Sunday, July 5, 2015

A fishing trip with the boys

It was Isaac Tronrud's first trip

Our dog Cork had the time of his life too

Adam and Isaac Tronrud and Myles Longsdorf meet a three-foot garter snake

There was time for solitude too. Photos by Mike Tronrud
Dads Jon Longsdorf and Mike Tronrud brought their boys fishing and everybody had a ball, including camp dog Cork who must have lost 10 pounds playing football with the kids, swimming and retrieving.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Loons are starting to hatch

Photos by Doug Billings

Notice distance from water's edge

Doug Billings
Bow Narrows angler/photographer Doug Billings snapped these great shots of a loon on the nest a few days ago. Yesterday a couple of other anglers reported seeing the first loon chicks riding on the backs of their parents.
There should be a good hatch of young loons this year as the water level has stayed relatively constant.
Doug's second shot of the loon nest shows its distance from the water. That is about as far away as you ever see them. Many times the nest is only inches above the water line. Rising water levels can wash the nest away but that didn't happen this year.
The last shot shows Doug as he prepared to board the Lickety Split in town at the start of his week. Notice the small amount of gear he brought. I believe Doug gets our Lightest Traveler of the Year Award! I don't believe his luggage weighed more than 60 pounds.
By comparison, we have had guests who brought six times this much. They would be quick to point out that they were doing their own cooking while Doug ate in the dining room on the American Plan. If that was indeed the difference, then they are telling us they consumed 50 pounds of food and drink each day!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Fids are all bitin' gud

"Hey, Dan! How are the fish biting?"
All da fids are bitin' gud.
I said all da fids are bitin' gud.
"You sound funny. What are you saying?"
I can't tock creary cuz I'm midding a font toot.
"What? You sound really funny."
It's cuz I'm midding -- miffing -- a toot."
"Are you saying you're missing a toot?"
A toot! A toot! A font toot!
"Well, if that doesn't beat all! I knew people can be uncomfortable when they can't toot but you're the first I've met whose speech was affected by it!"
No, no. You don't get it. Da fids are all bitin' gud!
"Are fids those really ugly fish that taste like lobster? There's no limit on them, right? You know I've always wanted to catch some of those. And they're biting good, you say. Where?"
No, no! Fissssss! You know, waweyes.
"Are you saying the fids are biting in Wawa? That's got to be 500 miles from here!"
It's da toot.
"Here we go again. I'm telling you, just let it out."
I can't pownounc -- I can't enunciate, ENUNCIATE! I can say ENUNCIATE!
"Good for you."
Pike are bitin' gud and so are da waw -- no, pickerrrrel. You know pickerrrrel?
 "No. Are they related to fids?"
Uh uh. Wook, what do you want to catch?
"I was hoping to get a mess of walleyes, as well as some pike."
"They're biting?
"Well that's what I wanted to know. I'm going to try for some of those fids too."

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Big pike, lots of walleyes being caught

Jon Mueller

Denny Burich

Ron Kucko
Fishing has been tremendous as evidenced by these photos of this long-time group from the River Falls, Wis., area.
Everyone is pleased to see a variety of sizes on the walleye, from itty-bitty ones up to 28-inchers.
The weather has also been wonderful with most days seeing highs in the low 20s C (70s F). The best fishing days have been those with a good breeze.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

First smallie of the year

Smallmouths are not native to Red Lake but are increasinly showing up in the catch
Smallmouth bass are an invasive species in Red Lake and there have only been a few caught at our camp; however, we already got one this season.
Paul Stowick caught this bass a couple of days ago.
We got our first bass about 10 years ago. From that point on we got about one a season until last year when we caught four.
How did the bass get in Red Lake if they are not native here?
The usual answer -- people.
It's always a bad idea to release a new species into an ecosystem and we would just as soon not have the newcomer bass. The reason is the new species will eventually displace a native one. In this case, probably walleye. Red Lake, however, has an exceedingly healthy walleye population and it might take a hundred years for smallmouths to claim a niche.
Bass are lots of fun to catch but not as good eating as walleye. There are lots of great smallmouth lakes now between Red Lake and the Minnesota border but not as many great walleye lakes any more. The Gullrock-Red Lake water system is still profoundly walleye and northern pike.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

How are the minnows?

Do you like being angry? Peeved? Outraged? Perturbed?
How about disappointed? Miffed? Forlorn? Helpless?
Do you like to swear a blue streak? Say bad words? Cuss? Get red in the face?
Is blame your game? Do you like to find fault with others? Feel the world is out of your control?
Then you probably fish with minnows.
These tiny fish are sure to let you down, whatever your expectations.
For starters, they'll die at the drop of a hat. At the slightest variation in temperature or oxygen content, even a cross word or a dirty look and they will turn fins up.
But then, you already knew that. That's why you bought more than you needed. You needed a dozen so you bought four times that number. Three dozen were floaters before you could even wet a line.
Oh well, there goes $15.
Now's the time to figure out why they died. Were you sold old minnows? Was that really oxygen they put in the bag? Did Obama have something to do with it?
When everyone was unloading the boat at camp, when there was a ton of duffel bags, rods and tackle boxes, totes of canned goods, heavy ice-laden coolers, cases of pop and beer to manhandle up the hill and into the cabin, where were you? Looking for minnow pails and slowly pouring out the contents of flimsy plastic bags?
Did you finally finish just after the others carried all your stuff?
Did someone ask, "How are the minnows?"
And was the news grim?
You need more minnows!
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Best week in more than 40 years

Don Ballinger


Audience while fishing

Ray Gildersleeve


The pike are really hefty
Ray Gildersleeve and Don Ballinger have been coming to Bow Narrows Camp for more than 40 years. I say that to give relevance to their statement yesterday that this was their best trip ever.
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Friday, June 5, 2015

Biggest walleye, biggest pike, best sky

Angler Terry Kopecky has been coming to Bow Narrows Camp for years but this year got her biggest walleye and northern pike ever. She also shot this photo of the dramatic clouds we have had the last few evenings.
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The 'Moose Club' is at it again

Bob Preuss

Doug Oslund

Duane Gudknecht
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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Wildlife seen while fishing

Moose photos by Bob Preuss

Calf No. 1

Second calf
Jenilee Peterson photo
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In a nutshell, everything's biting

Ross Peterson

Jenilee Peterson

Amy Smith

Troy Hanson and Amy Smith
Our anglers are catching fish like crazy and I just haven't had a chance to write about it.
I'm just going to post a bunch of photos in the coming days and hope each tells their own story.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Two for one on Rapalas

Photos by Matt Andrews

Angler John Andrews had a surprise waiting for him when he reeled in this 37-inch pike a day or so ago. It was caught on the front treble of his blue-and-white Rapala and on the rear treble was a small walleye!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The beat of a different drummer

Dave Myers photo
Bow Narrows angler Dave Myers got this great photo of a ruffed grouse drumming behind one of the cabins last week.
The walleyes are beginning to turn on as the water rapidly warms with the 26 C days (80 F) we've had this week. They would bite better if there was also some cloud or wind. Lots of big pike being caught and released. It seems the lakers have moved to deeper water now.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Season begins with gorgeous weather

Our first official week started yesterday with summer like temps and sunny skies. It is expected to stay that way for the next week.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Fish are biting again

Our group of anglers got some nice pike yesterday. The weather looks great from here on. It has been frosty at night but the days are sunny and warm with light northerly winds. Next week, our official opener, should be perfect.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

It was like a winter hurricane

Sunday and Monday were the two coldest days I can remember at camp.
It wasn't just the below-freezing temps but the wind that made it feel far colder. I heard that we had gusts of up to 90 km-h and sustained winds of about 50 km-h. It felt like the windows would break at any moment.
Water lines froze and quite a few trees came down. We had minor damage to one dock. Our protected location saved us. Others around the lake weren't as lucky. We know of boats that were sunk at the dock and docks that were badly damaged.
It rained buckets on Sunday turning to freezing rain as the day went on. On Monday we got a bit of snow, just missing the area that got nearly a foot, 100 kms to the north.
Our two cabins of guests never even came outside until Tuesday when it turned back to calm and sunny. When they went fishing they discovered the lake was as muddy as the Mississippi and the fish not biting. The forecast for the remainder of the week is for continued calm weather and sunny skies. By our official opener on Saturday it is expected to be about 20 C.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Thank goodness you're not here

After two consecutive years when the ice was not off the lake before we started our fishing season, we decided this year to open one week later. So next Saturday will be the start of our first full week of operation. What a smart idea that has proven to be, even though ice-out actually happened May 6.
Although yesterday was beautiful with highs near 20 C, the temperature has fallen dramatically all day today, Sunday, and at noon stood at 0.7 C or just a hair above freezing. It also has been raining buckets and there is a 30-50 km-h (18-30 mph) east wind. And that's the good news. Tomorrow it is supposed to snow up to 10 centimeters (four inches).
As it turned out we actually do have two cabins filled with guests. They were people scheduled next week and who, at the last minute, needed to move to another week. Since the ice was off, we took them a week early. They got out fishing yesterday but not today and won't likely get out tomorrow either.
Everybody, including ourselves, are currently hunkered down around the wood stove while the waves are making whitecaps even in our protected narrows and the rain is coming down in sheets sideways.
The weather is expected to smarten-up on Tuesday and the temperature should climb continuously throughout the week until it is back to normal by next Saturday, our actual opening day.
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Thursday, May 14, 2015

We are in camp and very busy

We came into camp by boat last Saturday with the staff.
We had a couple of warm afternoons since then but it has been below freezing many nights. Today was cold and wet.
We got the water plant operating on Wednesday. It is such a high-tech facility that it needs to be started by an expert from Kenora.
The lake level is low for this time of year. It is more like the level late in the summer. The trees are beginning to leaf-out -- a result of the warm weather that occurred before we arrived. There were some black flies on the warm afternoons, otherwise it has been too cold for bugs.
We spent one day cutting firewood and another bringing out new boats and motors from town.
So far I've only succeeded in getting the water running into the lodge and one cabin. Lots to do and not enough time to do it -- typical for this time of year.
All three of our staff are new this year and are quickly learning the ropes. They are all from Sault College in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.  They are hard workers and hoping to pay for their college year with their earnings and tips from camp.  Brenda and I visited their school last winter and tried to impress on the students there that outdoor tourism is one way to make a good living in the bush. Today was a good example of their work ethic; it was only a few degrees above freezing and rained the entire day. No matter, they just put on their rain gear and carried on, cleaning cabins and getting boats ready for the guests.
We have not operated the generator much for lack of fuel. I got a boat-load of it yesterday and we should have the power on 24 hours a day from this point forward. When the generator was off our telephone didn't work, of course. I mention this in case you called and wondered why you couldn't get through. There is a message service, however. The phone should work from now on.
Our only phone number now: 807-727-0439. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

It is dry; take care with ashes, cigarettes

Barbecue and wood stove ashes go here
A common question in the summer is where should a person dump the ashes from their barbecues?
We have a couple of galvanized garbage cans tied to trees at each end of camp just for this purpose.
This is a safe way to dispose of what could be a source of ignition for a forest fire.
Another source of ashes are the wood-burning stoves in all the cabins. It is best if you ask a staff member to remove these as it takes a metal pail and shovel to accomplish the task. We will put them in the same ash disposal garbage cans.
Incidentally, it is not necessary to remove the ashes from the wood burning stoves daily. Once a week will do it when the stove is being used continuously.
It has been a gloriously warm, dry spring so far and therefore the forest fire danger is quite high.
Smokers are going to need to take extra care with their cigarette butts. Proper protocol in the Boreal Forest is to always sit down on mineralized soil, like clay or sand or rock when having a smoke outdoors. Butts should be placed in a metal container, like a can. It's also smart to pull the butt apart.
Think of it as smoking in a vast sea of fuel. You need to be very careful.
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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Summer-time creatures are on the move

Mating ball of red-sided garter snakes
The warmer-than-normal temperatures at this time of year have meant we are seeing lots of summer birds already and other creatures that usually take awhile to show up.
I recently spotted this mating ball of red-sided garter snakes, basically Northwestern Ontario's only snake species. Only the border area between Minnesota and Ontario has another species -- the red-bellied snake, an equally harmless reptile.
Northwestern Ontario marks the eastern boundary of the red-sided garter. It exists from there all the way west to British Columbia.
A common size is about two feet but they can get as long as three feet. I repeat that they are harmless, non-poisonous snakes. They primarily eat frogs and toads but also catch mice, including the bane of every cottager and camper -- the whitefooted deer mouse.
We see them from time to time around the edge of the yard at camp. They are good swimmers and you sometimes also catch them crossing a small bay or narrows. They are poor climbers.
People seem to have an instinctive fear of all snakes but there is absolutely no reason to be afraid of garter snakes. The irrational fear of snakes is called ophidiophobia. I would bet that more people are afflicted from this condition than any other phobia. In some cases people need to seek counseling to help them deal with this fear. But for most, they just go through life saying, "I just hate snakes. I don't know why!"
I would like to suggest an alternative. We only actually fear one thing  -- the unknown. If you want to conquer your fears and I think everyone does want that, then you need to learn all about the object of  your fear. In this case, look up garter snakes in a book or on-line. They are a pretty neat animal. For instance, can you believe they travel up to 20 kilometers (12 miles) from their denning sites to their summer range and then do the same thing in reverse in the fall?
How do they find their way? How do they survive the winter? How long do they live? Since they aren't poisonous, how do they defend themselves? What are their predators? How do they give birth?
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