Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Greatest fishing story ever told, Part Three

This is the final of what I consider the three greatest fishing stories I have ever heard.
This one actually predates our coming to Red Lake in 1961. It was told to me by my father about his uncle, Bill Baughman, who owned and operated Rainbow Lodge on the Pickerel River in Eastern Ontario.
"We're not going fishing!" said Bill to his friend who looked up at him with surprise. They were both carrying their tackle boxes and fishing rods and had just walked down to the dock from the lodge.
"Why not?" his friend asked.
Bill pointed to the boat, or rather to what was lying beneath it. A gigantic musky was suspended in the shade. Its magnificent tail was right under the outboard's propeller and its head was all the way up under the front seat.
Muskies were a common fish in the river in those days, probably in the 1940s, but this was a whopper among whoppers.
One look at the big fish had made their plans to fish for walleye that day vanish. Nothing would do now but to try for the behemoth.
They both opened up their steel tackle boxes and selected a lure. Bill clipped onto his steel leader his favorite northern pike lure, the Jointed Pikie Minnow. His friend tried a Pflueger Tandem Spinner.
They stood on the shore so as not to make noise on the dock and cast their lures beyond the boat. They reeled their lures right beside the big fish which, except for a slow waving of its fins to maintain its position, was motionless.
There was no reaction to either lure. Not on the first cast, not on the second nor the third.
So they switched lures. Bill put on a yellow Flatfish with red spots. His friend tried a red-and-white Dardevle. Three more casts and still nothing from the musky.
Out came the Hofschneider Red-Eye and the Heddon Jitter Bug.
And so on and so forth until they had tried every lure there was in the two tackle boxes.
The musky could have been asleep for all they could tell. It hadn't moved an inch.
The dock was supported by cribs made of peeled logs and filled with rocks and Bill had noticed that on the side of the crib closest to the shore a little rock bass was peering out from between the logs.
He had an idea. He turned over rocks and logs along the shoreline until he found what he was looking for: a worm. Rock bass love worms and although it is illegal today to use rock bass for bait, back then nobody cared. And even if they did Bill was going to try it anyway! He put on a snelled hook and threaded on the worm, then lowered the wiggler right down beside the crib, pleading for the rock bass to leave its shelter for just a second.
It worked! The rotund little panfish shot out and inhaled the worm. Just then a smallmouth bass bolted out of the rocks along the shore and grabbed the rock bass. From out of nowhere came a northern pike and grabbed the bass.
And, with a speed that can only be compared to lightning, the musky whirled out from under the boat and grabbed the northern pike.
In mere seconds it had stripped all the line off the reel, reached the knot at the end, broke the line and was never seen again.

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

Monday, January 30, 2012

Greatest fishing story ever told, Part Two

The year was 1961, the first that my parents had taken over Bow Narrows Camp.
There were few people other than my parents and me at the west end of the lake, and that included customers. My Dad spent most of his time fixing up the old cabins and my Mom and I would often go fishing by ourselves.
Most of the outboard motors that had come as part of the purchase of the camp were 10-year-old-or-older models. These old motors had been produced before the invention of the gear shifter. When you started the motor it immediately propelled the boat forward. If you pushed the throttle lever a bit too far on start-up, the boat shot out from underneath you and you were pitched over the back into the water. It was quite a dangerous operation for a 7-year-old kid and his mom who was new to living in the wilderness.
So we opted to just paddle a boat that had no motor. We didn't need to go any farther than the other side of the narrows anyway; the northern pike were so thick in the lake back then you could almost walk on them.
There is a small island at the entrance to a small bay across from camp. Mom cast her Dardevle up beside a deadhead in the water there and immediately a fish started pulling out her line. Her old Pflueger Summit reel didn't have a drag, no bait casting reel did back then. So she thumbed the braided Dacron line trying to slow down what was obviously a big, big fish.
It went behind the island right into the little bay. Mom couldn't stop it without freezing on the reel; she just had to let it keep taking line, right to the knot at the arbor.
The boat then started moving toward the little bay -- the fish was towing us!
We were excited beyond belief. We yelled and screamed for my dad to come help but he was busy mowing the grass with the old Lawnboy mower he had brought with him to Red Lake from our cabin on the Pickerel River in Eastern Ontario.
Mom was wedged into the bow holding onto her rod for dear life and the boat was moving at a pretty good clip. The fish had turned away from the little bay and headed toward the deep side of the island.
This cedar-strip boat wasn't exactly like the boats we have today. It was a 16-foot Nipissing and resembled a square-stern canoe more than today's wide aluminum boats.
It took about 10 minutes before the fish had taken us a complete turn around the island and the fish had run right back to where Mom first hooked it. She slowly reeled in her line, pulling the boat right up to where the fish lay in a few feet of water.
It was enormous, at least five feet long and eight inches thick across the back.
It had wrapped the line right around the deadhead.
"Grab my line and unwrap it," said my Mom.
I did as she said but made sure my hands never went into the water. In fact I never took my eyes off this monstrous fish for fear it would grab me and pull me overboard.
Once free, the fish took off for the little bay, stripping off line just like before.
Again we screamed. Again my Dad couldn't hear us.
And again the fish towed the boat completely around the island and right back into the same log.
"This time," said my Mom, "pull the log into the boat when you unwrap the line.''
I unwrapped the line and grabbed the log and we were probably half-way around the island before I managed to pull the waterlogged deadhead over the stern and into the boat.
When the fish had finished its third tour of the island, it went right to where the log had been but of course, it wasn't there anymore. So instead it ran into a big tangle of logs at another spot on shore and this time, before I could get it out, it broke the line.
We paddled back to camp and hysterically told my Dad the entire saga, over and over. We still had the log in the boat. I'm sure he believed we had latched onto a big pike, but five-feet-long, 60 inches? That would have been a world record.
About a week later, Gus Forslin, the old commercial fisherman who once fished Red Lake, stopped his old inboard boat at the dock on his way back to town. He would go by camp at dawn to lift his whitefish nets up in Pipestone Bay.
"Just thought you'd be interested in something we saw," said Gus. "There was a really big musky sunning itself on the rock by the green buoy in front of camp this morning. It was the biggest fish I've ever seen."
THAT was our fish.
Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Greatest fishing story ever told, Part One

This and the next two blogs will recall what I consider the three greatest fishing stories I have ever heard. As you might imagine, in the 52 years my family has been in the sport fishing business, we've heard some pretty good tales.
One of them I know to be true and the other two I have no reason to believe are not true.
I will present them here in no particular order.
Greatest Fishing Story, Part One
The group who told me this story still comes to camp, in fact, a lot of the photos on this blog were generously donated by them.
As I recall it, they were fishing at camp later in the season, either late-August or September and discovered that northern pike that week were bonkers over white spinner baits. If you were fishing with a white spinner bait you caught fish, lots of fish and especially, big fish.
Fortunately, there were just enough white spinner baits among them for each person to fish with one.
They found one particular bay that had a narrow, shallow entrance that was a particularly great fish producer. There were four boats in the group, I believe, and all four boats went to this bay at the same time. They all stopped to fish the entrance because that is where they had done especially well the day before.
This day was no exception and the group caught several fish at the entrance. One of the anglers, however, had a fish break his line and probably his heart as well because it was the only white spinner bait he had. There was nothing to do but carry on with a different lure as the group moved farther back in the bay. Sure enough, everybody did well except the man without the white spinner bait.
Finally, it was time to head back to camp for supper. As the boats snaked their way back through the narrow entrance, the man without the spinner bait and his fishing partner saw a big fish jump not far from the shore. It sort of tail-walked on the surface, thrashing its head left and right. They saw something fling from the fish's mouth and land right next to the shoreline.
Never taking their eyes from the spot, they went to see what it was.
It was the white spinner bait!
Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Snowshoeing is an excellent way to keep fit

Brenda and I enjoy snowshoeing during the winter months and find it to be excellent exercise.
If you don't think this type of activity is much of a workout, then how come your muscles ache the first few times you try it?
Brenda uses modern-style snowshoes, quite short and narrow and with a solid plastic-like material between the wooden frames. They perform very well, supporting her above the snow and are easy to walk in.
Mine are traditional Chippewa-style shoes with rawhide webbing.
She also uses adjustable walking sticks that have little baskets near the tips, just like cross-country ski poles. I carry a single cedar staff which I don't really use for keeping my balance but which can be used as a prop to keep from sliding down steep hills.
We both find that we feel great when we snowshoe regularly.
Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Winter also shows Nature's subtle side

If the sky was a painting then the winter dawn would be done in water colours, all delicate shades and nuances. In summer, it would be painted in vivid acrylics.
Winter is often labelled as depressing, brutal, cold and dark, but it is also a time for noticing the little things.
I was snowshoeing yesterday and was struck by the fragrance of balsam fir and white cedar.
Likewise, I can pick up the smell of wood smoke from a neighbour's chimney a mile away.
These things would go unnoticed in the summer when the air is overwhelmed with the scent of flowers.
Also, in the summer a tree's limbs are obscured by leaves but now they stand revealed as a network of ever-finer branches.
It's like a circulatory system, I mused, thinking of the human body. Then it hit me; it IS the circulatory system, the tree's system, and it is shaped exactly like ours. It just works in the opposite direction, taking food from the leaves and storing it in the trunk and roots.
I knew that, I guess, but it took a walk in the winter to remind me.
We're not that much different, trees and us, at least so it seems in the winter dawn.

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dock or fishing spiders are nothing to fear

Dock or fishing spider
Spiders give a lot of people the "willies" and I've never understood why.
You would think the fact that spiders eat insects would make them and people natural allies.
The truth is we all only fear one thing and that is the unknown. Once we learn about something, it isn't fearful any more and can even be fascinating.
Take dock spiders, also known as fishing spiders.
By just about any standard, these are big spiders, with legspans of up to three inches. Their bodies are much smaller, perhaps just 3/4 inch.
They like to hang out under docks and in logs and driftwood at the water's edge.
They catch insects by running them down or lying in wait and pouncing on them. They can sense vibrations in the water surface that indicate prey. They may even go underwater to catch minnows. Air bubbles cling to their furry bodies and provide them with breathing oxygen.
The only web dock spiders build is to hold their young.
Dock spiders have excellent eyesight and almost always see you coming and hide. If you look carefully at a dock before you step on it or its gangplank, you might see a dock spider sunning itself. They scram below the boards as soon as they spot you moving.
Interestingly, they seem to recognize individual humans and can become "tame" for these people. A case in point, I've seen dock spiders that have learned to recognize our staffer who fills the gas tanks. This person comes down to the gas dock several times a day. He or she usually think it's neat to see the big spider and takes care not to harm it. The spider gradually becomes accustomed to this person and will continue sunning itself even while the tanks are being moved around a few feet away. However, when a different person comes down to the dock or one of the boats comes to pick up a tank, the spider is gone in a flash. In fact, most people probably have never seen a dock spider even though they are quite common.
Like all spiders, docks spiders have venom which they use to kill their prey. I have never heard of anyone being bitten by one but it's probably possible. You wouldn't want to pick one up, for instance. You could say the same about many wild creatures. They are neat to observe from a distance but treat them with respect.

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

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lime kiln last remnant of '26 Red Lake Gold Rush

Hall Bay Lime Kiln
As you fish along the shores and islands at the west end of Red Lake there is barely a trace any more of the hubbub of the 1926 Gold Rush, except for the old lime kiln on the side of Hall Bay.
Bow Narrows' angler Paul Stowick supplied this photo of his group at the kiln. Hey, who's taking the picture? Maybe the camera was on a tripod and the timer activated.
Made of concrete, fire brick and steel, the lime kiln stands like an old tombstone, no clue as to its origin, purpose or death.
It actually was in operation in 1948; so, it was one of the last parts of the west-end gold rush to operate. By that date all of the gold mines at the very west end of the lake such as May-Spires, Cole, West Red Lake and Miles, had ceased, to my knowledge. Several of them had burned down in a forest fire in the late '30s.
There were two gold mines that were accessed from Golden Arm still going then, but just barely. They were the Lake Rowan and Red Crest mines.
The real paydirt had been hit at the east end of the lake, where the town of Red Lake is now located. Just about everybody had pulled up stakes and moved there.
The lime kiln; however, was just being built in the late '40s. The mines at the east end of the lake such as the famous Howey Mine which was located between where Sobeys and the Legion are now needed lime for their operations. As far as I know, it was just for making concrete, not for the gold-milling process.
At Hall Bay, limestone would have been hauled to the kiln from a nearby pit, roasted, presumably using firewood as fuel, and the lime collected.
I have a newspaper article from 1948 stating that lime from the kiln had just been analyzed and was determined to be of good quality. There is no word about the kiln operation after that.
But something spectacular happened in 1948 that changed everything for Red Lake. A road was built to it. Up until that point everything had to come by water transportation from Hudson, near Sioux Lookout which was the closest rail terminus but was more than 100 miles away.
The fact the lime kiln faded into oblivion after that year would indicate that lime was simply hauled up the road by truck, probably a cheaper alternative to the Hall Bay operation and the water transportation needed to get the finished lime to town.
Another important thing happened in 1948, at least as far as we are concerned. Bow Narrows Camp was built!
Bill Stupack, one of the gold rush pioneers, a trapper, prospector and market hunter for the mines, could see that sport hunters and fishermen were likely to come to Red Lake with the creation of the road. He built four small cabins for them at the present location of Bow Narrows Camp.
A friend and fellow pioneer, Art Carlson, who had also supplied wild meat to the mines before the road was made and who as a carpenter and log-building maker had helped build many of the buildings for the mines and their workers, did the same thing on Douglas Lake which is the lake that feeds the stream at the end of Trout Bay. He called his camp Viking Island Lodge.
Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Is Red Lake the loon capital of the world?

Loon on nest by John Andrews
This awesome photo of a loon on its nest was taken last spring by John Andrews, one of our guests.
If there was a world competition for best photographers of loons, our fishermen would fill all the top spots.
Red Lake has pairs of loons literally at every turn. It is hard to fathom of any lake having more.
The loon is a beautiful subject, a study in black and white with riveting red eyes that apparently help it see in dark water.
Loons are the oldest birds in the world. Did you ever wonder why loons are the first birds in any bird book? It is because the birds are ordered chronologically, the oldest species first and the newest species at the end.
This photo shows the entire extent to which a loon ever goes on land. It builds its nest of water vegetation in a shallow cove, on a hump in the water or even just on a flat rock at the lake's edge.
When the chicks, usually two, hatch they immediately push themselves into the water and from that point on they are strictly aquatic, not touching land again until they too get old enough to build a nest.
Loons have a number of calls and behaviours that make them especially fascinating for humans.
I've learned what two of their calls mean. When they put their necks low in the water and make a long, repeating yodel, it is always in response to seeing another loon flying. When a loon makes the short call "kuk," it sees another loon on the water and wants it to come closer.
Loons with nests are fierce defenders of their territory, which is all the lake they can see. They will drive away other loons and will kill ducks, mergansers in particular, which either haven't gotten their flight feathers yet or are just more inclined to swim than fly. I've also seen a loon in a death battle with another loon, presumably an invader. This behaviour is probably an instinct to preserve food resources for the chicks. Merganser ducks, for instance, are fish eaters just like the loons are.
Loon nests are almost always in protected bays, at the entrances to marshy creeks and in sheltered coves on islands.
Loons out on the wide open water do not fight. They are probably unmated individuals who have no nesting territories. These "bachelors" form groups that can number a dozen or more and just party the summer away. They chase each other but don't fight, bounce up and down, hoot and holler and generally act irresponsibly, not unlike human adolescents.
The most dramatic loon event I have witnessed was a loon and a bald eagle fighting. The eagle would swoop down at the loon, I think to get its chick which I couldn't see but was probably hiding next to the adult. The loon would rear up out of water and strike at the eagle, trying to drive its dagger-like beak right into the big raptor. The eagle would flare away but would then wheel right around and attack again. They were still going at it when I drove out of sight on the Lickety Split.
Two of our guests witnessed something similar a few years later. Only this time the eagle ended up in the lake and a pair of loons tried to drown it by piling their bodies on top. Eventually the eagle was able to get out of the water enough, perhaps by using the loons as leverage, to get its immense wings clear of the lake and take off. It did not have any loon chicks in its talons.
Loons haven't survived for 65 million years by being milquetoasts.

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

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Nice to have some fresh fish in the winter

ice fishing Whitefish Lake, Ontario
Sam and I got a supper's worth of perch and small walleye earlier this week by ice fishing on Whitefish Lake near our home in Nolalu, ON.
The temperature was right around the freezing mark that day but then plunged to -20 C for a couple of nights.
You can see that the ice is a perfect blue color. It's about a foot thick which is far less than normal. There is almost no snow on the ice so there isn't anything to insulate it from freezing deeper should we get sustained cold temperatures.
Blue ice is the strongest kind of ice there is. There have been people driving trucks on the lake since the ice was only eight inches.
Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Thursday, January 12, 2012

We need to hear from people with reservations

It has now been a month since a letter was mailed to every group with reservations at camp next summer.
If you still are planning to come to camp, and you haven't been in contact with me, you need to e-mail or phone right away.
I am in the process of trying other ways to contact the reservation-makers such as by phone and e-mail. If these don't work I will have no choice but to take these groups out of our reservation book and post their cabins as open on the Availability list.
If you are a member of a group but not the contact person, make sure the contact person has notified me.
Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Make your own fishing lures this winter

You can make your own spinners, spoons and stick baits for a fraction of the cost by purchasing the components and assembling them yourself.
Hagen's fishing components company in South Dakota produces a great catalog of thousands of lure parts.
It also has an extensive YouTube video library and archived newsletters of how to do make each type of lure.
Although Hagen's sells many of its parts in bulk quantities, it also has a minimum purchasing system that only costs $1 more.
The company also has prism tape, a.k.a. holographic tape or reflecto tape that lets you change lure colors as easy as sticking on a piece of tape.
You can purchase hard-to-find hooks, paint, beads, leader wire, split ring pliers, crimping pliers and other tools needed to make top-quality lures.
Making your own lures is not only economical but fun as well and lets you customize your bait to the unique conditions of your lake.
For some items, like spinner blades, you can optimize savings if your whole group shares in the purchase.
Check it out yourself by ordering a catalog. The website is www.hagensfish.com
Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Sunday, January 8, 2012

How to catch walleye in the weeds

Potential walleye spot
Blackbird floats
If you were a minnow trying to live a long life, like maybe to 4, where would you choose to hang out? In the open where there's nothing between you and packs of marauding walleye and northern pike or hidden between clumps and stems of weeds which also, as it turns out, form the basis for all the food you, as a minnow, need?
It's a no-brainer, isn't it? even for a minnow-sized brain. Minnows like the weeds. And walleyes eat minnows!
Weedbeds are packed with all types of aquatic life, not only minnows but insects like dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, perch, rock bass, frogs, leeches and -- walleye and northern pike.
Most people know about the northern pike. Weedbeds are a favorite location for casting pike lures. Fewer people realize there are also lots of walleye in these spots.
Weedbeds are the supermarkets of the lake.
Yet fishing there, especially for walleye which are at the bottom of the maze of weeds, can be an exercise in futility.
If you try to troll crankbaits you are continuously reeling in to remove a weed from your lure.
If you try to troll with walleye spinners every part of the rig, from the sinker, to the knot, to the hook catches weeds.
You can do a little better by casting and jigging. You might be able to make a few jigs before hooking a weed, but you still catch bunches.
But there is one technique that lets you spend most of your time fishing and just a little extracting weeds. That is to use a slip bobber, a small jig and a leech.
Go to the farthest edge of the visible weedbed where the water is the deepest and then anchor 30 feet or so farther out yet. Pick a spot that is not secluded -- walleye likes lots of oxygen that comes from the wind aerating the water. A weedbed on the side of an exposed bay is good.
So is the entrance to a bay where the current carries the oxygenated water. The entrance to virtually every bay has a current. That's because there is almost always a creek that feeds into the bay somewhere.
A simple but effective rig is to use a small jig, say 1/16 oz, beneath a slip bobber. Always use a leech rather than a minnow or a worm. That is because these places are loaded with perch which have an uncanny knack for stealing minnows and worms but can't usually get the tough little leech off your hook.
If you haven't fished with a slip bobber before, they work like this: the first thing you do is put a tiny rubber stopper or small piece of string that comes with the bobber on your line. The line then feeds right down through a hollow quill at the top of the bobber and out another quill at the bottom. Beneath this tie on your small jig.
Move the stopper up your line to about a foot less than the depth of the water. So, if the lake is 12 feet deep, put the stopper 11 feet up your line.
The stopper is so small it just winds up with your line on your reel. You wind in all your line so that you just have the bobber and the jig beneath the rod tip. Then you cast the outfit to the spot you have picked in front of the weedline and the jig pulls the line down until the stopper hits the quill at the top of the bobber.
You can make very long casts with a slip bobber whereas with a red-and-white plastic clip-on bobber you must sling the bobber plus all your line and jig dangling beneath it.
The slip bobber will tell you if you have chosen the right depth to fish. If you placed the stopper too high up on your line, the bobber tips over because the jig hit the bottom and isn't making the bobber ride upright . If you fish too shallow the bobber floats along fine but you just don't catch anything. You want your jig and leech down near the bottom where the fish are, just not on it or you will catch weeds. So you will need to make a few practice attempts before figuring out the proper depth.
Use the wind, if there is any, to drift your bobber along, covering new territory. If the bobber stops moving but doesn't go under, you've hooked a weed. Pull the rig loose and if you think you've got a weed, bring it back in and remove it.
Fishing vertically, however, means your hook will move right past many of the weeds compared to pulling it horizontally and hooking all of them like when you are casting or trolling.
You will usually find the walleye are on the edge of the weedbed where the weeds are sparse and your bobber moves more or less unobstructed. Walleye are usually in the deepest part of the weeds although in windy conditions they might be much shallower. If there is a rockpile amid the weeds, fish up close to it.
You can also use the slip bobber technique to fish rocky shoals where there are no weeds but which are too uneven to troll and where you constantly hang up by standard bottom-bouncing a jig.
The slip bobber is a deadly way to fish. Give it a try on your trip to camp this summer.
Top photo by Bow Narrows Camp angler Bob Edwards.

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

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Buck deer shows wounds from fighting

gored deer
This is the first deer I have caught on camera this winter that has dropped its antlers and it appears to have other wounds to the head.
My guess is the wounds on the side of its head, lower than where the antlers were attached, came from the antlers of another buck. Perhaps it also lost its antlers in the fight.
Except for the goring to the head, the deer seemed otherwise unhurt.
Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wolves and coyotes stricken by mange

Northwestern Ontario coyote
Coyote with mange
This coyote, caught by my trail camera a couple of days ago, would seem to have mange. Note how thin its fur is and that there seems to be a bald spot behind the shoulders in the bottom photo.
Trappers in the Nolalu, Ontario, area have reported for years that wolves and coyotes commonly have mange, a highly contagious disease that is caused by parasitic mites.
This is the first case I've seen personally.
The loss of hair can be fatal to these animals since they don't have the insulation to fend off the cold.
Mange can spread to other animals, including dogs and horses. I know of one horse farm near us that years ago had many of its horses infected. The owners eventually discovered that coyotes and wolves were sneaking into the barn at night just to keep warm.
I've kept our dog, Sam, on his Revolution heartworm and tick medication throughout the winter, just because it is said to be effective at also preventing mange. There is no chance of his contacting heartworm or ticks in the winter here.
I would suspect that the explosion in the whitetail deer population caused by our ever-milder winters is at least partly to blame for the mange problem. The huge deer numbers support far more wolves and coyotes that prey on the deer. The increase in the predators mean they come into contact with each other more frequently.
In Northwestern Ontario coyotes are frequently called "brush wolves."

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

Monday, January 2, 2012

Single fisherman seeks other single fisherman

Are you a fisherman who would like to make a fishing trip to Canada but just don't have anyone to come fishing with you?
It's a common predicament.
I have often thought that it is harder to find a fishing partner than it is a spouse.
After all, a fishing partner has to be such a perfect match that you enjoy being stuck in the same boat with him for a week. Many married couples can't even do it!
At Bow Narrows Camp we have a fair number of single fishermen. Some just love fishing up here where the sport is at its best but don't have any friends who feel similarly. Some had always gone fishing with their dad or brother and then that person died or moved far away. Some are waiting and hoping that their sons or daughters will join them when they get old enough. Whatever the reason, they end up coming by themselves and although they have a good time they would be the first to tell you it would be more fun to share the experience with a buddy.
It's also easier to fish with a second person in the boat, someone to net your trophy, snap a photo of you releasing it and take turns running the outboard and dropping the anchor.
I suspect that the single fishermen who actually come to camp are just the tip of the iceberg.
There are probably many more who never get as far but would come if only they knew somebody.
Which brings me to this idea: Why not have a "matchmaking" service for anglers, a way that fishermen without partners can find other single fishermen?
In the 51 years that we've operated Bow Narrows Camp we have watched many thousands of fishermen interact and have a fairly good idea what makes two people compatible for the purposes of angling.
Some of it is just personal habits: Do you smoke? Drink alcohol and if so how much? Snore?
A lot more, however, are criteria that strictly have to do with fishing.
What species of fish do you prefer fishing for? Mostly walleye and some pike or all of one and none of the other?
How do you like to fish? Troll? Cast? Still-fish?
Do you use live or dead bait for fishing?
Do you release all your fish? Keep some fish for eating at camp but not take any home? Take some fish home but release all the big fish? Take home the maximum number and sizes allowed by law?
How do you feel about fishing in the rain? Snow? Wind? Hot days?
Would you go fishing before breakfast all the time, sometimes or never?
What is your preferred schedule for a fishing day?
How many years have you been fishing?
What would you do if your partner botches a netting job and the largest fish you've ever seen gets away?
On a scale of one-10, how much importance do you put on non-fishing experiences that occur while on a fishing trip such as seeing moose or bears or northern lights?
When you are fishing how much do you talk? As little as possible? Some of the time? Most of the time?
Do you prefer catching lots of fish, even if some of them are small, or to target only large fish even if it means catching fewer fish each day?
How often would you like to eat fish at camp?
How do you feel about fishing in the weeds? Fishing in the same area as other boats?
Answers to these questions would help single fishermen know if they might be compatible with another person. Do you have any other questions along these lines? If so, please leave your comments on the blog or send me an e-mail by writing to: fish@bownarrows.com
Depending on the reaction I get on this, I might go ahead with a formal questionnaire that I could e-mail single fishermen and then put similar folks in touch with each other.
If they lived relatively close to each other they might also be able to share the expense in traveling to Red Lake.
Readers and single fishermen, what are your thoughts on this?
Incidentally, the photo of the lone island on today's blog comes from Bow Narrows angler Ken Lehmann who has been visiting Bow Narrows Camp with a group of fellow anglers -- friends and relatives -- for many years. Ken's original photo was totally realistic and I have given it a photo-effect by altering the color balance. I felt it was an artistic choice to photograph a little island and the photo effect made it even more artistic. I hope you don't mind, Ken. If you do, let me know and I'll change it.

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