Thursday, February 25, 2010

What kind of meals are served on American Plan?

Bow Narrows lemon meringue pie
Here's a sample of our supper menu that is served to American Plan guests. The menu varies from year to year and even throughout the season but this will give you a "taste" of the kind of meals that await in the lodge dining room.


Garden Salad with Peppercorn Dressing


Saucy Lemon Pork Chops

Wild Rice Casserole

Whole-kernel Corn

Ice Cream Sundaes
Coleslaw and Deviled Eggs
Assorted Bread
Crispy Chicken
Oven-fried Rice
Devil's Food Cake.


Peppers and Greens Dressed with Unicorn Vinaigrette

Pan buns


Mashed Potatoes

Whole Green Beans

Crispy Crunch Dessert.
Mushroom-bacon Spinach Salad
Rye Bread
Lemon-and-herb-roasted Pork Loin
Oven-roasted Potatoes
Harvest Vegetables
Apple Crisp


Garden salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Roast Beef

Yorkshire Pudding

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Lemon Meringue Pie
Caesar Salad
Chicken Cacciatore
Garlic Bread
Raspberry Walnut Torte


Greek Salad

Sirloin Steak

Baked Potato


Pan Buns

Blueberry Cheesecake

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A million reasons to come to camp in the fall

Best seat on the lake
Bow Narrows Camp in autumn

For an awesome outdoor experience, come to Bow Narrows Camp in late September, just remember to bring a lot of film or extra memory cards for your camera.

There are absolutely stunning scenes everywhere you turn, even right in camp, as millions of tree leaves turn infinite shades of gold and the ground cover turns scarlet. The photos above were taken right in front of the lodge.

Frosty mornings with the smell of woodsmoke coming from the cabins somehow makes life especially enjoyable at this time.

The sky is filled with hundreds of flocks of geese, both Canadas and snows, and sandhill cranes.

If you're out fishing in the mornings and evenings your chances of seeing giant bull moose are excellent as they prepare for their mating season, usually the last week of September and the first week of October. These largest members of the deer family are very active, thrashing their massive palmed antlers in the alders and scraping rut pits in the ground.

Fishing can be excellent at this time of year and some of the best of it is right in the narrows where camp is located.

It is the best time of year to see northern lights, mainly because the skies darken early in the evening with the shortening days.

Wolves can also be heard howling some nights as they re-group after a summer of being apart.

It is indeed a special time.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

The joys and trials of fishing with a dog

Sam, the camp dog
"The guy in the boat with the big dog in the front," is probably how a lot of people who I don't know would describe me.

That's because for the last 16 years at camp I've almost never travelled in one of the fishing boats without my dog.

I've had two dogs in that period, both Labrador retrievers. The first was Bud, a 120-pound black Lab and now Sam, an 80-pound chocolate Lab.

I always take the staff boat which has a piece of plywood fastened from the bow seat back to the second seat. This is to make it easier to lift out the fish gut buckets when we dump them on a rocky island for the birds: eagles, gulls, ravens, crows and vultures. But it also doubles as a great platform for a dog to stand upon.

I enjoy fishing with a dog for many reasons. Perhaps the main reason is the dog doesn't talk.

I'm not anti-social, really, it's just that when I'm out on the lake or in the bush, I want to hear the sounds of nature. The funny thing is I've lost a great deal of my hearing and another reason why I like having a canine fishing partner is he lets me know when I'm missing some sound. I'll look at him and see that his ears are perked up and he's staring intently at a moose or a bear or some other creature.

There are plenty of problems with taking a dog fishing too. Sam has grabbed a lure dangling from a line and had to get a hook pulled from his mouth.

If you are sitting still the dog can get bored and go looking for something to do. One time I was fishing with my nephew, Mike, and one of us pulled in a piece of chukuni (beaver stick). Sam seized it and proceeded to gnaw on it all the while banging the stick against the bottom of the boat.

We hadn't caught anything when another boat pulled up and started to fish too.

Mike called out, "You probably don't stand a chance without a fishing dog in your boat."

Although I like fishing with the dog, I would advise against it for most of our guests. The reason has to do with the comfort of the dog.

Biting flies can sometimes make the dog absolutely miserable. These are flies that leave people alone but will pester a dog mercilessly. Many of our guests who have brought their dogs end up leaving the dog in the cabin the whole week. That's no fun for the dog. He would have had a better time either at home or in a kennel.

For some reason flies don't seem to bother Sam much. They did sometimes get to Bud, and our first dog, Lady, also a black Lab, was a continuous whirling dervish when she was in the boat, biting at the flies that were biting her. We owned Lady before Brenda and I came back to the camp business.

Our dogs have been trained from pups not to harm the wild pets like woodchucks that we have at camp. Guests' dogs, or course, don't have this opportunity and therefore must be kept on leash at camp.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Our Canadian winter is far warmer than normal

temperature Feb. 17, Nolalu, ON
Check out this photo taken about 3 p.m. today, Feb. 17, at our house in Nolalu, Ont. (near Thunder Bay).

Normal daytime high at this time of year would probably be approximately -10 C and is frequently -15 or colder.

Nightime lows are currently about -5 C where the normal would be about -20 to -30 C.

What is that in Fahrenheit? Just look at the thermometer above.

As unusually cold that it has been in the Southern U.S. is as unusually warm it has been in Northern Ontario and elsewhere in Canada -- just witness the lack of snow in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics. I heard a weather person today say it is the warmest February on record for British Columbia.

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Before long we'll be heading out fishing again

Heading out fishing
As the warm summer wind blows through our hair and we feel the boat clipping across the tops of the waves, all of us, I'm sure, have thought, "This is the life!"

It is soul-lifting moments like these that make a fishing trip to Canada so special.

Here Bow Narrows angler Paul Heneise pilots the boat while others in the group -- lifetime-friends and relatives -- follow in the distance.

Just being outside in this spectacular wilderness is an exhilaration. Sharing it with people close to you is a gift.

I wonder how many of us look at this scene and yearn for the ice and snow to pass away for another year so we can pull away from the dock and head to our favorite fishing spots?

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Red squirrel baffles wildlife scientists

red squirrel in Northern Ontario
The red squirrel like the one above is probably the most noticeable creature in the north woods.

It is virtually impossible to go anywhere without seeing this noisy acrobat of the trees.

In summer it eats a wide variety of vegetation and seeds. In Northern Ontario the only nut is the hazelnut and these are especially treasured by Old Reddy. In fact, it is possible for a human to live his or her entire life in Northern Ontario and never see a mature hazelnut. The squirrels always get every one.

Squirrels also eat mushrooms which they first dry by laying them on tree limbs. I've heard that some of these mushrooms are poisonous, even to squirrels, but that the act of drying makes them safe for the squirrel to eat.

Squirrels also eat a lot of animal matter, especially insects, but small birds and mammals as well.

Their main food and probably their only meals in the winter, come from eating the tiny seeds on each scale of spruce, pine and balsam cones. They leave heaps of these shucked scales all over the place.

Some years the conifers produce far more cones than other years. It makes sense then that the red squirrel population is higher during those years since there is more food available.

Incredibly, however, the squirrels know in advance which years will produce the most cones and give birth to more young than usual just before the cones are created.

There is no cycle to the high-cone-producing years. It's not that every fourth year, say, is a heavy cone producer.

Foresters and biologists can't see how the squirrels know to have bigger litters before the cones have even started to form on the trees. Or for that matter, how they can increase their litter size at all.
Humans can't tell that one year will be a heavy cone producing one until the cones have formed.
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E-mail is up and running again!

Our e-mail problem is now fixed.
You can reach us again at our regular e-mail address:
You can also contact us by filling out the request for information form on our website.
Meanwhile, if you sent us an e-mail in the past three days, you will need to send it again.
Likewise if you replied to an e-mail we sent you in the last three days, you will need to send it again.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Time of day key to great outdoor scenery shots

These beautiful photos from Troy and Jane Bechtel illustrate the great scenes that are available to people who are out and about at the beginning and end of the day.

In addition to awesome shots of sunrises and sunsets, the filtered quality to the light at these times make virtually every shot better than when the sun is directly overhead.

It's also the times you most often see big game animals like moose and black bear.

The key is to always have your camera on you so you can capture those moments when they appear.

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Which is better, braided or monofilament line?

I am an advocate for using small sizes of fishing line, within reason, as readers of this blog are probably aware. See Lighten Up for Northern Pike as an example.

In fact the 8# mono in this photo is the exact line I use for northern pike fishing and for walleye.

My family from the States that comes to camp each July are all expert pike fishermen and they also use 8# mono. Each of them catches multiple pike in the 35-45 inch range and you know what? No one loses any fish because their line breaks!

We just keep our drags set so the fish can pull out line, with resistance, so the breaking point of the line is never reached.

Because the line is so light we are able to cast the small lures that end up catching us all the pike.

If we were to use stronger line then we would not catch so many fish.

This is where braided line comes into the picture. Braided line is smaller by diameter than mono; so, for the same diameter you can have a much stronger line. However, the line is also much more visible than monofilament. Therefore the fish can see it better and this can make some fish shy away from your lure.

It's normally not much of a problem with northern pike but it definitely is a factor when fishing with bait for walleye. I heard an outdoor writer one time point out that none of the anglers on the professional walleye tournament circuits uses braided line.

Where braided line really outperforms mono is not its strength (because mono's strength is just not an issue) but its sensitivity. Braided line does not stretch while mono stretches a great deal.

If you like to troll and have a lot of line in the water behind the boat, braided line lets you feel your lure or sinker bump the bottom as well as the slightest bite. It also lets you set the hook better under these conditions.

If you have a lot of mono trailing behind the boat you can set the hook and the line just stretches and the hook is not jerked into the mouth of the fish. Eventually the fish can just open its mouth and the lure falls out. But even here frequently the fish sets the hook itself when it strikes the lure.

So my advice is that braided line is better for trolling while mono is better for casting and jigging.

You can, of course, add a short mono leader to the end of your braided line if you are worried about the braided line's visibility adversely affecting the fish.

However, anglers who are trolling lures seldom do this. Usually they tie their line right to the lure. Pike have a difficult time cutting the braided line and walleyes don't seem to mind the visibility when you are using lures, just when using live bait.

I also don't like braided for casting because it abrades very easily when the line strikes obstructions like limbs and rocks. So does mono but it just seems more resistant to such abuse.

What I find with most fishermen who use the braided line is that they use the diameter of braided that is the same as the mono they used to fish with. So if they formerly fished with 12# mono they get the braided that is the diameter of 12# mono but is the strength of 30#. The problem with this practice is the 12# braided is very much more visible than the mono. This can mean they catch fewer fish.

Here's an example. A couple of years ago I was out fishing and located a bunch of big northern pike in a bay near camp. I caught and released a 38-incher, caught several small fish and saw many more.

All of this was done on 8# mono.

I told a couple of our guests about the spot and they subsequently fished it for days without catching much of anything although eventually they did get one big pike from there. I was scratching my head wondering why they weren't having the success that my boat did when, at the end of the week, I heard one of the anglers say that the reason they were able to land the one big fish they did hook was because he was using braided line that was 50# test!

They had been fishing with rope!

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What is the best size northern pike to eat?

the perfect pike
Northern pike on Red Lake, Ontario, are delicious and thanks to Bow Narrows Camp staff fish cleaners are also boneless.

When your pike comes out of our fish cleaning house you get two boneless fillets that are every bit as good tasting as walleye.

Just like walleyes, however, there is a best eating size for northern pike. We suggest keeping pike that are 22-26 inches.

Pike smaller than that are difficult to clean, especially to remove the Y-bones, and also have very little meat.

A pike of 22 inches will feed one person. A 26-incher will probably feed three people.

The pike in the photo above is probably near 26 inches, is nice and chunky and would therefore be considered the perfect northern pike for eating.

There is a no-keep slot size for northern pike in our region of Ontario. You cannot keep any pike that are 27.5 to 35.4 inches and can only keep one larger than 35.4 inches.
We do not recommend keeping any pike larger than 26 inches except to mount.

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