Thursday, May 30, 2013

The rest of the group caught lunkers too

Terry Kopecky hoists a big northern pike

Carmine Kopecky removes a spoon from the mouth of a big lake trout
Just to show how the big fish are biting, I thought it would be neat to show these photos of Carmine and Terry Kopecky. The blog before this one featured the other two people in their group: Irv and Ed.
As you can see, the entire party has bragging rights to a fish on this trip.
It seems like everyone in camp had similar good fortune on big fish. Walleyes are just beginning to hit well (Terry got a big one of those too).
The weather has been very pleasant although the next couple of days are forecast to be cool and rainy.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Everyone is catching big, big fish

Irv Kopecky hoists a beautiful lake trout before releasing it on Sunday
At the other end of the boat, Ed Swider shows off a 41.5-inch northern pike
Although this is our second week of operation, it is our first full week. The weather is beautiful and the fish are biting like mad.
Just about every cabin has photos like these to show for their efforts yesterday. Many people are catching and releasing lunker northern pike and beautiful lake trout. One cabin also limited out on walleye.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Sunny, windy weather; great pike fishing; busy, busy

The ice may have gone out Sunday but we couldn't get to town to get the Lickety Split until Wednesday as the wind and waves were too high. Now we are all working almost around the clock trying to get camp ready for the big group due in this weekend.
In short, northern pike fishing is fantastic for those people using dead bait. They have caught lots and lots of huge pike.
No one has tried fishing for walleye so I don't have any reports about it.
The lake is still icy cold.
We have had plenty of sunny days but the high winds coming off the cold lake has made it feel brisk. Today, however, was sunny and calm. I used the occasion to bring in a week's supply of gasoline and new outboard motors. Tomorrow I go for propane and groceries. We still have docks to put in position -- couldn't do it in the high winds. And, oh yes, there are still broken water lines to fix. Don't you just love late ice-outs? I know I don't.
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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ice-out happened today, May 19

A strong east wind and warm temperatures finished off the remainder of the ice on Red Lake today.
We realized the ice was breaking up around camp but got the big picture from pilot Craig Carlson of Viking Outposts. Craig said we can now boat all the way to the town of Red Lake.
Thanks for the call, Craig!
We probably won't make the trip until Tuesday as this is the Victoria Day long weekend and the stores are closed on Monday.
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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Opening day and the big fish are biting

Darryl and Susie Palmer and friend Dave Myers tied into a lot of big northern pike today, the opening of fishing season. These dead bait experts said their only problem was finding fish small enough to eat for supper!

Their friend Bill Shepherd caught and released this 14-pound lake trout. As expected, lakers are right on the surface in this ice-cold water.

Red Lake still has ice in the big bays but the weather is warm and each day another bay is open. The entire lake should be open within a few days.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hot, windy day is breaking up the ice

Ice-out, Bow Narrows Camp, noon May 15
Loon appeared right amid the ice floes
May 15, 6 p.m., most of ice is gone in front of Bow Narrows
It was a beautiful day here, highs about 17 C and very windy -- just the ticket to break up the ice in Red Lake. It did a number on the ice in the narrows, basically eliminating it from camp all the way to Trout Bay. I have no way of knowing what happened elsewhere as we have our hands full just opening up camp. It is possible that some of the big bays opened as well.
First guests come day after tomorrow!
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

We are in camp!

North end of Howey Street, Red Lake, showing old ice road
Me, Tom, Sam and Sophie were on first trip. Brenda, Rebekah and all our gear came on the second
Large crack across the Forestry Stretch shows ice pans are grinding
Pipestone Bay also has a large crack, running toward Cole's hill
Our open water landing strip is the piece with the small island, top left
Scene from Cabin 8 after thunderstorm
We flew into camp this morning as planned. There was just enough water for our pilot, Will, to set down Viking Outposts' Beaver aircraft.  The lake is covered with ice, even shallow bays like Middle and Sadler and Pipestone Narrows; however, since we have been in camp there have been several thunderstorms and hard, warm rains. The ice is totally black and sick. It looks like one big wind would clear it out.
We also saw big cracks across the big bays and ice had piled up along these, indicating the ice sheets were moving. It is ready to go!
Due to the fact we have very little diesel fuel we will only operate the generator for a few hours each day. If you need to reach us, send an e-mail (best) or leave a message on the phone and we will get back to you whenever we are up and running.
Moose spent the winter in camp, as usual. Their marbles and tracks are evidence. We've also seen lots of beavers and goldeneye ducks.
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Monday, May 13, 2013

Flying into camp tomorrow

Brenda, Sam and I and our staff are in Red Lake and plan on flying into camp tomorrow with Viking Outposts.
There is lots of ice but it is rotten and black. There is still a chance it will be gone by Saturday.
We will definitely be able to fly in our guests. My guess is ice-out will happen entirely after the weekend.
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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Melting taking place at the dock in Red Lake

May 11, Red Lake Marine, Photo by Sherry McCoy
It's very cold in Red Lake today, just barely above freezing and windy, but there is still open water appearing around our dock at Red Lake Marine.
Sherry McCoy from the marina just sent us this shot.
The ice looks pretty sick -- dark and slushy.
There are some really warm days in the forecast this week, starting Tuesday. I see from Pakwash Camp's blog that things are opening up at Trout River. Pakwash is downstream of Red Lake and usually opens up earlier, probably similar to Gullrock Lake.
Some balmy spring days could send the ice away for good.
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Friday, May 10, 2013

Sooner or later, we'll see this again at camp

The morning view from Cabin 3 at Bow Narrows Camp
Early risers at camp are treated to spectacular sunrises
Bow Narrows angler Terry Matson took these sunrise photos of the narrows in front of Bow Narrows Camp last year. If only the ice would get out of the way, we would be awakened to these inspiring scenes again.
 Although the ice is slow to leave us this spring, everything else is on schedule. The quaking aspen trees have produced their spring catkins; all the summer perching birds are here; butterflies are on the wing; bugs are crawling around. The snow is gone.
I fully expect that walleye and northern pike are spawning. They couldn't care less if there is ice covering most of the lake, just as long as the fast-flowing creeks - in the case of walleye -- and the backs of weedy bays -- for northern pike -- are open. As Hugh and Enid Carlson's recent photos  in previous blogs have shown, all those places are ice-free.
There is wonderfully warm weather in the 14-day forecast, starting Tuesday now. Previously it was supposed to warm up starting Sunday. It would take some incredible combination of events to rid the lake of ice by the start of fishing season May 19: hard, warm rain; high temperatures and then a rip-roaring wind. More likely there will be ice for up to a week after opening day. We'll see.
If you are booked into the second week of the season at Bow Narrows Camp, arriving May 25 or May 26, you should start now figuring how to lessen your weight of things you bring with you as we may need to fly you into camp over the ice. If that is the case you will be restricted to 100 pounds per person.
Hopefully we will be using our boat, the Lickety Split, but just in case it doesn't hurt to be prepared. We will contact you by telephone several days ahead if it looks like you will need to fly.
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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Red Lake 2013 ice-out report: still lots of ice

May 7, 2013 aerial view of Bow Narrows Camp by Hugh Carlson
Hugh Carlson of Viking Island Lodge and Viking Outposts snapped this photo for us today.
As you can see, Bow Narrows Camp still has plenty of ice in the narrows although some open water is showing at the spot where there is the most current, right where the green buoy is located. There is also some open water showing around the shoreline and at other spots in the narrows.
If melting conditions continue, my guess is the spot of open water in front of camp should grow enough that we will be able to land a plane there in about a week. So, we and our staffers will head to Red Lake next Monday, May 13, and be poised to get into camp at the first opportunity.
It seems likely that we will be able to fly-in our guests for the first week, starting May 19.
Actual 2013 ice-out on Red Lake, I'm thinking, won't occur until the next week, something like May 22.
It all depends on weather conditions, of course. Red Lake has had some beautiful weather this past week, highs in the 20s C (low 70s F) and not freezing at night. Unfortunately, that is supposed to change starting tomorrow. Highs drop to about 12 C and it may dip below freezing a couple of nights. However, by next Monday, it's predicted to be back to sunny and very warm.
The really good news is that Hugh was able to get Viking Outposts' floatplane into the Chukuni River at town. That means things are progressing.
Ice-out watchers, it's a good idea to also check out Enid Carlson's blog. She and Hugh keep a close eye on what's happening, both on Red Lake and at other fly-in lakes where they have camps.
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Monday, May 6, 2013

Travelling on thin ice, 50 years ago

Frank Paishk as seen from Bow Narrows Camp, May, 1961-3
Here is a scene taken at this very time of year, 50 years ago.
Frank Paishk, the First Nations man who trapped the west end of Red Lake along with his brother, Adam, would pull his old canoe on a sled across the ice. When he came to open water, he would throw the sled inside and paddle.
Frank would trap muskrats in the spring in places like Muskrat Bay, Middle Bay and Grassy Bay.
His cabin still stands at the eastern entrance to West Narrows. Most people now refer to it as "the Trapper's Cabin."
Frank was a consummate woodsman. He could thrive in the bush with virtually nothing.
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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Keep our (and your) costs down, save time and do the environment a favour -- bring less stuff!

Gear on dock in town in previous summer. Photo by Ed Dziubinski.
As we sit and wait for the 2013 ice to melt on Red Lake, it is a good time to review things we can do for this year's trip to camp.

Bow Narrows Camp is located 20 miles by water from the highway. Our location is one of the reasons we all love it here. We are surrounded by wilderness: wild animals, fantastic fishing and spectacular scenery. The world of pavement and traffic noise is all the way back at the dock.
But our remoteness also means you must plan your trip more carefully than you would for a road trip. Everything you bring must be carried in our boat, the Lickety Split, along with everything eight other people bring. Our rates and boat schedule are counting on this -- nine people and their gear per trip whenever possible.

If you bring too much it means we will need to make more trips than planned. It means that fewer people can ride on the boat, that others will have to wait unnecessarily for the next trip in 90 minutes.

If you were taking a fly-in fishing trip the camp or airline would give you a strict weight limit, typically 75-100 pounds per person. That would include all of your groceries, beer, fishing tackle and luggage -- everything.
At Bow Narrows Camp we do not give you a precise limit but as we have already discussed, weight is definitely a factor and we ask that you travel as light as possible. I have no way of weighing your stuff at our dock; however, once it is in the boat, I can tell from the waterline how heavy a load the boat is carrying. If it is too much, someone or something will have to be taken back out.

I hesitate to set a maximum baggage weight for Bow Narrows Camp guests because then everybody will bring at least that much. Right now we have some people whose gear is very light, most who bring a moderate amount and a few who seem to be trying to sink the boat. I'm not kidding. We can have a single group of 6-8 people that will bring more than the other 24 people in camp put together!

Excess weight almost always comes from three things: water, glass and lead.


Water, whether it is actual drinking water or in the form of beer, weighs eight pounds per U.S. gallon, 10 per Imperial gallon.
A case of water in 24 plastic bottles = 25 pounds. You could save 25 pounds just by bringing a refillable water bottle and filling it at camp. Our water plant is state-of-the art. It produces safe, great-tasting, beautiful drinking water from every tap. And if you bring a refillable water bottle, you won't leave 24 plastic bottles behind. You can also easily recognize your bottle instead of discarding a partly full plastic bottle because you don't know whose it is.

A case of 24 beer in glass bottles = 32 pounds. The empty bottles which we must also haul back to town weigh 10 pounds. Total round-trip weight = 42 pounds.

A case of beer in cans = 20 pounds and the empty cans are virtually weightless.

Obviously, please bring beer in cans, not bottles.


Whether in the form of beer bottles or iced tea bottles or condiment jars, glass is heavy even without the contents. If you have a choice between mayo in a glass jar or mayo in a plastic jar, choose plastic. If your product only comes in glass, then you have no choice but to bring it.


Deep cycle marine battery  typically = 60 pounds.
Electric trolling motor = 20-30 pounds
Battery charger = 10 pounds
As you can see, if you were able to take an electric trolling motor, battery and charger on a fly-in trip (most won't allow you to fly a battery) that would be your entire weight allowance. We have batteries and electric trolling motors for rent at camp for $50 per week. You could save 100 pounds of weight just by renting. You can also just rent the battery for $25 and save 60 pounds.

Incidentally, our 20 hp electric-start Honda outboards troll very slowly. Just about everybody finds they are all you need . If you want to slow down even more, bring a drift sock that you tow overboard. It weighs practically nothing. See Drift Sock

Tackle boxes are among the heaviest pieces of luggage. Some of these can top 60 pounds. Probably half of this weight comes from lead sinkers and lead jigs. You need them for fishing, that's for sure, but do you need 30 pounds of them? Most of the sinkers you use are half ounce or less each. It would take 32 of the heaviest ones to make one pound. Most of the jigs are 1/4 ounce or less. It would take 64 to make up a pound. Just bring as many as you need, not all that you own, that's what we're asking.

I once put together a list of things that most people bring that might be of help. See What to Pack.

Don't use the volume of your vehicle as a way to control how much stuff you are bringing. One pickup truck, with just two occupants, can be packed with an entire boatload of weight. What do the other seven people in the Lickety Split do with their stuff?

Most people are conscientious about what they bring. Unfortunately, the ones who are not are also probably not reading this.

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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Canada lynx catches snowshoe hare

Big lynx freezes in position
The cat crouches down and slowly eases forward
With 10 yards to go the lynx springs into action

Snowshoe hare's kicks are futile
Lynx hauls its catch, which drags on the snow, back into the bush
I just took these shots of a Canada lynx catching a snowshoe hare.
Although this has been the longest winter in memory, it has been the greatest for spotting lynx.
I have lost track of how many I've seen this winter and spring, certainly more than in the rest of my years put together. To watch a lynx stalk and kill a hare and even get some of it on camera is unbelievable.
This was a big lynx, perhaps 40 pounds. He was hunting along the edge of the clearing around our home in Nolalu, ON, near Thunder Bay. As you can see, there is still a lot of snow here, the results of a two-foot dump of the stuff two weeks ago.
Suddenly the lynx froze in mid-step. It didn't move a muscle for probably five minutes. It must have spotted the snowshoe hare or "rabbit" which was nibbling the bark off branches of a quaking aspen tree I had cut down. The hare was about 20 yards away.
The lynx eventually crept closer and with about 10 yards to go, burst into high gear. It easily got the hare which didn't even seem to notice the cat until it was nearly on top of it.
The lynx held the hare in its mouth, pinning it against the ground until it quit kicking, then hauled it back into the bush.
The whole episode probably took 10 minutes.
The late snow probably worked against the hare's natural defence. It had already started to turn brown for the summer and it contrasted against the white snow.
For more lynx, see Canada Lynx Families, Ghost of the WoodsLynx FamilyLynx Tracks.
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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Haiku for Sam, the camp dog

Sam visiting in Cabin 9. Photo by Mike Tronrud
Whimpers and twitches
Chasing rabbits through meadows
The dream life of dogs

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