Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Not much longer before we see this again

This scene could be a reality again within a few weeks

Beautiful sunsets are why this is called "Sunset Country"
Red Lake was on the receiving end of some great spring weather last week although the next few days are back to the cold.
Our friends, Hugh and Enid Carlson of Viking Island, passed on some encouragement yesterday. The open patch of water on the Chukuni River is growing and it might be possible for a floatplane to land there after a few more days of melting.
Unfortunately, that warming trend isn't in the cards until Saturday but then, if the Weather Network's 14-day forecast comes true, there is nothing but sunny, warm weather ahead.
So, we have our fingers crossed that we will at least be able to fly out to camp before opening day, May 19. Could actual ice-out occur before then?
I think that in addition to the warm weather forecast, it will also take some extraordinary high winds to do the trick. Wind is our friend when it comes to getting rid of snow and ice. Chinook is the name westerners give to warm wind in the winter. This is a First Nations term that means "snow-eating wind."
It melts the snow far faster than what happens on a calm day.
Wind also pushes down on the lake ice, making it "squirt" back and forth into long narrow bays. At the west end of the lake these include Green Bay off of Pipestone, Golden Arm off of Big Red, and Marten Bay. This back-and-forth water movement works the same as current in a river or the narrows. It melts the ice. This is also why there is a sandbar at the entrances to these bays.
The snow has now melted off the lake and if it hasn't happened already, this water on top of the ice will work its way down and make the ice rise. It also breaks it loose along the shoreline. When the ice melts enough and when you get enough open patches such as at the entrances to bays, shallow spots and narrows, the wind can get the entire sheet moving. The momentum of thousands of tons of ice is impossible to stop and the ice pulverizes against the shore. That's what we're hoping for.
Meanwhile, we can look at beautiful summer scenes like these supplied by Bow Narrows angler Tate Lundy from previous trips and sharpen our hooks.

Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Look and be outdoors savvy, always wear a PFD

Angler Doug Billings brings his own PFD
When you see Bow Narrows Camp staff operating a boat this summer or if you see a Ministry of Natural Resources conservation officer or meet officers in a police boat, notice that they are all wearing PFDs -- personal floatation devices.
Then check out most of the anglers at camp, especially the most-experienced ones -- same thing, all wearing PFDs.
PFDs are better known as life vests but it is technically incorrect to refer to them as life jackets although that is exactly what most people call them. The difference seems subtle -- life jackets have the ability to turn an unconscious person right side up. PFDs keep you afloat but you may need to initially turn yourself face up.
PFDs are typically comfortable vests. Life jackets are typically uncomfortable, cumbersome collars.
In the Lickety Split, our big boat used to carry guests to and from camp, people sitting on the deck behind the cabin are required to wear PFDs. Inside the cabin it is safe operating procedure not to wear them because it could hinder your ability to get outside if the boat was to capsize.
I just finished completing the Small Vessel Operator Proficiency course now required for small commercial vessels where I learned that about 200 people drown annually in Canada. More than 80 per cent of these are recreational boaters and virtually all of them don't wear PFDs.
If you are wearing a PFD or a life jacket, you just about always survive a boating accident. If you aren't wearing a PFD, you stand a good chance of drowning, even from the most commonplace boating mishaps.
Here is how a boater usually ends up in the water: his boat strikes an object and he is either thrown overboard and/or the boat is flipped over. This all will take place in less than one second. Obviously, there is no time to put on a PFD while the event is occurring.
Here is the myth most people have about boating accidents: their boat springs a leak and eventually sinks, giving them plenty of time to put on their PFD. The reality is recreational boats never sink; they have built-in floatation.

It can't happen to me

Do you not wear a PFD because you have never needed one in the past? The problem with this logic is that there are things in life where you only get one chance, where you don't get to learn from trial and error. Think gun safety or chainsaw operation. It's the same thing with not drowning. This is the real world, not some computer game.

I'm a good swimmer

It doesn't matter if you hold an Olympic gold medal, your ability to swim isn't even going to be a factor. Most people drown in the first few seconds. The sudden and unexpectedness of the event and sometimes the cold temperature of the water makes you gasp involuntarily. You inhale water into your lungs. If you are wearing a PFD or life jacket, you instantly are back on the surface where you  can cough up the water. If you aren't, it's all over, just like that.

I don't want to look stupid

How do you think you will look drowned? Smart? The truth is you look stupid when you don't wear a PFD. It shows you are naive, inexperienced and unprepared.  When you are in the great outdoors, you need to be self-reliant and that means recognizing dangerous situations and being prepared.

PFDs are uncomfortable

Frankly, that's bull----. But if your body really is so sensitive that wearing a typical PFD causes you discomfort, then it is your responsibility to find one that does not. At Bow Narrows Camp we provide normal vest-type PFDs for everyone. There are plenty of other types that you might find more comfortable. These include kayaking vests which typically leave the shoulders bare. There are also the inflatable PFDs. Actually, some of these qualify as life jackets. These look like wide suspenders. They have a CO2 cartridge that inflates when immersed beneath the surface or you can pull a cord and inflate them manually. These cost about $150. Too expensive for you? Your life isn't worth that much?
Personally, I always wear a recreational boater PFD but it has mesh over the shoulders, something like the kayaking model. It's like the one Doug is wearing in the photo above. If the weather is hot, I just slacken the straps so air circulates better. If it is cold, it feels great as extra insulation against the wind.
You need to shop around and find the PFD that is best for you. Maybe you are extra large or extra small.
Women have a legitimate complaint with standard PFDs. The problem is standard PFDs are too tall for many of them. When they sit down the PFD comes up around their ears. One answer is kayaking models. These are made short for kakayers who are always sitting down and need great movement through the shoulders.
Fishing season hasn't started yet. Now is the time to go shopping for a PFD that you like and will always wear when in a boat. Not only will you look smart, you actually ARE smart.

Click to go back to our website
 Click to see the latest on the blog

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Home stretch for Red Lake's 2013 ice-out

With just three weeks to go before the start of fishing season, this is the home stretch for ice-out on Red Lake, Ontario.
It will take a miracle for all the ice and snow to melt by then, basically above-normal temperatures and ideal wind and rain. But since yesterday, that is just what Red Lake is getting!
The temperature hit 16 C yesterday and is supposed to be something similar today and tomorrow. Even more importantly, it is not predicted to go below freezing at night. There is also some warm rain in the forecast. These are all perfect ice-melting phenomena. There are a few below-normal temp days seen after this weekend but the 14-day forecast then shows above-normal all the way afterward.
Could it melt three feet of ice by May 19? I just don't think it can but here is one thing that might help. If there is a sudden melting of the snow as is happening right now, all the runoff into the lake can lift the ice loose from the shore. It won't make much of a difference right now, but in a few weeks, when the ice thickness has diminished, this factor could help the ice sheet shift back and forth in the wind. If it can shift and there is a strong wind, the ice pack is finished. It can disappear in a day. It can do this even if it is still fairly thick, say 14 inches.
But this is probably just me grasping at straws.
For us at Bow Narrows Camp, I think the best we can hope for is if the ice melts in the narrows where camp is located and in the shallow bays where we fish. If that happens in time then we can fly everybody from the Chukuni River in town over the ice to camp on May 19. Hopefully, the rest of the ice then will breakup before the end of the week. Even that would be miraculous but then, miracles do happen sometimes, don't they?
Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Spring scenes near camp taken on Tuesday

Camp as seen from West Narrows
West Red Lake Mining Museum
Douglas Creek, Trout Bay
Enid Carlson was on her way back from Viking Island Lodge on Douglas Lake Tuesday and stopped to take these photos. Thank you so much, Enid!
Everything is frozen tight to the shore everywhere except at the mouth of Douglas Creek at the end of Trout Bay. There the current has opened up the little bay in front of the rapids. In a normal year we would be seeing a lot more signs of ice-out but at least the open water at Douglas Creek is a start.
Click to go back to our website
 Click to see the latest on the blog

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Do northern pike eat insects?

As definitive as that answer is, it still doesn't do the subject justice. Northern pike, Esox lucious, the water wolf, LOVES bugs.
Does it surprise you that this fish, basically the freshwater barracuda, would even bother with something as small as a fly? It really shouldn't because EVERY fish loves bugs.
We have caught lake trout in the old days when it was legal to keep them that were so full of carpenter ants that you couldn't squeeze another ant into their stomachs.
Mayflies. Photo from Ojibway Nature Centre, Windsor, ON
Last June I got a rare chance to go out fishing late in the evening and tried my luck with northern pike. It was a bad choice because pike usually quit hitting as the sun sets. I worked along a shoreline with little success until I noticed splashing at the back of a weedy bay. There was so much going on I guessed it was a bunch of ducks feeding and went closer to investigate. To my astonishment, the entire surface was boiling with fish swirls.
I paddled cautiously closer and saw what the fish were eating: small black mayflies. I had been casting a spoon and tried this lure with no success. There were so many fish that I could see them, dozens and dozens -- all northern pike! All you had to do was keep your eyes on one of the mayflies for a few seconds and a pike would materialize beneath it and, with a swirl, the mayfly would disappear.
Of course, I didn't have a fly rod with me, just a spinning rod and reel. I put on a small Mepps spinner, probably a #3 and caught a couple of the pike but considering how many fish I was seeing, they were clearly ignoring my bait. I switched to a surface lure, a Zara Spook, and probably caught one more fish. Meanwhile the pike feasted on the mayflies all around my boat. If I would have been able to cast out a dry fly, I'm convinced I would have caught one fish after another.
Insects are highly nutritious and would seem to offer fish a high-calorie substitute to minnows.
Mostly, fish eat aquatic insects in their nymph stages. Creatures like mayflies and dragonflies spend most of their lives underwater and only emerge briefly as adults to mate.
Walleyes are well known for their mayfly-eating habits. In Whitefish Lake, near where we live in the winter, dragonfly nymphs are the main food of walleye. In fact, there are no minnows in this lake at all.
On Red Lake, we have had many fly fishermen go after northern pike, but they always use streamer flies that sink.
The challenge in dry fly fishing for pike is how do you deal with their razor sharp teeth? When using streamer flies you can fit a tiny wire leader to the eye of the hook but this would sink a dry fly.
My thought is to make a leader out of conventional braided or fusion fishing line. Pike have a difficult time cutting this. You might need to treat it with fly fishing waterproof dressing so that even this line doesn't sink your dry fly.
This technique would work the best when the fish are feeding on mayflies. There are many species of these and they emerge at different times but basically from early June to mid-July.
You can also fish with a dry fly with a spinning rod and reel by using a small bobber to add weight for casting. Again, you might need to treat your line with dressing so it doesn't sink the fly.

Click to go back to our website
 Click to see the latest on the blog

Friday, April 19, 2013

Nolalu, April 19, two more feet of snow

A winter storm has been raging in the Thunder Bay area and along the north shore of Lake Superior for 24 hours now and has left nearly two feet of heavy snow in Nolalu. The storm also includes 50 mph winds. Highways have been closed off and on during the ordeal.
The scene above shows my snowblower trail from our shed to the house. With the high winds it is pointless trying to clear our 250-yard driveway. However, I did make a single pass down to the road. That took one hour in snow depths that ranged from knee deep to waist deep.
Red Lake was not hit by this storm.
Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Thursday, April 18, 2013

How and when to best catch lots of northern pike

Kim Gross hoists a beautiful, finely-speckled northern pike caught by casting
These are two commonly asked questions. Let's look at the second half first: when is the best time to fish for northern pike?
Anglers who are here in May are sure that is the best time to catch pike. Their photos prove this. June anglers think June is best. They also have pictures.  July anglers "know" they are both wrong; it is July.  "Baloney," say August fishermen who are reading this and looking up at their wall hangers. And when was the record set for most pike over 40 inches caught by two people in a single week? It was in September.
So maybe there really is no best month or maybe there are five best months. The point is, you can do well fishing for northern pike on Red Lake any month of the summer. The locations change a bit, but only slightly.
One thing that doesn't change is the technique used to catch the vast majority of northern pike.
If you want to catch lots and lots of pike you had better be casting. That is not to say you won't catch pike by trolling or -- early and late in the season -- using dead bait, but if you want to boat many dozens of pike each day, there is no better way than casting.
We have people who catch up to 100 pike in a single day for their boat. To do this they probably make 1,000 casts. They probably average a cast a minute, at least while they are fishing. Just knowing that fact tells you a lot about the lures they are using -- ones that don't take a long time to reel back in!
We're talking spoons, like the 2/5-ounce Little Cleo, Dardevlet, 2/5-ounce Mepps Wolf and 1/2-ounce Johnson Silver Minnow always with a trailer on the hook. For spinners, try the #4 and #5 Mepps and Blue Fox and smaller spinnerbaits.
The point is not to use a lure that is so big and heavy or pulls against your line so strongly that it takes a long time to reel back to the boat. You want the lure to be small enough to cast easily, run at least a foot deep on the retrieve and get back to the boat, all within a minute. This rules out giant Suicks or other stick baits, big tandem spinnerbaits and the like. They will break your arm throwing them so many times in a day. As it turns out, they also don't catch fish as well as the smaller ones. See Lighten Up.
You want to cast along the shoreline, but not blindly. Pick out structures, the best being weeds, and plunk your lure right beside them. Give a quick turn or two on the reel to keep the lure from hanging up, then slow down the retrieve enough that the lure runs almost out of sight on its way back to the boat. If you had a strike but no hook-set, cast back there again. If you catch one fish in a spot, cast back there again until you quit catching fish.
Stand up in the boat. You can see into the water better this way and you can also see fish following your lure, especially if you are wearing polarized sunglasses. If you do get a follow-up, stop reeling and give the lure a twitch. If that doesn't elicit a strike right away, start reeling again and repeat the process if needed. Keep your rod tip near the water while reeling -- it makes your lure run deeper.
Weeds are the magic ingredient when pike fishing. Where you find one, you find the other. With that in mind, July and August may be the easiest times to catch pike because the weeds have grown up and show easily. There are still weeds in September but they disappear as the month progresses. It is the remaining weeds that hold such promise for pike in the fall.
Pike experts are also experts on water weeds. The good ones to fish are bushy and grow in deeper water. Poor weeds are long and slender and wrap around your line.
Although weedbeds are usually great pike places, sometimes the shoreline with just patches of weeds here and there is better.
As you "plug" along a shoreline, be alert for bays that have weeds growing out in their middle. These can hold a lot of pike.
The biggest mistake made when going pike fishing is to use too heavy of equipment. Heavy baitcasting rods and reels won't let you cast the smaller lures needed. Ditto for heavy line. Heavy steel leaders kill the action of your lure.
A medium-action spinning rod and reel spooled with eight-pound diameter braided or fusion line will handle any pike. Just keep the drag set so the line will pull out with a few pounds of pressure.

Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Red Lake 2013 ice-out is going to be late

With only a month to go before 2013 opening day, it seems a certainty now that ice-out on Red Lake and other Northwestern Ontario lakes will be late. In fact, it might even set a record.
The record-late ice-out for Red Lake is May 23.
At Bow Narrows Camp we can almost always get our customers into camp at least a week ahead of ice-out by flying them in floatplanes from the Chukuni River in town, where the ice melts the fastest, to the narrows in front of camp, another place where the ice melts quickly along with the shallow bays where we do most of our fishing.
We have now contacted our guests the first week of the season to see if they would like to change reservations to a later date or take their chances on opening week. If you are booked the first week and haven't heard from me, please call me at our winter phone number.
If you are booked at another camp in Northwestern Ontario, you should probably give them a call to see what the scenario is there and what are the options. Each lake has its own pattern for ice-out. There may be no problem at all for some camps. Shallow lakes open up the soonest as do those that have strong currents. Road camps may have a contingency plan to trailer boats to bodies of water that open the soonest.
The ice-out problem is the weather. It just isn't warming up.
Die, winter! Die!
Red Lake still has over three feet of ice and 18 inches of snow on top. It takes about a month of normal spring temperatures to melt all of this. The 14-day forecast doesn't show normal temperatures occurring for another two weeks yet; however, it must be noted that long-range forecasts are notoriously inaccurate.
Even though the air temperature may only be getting a few degrees above freezing in the day, the lake ice continually melts from the water beneath it. What really helps is for the snow on top to melt off, exposing the dark-coloured ice to the sun.

Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A story of the loon, its necklace and beautiful voice

Photo by Doug Billings
Loons are the world's oldest bird
This incredible photo of a loon by Bow Narrows angler-photographer Doug Billings was just what I needed to cheer me up on yet another cold spring day. It's good to remember that sooner or later, we will again have open water and see and hear these unique birds on Red Lake.
The loon is the world's most ancient bird species, going back 65 million years ago to the late-Cretaceous period, the last period when dinosaurs still walked the Earth. They have been here about 63 million years longer than humans.
Loons occupy prominent places in a great many First Nations' stories about the creation of the world. Other important creatures are the beaver, turtle and raven.
In the story I have heard, when the Earth was covered by water it was the loon that dove to the bottom of the ocean and brought up soil that was used to create the continents we have today.
For its great service the Creator bestowed upon the loon a beautiful necklace and voice. This made the loon exceedingly proud and it came to feel that it was better than all the other creatures.
To teach the loon a lesson about pride and vanity, the Creator took away its beauty and voice for half of each year.
That is why the loon in its winter habitat off the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts and the Gulf of Mexico is a drab gray colour and is silent.
Come spring, it flies northward to the Boreal Forest where it turns back into its beautiful self and fills the air with its magical calls. 
Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Late 2013 ice-out should mean extended season

Mid-August anglers like Mike Boyer may find walleyes shallower than normal
There is little doubt now that the 2013 ice-out on all lakes in Northwestern Ontario, including Red Lake, is going to be later than it has been in years.
We just got another 10 inches of snow here in Nolalu, near Thunder Bay, and Red Lake is expecting something similar this weekend.
Basically, with about five weeks to go before opening weekend, May 18, there still isn't a sign of spring.
For us at Bow Narrows Camp, we have no reason to believe we will not be able to operate opening week. In our 52 years of business, we have always been able to get us and our guests into camp for opening week. However, it could mean that we will not be boating to camp but flying. We would take off from the Chukuni River at the outlet of Red Lake, fly 20 miles over the partially-frozen lake and land in the narrows in front of camp. The west end of Red Lake will probably be clear of ice, just the big stretches between camp and the town of Red Lake that will be frozen. There will certainly be lots of places to fish.
This scenario is still a long ways off but it is looking more and more like a possibility. Mostly it is just a headache for us as camp operators and has little impact on our first guests, many of whom have done this type of thing with us in the past.
The interesting thing for our customers, however, is that I believe a late ice-out ends up prolonging the entire fishing season. Here's why. Let's look at the exact opposite situation -- a record-early ice-out. That is what happened last year. The average ice-out date for Red Lake is May 8. Last year ice-out occurred April 13, eclipsing the previous record by more than a week. What effect did that have on the fishing?
Although anglers the very first week found fishing to be quite different -- pike, for instance, were not on their spawning beds -- hardly anyone else the rest of the summer saw much of a change. That is until August.
Although Red Lake always has great fishing, we have noticed for years that there is a surge in activity around the beginning of August. Walleyes, in particular, seem to go on a feeding frenzy that lasts until the weather starts to cool off, usually in later August. The fish continue to bite well afterwards, but they move to deeper water.
The most-common misconception our customers and potential customers have about fishing on Red Lake is that they believe walleyes move to deeper depths when the water warms up.  But that isn't what happens. On Red Lake, walleye don't go deeper because the water is warm, they go deeper when the water begins to cool off.
This may be exactly the opposite of other lakes but it is the absolute truth about Red Lake, at least the western end of this lake where we fish. It probably has to do with all the deep bays -- over 100 feet deep -- in this area. They act like air conditioners for the shallower bays where we normally fish.
At any rate, last year we had a record-early start to the season and then a nice warm summer. It was still nice and warm in early August, right when we should have been hauling in loads of walleye from 12-foot depths, but inexplicably, despite the warm weather and continued warm water, the fish started heading toward their deeper fall spots, way earlier than normal. It was as if their whole routine was moved up by a few weeks -- the same length as the early ice-out had occurred.
Again, whether the walleye go deeper or not, we still catch them. But I think it was interesting that the fish responded in the way they did.
So, by the same reasoning, a late ice-out this spring should mean that walleye will be later in taking up their fall habits this year. They could be in the shallow bays right until September or even the first week of September. It will be interesting to see if that is what actually happens.

Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Geotagging puts angler's fish on the map

Each dot represents a GPS waypoint, taken automatically
Bow Narrows angler Tate Lundy passes along this map showing his GPS track for one of his trips to camp.
I'll let Tate explain:
"This one was a day's worth of data for 2009.  I keep my GPS running all day and it periodically takes readings of my position and stores them in a track.  If I synchronize my camera with my GPS clock, then I can use this data to Geotag my photos (there is free software that does it automatically).  Then I can view several years of fish photos on a map to see where I have been catching the "photo-worthy" fish."
I'm really impressed with the detail of the map, even without the geotagging!
Bow Narrows Camp is located right where the name "Phillips" is in Phillips Channel.
Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Turkey vultures are regular summer residents

Turkey vultures join herring gulls and a raven in cleaning up some fish scraps on an island near Bow Narrows Camp.
Turkey vultures, aka "buzzards," have always been common summer scavengers here. I mention this because often times I hear Northern Ontarians point to the big birds as evidence of global warming. There is no doubt that the climate is warming here in the North, but the presence of turkey vultures is not a sign of it. There have been vultures at Red Lake for as long as I've lived there, 53 years.
Incidentally, our friend and guest Ken Lehmann took this photo. Many of his shots grace this blog.
Turkey vultures are strictly scavengers and are one of the few birds who can detect decomposing flesh by smell.
They are extremely easy to identify at any distance. In fact, if you can see them at all, you can tell they are turkey vultures. That is because they hold their wings above their bodies in a distinctive V. A moment's observation of their soaring flight also gives them away. They quickly shift their position back and forth as if they were tightrope walkers.
Turkey vultures get along with just about every other bird that scavenges, including bald eagles. In fact, I have read that these other birds sometimes rely on the vulture to find the dead creature first by using their sense of smell. If the carcass is a big animal, say a deer, the vulture may need the eagles and ravens to rip it open because the vulture's beaks are not strong enough for the job. It's a symbiotic relationship.
One of the most startling experiences I have had at camp was the result of a turkey vulture. I had gone fishing for northern pike with our outside helper, Kevin Ritchie, early in the spring when we heard an incredible roaring sound. It nearly made us jump out of our skins.
"What did that sound like to you?" I asked Kevin.
"A mountain lion!" he replied.
Exactly what I thought, and if that is how the incident had ended I would have gone on record as having heard the roar of a cougar, or mountain lion. However, the creature that made the noise was also being mobbed by a bunch of crows and that let us pinpoint its location. We moved in for a closer look and were stunned to see a turkey vulture sitting on what was apparently its nest on the ground. It was the vulture making the roaring, hissing sound.
If you would like to hear this for yourself, click on this Cornell Lab of Ornithology website and hit the Sound tab and then that of the Juvenile Defensive Hiss.

Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Wilson's Fine Foods, right on your way in Ear Falls

Here is a grocery option available to our Housekeeping Plan guests that I bet many don't know about, especially those arriving Sunday morning.
Forty minutes south of Red Lake is Wilson's Fine Foods in Ear Falls right on Highway 105, the Red Lake Road. I called owner Dave Wilson this winter to see if our guests who arrive early Sunday could somehow get their groceries at his store. Absolutely, he said. He explains how in this e-mail.

"Hi Dan.  It was a pleasure to speak with you and sometime on your way through drop in and say hi.  We would love to assist you in any way over the summer and are willing to do all we can to make your life easier.  Our hours of operation are Mon - Wed 8:00 - 6:00, Thurs - Fri 8:00 - 8:00, Sat 8:00 - 6:00, and closed on Sunday.  My contact information is as follows. 
Wilsons' Fine Foods
Box 940  Ear Falls   ON
P0V 1T0
Phone (807)222-1080
Fax   (807)222-1082
email: dave.grocer@shaw.ca
cell  (807)728-1487
home  (807)222-3588
As I said we are willing to assist you and your customers in any way possible to make their stay the absolute best experience.  Just by way of information, we do offer to put the orders together if they want to fax or email the order ahead and then all they need to do is stop and pick it up. 
All the best for the upcoming season. 
Dave "
So you could have your groceries packed and waiting for you at Wilson's and just pick up your order on your way through town. Forty minutes later you are at the dock in Red Lake, ready to head to camp.
I asked Dave if he would be willing to open up early Sunday if someone needed to pick up their order then and he said sure, just call him on his cell or at home.
Dave, we applaud your dedication to service!
To be fair, I think you better let him know ahead of time how early you intend to be there. The earliest the Lickety Split can pick you up is 9 a.m. so you really don't need to pick up your groceries any earlier than about 8 a.m.
That is a great option for housekeeping guests arriving early Sunday.  The supermarket in Red Lake doesn't open until 10 a.m. on Sunday.
You could spend Saturday evening at an Ear Falls motel too. There is the Trillium Motel (807)-222-3126 or e-mail: trillium-motel@hotmail.com

 Just as with Red Lake motels, make your reservations now. These places are very busy, not only with fishermen but with construction workers and mining exploration outfits.
Click to go back to our website 
Click to see the latest on the blog

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Cutting firewood draws an appreciative audience

No sooner do I fell a birch for firewood than I spot a deer approaching
There are five whitetail deer browsing here on the branches of trees I've cut
No sooner did I cut down my first tree for firewood than I spotted a whitetail deer approaching. Within a couple of hours there were a bunch on hand.
The deer are eager to nibble the ends of the branches. Now that it's April, they are nearly at the end of their long winter's fast and are desperate for new food.
As soon as I turn off the chainsaw they come right out of the trees and start feeding, all the while watching me intently to see if I mean them harm.
I've learned that talking seems to calm their fears; so, as I slide out the wood on my snow scoop-toboggan I usually quietly keep up a conversation, albeit a one-sided one.
In the past when I was cutting down dead balsam trees that were loaded with Old Man's Beard lichen -- a particular treat for deer -- I was sometimes startled to look up after making the final backcut that would send the tree toppling to see a deer right in the way of the falling tree. They always got out of the way in time. For more about Old Man's Beard, see Moose and Deer Lichen These
It's a great feeling to have wild creatures so near and not fearing me.
They do the same thing with Sam, our chocolate Lab. We trained Sam not to take interest in the deer and he almost never does. Sometimes, however, he is laying on the step when a couple of deer come around the side of the house into his view. He then lets out a couple of barks which sends the deer flying away -- for about three bounds. They then stop and seemingly realizing it is just Sam, relax again and go back to feeding.
Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Thursday, April 4, 2013

How to use snow scoops to haul firewood

Two snow scoops make a tandem-toboggan for hauling firewood
I decided to take advantage of the late spring by cutting firewood on "the back forty" and sliding it out on the snow to our house.
Years ago I discovered this system to transport the wood. It uses two snow scoops that are tied together as shown in the photos.
Base of one handle is tied to handgrip of other
I've never found a better method to move lengths of wood by hand. It beats toboggans which don't carry more than a single log at a time and tip over easily, and sleds whose runners always sink into the snow.
It is best to pull out standing dry wood in this manner because it weighs so much less. You can really heap the scoops with such wood.
Here I am pulling out green birch which is exceedingly heavy. I can only move a few lengths of these bruisers at a time.  Fortunately, most of the trip to the clearing where our house is located is downhill.
For dry wood I would haul eight-foot lengths. For green birch, I haul six-footers.
Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Angler already catches big one in Green Bay

Jeff Kinzenbaw just caught and released this 29 incher
Bow Narrows angler Jeff Kinzenbaw just sent me this photo and e-mail.
"I had to send you this picture!  I do believe it is the heaviest walleye I've ever caught. (had a few that were longer) We've been fishing pre-spawn walleye in one of the rivers here near Green Bay WI and catching great fish about every outing.  This one was between 12-13lbs (I'm guessing) and right around 29" long.  She was promptly released after a quick photo!"
What a beauty, Jeff!
What I would like to know is, did you catch her through the ice or is there open water there already?
There will be no problem to ice fish up here until the end of the season, April 15. Last year people were boat fishing by that point.
Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Monday, April 1, 2013

Which fish species are the oldest?

Lake Agassiz
This map from Saint John's University shows the boundaries of ancient Lake Agassiz, a pro-glacial lake that covered large portions of North America, including Red Lake,  soon after the ice age, 12,000 years ago.
This is recent history -- there were people here then, for instance.
There were probably many lakes that formed as the Ice Age came to an end. They would have created temporary inland seas, only to disappear when ice dams finally melted through at low points. Wherever there is clay soil, there once was one of these lakes. The clay is just the sediment at the bottom of such a lake.
As the SJ site points out, the fish found throughout this entire area tells you the kind of fish there were back then. They just got trapped into smaller lakes as the glaciers retreated northward and eventually disappeared.
The native larger fish in Lake Agassiz were: northern pike, lake trout, whitefish, goldeye and lake sturgeon.
But notice the land around Lake Superior that was not part of Lake Agassiz. This area is just higher. Fish in lakes in this area would have got there from an even larger and earlier post glacial lake. I know from previous research that fish native to these highlands of the Lake Superior watershed are: northern pike, whitefish and lake trout.
So they were actually here first. They are the oldest.
All other species in the Lake Superior watershed have either swam up the Great Lakes from the south or have been purposely introduced. Walleye is an example. There are walleye in Lake Superior but for any other lake that drains into it, there had to be a direct, navigable link for walleye to be there naturally.
In the Thunder Bay area, walleye introductions began very recently, starting in the 1940s. Mostly the Ministry of Natural Resources took adult walleye from Lake Superior and released them into a suitable lake. Within about 10 years there was a self-sustaining walleye population. In most cases, the walleye have all but wiped out the whitefish in these lakes.
Click to go back to our website
 Click to see the latest on the blog