Friday, August 29, 2014

Stopping greased lightning for a photo

Photographing a mink is like trying to guess where and when the next lightning bolt will appear. No sooner do you find the animal in the viewfinder than it is gone. Then it pops up somewhere else only to disappear again a split-second later.
So this great photo of a mink by Lonnie Boyer is really exceptional. It is a wonderful shot of one of Nature's truly hyperactive creatures.
Lonnie took this photo while fishing at Bow Narrows Camp in July.
Mink are the smallest aquatic member of the weasel family. They are usually seen "flowing" in and out of logs and rocks along the shoreline as they hunt mice, crayfish, fish and clams.
They are probably the least-seen of the aquatic mammals. Beavers, otters and muskrats are all more noticeable.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Berries are a sure sign of autumn



Blue-bead lily or Clintonia berries

I took a short walk through the bush the other day and saw all of these berries in short order.
The days are cooling off now but are still in the low 20s C (70s F). The nights are gloriously cool, perfect for sleeping. We had a couple of cold, misty days last week that resulted in a lot of fires being stoked in the cabins' wood-burning stoves. I even lit one once in the lodge. Mostly I find that the addition or subtraction of clothing is all it takes to be comfortable. It's nice sometimes to put on a warm sweater and breathe the cooler-than-normal air.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Fishing Etiquette 101 - Distance Between Boats

Bow Narrows angler Troy Downs' shirt says it all
If there is one beef about other anglers that we hear from our guests, it is that someone else crowded-in on them while they were fishing.
Last week a man and woman fishing in one of our camp boats had just caught and released a nice walleye when suddenly one of the Fall Walleye Classic boats "pre-fishing" before next weekend's tournament roared right up alongside. Although such boorish behaviour is legal during the tournament (you just can't hit the other boat), it is a thoughtless, obnoxious act when it is perpetrated upon someone who is just fishing for recreation two weeks before the tournament.
Two years ago I was nearly swamped by a tournament pre-fishing boat as it did donuts at low speed around me. The boat's five occupants had their eyes glued to multiple fish-finders to see if I had revealed to them some secret honey-hole. They cared nothing about the huge wake they created or that me and my dog, Sam, were holding on for our lives.
Just like the couple, I fired up my motor and headed back to camp. This isn't what fishing is supposed to be about. I am not always so easy-going.
Once I was fishing by myself on a still evening and could hear a boat coming far off in the distance as it crossed a large bay. Eventually I heard it enter the narrows and finally turn into the long bay where I was floating, jigging quietly for walleye.  Mine was the only boat in the entire mile-long bay. The boat, which was from another camp, had two occupants. It had nearly gone by my location when I was obviously spotted. It did a 90-degree turn and, to my astonishment, stopped 15 yards away. The two anglers had just commenced to fish when I switched to a large red-and-white spoon and cast right into the middle of their boat.
"Are you nuts?" one of the red-faced anglers asked.
"Sorry. I'm just not good at SHORT casts," I thundered.
They left.
Obviously, they were driving around the lake looking for someone to fish beside, the same as the pre-fishing tournament boats did to me and to the couple.
This is rude, unacceptable behaviour.
Fishing is a meditative, spiritual exercise for most anglers. They like to be left alone. We should all respect that.
I have been asking our anglers this summer what they think the minimum distance between boats should be. The answer is 50 yards unless the other boat's occupants are someone you know.
 I would agree with a couple of caveats: unique fishing spots such as below a rapids can't be claimed by just one boat; and, during the exact day of a tournament, it is unrealistic to expect tournament anglers fishing for money to respect anything else.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Kirchenoberstorte, more than a mouthful

Cook Sophie Kurucz just gets bored making the usual desserts and so, from time to time, tries something unusual. Enter Kirchenoberstorte, a cherry, custard, layered chocolate cake covered in whipped cream.
It was delicious, absolutely delicious, but took an entire afternoon to make. It was just too much. So strike Kirchenoberstorte from the future menu.
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Friday, August 22, 2014

Ursus americanus crosses the narrows

This black bear (Ursus americanus) was caught on camera by angler Bob Preuss today as it swam across a narrows in Red Lake near Bow Narrows Camp.
As the second photo shows, Mr. Bear lost no time getting back on dry land and out of sight.
We're still seeing about equal numbers of bears and moose. Normally moose sightings would far outnumber bear.
Although bear numbers are up and moose down all over Northwestern Ontario, there were lots of moose last summer and the scarcity of sightings this year are probably more to do with the weather than with drastic population changes.
It has been wonderfully dry which has eliminated most of the biting insects that can send moose streaming to the lake for relief. It also has been cool at night and warm-but-seldom-hot in the day. Again, moose are more inclined to stay in the shade in such weather and not come all the way out to the lake. In very hot temperatures moose will spend most of the day right in the water.
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

There are now assists on every dock

BNC staffer Brad Donovan holds assist that was pre-fabbed on shore

Assist is pushed under side stringer and lifted until bottom brace meets bottom of decking

Top brace is attached and bolted through decking to brace below.

Close-up shows bracing above and below deck

Finished product. A second assist was added to left side of dock
We succeeded in installing dock-assists on all the crib docks this summer making these handy devices available now to all guests in every cabin.
The dock-assists and dock tying rings are positioned so that when the boat is tied up, boaters can step onto a seat in the boat and, holding the uprights in each hand, pull themselves up onto the dock.
They have been universally welcomed by everyone, even those who don't have knee, hip or back problems although the latter group is who we were trying to help out.
We made them for all the floating docks last year and it took some head-scratching to invent ones for the crib docks this summer.
The photos show how we accomplished it. By bracing the assists both under the dock and from above, they are super-solid.
Although the bracing does extend onto the walkway of the dock, no one seems to stumble over them, even when the braces from assists on both sides leave only a foot or so of room in the middle.
These crib docks are four-feet wide, decked with rough-sawn, two-inch planks and with log (jackpine) stringers.
We used conventional two-inch pressure treated lumber for the assists, 5/15 lag screws for fastening the units together and 3/8-inch bolts to tie the top braces through the dock decking to the bottom bracing. The assists are also fastened to the log stringers using 5/16 lag screws.
I would estimate each assist took two hours to build and install and cost $60-$70 in materials.
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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Another day comes to a glorious end

Bow Narrows angler Dean Matzke snapped this awesome photo of a Red Lake sunset. It's worth staying out on the lake until the sun goes down each evening just to see the show.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Brothers do great on the big walleye

Nathan Manni caught and released this impressive 27.5-inch walleye (top) while his brother Josh placed a close second with a 26.5-incher.
The two boys were here two weeks ago with mom Amy, dad Scott and grandfather Tom.
As usual, they caught a ton of walleye.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Music to cook fish by

Father and son, Gary and Jeff Barg of Wisconsin, fired up their bagpipes to entertain the rest of the group who were cooking supper outdoors.
This marks only the second time the pipes have been heard in camp. Our oldest son, Matt, also plays the pipes and had them here years ago.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Excitement in the sky yesterday

This Ministry of Natural Resources water bomber made a half-dozen bombing runs on Brigitte Lake yesterday. It may just have been a practise exercise as we saw no signs of smoke.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Great summer for topwater pike fishing

Live Target Walking Frog took this nice northern pike
Zara Spook Junior also works well. Note the calm water when we use topwaters.
I've had the best time this summer using topwater lures for northern pike.
I usually only get a chance to go fishing after supper and this turns out to be the ideal time for using surface plugs. The wind is calm and the lake is usually like glass.
Although it has taken me several years to get the hang of using the Live Target Walking Frog, it is now my all-time favorite pike bait. The key, I've found, is not to use a steel leader. Instead I use a smaller snap-swivel. This change seems to have made all the difference.
You fish this lure by twitching your rod, reeling up the slack and twitching again. You can do this very rapidly, making the lure hop left and right all the way back to the boat.
Pike often come sailing completely out of the water when they strike the frog. Although they frequently miss the lure altogether, I've learned not to set the hook when I see them airborne because in some instances, they grab the bait on the way back down.
Without a doubt, I would rank the Live Target Walking Frog as the absolute best top-water bait for northern pike.
A near second, however, is the Zara Spook and Spook Junior. I've had good luck especially with the Junior, a smaller version of the Spook.
I've also caught pike this summer on Live Target's rubber frogs but they don't work nearly as well as the hard-bodied Walking Frog. As I have mentioned before, I always turn the double-hook on the rubber frogs downwards because pike virtually never get caught with up-turned hooks.
I use all these top-water baits anywhere there are weeds along the shoreline. It seems they produce the best when you pop them along very briskly.
Brad Donovan, our outside worker this summer, caught a 34-inch pike on the Walking Frog. Alas, I had forgotten my camera!
We have caught a bunch of nice pike on the Frog. In fact, it may appeal especially to larger fish.
It is such a thrill to see pike sailing through the air, doing back-flips and swirling at the topwaters that it is difficult to use conventional below-surface lures again. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hey! That's no walleye!

It's a sauger, a close cousin of the walleye.
Bow Narrows angler Paul Styve recognized it right away when he caught this one near camp last week. Saugers have a mottled pattern to their backs and most importantly, don't have any white showing on their tail fins as do walleyes.
They taste the same as walleye and are counted as part of your walleye limit. Paul released this one.
We only catch a few sauger each summer; however, if you went ice fishing on Red Lake you would catch many more. They bite especially well in the winter.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Photographer has an eye for wildlife

Lonnie Boyer snapped this shot of a female goldeneye duck with one duckling.
Lonnie left camp just a week ago. The tiny size of the duckling is a comment on the late spring we had here at Red Lake. The ice didn't melt until May 20, I believe. As a result all sorts of wild things that hinge on ice-out are either later than normal or, in this case, smaller.
The fact the hen only had one offspring is also unusual. These ducks would normally have 7-10 young ones. Mind you, tiny ducklings look mighty tasty to northern pike!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Lots of bears seen and fewer moose

Black bear swims near Bow Narrows Camp
Who is that masked perch fisherman? It's Foster Lundy!
Michelle Lundy snapped this photo of a black bear swimming in Red Lake. It is probably the sixth bear sighting our guests have reported.  That is probably about normal. What is abnormal, however, is the lack of moose sightings. So far we have only seen a handful. Normally moose sightings far outnumber bears.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The beat goes on for big fish

Jane Bechtel struggles with 43-inch northern pike
Troy Bechtel shows off large golden-hued walleye

HI Dan 
Here are a few pictures from our trip.  I have to say I caught the biggest fish I have ever caught in my life!  Wow! 29" Walleye and 43"Northern.  
Jane Bechtel