Friday, December 31, 2010

Stromatolites another reason Red Lake is special

stromatolite on Red Lake, Ontario
As I understand it, the earth was created about 4.6 billion years ago.

Then, about a billion years later, the first cyanobacteria (also called blue-green algae) appeared. They were single-cell organisms and the very first lifeform that could photosynthesize, that is, they could use the sun's energy to create carbon-based sugar and in the process produce oxygen. That oxygen was released to the amosphere which up to that point was mostly carbon dioxide and other gases.

The cyanobacteria became incredibly abundant, virtually covering the Earth, and over another billion years ended up creating the very atmosphere we breathe today.

They were so numerous when they existed that they created thick stringy mats that became fossils. Those fossils are called stromatolites.

There are three places in Canada where stromatolites are found. One is on Red Lake, in fact, right on the shoreline in front of Bow Narrows Camp and also other locations nearby.

The other two are Steep Rock Lake in Atikokan, Ontario, and near Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

They are also found in Australia.

This photo, which was taken just down the shore from Bow Narrows Camp, shows the stringers of fossilized algal mats.
For more on stromatolites visit this website at Queen's University in Toronto.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Check out West Red Lake Mining Museum

West Red Lake Mining Museum
map on museum sign

glacial erratic

Brian Kreviazuk
Make sure you check out the West Red Lake Mining Museum this summer.
This self-guided museum is largely finished after being under construction for several years.

It is located near the western entrance to West Narrows, only about half a mile from Bow Narrows Camp.

The log building is actually an original cabin from the 1926 Gold Rush to Red Lake which was the third-largest in the world. The cabin was formerly located at Bow Narrows Camp (our old Cabin 10) and was moved to the current site when the concept of the museum was first broached about seven years ago. Only one story of the original two-story structure was re-erected at the museum site.

The entire project was done by volunteers under the guidance of Brian Kreviazuk seen here repairing the museum's dock last fall.

The museum location was originally the home site of Bill Brown, Red Lake's first postmaster. He is buried on an island in front of the museum. If you look carefully you can see his headstone from your boat.

Back in the 1920s and '30s the west end of Red Lake was a hive of activity with many small gold mines in the area. Eventually everyone moved to the east end of the lake where the town of Red Lake is now situated. Almost none of the mines at the west end produced any gold while the ones at the east end were winners. Today the town of Red Lake boasts the world's richest gold mine, owned by GoldCorp, and there are new mines under construction.

It seems incredulous that the wilderness at the west end where Bow Narrows Camp is located was once inhabited by hundreds of gold rush pioneers. It is nothing but trees and bays and islands today. About all that remains are the rock piles from the mines and a few corners of the old log cabins.

There is also a large glacial erratic or boulder behind the museum that is a real stunner. The size of a house, it is one of the largest boulders ever discovered from the glaciers that covered this area 10,000 years ago.

As of last fall the museum contained old photographs of life in the area back in the gold rush. Photos are changed from time to time and other exhibits are planned next year as well.

There is no charge to visit the museum.

Although there is a large museum about the history of Red Lake in town, it largely ignores the mining history at the west end of the lake. The West Red Lake Mining Museum attempts to correct that oversight.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

How to prevent Gulp Alive jars from leaking

Gulp Alive lid
A lot of people have found Gulp Alive baits to work nearly as well as live bait; some say it's even better.

But everyone hates the smelly, sticky liquid that always leaks from Gulp Alive jars once they are opened.

The solution is not to take off the cardboard cover on the rim. In large baits such as Gulp leeches and Gulp worms, just make a double cross-slit across the surface of the cardboard, leaving the entire cardboard piece in place. You can just push your fingers through the cross-slits and get the bait.

In smaller baits such as these Gulp Alive waxworms which I like to use for perch ice fishing, you can cut out the inside of the cardboard leaving the cardboard over the rim. This leaves room for your fingers in the small jars to pick up the bait.

The cardboard acts as a gasket on this popular artificial bait's jars. If you take away the cardboard, the jars will leak.

Do Gulp Alive waxworms work for perch? Well, I've got to go clean a mess of perch right now and oh yes, a nice northern pike as well.
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from us at Bow Narrows Camp

Brenda and Dan Baughman and Sammy dog
Brenda and I and our dog, Sam, wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Our wish is that you will all have a joyous and peaceful holiday.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The balsam fir -- call it the first aid tree

balsam fir trunk
balsam fir blisters

Growing just about everywhere in the Boreal Forest are balsam fir trees.
Visitors to Bow Narrows Camp might know these from their massive number of branches, often covered in grey arboreal lichens known collectively as Old Man's Beard. The trees also have very pointed tops.

Balsams are also a favorite Christmas Tree and are sold for this purpose everywhere.

They have a wonderful fragrance and soft, flat needles.

Something that isn't as well known is that they also provide a great wilderness first aid salve for cuts.

The trunk of the balsam, especially older trees, is covered with bumps or blisters, and in each of these blisters is a clear sap. That sap makes a first-class antiseptic salve.

Take a knife blade or even just a sharp twig and puncture the blister. You'll end up with a drop of the sticky sap clinging to your blade or twig. Spread this on a bandage and place over the wound.

I've done this countless times and, in my experience, it works wonderfully. The wound heals quickly and never even becomes sore.

I first learned of this from old Bill Stupack, the prospector-trapper who first built Bow Narrows Camp. Bill spent most of his life living alone in the bush and swore there was nothing better for treating wounds.

One bitterly cold winter he was on his trapline at Prairie Lake, about 20 miles west of Red Lake, and accidentally cut himself badly on the head with an axe. He had been swinging the axe when it struck a branch and came down right on the top of his head, creating a large gash.

It was a 40-mile snowshoe to medical help (this was before snowmobiles) so that was pretty much out of the question. So Bill ended up stitching up the cut on his own with needle and thread. Then he found a balsam and cut a slab of bark to bring back in his little log cabin. He needed to thaw out the sap before it could be used. After plastering the sewn-up gash with balsam he bandaged it and made his plans to head to town. But then the weather took a turn for the worse and he ended up staying put for a week.

When the storm finally cleared Bill decided the cut was healing up just fine and took out his stitches and stayed another couple of months trapping.

They made them tough in those days.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Never use treble hooks for bait fishing

treble hook in stomach
Ontario Fishing Network

If there is one fishing regulation I would change it would be this: I would make it illegal to use treble hooks for fishing with live or dead bait. The reason is it kills so many fish.

We still have fishermen who use treble hooks when dead bait fishing for northern pike, especially in the spring.

Most of them say they know exactly when to set the hook so that the fish doesn't swallow it and end up dead.

The photo above tells a different story. It is a pike taken on an artificial on the second day of the season and already someone had caught and lost it leaving a treble hook in its stomach and leader hanging out its mouth. This fish was doomed anyway if this angler hadn't kept it. Fortunately, it was of legal size.

How many fish are hooked in the stomach and released because they are in the slot size?

We catch quite a few pike each summer with treble hooks protruding through the walls of their stomachs. Fish with single hooks inside them are usually fine. The single hook doesn't poke a hole through the stomach lining. But with a treble two or all three of the hooks will work their way right through, eventually killing the fish.

It's all so needless. With a quick strike rig the hook can be set the instant the fish takes the bait. There is no reason to let the fish "take it" before setting the hook. That's because there are two hooks on the rig, a single hook in the front of the bait and a treble hook in the center. If the bobber goes down there is a hook in the fish's mouth-- set the hook immediately -- before the bait is swallowed.

With a circle hook you can let the fish swallow the bait a little, then slowly pick up tension on the line by reeling and as the circle hook comes sliding out of the fish's mouth, it catches it right in the very corner.

Both methods allow you to safely and humanely release the fish.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Burlap bag simply the best for keeping fish

burlap bag or keep sack
Angler Steve Wilhelm brings some fish in a burlap bag to the fish house at camp last summer.

We have used burlap bags for keeping fish for 50 years now at Bow Narrows Camp and my great-uncle Bill Baughman used them at his camp, Rainbow Lodge on Pickerel River, Ontario, for nearly as long before us. So collectively we have been using the bag system for keeping fish for nearly 100 years. And we've never seen anything that worked better -- not stringers, not mesh baskets and not livewells.

Did you ever notice how it's the simple things that work best? Well, there's nothing simpler than this.

Here's how the system works. Dip the bag (also known as a keep sack) in the lake to get it wet. Put the fish in the bag and lay it on the bottom of the boat. The evaporation of the water from the bag produces a cooling of the fish. It's the same principle of the old cowboys' blanket canteens.

You can keep fish in excellent shape this way all day. Just dip the bag back in the lake if it dries out.

Although it seems counter-intuitive, it's actually a bad idea to keep fish alive once you've decided to keep them. For one thing, keeping fish on stringers or in livewells will make them excessively slimy. This is because the mucus on their skin needs to be continually washed away by the fish's swimming forward.

A lot of the stereotypes people use about northern pike comes from the fact they kept their fish on stringers. I've seen pike kept overnight on a stringer that seemed to be encased in a mucus-gelatin. They had to be blasted with a hose and let dry in the sun for several hours before they could be cleaned.

Fish in the bag never get this way. They are clean and cold and not slimy.

Fish kept on stringers and in livewells also get water-logged. Their stomachs are full of water when we clean them and their flesh is soft. Again fish in burlap bags are not like this. Their flesh is as firm as if it had been kept on ice.

When you keep fish on a stringer you also stand a good chance of losing them. I wish I had $10 for every time someone using a stringer lost the entire stringer overboard or forgot to bring it in the boat and the propeller chopped up the fish or another fish "ate" the fish on the stringer. It's just not a good idea.

We've tried other types of bags and have found that only the burlap "potato sacks" work. Burlap is organic and is absorbent and this has something to do with it. On the downside, burlap decays quite rapidly so we must get new bags about three times a summer.

If you are new to camp, there is a supply of bags on the drying line beside the fish house. When you bring your fish to the fish house for cleaning, you can leave your bag in the cleaning bins with your cabin number and grab another bag to take back to your boat.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Studies find walk in the woods really is good for us

I really like walking in the woods, and so does Sam, our dog, and I can vouch that that there is something therapeutic about the experience.

Now medical research has proven the connection. Walking in the woods is more beneficial to our minds and bodies than just walking along the road or street or in a gym.

John Swartzenberg, MD, chair of the editorial board of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, reports in the December issue that "green exercise" pays big dividends.

Tests have shown people have better memory and attention when hiking in the woods compared to indoors. Hiking lowers stress, blood pressure and heart rate and improves immune functions better than does exercising at a gym.

Researchers also found a "third-day effect" where after a few days of hiking people attain a special stage of relaxation and mindfulness.

We've seen something similar with our guests at Bow Narrows Camp. It was my father, Don, who noticed that people who come fishing for just three days, rather than a week, never have a very good time. He was right. As proof of this, three-dayers almost never return to camp whereas the vast majority of week-trippers do. Once we realized what was going on we started not taking the three-day guests. After all, we want people to enjoy themselves.

Although the medical studies didn't analyze fishing trips for their benefits, I think the situation is the same. When we're off in the woods on a fishing trip we reach a state of deep relaxation. No doubt some of this is because we're out of range of cell phones and e-mails. But there's more to it than that. It really does seem to come from the fact we are physically outdoors.

After a day or two of of not hearing street noise, we become absorbed in the natural sights and sounds around us. The calls of birds and the whistling of the wind through the pines occupies our attention and our thoughts turn to what a great world this still is.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Northern pike are feasting on crayfish

O. virilis crayfish in Red Lake
Creme Lure tube

Creme lure tube

Creme lure tube

It might surprise you to know that a big part of the diet of northern pike in Red Lake is crayfish!

We find crayfish in the stomachs of a great many pike that we clean for our guests. Of course, crayfish don't digest as easily as minnows and other softer prey so they linger longer but still, there's no doubt that pike do eat this crustacean.

A careful examination of these crayfish last summer indicated they are all the native species of crayfish which is Orconectes virilis and not the invasive species O. rusticus or rusty crayfish that have gotten into a great many lakes in Wisconsin and Minnesota and other places.

It is not a good idea to use live crayfish for bait for fear of transferring invading species to new lakes. However, there is an artificial bait favored by bass fishermen that is known to imitate crayfish and that is the tube jig.

If you want to try something new next summer, bring some tube jigs in 4-5-inch size in various colors and work these around rocky shoals, points and entrances to narrows.

If you are unfamiliar with tube jigs they look like a regular jig but have a bullet-shaped head that allows a hollow plastic tube to fit over the top.

Pike are well-known to hit regular round jigs, either bucktail or with plastic twister tails.

The tube jig differs in that it is entirely covered by the tube. It's a bit slower to fall through the water and often spirals which could imitate a dying fish or swimming crayfish.

To fish a tube jig for pike, cast it out and let it sink to the bottom. Give the rod a slow jerk and let the jig fall back to the bottom while you reel in your slack line. Repeat the process until your lure is all the way back to the boat. You can also just reel the jig right in but with the occasional pause or twitch of the rod.

Crayfish like to hide in crevices of rocks and in boulder piles so those locations would be good places to try the tube jig.

Weight of the jig head makes a big difference on the jig action. Light jigs fall more slowly and so must be given more time between jigs. Try 1/8, 1/4 and 3/8-ounce sizes.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Put your Canadian tax rebate toward your deposit

If your bank refuses to cash your Canadian tax rebate check from your trip to camp last summer or is going to levy some outrageous service charge for cashing it, then just send it to us as part of your deposit for next summer's trip.

Depending on when you came to camp last year that rebate check could be as much as $55.90 if you came on the American Plan and $42.25 on the Housekeeping Plan.

The rebate was larger after July 1 last summer. It amounted to 6.5% of the cost of your trip.

The rebate was only offered to non-Canadian visitors.

We require a deposit of $100 per person to hold your reservation. If you want to include your rebate check in your deposit then just send us a personal check for the remainder of the $100.

Finally, make sure you sign the back of your rebate check. We are not able to deposit it without your signature.

You can also send us your normal $100 deposit plus your rebate check and we will put the entire total towards your trip.

As always, your deposit is fully refundable upon 60 days notice of cancellation.

We also have guests who prefer to pay for their entire trip in advance. If they need to later cancel then we refund the entire amount if they give us 60 days notice and refund all but the $100 if less than 60 days.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Do northern pike suspend? Yes, sort of.

Red Lake northern pike
I'm sure Bow Narrows angler Carl Cieplik didn't catch this beautiful northern pike by trolling over deep water. He almost certainly was casting along the shoreline and weedbeds.

But I have known of other anglers who "accidentally" caught pike, including some whoppers, by doing that very thing -- trolling lures that run just below the surface in waters that were 20-100 feet deep.

Usually these fishermen never expected to catch anything in these conditions; they were just moving from one island to another and didn't want to reel in all their line.

I don't know of anyone who caught many pike at one time doing this. Usually it's just the one.

So while its not a recommended way of fishing for pike -- just about all of them are along the shorelines or at least are on the bottom in deeper water -- it is possible.

In a way, I don't think these fish are suspended. Rather, they are cruising just below the surface.

Many times on dead calm days I've seen schools of fish, some of them pike but mostly lake trout, whitefish and tulibees, that have "pinned" a cloud of baitfish against the surface.

This phenomenon is called a "bait ball" by ocean fishermen.

There are also usually sea gulls, terns and loons taking part in the action. In fact, that is what you'll notice, all the bird activity out in the middle of the lake. They will spook when you are about a hundred yards away but you can then cut your motor and idle or paddle up to the bait ball. Usually you can catch three or four fish before either you scare everything away or you lose the location in the featureless center of the lake.

If you want to try something new when fishing at camp next summer, try trolling out in the big water on a day when the lake surface is like a mirror. Let out a lot of line, 100 feet or more, and use a shallow running stick bait such as Rapala. Try something that will stay within 12 feet of the surface.

You might just find a school of fish or big loners that are looking for bait fish that show up easily from below against the mirror surface.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Scene helps deal with loss of our friend

We just learned we lost a good friend over Thanksgiving.

We're getting to an age now where we've lost quite a few friends as well as all of our elders.

That doesn't make it any easier.

I find some solace in this photo of a stump behind our home.

Where once a mighty tree had stood, now a young sapling grows. Life didn't end here.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

New Invisaswivel might be useful for walleye

A new, fluorocarbon swivel could be handy when walleye fishing this summer.

Called the Invisaswivel, it is said to be clear and strong.

Walleye are spooked by just about anything metal so I'm thinking this product could be just the ticket whenever you need to use a swivel such as when trolling walleye spinners.

You can also eliminate line twist when jigging for walleye by putting a swivel a couple of feet ahead of your jig.

Check out the Invisaswivel yourself.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Village Corner in Vermilion Bay is no more

Village Corner, Vermilion Bay
If you're like me you always made a stop at the Village Corner in Vermilion Bay on the way up to Red Lake. It was on the corner of Hwy. 17 and Hwy. 105 (the Red Lake road).

Well, the Village Corner caught fire and burned down last fall. I haven't heard if it will be rebuilt but I imagine it will, probably not before next spring, however.

The Village Corner was a busy place. It had a gas bar, terrific tackle shop, restaurant and some other shops. It was also the bus stop and a favorite truck stop.

If you need to get gas in Vermilion Bay now, you need to go farther west on Hwy. 17. Famous Bobby's sells gas and is also a great tackle and bait shop.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Our 2011 fishing package rates same as last year

View from the lodge
Here's some good news!

Our fishing packages in 2011 will cost the same as they did in 2010. In fact, they haven't changed for the past three years.

Our goal is to always offer a premium-quality vacation at the most affordable price while still making continuous upgrades and improvements to camp and our equipment.

In 2011 we will have all electric-start Honda outboards and a couple of new Lund boats.

Last season we installed a massive state-of-the-art septic system for the entire camp that uses peat moss as a biofilter. We also rebuilt all of our crib docks.

The year before that we put in a large water filtration plant that provides delicious safe drinking water to every tap in camp. We also rebuilt our boathouse.

We've got some cabin remodeling in mind for this coming season.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

How big a tree will a beaver cut down?

Our grandsons Quillan and Raven marvel at the work of North America's largest rodent near camp this fall.

The beaver that had been working on this quaking aspen was going to need more than one night to do the job.

These animals only eat the bark from the trees and prefer the new growth on the limbs rather than the tough bark on the trunk. This tree just had a few branches, probably 60-70 feet off the ground.

I knew a wildlife researcher who was able to show that beaver are able to calculate the work that must go into cutting down a tree compared to the nutrition they will gain from it. When beaver first move into an area they cut down small to medium-sized trees, bypassing big old trees like the one in this picture. Eventually, when there is almost nothing left, they take the time to gnaw down the big projects.

They will go about 100 feet away from the water to get trees. In this photo all the smaller trees in the background are white birch. These aren't favored by beaver as long as there are aspen, alders and willows to eat. But when it takes too much work to get their favorite food, they'll turn on the birch too.

Beavers are as common around camp as are robins in other parts of the world. We see them every evening swimming around the docks.

Although beaver run afoul of humans because of their tree cutting, many other creatures appreciate the beaver's hard work.

They create clearings in the forest where new growth will sprout and provide food for herbivores like moose and deer. Ruffed grouse like to eat rosehips that grow on wild rose bushes in these spots. In winter, snowshoe hares nibble on the stems of the young aspen that will spring up from the roots of the old tree.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A great day to take a ride aboard the Lickety Split

One mile to Middle Narrows
Looking back at Wolf Narrows

These were the views out the bow and stern of our camp trip boat, the Lickety Split, during a calm day on Red Lake, Ontario, last summer.

Such mirror-like water is a pleasure to make the 20-mile journey in although it's not a favorite with our fishermen. They prefer a little "walleye chop."

The Lickety Split can make the voyage in nearly all weather. One type of weather system we do avoid is the thunderstorm. If we encounter one during the trip we simply go to the safety of the shoreline and wait until it passes. But normally we can time our departure at the dock to avoid thunderstorms altogether.

"A sudden storm is soon over," is the old adage and a good one. Waiting-out a thunderstorm normally means just a 15-to-30-minute delay.

In most conditions the Lickety Split can take nine people and their gear to camp or back to town in just 35 minutes. In rough water, however, the trip can take twice that long as it is necessary to slow down and sometimes to follow alternate routes.

We always see loons and eagles during the voyage and sometimes are lucky enough to spot swimming moose, deer and black bear as well.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I've got to get one of these 'diesel deer forwarders'

Our son Matthew uses his diesel Kubota tractor to take out a nice buck from the woods.

My brother-in-law Ron got this 10-pointer.

I've been concentrating on deer hunting since we got home from camp and have seen a bunch but I'm waiting for "Mr. Big."

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Monday, November 15, 2010

The beauty in small things

fritillary butterfly at Red Lake, Ontario
This fritillary butterfly resting on the weathered wooden step of one of the buildings at camp caught my eye this fall.

It's amazing the detail delivered by the macro mode of small pocket cameras. I used an Olympus FE 340 which is about the size of a deck of cards.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

How to temporarily paralyze a walleye

paralyzed walleye
Gently push forward the walleye's pectoral fins (they're the ones on the side near the head) and a walleye absolutely cannot move. It's as if the fish was paralyzed. It will sit motionless on your hand until you allow the fins to flip backwards again.

You can use this little trick to amaze your friends next summer.

First say that you are going to put the fish into a deep trance.

Look deeply into the fish's eyes, all the while saying the magic words, "balloon ball, balloon ball."

Then stretch the fish out on on your palm (with the fins pushed forward).

Incredibly it will lie motionless.

Then, with the other magic word (and a slight shifting of your hand away from the fins), "Shazaam," and the fish comes back to life and jumps into the water.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Walleyes brilliantly colored in 2010

golden walleye
Not only were walleyes especially plentiful in 2010, they also seemed exceptionally beautiful.

Check out this beauty held by Bow Narrows angler Jason Pons.

Was it just me or were the walleyes actually a deeper hue of gold last summer?

Comments anyone?

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Great feeling to have next summer's wood ready

Our son Josh was at camp for a couple of weeks this fall and he managed to split, stack and cover what should be next year's supply of firewood.

Here he stands amid some of the 10 cords of aspen firewood.

The trees were felled by the crew that installed our new septic system last spring. September was the first occasion we had to buck-up the trees into stove lengths.

In the Boreal Forest we don't have the great firewood species of trees that most of our guests from the States enjoy. We simply burn whatever is available. For years following a spruce budworm infestation, we burned balsam fir because there were dead, dry balsam all around the camp. It has about the lowest heat value but the standing trees are an extreme fire hazard so we had to get rid of them.

When we go looking for firewood by boat we usually get dead standing jackpine or white spruce.

Quaking aspen such as the huge pile split up by Josh burns about as well as pine or spruce. But it always must be cut green and then split and dried. You never find a dry aspen on the stump. Dead trees are always punky.

White birch is our species with the most heat value but it also must be cut and dried for at least six months before using. The birch bark is very resistant to rot and is also waterproof (that's why it was used by the native people for canoes.) You can find hollow lengths of birchbark in the forest where the tree has fallen down, it's inside rotted away and nothing is left but the bark.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thanks to our great staff of 2010!

The Year of 2010 was one the busiest seasons we have ever had; yet, it went off like clockwork thanks to our talented and hardworking staff.

This photo was taken as the three staffers left in late August. I was unable to upload it to the blog at the time due to our Internet connection problems.

The three staffers in the Lickety Split with Brenda and I are Landon Broennle, Kristina Belanger (next to Brenda) and Emilie Godin.

The trio were on their way to catch a Bearskin Airways plane for Thunder Bay.

You can't quite see it in the photo but Kristina and Emilie were wearing black rubber boots. That was because they had reached the airline's baggage weight (and space) limit and they still hadn't packed their trusty boots. So they simply wore them home, even though it was a pleasant day!

That kind of aplomb was typical for these three. Nothing got them down or frustrated them.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The season is over and we're home

Late October sunrise Bow Narrows Camp on Red Lake, Ontario
Brenda, Sam and I are back home again.

We pulled out of camp a week ago and spent most of last week in Dryden where we attended the annual conference of Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario (NOTO).

We also had to make two trips to our home in Nolalu and one extra trip back to Red Lake to ferry all of our belongings including a bull moose and a wood chipper.

Now that I'm back in the world of high-speed internet I find I can upload photos to the blog again. It would seem our clunky telephone connection at camp was finally just too slow to communicate anything other than text. This may mean we will need to install a satellite system next season.

Anyway, we're home now and I can update the blog regularly again.

The photo above was taken the morning we left camp. I think sunrises are even more beautiful than sunsets. Their color changes by the second.

It was good we left camp when we did because the next day saw something resembling a hurricane strike the entire region. There were winds of 80 kmh (50 mph) and rain that came down in sheets for the entire day. We could barely stay on the road as we drove the moose meat down to Nolalu.

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Friday, October 1, 2010

Lake trout spawning project a success

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources crews left here yesterday after gathering 100,000 or so lake trout eggs. The eggs will be raised in the OMNR fish hatchery in Dorion, near Thunder Bay, and the fingerlings released back to Red Lake in 18 months time.
I believe this is the eighth year of this project which is intended to ensure Red Lake continues to have a viable lake trout population while researchers determine why the fish cannot successfully regenerate in Pipestone Bay.
It still isn't clear why they cannot reproduce there. So far we've learned that the fish are healthy, the water is pristine but there seems something about the sediment that kills the trout eggs. It was thought that manganese, a naturally occuring metal that is present in the very rocks where they spawn, might be the culprit but that is now not so certain.
Even if it was the problem the scientists are stumped why it didn't affect the trout eggs in the past. There is also some evidence that the problem might be slowly going away. Many of the fish being caught for the spawning project are relatively young, perhaps 8-12 years old. The poor spawning record of the trout seems to have begun in the 1980s. The presence of the young fish means trout are successfully spawning somewhere. But the lake trout population continues to be just a fraction of what it was 20 years ago.
Fishing regulations require all anglers to immediately release lake trout on Red Lake. They must also use lures with single, barbless hooks when targetting trout. Barbed and treble hooks are OK when fishing for other species.
Although the bulk of the OMNR spawning crew left camp on Thursday a small group stayed behind to catch more trout whose eggs will be reared in incubation boxes that are placed in various locations around Red Lake. The eggs inside the boxes will hatch this winter and the hatchlings can swim free out into the lake. It is hoped they will imprint on the shoals where the boxes were placed and come back there to spawn when they become mature. In this way the trout could be encouraged to spawn somewhere other than Pipestone Bay which is the only location they are unsuccessful.

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sleet, snow and high winds -- brrr!

I had the roughest trip of the season yesterday getting back to camp from town.
High winds straight from the west made big waves for the entire trip. To make matters worse it began sleeting and there were even some big snow flakes coming down.
The temperature was in the 40s F or about 8 C. Truly nasty weather.
The weather has been "going out" now for a couple of weeks.
It's the kind of conditions that should send the geese streaming south but we've only seen a couple of flocks, probably because the wind direction has been wrong. The geese here fly mostly east to west in the fall, from Hudson Bay to Manitoba. We've had a lot of westerly winds so they would have flown into a head wind if they tried.
Fishing is about as tough as it can get, except for lake trout. The trout are right on the surface and are on a feeding frenzy in preparation for spawning in a week of two.
All trout here must be immediately live-released.
There is only one way to fish for walleyes in these conditions: anchor or drift and use minnows for bait, either on a hook and sinker, a spinner or a jig.
Trolling at any speed is just too aggressive for these fish.
Probably the best way to catch northern pike is to fish for walleye. They are down there eating them.
You can get a few pike by casting but the fish are almost entirely in deep water now.
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

2011 reservation availability is on the air

Next year's fishing reservation availability is now online.
Just go to the website and click on Availability.
We will be in touch with guests with existing reservations in about a month asking for deposits to secure those reservations. This is earlier than in the past but reflects a trend in vacation planning.
Many people are inquiring right now about coming to camp next summer.
We're still having a tough time getting on the Internet here at camp. I hope I can get one of my computer-savvy brothers-in-law to figure out the problem when they come moose hunting in October.
I still cannot upload or download photos, not even small ones. That's a real bummer because I have some great photos I would like to share.
If nothing else, I will be able to get full Internet access once we return home in November.
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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rotten weather impacts the fishing

There's nothing anybody can do about it, of course, but crummy weather like we had last week really does hurt the fishing.

The weather went from bad to worse ending up Friday with a horrendous downpour, gale-force winds and plummeting temperature. Earlier it had only been windy and rainy.

Except for Friday, most everybody was able to get out fishing despite the inclement conditions.

They mostly found the walleye lethargic at the beginning of the week and then biting well by Thursday. Pike were hardest to get but Thursday, which was sunny, was also the best day.

Several people caught and released lake trout while walleye fishing. The trout have been shallow all summer, I think because their former forage fish, smelt, have all but disappeared.

Smelt are an exotic species that somehow got into the lake about 20 years ago. Their numbers exploded and they became a favorite food fish for all species because they are rich in calories. They mostly existed in the deepwater, the same location as the trout.

The smelt largely displaced native ciscoes also known in Red Lake as tulibee. Then the smelt population crashed two years ago. No one knows exactly why but it happens every time they invade a new lake. Their numbers skyrocket, then crash, and finally reach an equilibrium which will be just a tiny fraction of what it once was.

We are seeing signs of a comeback of tulibee now that the smelt are gone but it will take a couple of years. In the meantime the trout don't have much to eat down in the depths and are coming shallow looking for the same food the walleye are gorging upon: shiners, daces, other minnows, perch, etc.

The "eats" in the shallows are apparently very good indeed. Walleyes and northern pike are the chubbiest we've ever seen them.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Computer-Internet woes continue

Sorry about the lack of blog activity.
I have had a terrible time connecting to the Internet and once I do, for some reason, cannot upload photos to the blog or download e-mails with photos.
Also I just don't have the time necessary to solve the situation. I get a couple of ideas and try them and when they don't work, don't get another chance to try something else for several days.
The weather has turned cool and damp. Fishing has been slow although some people have no problem catching walleye. Most folks, however, are struggling.
The key, it seems to me, is to anchor, not troll, and fish on the bottom with a hook and a sinker. Sliding sinkers are probably best as the fish cannot feel their weight when they pick up the bait.
You absolutely must be able to keep your bait on the bottom or you are wasting your time. With that in mind, you need sinkers from 1/2 oz to one ounce. Pretty heavy stuff but as long as your line slides through the sinker the fish don't know it is there.
Minnows seem to be working best now.

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Northern pike seem to like the unruly weather

Anglers are doing quite well on northern pike this week.
All four fishermen in one cabin, for instance, have joined the "Over-40-inch Club."
The weather has been very unsettled with lots of high wind and cold fronts.
This has made for tough walleye fishing, at least for the big ones. We're still getting lots of smaller walleye -- up to 23 inches -- but the really big ones are either lethargic and not biting or have moved.
We've also caught quite a few lake trout while walleye fishing.
We heard the first sandhill cranes migrating yesterday-- a sure sign of fall.
Incoming anglers are reminded to bring excellent raingear and rubber boots.
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Friday, August 20, 2010

Fall is in the air

The steam leaving the water each morning is evidence that fall is right around the corner.

This is caused by the water being warmer than the cool morning air. By mid-morning the temperature is warm again but the nights are nice and cool, perfect for sleeping.

Other signs of autumn are the birch trees which are changing from green to brown. They will eventually be bright yellow.
The leaves are turning earlier than normal this year, maybe because spring came earlier too.

Unmated loons are ganging up out in the big water where they seem to have wild bachelor and bachelorette parties -- whooping and hollering and splashing around, just for laughs it would appear. They will be the first loons to head south. Unfortunately some of them will be heading to the Gulf of Mexico and its oil spill.

The severe cold front we had last weekend also had a chill on the fishing. Fishing wasn't back to normal really until Friday, too late for guests who departed this morning. They did have a pretty good day Thursday before they left.

Everyone took the downturn in fishing in stride. There isn't much anyone can do when the temperature falls to 40s F from 80 F overnight.

The pike bit pretty well but the walleyes at first were just gone. Fishermen did well on them by Thursday, however.

I remember the aftermath of another cold front a couple of years ago. I asked one of our fishermen if he had seen anything on his fish finder in a spot where the screen was lit up by fish the previous day.

"Nothing but tumbleweeds," he replied.

The best guess is the fish are plastered right to the bottom where they don't show on the finders' screens. Whatever it is they do they sure aren't active for a few days. The good news is that they always eventually must eat again.

The weather since last weekend has been gorgeous and a welcome respite for our guests who are coming from hot and humid conditions down south.

I want to thank all our friends who alerted us to the solar storm a couple of weeks ago and the northern lights this would cause.

As luck would have it, our skies were cloudy both nights when the lights would have been out.

Oh well.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Temperature plummets as cold front hits

We've just had our first major cold front of the summer.
The temperature fell from nearly 80 F to the 40s over the weekend. This was accompanied by very high winds and rain.
The front has now moved through and the temperature is supposed to get in the 60s today with sunshine. Each following day is expected to be warmer and also sunny.
What does this do to the fish?
For the walleye it will almost certainly start an exodus of fish from the shallow water to their normal deeper spots, something many of them were doing anyway due to the photo period -- it's that time of year.
Most of our fishermen were catching walleye last week on the edges of the big water in about 17 feet. The fish now may have moved to 20-25 feet in the same spots.
A few fishermen last week were still getting lots of walleye in 6-12 feet in the shallow bays but I would guess that will have ended now as the fish move off to warmer, deeper water.
It's really that time of the season when this normally happens anyway. The cold front will just make it happen all at once.
We still catch the walleye. We just fish their late-summer, fall locations.
I wouldn't be surprised if northern pike fishing gets a boost from the cold front. They will still be in the weedy bays, just on the deep side of the weedbeds. And without the large number of small walleye that they've been feeding on all summer, they'll be hungrier and more aggressive.
We've caught some very large pike the last few weeks.
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Get off the lake when you see this cloud formation

This squall line was at the base of a thunderstorm that moved through camp a week ago.

Such squall lines always spell danger. They are the edge of a high wind, how high is impossible to predict. It might be 30 mph and it might be as high as 130 mph (in the case of a wind shear).

Sometimes the clouds in the line can be seen rolling. The line moves toward you very fast.

If you are out on the lake and see such an event, go directly to shore and tie up your boat. You might also prepare yourself for extremely heavy rain and sometimes hail.

If you are near camp, come into the dock but don't try to outrun the clouds for a long distance. If you aren't sure you can get to camp before the storm, go to shore instead and take cover.

This particular squall line and its thunderstorm dumped about an inch of rain on camp in perhaps 30 minutes as well as pea-sized hail.

The blast of wind from it was probably 40 mph.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lots of camp apparel choices this year

We have a bumper crop of Bow Narrows Camp apparel items this year including these sweatshirts modeled by staffers Landon, Kristina and Emilie.

There are also several choices in t-shirts, a camo hat and a black mesh-back hat and a toque (in the U.S. you might call it a stocking cap or a watch cap).

We also have a vented, many-pocketed guide shirt and a new fishing vest.

Finally, we also have a new shipment of our popular black and brown Bow Narrows Camp coffee mugs.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Bonaparte's gull now a regular resident here

I first saw Bonaparte's gulls about 10 years ago. We had a late spring snow storm and the next morning there was a flock of these little gulls in the narrows in front of camp.

That summer a few nested in Pipestone Bay and have continued to return each year.

This year the birds, which act more like terns than gulls, are being seen right in the narrows.

They seem to be catching minnows along the shoreline, all the while making a distinctive raspy call. The photo above was taken along the islands going into Trout Bay.

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Fishing off the dock can be very productive

Each week one or two cabins discover that fishing off the dock can yield great catches of walleye.

Here our staff try their luck off the main dock in front of the lodge while others are fishing off their own dock in the background.

These anglers are catching lots of walleye.

The best technique seems to be to use slip bobbers with live bait, either on a very small jig or on a hook with a small sinker above it.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pike and walleyes are really chunky this year

This beautiful 41.5-inch pike caught and released by angler Bryan Shirey this week is the latest in a number of really big pike caught by Bow Narrows fishermen.

All of these big northerns were exceptionally beefy. This lunker could easily have tipped the scales at 20 pounds. Normally a 20-pound pike would need to be 44 inches in Red Lake.

A week ago a 43-inch pike was weighed and found to be 23 pounds.

Why are the pike so plump? No one knows for sure but a good guess is all the small walleye that seem to be everywhere this year.

At the same time walleyes are equally as fat. We're catching 22-24-inch walleye that rip the line off your drag. These fish are also apparently finding plenty to eat.

Incidentally, just about every one of the huge northern pike caught of late were taken while walleye fishing.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Inform credit card company you'll be in Canada

Before leaving for your trip to Canada you should call your credit card company and let them know you will be out of the country. Otherwise your card will likely not work when you get here.
You can fix the problem once here too by calling the company but it will take time and will cause you some inconvenience. It's better to give the company a heads-up before leaving home.
Credit card companies block foreign transaction for your own protection, i.e. in case your card was stolen. They can do the same for out-of-state transactions.
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Friday, July 23, 2010

Floatplane trip was a great adventure for all

Many guests at camp went for sightseeing trips aboard the historic Norseman floatplane this week and everybody agreed it was blast.

In the top photo Carter Berlin points out something on the ground to father Kory.

Chimo Airways from Red Lake offered the 20-minute trips which flew all around the west end of Red Lake and offered people an opportunity to see the area they have been fishing from a few thousand feet up.

In the bottom Chimo pilot Ian gets the names of the next batch of passengers.

The trips cost $75 per person.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lots of bigger pike now being caught

Many anglers are now reporting catching and releasing big northern pike. A number of these were caught fishing for walleye using walleye rigs such as crawler harnesses.
There seem to be a bunch of pike in the 35-39-inch range and one person got a 42-incher yesterday.
We've been having a series of thunderstorms the last week and the fish seem to bite best just before each storm.
Walleyes also bite best before the storm but then shut off for awhile afterwards.
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Finally able to get on the 'Net again

We've had a devil of a time getting connected to the Internet the last few weeks.
That's the reason for the lack of blogs.
I finally discovered the trouble is in the underground cable that runs between our microwave antennae at our shed and the lodge. I can successfully connected by hooking up my laptop computer right at the main telephone box in the shed.
Anyway, to bring everybody up to speed, the temperatures have been absolutely beautiful this summer with daytime highs about 70-75 F.
It has been fairly wet the last two weeks. We get at least one shower almost every day and sometimes this comes in the form of a thunderstorm.
Walleyes are still in the shallow bays but are also now being caught in on the edges of the deep bays as well. It seems like they might be in transition with some of them traveling from the shallow to the deeper areas.
The usual stuff is catching them: walleye spinners, jigs, etc. There is no preference to the kinds of live bait. Most people use worms and leeches.
Northern pike were fairly difficult to catch at the start of the month but some really nice fish are being taken now. Spinners continue to be the best lures: Mepps, Blue Fox, spinner baits and jig spinners -- jigs with a hairpin spinner attached like a Beetle Spin.
We've had a couple of lake trout caught by walleye fishermen in the past week. These were both pretty big fish, one 30 inches and the other 33.
We're seeing more moose than normal. Many of them are cows without calves and that's odd. Usually every cow has a calf with it. The usual reason cows don't have calves is that the calves were taken by black bears.
The vegetation is very lush this summer. We've had just the right amount of precipitation, sun and warmth to create ideal growing conditions.
For some reason mosquitoes were almost entirely absent, until now, but they still fewer than normal. The worst pest has been the ankle biter flies that get in your boat.
That's all for now.
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Life without an endless supply of electricity

I'm noticing that more and more people don't seem to know how to live without an endless supply of electricity.
Of course, the reason I might be more aware of this than others is that I'm the person who is responsible for electricity here at camp.
We have a diesel generator that powers the electric refrigerators and lights in the cabins and also must power the various water and sewage pumps that keep camp functioning.
I'm also the guy who must go out in a boat looking for dry firewwood that feeds the wood stoves in the cabins. I believe it was Thoreau who said wood warms you twice, once when you cut it and the second time when you burn it. Thoreau must have had an easily accessible supply of wood because here at Bow Narrows Camp wood warms our helpers and me many times more than that: first when we cut it, then when we haul it to the boat, when we load the boat, when we unload the boat, when we cut it into stove-length pieces, when we split it and finally when we haul it to the cabins.
It gives a person a whole different perspective on the necessity of burning fuel.
I really do choose to just put on a sweater rather than light a fire when the temperature is only mildy cool.
A lot of people simply don't seem to even consider this option. Their first and only method of regulating their body temperature is to burn fuel. "I'm cold, burn fuel to warm me," or "I'm hot, burn fuel to cool me."
One time years ago we were having a heat wave here at camp with temperatures about 90 F. We had four customers who wanted me to drive to town and buy each of them large electric fans, something that wasn't even available at our single hardware store anyway.
"We're hot and we need fans."
I pointed out that everyone else was just going swimming several times a day. The lake water was beautiful and once your body was cooled off it stayed cool for hours afterwards.
"No way! That water's too cold," they protested.
But you're hot right now, right?
"Yes, so go to town and buy us fans!"
They just wouldn't believe that people could control their comfort level by anything other than the consumption of fuel.
Likewise, many people don't realize that they can keep things cool with anything other than an electric refrigerator.
Insulated coolers do this nicely. Although we don't have an ice machine here at camp (It would take too much electricity) we do have jugs of frozen water (ice) in our freezers. You can put these in large coolers or you can bring small ice packs that you put in small drink coolers or in the foam boxes that flats of worms come in and everything is nice and cool.
While we're on the subject of electrity, I always marvel at people who bring their own boats to camp. They must plug-in their boats to an electrical outlet every time they come to shore to recharge the batteries that power their electric trolling motors.
We're a wilderness camp, right? That means there is not an endless supply of electricity for people to plug-in their ever-growing number of electrical gizmos.
"Which of these is a current bush?" I think people must wonder as they hold their extension cord and look at the trees that line the bank. (They end up running long, long extension cords all the way to their cabin where they soak up some of the limited amount of electricity we are able to produce with our generator.
The reason they don't use their outboard motors for fishing is because they are too large and unsuitable for fishing.
Am I the only person who thinks it's ironic that someone would have a fishing boat with a motor that is unsuitable for fishing?

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Old-fashioned telephone surest way to reach us

If you need to contact us to, say, let us know you have arrived in Red Lake and wonder how long until the boat picks you up, just call the camp at either of our phone numbers: 807-727-2730 or 807-727-0439. If you cannot get through for ANY REASON, i.e. the phone is busy or there's no answer, then try the other number.
If your cell phone doesn't work in Red Lake, then ask the folks at Red Lake Marine (that's where we dock our boat) if they would call the camp and pass on the message. It's a local call on a land line.
We had a recent case where a group didn't tell us when they would be arriving and then waited in town for four hours until someone at Red Lake Marine noticed them standing at our dock and asked if something was wrong.
Red Lake Marine then phoned and I quickly made the trip to town to pick them up.
Why didn't you call and let us know you were here? I asked. Their cell phones didn't work in Red Lake!
Here's a news flash: EVERY building in Red Lake has this device called a TELEPHONE in it. There are even buildings with PAY TELEPHONES where you can make a call for 25 cents. But even if you don't want to spend that kind of cash virtually anyone would let you use their phone to make a local call. There's no charge to them, you see. That's the way it works with the old-fashioned telephones. Local calls are free, no matter how many.
Don't send us a Tweet, don't text message us, don't put up a message on Facebook, don't e-mail us. Find a telephone and call.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lots of moose seen by our fishermen

These great photos by angler Kyle Prugar show a cow and calf moose seen by Kyle and father Rich a couple days ago.
Just about everyone saw moose last week. They are coming out to the lake to feed on the aquatic vegetation.
Fishing continues to be excellent, especially for walleye but for northern pike as well.
Kyle's uncle Dale landed and released a 40-inch pike on Friday.
Anglers are bringing in to camp the 24-26-inch pike that are perfect for eating and for taking home. They're letting all the big ones go. Way to go anglers!
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Sunday, June 20, 2010

2010 is the Year of the Walleye!

Wild walleye action continues.
Anglers report catching unprecedented numbers of walleyes and also report the fish are coming in all sizes, from eight inches to 30 inches.
That's great news because it means great fishing for many years to come.
The fish are very shallow, from 6-12 feet deep, and are being caught primarily with worms and leeches.
Northern pike are more difficult to catch. The dead bait system where anglers use frozen ciscoes and bobbers is not productive, probably because the water is too warm for this slow presentation.
Best action comes from casting spoons and spinners and from trolling crank baits.
Some of the difficulty in catching pike no doubt comes from the tremendous crop of young walleyes out there -- just the right size for pike to eat.
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Thursday, June 10, 2010

"I've never caught so many walleyes!"

That's the comment we are hearing from just about everybody this summer, even anglers who have been coming fishing to Bow Narrows Camp and Red Lake for 30 years.
They are catching walleyes everywhere and the beauty is the fish are coming in all sizes, from eight inches to 28 inches.
There are lots and lots of 14-18 inchers -- just the right size to eat at camp or to take home. Let the ancient, 24+inchers go. They are not the best meal choices and are the established spawners.
Biggest walleye so far was a very fat 30-incher that was caught and released. It would have been over 10 pounds.
We've also had lots of pike in the high 30-inches caught and released and several 40+inches.
Favorite walleye bait is nightcrawlers fished on Little Joe spinners or 1/8-oz jigs.
Colors vary throughout the day. Bring both light and dark colors.
The weather has been seasonally warm and a little on the damp side with a couple of rainy days each week.
Bugs, so far, have been almost non-existent.
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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Drop off keys, grab a coffee at Red Lake Marine

If you get to our dock in Red Lake before Dan gets there with the Lickety Split, you should go inside Red Lake Marine and drop off your spare set of car keys.

Just tell them you are going to Bow Narrows Camp and want to leave your keys. They'll give you a tag to fill out and the keys go into a box with others who are out at camp.

Dan will show you where to park when he gets there.

Our dock is part of Red Lake Marine and it's important they have the ability to move your vehicle in the event of an emergency.

By the way, there is also free coffee available in the showroom of the marina.

Other things you can do while you are waiting for the boat is to unload your luggage. There is a wagon on the dock and you can use that to take your belongings out to the end of the dock. Leave the left side of the dock clear for the cart to take departing guests stuff back to shore.

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Nasty weather keeping anglers indoors

The weather took a turn for the worse on Saturday.
It started with Sunday night and Saturday morning filled with a series of thunderstorms.
This was followed by heavy rain and high winds Saturday afternoon. To make matters worse the temperature plummeted to 7 C (40-something Fahrenheit, I think).
Fortunately we were able to get everyone into and out of camp via the Lickety Split before the high winds hit.
Just about all the new fishermen wisely stayed in their cabins or the lodge, waiting for a break in the weather.
The rain ended some time overnight. I need to make one more trip to pick up guests today and am hoping the wind will lay a bit.
The forecast is for things to improve this afternoon and to see the sun again starting Monday.
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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Red Lake fishing report; it's hot

Fishing is excellent in this, our first week of fishing.

Everyone is catching large quantities of walleyes and as expected, many of them are the great-eating sizes 14-18 inches.

We knew this was coming by the many small walleye found in natural resources fish studies last summer.

There are also lots of big pike being caught. In the photo above Junior Williams from Ohio hoists a chunky 38-incher which he caught and released.

The weather has been beautiful. It's been sunny and warm and the fish are hungry after their long winter's nap.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Our guests are here and the fish are biting!

Our first guests just arrived and promptly caught a bunch of big northern pike and some walleye.
The warm spring and normal lake levels promise a great year for fishing.
Biggest northern pike that I heard about from people fishing yesterday was 38 inches but there were lots caught in the 30s.
Our walleye fishing always gets better and better as the water warms but people fishing for pike yesterday were catching walleye casting pike lures. That's a good sign!
I'll get some photos on the blog this week.
We've been ultra busy up to this point with out construction projects and opening camp.
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Monday, May 17, 2010

Gorgeous weather for rebuilding docks

With the septic system installation now behind us, staffer Landon Broennle and I have turned our attention to rebuilding the crib docks ruined by last year's flood.
We've completed the docks for Cabin 1 and 10 and that just leaves Cabins 5 and 7 still to do.
The other cabins have floating docks.
We have been wearing chest waders which leak a bit but the big shock comes when frigid lake water goes over the top.
Mother Nature has been on our side in this endeavour. No sooner did we get into the lake for the dock work than the weather turned warm and sunny. Temperatures this week are supposed to be in the mid-20s C (mid-70s F).
We had a thunderstorm yesterday afternoon which may have sparked some forest fires someplace in Northwestern Ontario as the bush is very dry. Virtually the only precipitation since the monsoon ended last August occurred two weeks ago when we were digging for the septic system. It probably rained an inch that week.
Today our other staffers arrive: Emily Godin who worked for us last summer and Kristina Belanger. Their immediate task will be to whip the cabins into shape before the first guests arrive on Friday.
We're almost ready to roll.
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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What we've been up to the last few weeks

We got into camp record-early April 21 and had to break a bit of ice on the trip.

We have since been working night and day installing a new septic system for the entire camp. This system uses Ecoflo biofilters which are large underground tanks filled with peat moss.

My friend John Belanger and new staffer Landon Broennle and I spent about a week barging in the Ecolflo tanks plus a half dozen enormous septic tanks and the peat moss.

Then we brought in an excavator and a tracked loader and the actual installation began by Canadian Shield Consultants who designed the entire system for us.

Everything in the ground was amazingly completed in a week and we have since been installing the electrical system to run the whole operation. My brother-in-law Ron Wink has done the electrical work for us.

That too is now complete and there are just a few minor plumbing connections to finish.

The temperatures have been below normal and the only rain we received occurred the entire week of installing the tanks. (That figures!)

Because of the cold temps I expect fishing patterns to be pretty much normal, despite the early breakup of ice.

The forecast this week is for beautiful warm temps. Hope that is the case.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mepps and Blue Fox best northern pike spinners

Famous Mepps #5
Blue Fox Vibrax

Year after year there are two favorite spinners for Bow Narrows Camp northern pike fishermen. They are Mepps #5 and Blue Fox #5.

The only exception is when, sometimes, #4s work better!

The best colors in these two spinners can vary from day to day and even throughout the day. But generally, ones with red and white or orange or chartreuse are good choices.

Another factor in using these spinners for pike is that they both have large hooks. They tend to hold a thrashing pike better than do tiny hooks and are also easier to remove.

These lures are best fished by casting. If you "plunk" these babies around weeds, logs or rocks you are certainly going to connect with some big old pike.

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