success can be found by fishing shallow.
The fish are also on the move a great deal.
For pike, the best success is coming from Mepps #5 spinners and small silver spoons like Little Cleo, Mepps Cyclops and Len Thompson spoons. Pike also like pink.
For walleyes, stick to quarter-ounce jigs with orange or green or white twister tails tipped with either leeches or worms. There's no advantage in using hard-to-keep-alive minnows yet.
The 14-day weather forecast looks wonderful -- lots of sunshine is predicted.
But just in case, be prepared for rain.
One of our anglers this week reports that Wal-Mart is selling excellent quality rubber boots, made in Canada, for about $20. They are brown in color and are called Dairy men's boots.
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yes, you really do need rubber boots!

We're still getting guests arriving without rubber boots.
Believe me, you need them!
You need them to fit under your excellent raingear which you've remembered to bring.
You need them to get into your boat so you can bail out the rain water.
You need them to navigate the muddy yard.
You need them for the traction they give going up and down the hill to the boat.
It's been raining for the last couple of days and it looks like it's going to continue for most of the week. That means there has only been one week (last week) where it didn't rain in the past month or so.
The lake is flooded. There are creeks rushing into the lake where there were never creeks before.
The ground is soppy and slippery.
Who knows, maybe next week will be hot and sunny again. We all hope that's the case. But if it stopped raining today the lake would continue rising for more than a week just from the runoff.
It is now about 10 inches above our new boathouse dock and is rising about 1/2 inch a day.
So, yes, you really do need rubber boots.
Photo above was taken Friday and shows our former parking area in the town of Red Lake. Obviously we are no longer parking there. Instead we are parking at a friend's house (high on a hill) and are using the Government Dock.
The lake is now 3-4 feet higher than normal.
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Meet at the Government Dock in Red Lake

Our usual dock and parking lot in Red Lake are flooded.
For that reason we will meet guests at the Government Dock instead. It is found by turning right at the traffic light and proceeding to the turnaround in the road. The turnaround is the Government Dock.
The water is still rising here even though it has been a beautiful, sunny week.
The lake is now about 3 feet above normal for this time of year.
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Finally, it quit raining for a couple days

We are about drowned here at camp.

It rained so much the last few weeks that the lake rose about 18 inches including six inches one night alone last week!

Through a herculean effort Ben and I had managed to finally get the new metal roof on the motor shed and deck portion of the boathouse and a couple of days later the lake rose over the new dock. That would be the dock we just built this spring to ensure that it would always be above water. It was made a foot higher than the highest water we had ever seen in the past 30 years.

It something like the past five weeks we didn't have more than one sunny day at a time, until today! Yesterday and today were sunny and hot. The lawn, which has resembled a swamp for the past month, even dried up enough that you can walk around in shoes instead of knee high rubber boots.

The forecast is for at least another couple days of sunshine.

In related news, guests arriving this Saturday should meet the camp boat Lickety Split at the Government Dock and not at our usual dock at Red Lake Marine.

The usual dock and parking lot are under water.

The Government Dock can be found by turning right at the traffic light and proceeding to the turnaround on Howey Street. The turnaround is the Government Dock.

Dan will take you to a different location to park your vehicle.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Use regular dock; no phone, e-mail Sunday

Despite the flooded conditions our regular dock at Red Lake Marine worked OK for guests departing Friday.

So we will continue to use that site for incoming guests Saturday and Sunday.

Wait until the Lickety Split has arrived before loading the dock cart.

The dock is floating above its foundation and will sink if more than a couple of people walk on it.

For this reason, load the cart on the land and let Dan pull it out to the boat.

Make sure you have your rubber boots on when you prepare to get in the Lickety Split.

You will need them not only to get out on the sinking dock but also to navigate around camp.

The ground is wet, muddy and slippery.

We've had more than 50% above-normal precipitation in July. Forecast looks good for this week but after a month of almost continuous rain we will believe the predicted days of sun and hot when we see them.

In other news: the power will be turned off in Red Lake all day Sunday, Aug. 9. This means there will be no telephone or e-mail that day, both in town and at camp.

Incoming guests, we will meet you at Red Lake Marine as scheduled.
Sobey's Supermarket will also be closed on Sunday due to the power outage so if you need snacks pick them up down the road or at one of the gas stations in Red Lake which are usually open during scheduled power outages.

Photo shows scene at the dock early Friday morning. The lake rose nearly a foot last week, including 6 inches one day alone.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dock in town is flooded

Our dock and part of the parking lot in Red Lake is flooded due to all the heavy rain we have had the past month.
I was able to use the dock Wednesday by wearing rubber boots.
For incoming guests I would suggest they also get their rubber boots out once they get to Red Lake. At this point we will still plan on meeting incoming guests at the usual dock between Red Lake Marine and McTaggart's Store. However, depending on our experience in using the dock tomorrow (Friday) with outgoing guests, we may need to divert to the Government Dock.
I won't know if that is necessary until Friday afternoon when I return from town.
So, at this point we will plan to meet at our usual dock. It would be a good idea for incoming guests to call camp Friday evening. The numbers are 807-727-0439 and 727-2730. You can also always find out if there has been a change in dock plans by asking at Red Lake Marine.
If we do end up using the Government Dock it is found by turning right at the traffic light and going to the turnaround at the end of the street. The turnaround is the Government Dock. There is no parking for vehicles there so it would mean driving back to Red Lake Marine to park.
There are no wagons at the Government Dock so this will mean all luggage will need to be carried out to the dock.
Due to the rainy weather I would suggest not unpacking your vehicle until the Lickety Split has docked. This holds true whether we use our regular dock at Red Lake Marine or the Government Dock.
We can also expect that our pickup times are going to be later than normal as it will take longer to load and unload the boat.
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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Yes, you can catch walleyes on a fly rod!

We've had many people catch northern pike on fly rods over the years but this is the first time I've heard of people catching walleyes.

In this photo Pat Godin, father of our staffer Ben, shows a nice walleye he took on a fly rod.

In other news, it finally quit raining! There is sun of some sort in the forecast the next five days.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Make sure to bring waterproof footwear

It's been a wet summer and while most of our fishermen have remembered to bring excellent quality rainwear many have forgotten to do the same for their feet.
It would be a good idea to have two sets of waterproof footwear: a pair of rubber boots for the boat and something like duckies to wear around camp.
The ground is sopping wet and you can't walk from one cabin to the other without getting your feet wet in normal shoes.
Incidentally the wet soil means we cannot use our golf cart to haul your luggage from the Lickety Split up to your cabin. You must carry it by hand. So with that in mind, don't bring luggage items or food boxes too heavy to accomplish this.
Although it's been wet of late it has not been cold. However, if you do get wet while fishing you will want to change into some warm clothes, so bring along a set.
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Birds of all feathers in great abundance

This summer is for the birds, literally.

I'm not sure why but the woods and waters have been full of our feathered friends this season.

The yard here at camp is home to dozens of species of songbirds, from hummingbirds to flickers to tree-nesting ducks like goldeneyes.

There was even an immature bald eagle perched atop the biggest spruce by the lodge yesterday. Eagles are common here but it's unusual for one to sit on a tree right in camp.

Out on the lake there are eagles soaring over or perched around just about every bay.

It's a treat to see them jousting for food where we put the fish guts on an island.

First come the gulls, ringbilled and herring gulls, who will just about land on you while you are emptying the fish gut pails. By the time the boat is 30 feet from the island the eagles come swooping in and the gulls split for safer quarters.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Walleyes found in large groups, in the evening!

No sooner do I post a blog saying the walleyes are all over the water column and not stratifying than our fishermen locate large groups of them.
They are at the edges of weedlines, near deep water, but only in 12-20 feet.
And here's the kicker: the biggest catches have been made in the evening, after supper and before dark or on cloudy days.
Anglers were using worms and leeches, back trolled on Little Joe Spinners.
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

The weather and the fishing

Just about all areas in the center of North America are experiencing a cooler-than-normal summer this year.
The same holds true here at Bow Narrows Camp.
Temperatures have been decidedly pleasant: daytime highs in the low 70s and nightimes nice and cool for great sleeping.
But it's different than normal and consequently the fishing is also different.
The biggest effect has been that the fish are not stratified by depth.
Instead of all the walleyes being found at a particular depth and water temperature, they are scattered throughout the water column.
We've had walleyes caught at 40 feet and at two feet on the same day.
This means fishermen need to cover more area to connect with fish. They are still catching lots of them but just not all in one place like they normally would.
Northern pike are biting quite well but fishing for them is more of a challenge this year because the cool temps and high water conditions has meant most weedbeds are not yet visible.
There are no magic lures or baits to report this summer.
Mepps #5 spinners have probably been mentioned the most by pike anglers.
Walleyes are biting any kind of live bait: minnows, leeches or worms.
Hardly anyone has mentioned Gulp Alive this summer. Last year it was all the rage.
Lots of walleyes being caught on crankbaits too. Since the fish are so scattered, trolling with a crankbait and covering lots of water isn't a bad idea.
I would like to emphasize once again that the best time to fish for all species is still probably from noon to 5 p.m. All too often I notice that almost every boat is tied to the dock for several hours after lunch and that everyone then fishes after supper until dark.
I know old habits die hard but you really ought to be on the water for the 2 p.m. bite. Evening is a lovely time to be out in the boat but it's not the best time to catch fish. If you want to extend your fishing day, get up at dawn. The fish are biting.
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lots of loon chicks this summer

Almost every pair of loons this summer have one or two chicks.
We are very happy to see this as rising water conditions in the past few years have flooded their nests resulting in nesting failures.
Loons are very common here and are appreciated by everyone.
I've seen lots of loons flying recently, something they do little earlier in the season.
It will take the chicks all summer and fall to gain their flight feathers. Sometimes their first flight is their thousands-mile migration to the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico in October.
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