Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ankle-biters, aka stable flies are fierce, bring this

A dozen flies land on Cork's back, seconds after walking outside. He has been forced to spend most of his time indoors
We have had several beautiful, warm-to-hot days and this seems to have hatched-out every ankle biter fly at once. They are so bad at times that they even move up your body to your arms. Although the blue-top Deepwoods Sportsman Off has an effect, the Repel cream with 40% DEET keeps them completely away for 6-8 hours. The Repel is about the only thing you can use when the flies are this bad and still wear shorts and sandals.
Experience has shown that a change in the wind direction or cooler temperatures can drastically reduce the fly population.
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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Photographer captures essence of Red Lake, ON

Pipestone Bay at sunset
Baby loon catches a ride. Red Lake could be the loon capital of N. America
Leonard Belsky, a guest and angler at Bow Narrows Camp last week, took these incredible photos of two common sights on Red Lake, Ontario.
We're not called Sunset Country for nothing as his tack-sharp image of Pipestone Bay shows.
Loons are everywhere here and I'm glad to report that most pairs of these beautiful diving birds successfully hatched young this year.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Wild temperature swings confusing the fish

This past week saw temperatures that ranged from 8 C to 28 C, about 48 F to 90 F. There was also plenty of high wind, first from the south, then from the north, then south again.
Perhaps for this reason the walleye were more difficult to find than other weeks this season. Most anglers report the fish to be scattered across all depths, from 28 feet to six feet.
Northern pike fishing made up for some of the downturn in walleyes. In particular, lots of pike just under the slot size were caught, perfect for home or the fry-pan here at camp.
We're not out of the weather mood swings yet. The last couple days were 24, 26 and 28 C and tomorrow it is supposed to be 14 C. The wind today is howling from the south but you can bet it will be back to the north Saturday or Sunday.

Enormous white pelican caught on camera

Bow Narrows Camp angler Paul Stowick is the first person from our camp to get great photographs of a white pelican. He got these shots of the giant bird at the islands between camp and Trout Bay this week.
This bird is so large it boggles the mind.  There is a loon in some of these shots for comparison. Loons are large water birds but seem miniature compared to the pelican.
The white pelican is North America's second-largest bird with a wingspan just under 10 feet. The endangered California condor is the largest.
Pelicans seem to be scouting-out Red Lake the past few years. I've seen at least one each year for the past five seasons. Our guests have reported seeing them over the last 10 years.
They are shallow water feeders, preferring to swim around with their mouths open, scooping up minnows. Red Lake would seem to be too deep for such a tactic but nevertheless, the giant birds are here.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cork made a lot of friends last week

Noah Hamer and Cork

He ate my shirt!
There were a bunch of boys in camp last week, much to the delight of our chocolate Lab, Cork.
They had him fetching and swimming and he had them running after them to get whatever he had stolen.
Noah Hamer and Cork were often seen together. One day Noah accidentally dropped his fishing rod off the dock and ended up swimming to get it back. Before he dove in he gave his t-shirt to Cork to safeguard. Whoops!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Mining litter cleaned up by young angler

Trevor Holley thought he had the fish of a lifetime last week when it turned out to be hundreds of feet of insulated wire. He pulled it all in and brought it back to camp.
The wire is the kind used by geological exploration companies and was probably left on the ice some previous winter.
Our anglers have encountered such debris many times over the years. It is a pity that mining companies have such little regard for the environment that they cannot be bothered to pick up after themselves.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Spro -- hot big pike lure

Tommy Cieplik, the man behind the great videos shot with a GoPro camera featured elsewhere on this blog, swears by this swimbait for big pike. He has used the Spro for several years and this year converted the rest of the family to the plug.
The Cieplik family just left camp today.
Tommy caught a bunch of lunkers on the six-inch, sinking version of the lure. He also uses a four-inch version.
By mid-week father Carl, mother Brenda and aunt Debi were casting the plug as well. Everybody did great with it.
Tommy says the lure usually isn't found in local tackle stores. He buys it on-line.
The silver and perch patterns work best.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Better bring these for the mosquitoes

The summer so far has been cool and cloudy -- perfect weather for mosquitoes -- and there is a good crop out there.
These three items are excellent at making your stay bite-free.
The blue-top Deep Woods Sportsman's Off (don't get the green-top; it's not so good), not only keeps mosquitoes away but ankle biter flies as well. In fact, it is the only aerosol spray to do so.
To rid your cabin of mosquitoes at night, close the windows and door and give a brief puff of Raid at the ceiling in the corners of each room and one in the center. Wait five minutes and then re-open the windows. Every mosquito will be dead.
The Thermacell is a great invention for keeping skeeters away from you whenever you are sitting still, like on the porch. It also works in the boat but it works best where there is little wind.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fishing on Mars

The year is 2050. The location is Mars. Humans have just finished setting up their first colony on the Red Planet. Mission Control (MC) gets the following phone call from Vermilion Base (VB).


VB: "This is Wild Bill.  Can I talk to the guy who sent us fish for the fish farm?"
MC: "You've got him. What can I do for you?"
VB: "First of all, I want to thank you for deciding to send us walleyes. They're the best-eating fish in the world, well, two worlds now. I'm just wondering why you didn't send us more big fish? We've been following our planned schedule of one fish meal a week and after only a few months there's only a couple of big ones left."
MC: "What happened to the others?"
VB: "Well, we ate them, of course. There was a lot of meat on those big suckers but now they're nearly gone and we've nothing left but lots of smaller ones."
MC: "Are you saying you killed the breeders?"
VB: "I don't know about the 'breeders.' We ate the biggest ones, naturally."
MC: "Oh my God, you killed the breeders!"
VB: "I didn't kill them; I caught them on a rod and reel I brought from home. Sure, I'm just fishing in a tank here but it still takes some skill to bring in a 10-pound 'eye on a jig with only six-pound test."
MC: "I can't believe it. You killed the breeders!"
VB: "Would you quit saying that? I did nothing wrong. Why, I even had my picture in the colony newsletter."
MC: "Was the headline: 'Dumb-ass kills breeding stock'?"

VB: "Hey! Watch it! No, the headline was 'We eat good tonight'"
MC: "Well, the sub-heading should have read 'And now we starve for the next several years'"
VB: "If we starve it's because you didn't send enough big ones!"
MC: "Wild Bill -- why are you called that anyway? -- what is your mission specialty?"
VB: "I'm 'Wild' Bill because I'm good in the wilds. I always 'bring home the bacon.' And my mission specialty is artificial intelligence."
MC: "Yeah, there's a surprise. Look 'Wild' if you had eaten the smaller fish, then the breeders -- the big ones, as you put it -- would have been producing more eggs, more fish, year after year, by the hundreds of thousands while the smaller ones were growing larger. You only had to let one per cent of the juveniles -- the little ones -- grow to maturity to produce a self-sustaining population. You would have had fish for the colony forever. But instead, you ate the one per cent that really mattered. You ate the breeders! And why? Because they had a 'lot of meat on them' and to get your picture in the paper!"
VB: "Well the little ones will do the same thing, right? It's only fair to let them have a chance to do the 'horizontal mambo' and let nature take its course."
MC: "That's right. We sent you fish in a year-long spaceship ride just so you could be 'fair' to them. You killed the breeders, for cripes sake! Here's what is fair: now you will need to wait two or three years for the 'little ones' to reach maturity. That's when they'll do, what did you call it, the HORIZONTAL MAMBO! Until then, no more fish meals for you or the rest of the colonists!"
VB: "Jeez, I don't see why you are so sore about this. I mean it was only human nature to eat the big ones. They had a lot of meat on them, after all."
MC: "Bill! Bill! Why are humans colonizing other planets?"
VB: "Well, you know, because there isn't enough food on Earth any more, basically."
MC: "Yeah. And we thought we would be different on another planet. Goodbye, Wild Bill."

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Lots of big fish are being caught (and released)

Al Andrin with 37-inch northern pike

Bill Densmore with 25.5-inch walleye

Rob Kinzenbaw with 25.75-inch blue walleye

Matthew Marvin with 41.5-inch pike caught and released today

Tom Kinzenbaw with 26.25-inch walleye

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Why no blog postings?

It's been said that we're all in the same canoe. I think that's usually meant that no matter what we think about other people, we still have to take their opinions into account.
I see it a bit differently. I see it as anything that anyone does has a ripple effect on the others. That's what has happened to this blog and why there has been a dearth of postings this early summer.
It started with Microsoft. For no reason that I can see other than to force me into buying another computer, it did away with Windows XP. About the time we left home for camp I was thrust into a new operating system, Windows 8.1. It sucks.
Oh I'm sure that given a few weekends, curled up with the laptop and a warm cup of cocoa I could figure out how to operate it better and probably feel all warm and cozy-like. I'm being facetious here. I'm a camp operator, not a bored person with nothing better to do but push and click all the icons on my screen to see what will happen. I barely have time to sleep, for goodness sake.
To make matters worse, Microsoft Office is utterly different than what I'm used to. I have had e-mails arrive, then disappear. I spend 15 minutes -- an eternity for me right now -- answering an e-mail only to find it won't send anyway. I'm sure the help desk in India would eventually get back to me. Maybe I could read a good book while I'm waiting.
Then there's the Internet itself. It has become as addictive as crack to many people these days. They can't go more than a few hours without checking it and when they check it here, say update their Facebook profile, then I can't get on to write something for the blog. Our internet connection is via our cell phone which must have an external antennae and a signal amplifier just to get a weak signal.
I'm sure we could sink thousands of dollars into a SETI-like bank of satellite dishes and boosters and coaxial cables that would let everyone sit in their cabins and work their tablets, I-phones and Android devices to their hearts' content but frankly, I'm not going there.
There is no way that with all the other things Brenda and I must do that we can keep on top of developments in the virtual world. We're cooking and cleaning and fixing and lifting and stacking and buying and transporting from daylight to dark. When I finally get a chance to fire up the computer, it spends the entire time I had updating itself. It's as if the point of computers is to go on-line and update, not for us to use for some purpose or another.
One thing about working at camp, it certainly makes me see how everything in life is interconnected. When we get a shipment of diesel for our generator that is mixed with a large quantity of water, then I can't post blogs because I spend days and days cleaning out our diesel tank, taking the spoiled fuel back to town, getting new fuel, installing water separating filters, cleaning out our transfer pump, etc.
Well, so much for my rant. I think I feel better.
Anyway, I can bring everybody up to speed in a few sentences: the fishing is great, especially for walleye. All the usual things are working. The weather has been cool but not especially wet. The lake level is more or less normal. Weed growth is absent from the big bodies of water but about usual in the shallow bays. These latter places are where just about all of the fish are being taken.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Last of this year's lake trout planted

Bow Narrows staffer Brad Donovan scoops trout from a tub in the rear of the Lickety Split into the waters of Red Lake near Potato Island
Missing left pelvic fin marks this year's trout
The Ministry of Natural Resources, helped by guests and staff from Black Bear Lodge and Bow Narrows Camp, released the last of 45,000-49,000 lake trout fingerlings into the west end of Red Lake Monday evening.
It was the second half of this year's stocking. The first fish were released a week ago. The MNR drove their truck from the Dorion hatchery right down to the dock at Black Bear Lodge where guests and the camps' staff ferried the fingerlings in pails to waiting MNR boats and Bow Narrows' Lickety Split.
The fingerlings were released in fine condition in the area between Slay's Bay and Potato Island in about 100 feet of water. The young trout were expected to move quickly to the bottom and stay there for several years before reaching weights of two to three pounds and moving higher up in the water column.
The little trout will eat tiny prey such as freshwater shrimp for the first few years. Their deep location should keep them hidden from larger predators such as big lake trout, walleyes and northern pike. After they reach a couple of pounds they will need to seek out larger prey themselves and will move higher where there are ciscoes, shiners and smelt to feed upon.
This year's plantings can be identified in the future because they are missing the left pelvic fin. The MNR hatchery clips a different fin each year from the stocked fish, rotating around the body.
This is the 10th year the MNR has re-stocked Red Lake with lake trout but it is the first time that the fingerlings have been released at the west end of the lake. The fingerlings came from eggs harvested from wild lake trout in Pipestone Bay, north of Bow Narrows Camp. They were raised in the Dorion hatchery which is east of Thunder Bay. The fingerlings are 18-months old at the time of release and are six-to-eight inches in length.
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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Update on Cork, our chocolate Lab puppy

Cork among the dandelions. Photo by Herb Pozdro
Cork takes a break on the path outside the lodge
It's a good thing we have so many patient, kindly guests because our six-month-old chocolate Lab Cork is keeping everybody on their toes. Obviously, lots of these folks are "dog-people."
Set anything down and away it goes in Cork's mouth: fish gloves, rags, kindling, worm boxes, boat scoops, water bottles,  beer bottles, charcoal lighter, tools, papers and cardboard -- well, you get the idea. One group even had a full bottle of whisky taken (our outside worker, Brad Donovan, got it back.)
All in all though, Cork is starting to fit in as a camp dog. The scenes above aren't typical for him yet but there are more and more times when he isn't running and jumping and barking excitedly.
He has fallen off the dock repeatedly and has just decided he likes to go for boat rides, especially to empty the fish guts. That was a favourite pastime for our previous dogs too.
Incidentally, on Tuesday we saw a white pelican near the fish gut rock. That is only the fourth time I have seen these magnificent birds that can have wingspans of 114 inches. I believe only the California condor has a larger wingspan in North America.
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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Northern pike are especially beefy this year

John Overbeeke let this thick-bodied pike go yesterday
Maybe it's all the walleyes in the lake or maybe it is the rivers of four-inch-long emerald shiners we saw last summer but for whatever reason, northern pike are about as chubby and strong as they can possibly get. They are certainly well-fed and are giving everybody a thrill so far this season.
Just like the walleyes have been the past few years, pike are pumped-up and full of fight.
Our anglers are releasing lots of big ones. Nobody is keeping any above the slot size. Way to go, guys and gals!
Incidentally, the new Lucky Strike conservation nets have been given the thumbs-up by our anglers. They are easy to get fish out of and have handled many pike over 40-inches without a hitch.
That's one in the boat in the photo above.
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45,000 new lake trout for Red Lake

Josie Slavich, 5, lets a couple lake trout go off Black Bear Lodge's dock while mom Jillian gets a photo and biologist Lori Stitt makes sure she doesn't do a header off the dock. Guests at Black Bear pitched in to help bring pails of fingerlings from the hatchery truck to the MNR release boats.
Biologist Toby Braithewaite transfers lake trout from hatchery truck to pails
Bow Narrows worker Brad Donovan helps transfer trout to the MNR boat. That's Myles Perchuk and Lori Stitt operating the boat.
The Ministry of Natural Resources released the first half of 45,000 lake trout into the west end of Red Lake Monday night by accessing the lake through Black Bear Lodge. It is the first time since the MNR began restocking Red Lake with trout that the fish have been released at the west end of the lake. The remainder of this year's trout fingerlings will be taken through Black Bear next week.
Black Bear Lodge is about four miles east of Bow Narrows Camp and is located just off the Potato Island basin, between Wolf Narrows and West Narrows. This is one of the historically-best areas for lake trout. Black Bear Lodge is accessible via a logging road.
The MNR has been gathering eggs from lake trout in Pipestone Bay each fall for about 10 years. The eggs are raised at the MNR's Dorion Fish Hatchery, east of Thunder Bay, and the fingerlings released back to Red Lake 18 months later. Until now the fish have been released at the east end of Red Lake, sometimes by boat but also through the ice in late spring.
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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Atmospheric phemonena today

Scene from the dining room as a thunder storm passed by this evening

Looking out the Lickety Split on the way to town this morning
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Friday, June 6, 2014

Another Moose club member

Dean Davidson with 38-inch pike

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A day in the life of the "Moose Club"

Bob Preuss with 43-inch pike

First forest fire of the year, as seen from Red lake

Jim Border with 40-inch pike

Loon on the nest
Bob Preuss's group was in camp this week, all vying for membership or renewed membership in the coveted "Moose Club" which requires at least two pike caught and released that are 32-inches or more.
As usual, Bob clicked his camera away on non-fish interests too, including a plume from a forest fire which ignited Wednesday not far from Madsen, near Red Lake. It soared high in the sky until it was attacked by Ministry of Natural Resources firefighters and water bombers.
Northern pike are biting well; so are walleyes, and lake trout, and mosquitoes and black flies.
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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Large catches of walleye taken today

After everyone struggled last week to find walleye, the guys who came in today went out and immediately hit them. One boat got 25, and released all but two for supper. Another boat did similar.
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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

We're all super-busy doing things

Dean Friebus with big pike. Check out the high water in Douglas Creek
Jim Rock with one of the few walleyes taken

Joe Overman with one of many big pike he has caught

Jim Rock and large lake trout
Now that the ice is off we are just completing the things that we would normally have done two weeks before the fishing opener. I've had to make trips to town on successive days to get gasoline and diesel fuel plus groceries.
None of the infrastructure systems has worked correctly, requiring me to check, adjust, re-check and re-adjust things every few hours, day and night, until we can get these systems running correctly.
I just can't get up early enough, walk fast enough or carry enough tools to get everything going. Thankfully the weather has turned beautiful. It has been in the 70s and 80s F (20s and 30s C) all week.
And, thank goodness, the fishing has been spectacular, at least for northern pike and lake trout.
Just about everybody has caught many, many big pike and at least some big lake trout.
The same can't be said for walleyes. We've only caught a few, mostly big ones. The walleye bite should begin any day now with all the warm weather we have been having.
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