All Things BWCA Newsletter – June 2017

What's Going on in the North Woods

  • bwca ely MinnesotaAround The Base
  • The Fishing Corner
  • Wilderness Wisdom
  • The Scouter's Scene
  • Tips For the Outdoor Photographer
  • More Great Information

This newsletter is designed to help keep you current on the issues of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Quetico Provincial Park, to give you information on Williams and Hall Outfitters, and to share some of our knowledge and love of the outdoors and the BWCA wilderness around us. We hope you enjoy these articles and share them with your friends.


Around The Base

The Joys of Waking and Building the Better Beast

by Blayne, the man who picked up a hammer and saw...

So the question of the ages is:  Things are working perfectly at the end of the season. You take things apart and put them away for winter.  Then, they sit all winter in a heated building.  But, when you put them back together in the spring they have all sorts of problems.  How can this be?

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Construction materials are staged and ready for the group shower upgrade.

Charlene is pretty sure it is the “nut” behind the bolt, but I’m not so sure.  I think it must be winter gnomes or some such hellish creatures that enjoy playing havoc with water systems.  Many of our guests have asked us about what it takes to get our base up and going for each season.  So we thought we would share a few of our annual spring Northwoods rituals.

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Breathing new life into our totem pole.

First, we must carefully engineer the weather to get the ice off the lakes and, then secondly, get the night time lows consistently above freezing.  Since we operate our own potable water plant here, we can’t put the pumps and lines in, and then have them promptly freeze.  NOT good!  So the water system is the first thing that has to happen.  This year we have lucked out and the water system only had one ice caused blow-out, which was easily fixed.   Usually we have many more.

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Cutting down broken branches and raking leaves are part of the Spring clean-up ritual.

Next comes the cleaning, bunkhouses, bathrooms, and then the fun of the dining room and kitchen.  Once this list is done, we are ready to start projects.  We do our best to get the spring projects done before we have a lot of guests around. Sometimes you catch us in the midst of our endeavors and we sure appreciate your patience with us.

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Group showers are getting a major upgrade this summer!

This year the work on the group showers continues, including our first automatic flushing toilet ( who says we are behind the times?).  Then those rickety stairs between the outer bunkhouses and dining room are going to get a remake.  Even the totem pole is getting a face lift.   Lots to do and not enough time for it all, guess that is the fun of it. Also the leaves, don’t forget the leaves!

The buds on the trees have popped, and along with them have come the blackflies and the swarms of midges.  Good news is they will both be gone by the time most of you get here.  Recently we saw the Walleye Opener in Minnesota, pretty much a State Holiday in Minnesota.  We did take several groups into the woods over the weekend. So I guess we can pronounce ourselves open.

It seems to us a bit like the movie, Groundhog’s Day, you know déjà vu all over again.  Well we made it again, and look forward to making the place a little nicer every day, and a little better every year.

Adventure On!


The Fishing Corner

Early Summer Fishing in the Boundary Waters and Quetico

by Dave, our resident fishing expert.

Some of the most predictable things associated with the canoe season up here in the Boundary Waters are the weather…”it will eventually warm up”, the smallmouth bass…”they’ll eventually seek out the shallows to spawn” and the bugs…” at some time in some spot, they will become very noticeable”.

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Bass Fishing

So, after a very long, cool, wet spring, we finally have some summer like weather with temperatures reaching the 80° mark. The bugs, having waited for warm weather too, have not disappointed. And the smallmouth bass have reached some degree of the spawning ritual. In the shallow, darker lakes, the spawning process is about done. On some of the deep, clear lakes, the spawning has just started. On most of the other lakes, it’s somewhere in between.

What that all means to the bass fisherman is the need to be flexible. Simply portaging from one type of lake to another can mean the difference between lots of average sized fish along the shore on topwater, to a few big fish on tube jigs at the drop off to deeper water, to possibly having a bit of tough luck on lakes that are “in between” stages. Mobility can be the difference between great success and…not so much.

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Walleye Fishing

The walleyes have been a little on the scattered side, with some folks having some success with live bait (where permitted) soft plastics on jigs and occasionally on crankbaits (like shad Raps) trolled in 6-12’ of water.

Northern Pike

Northern pike have generally been the most consistent, with fish being caught in shallow bays…especially where the new, emergent weeds are found.  They’re apt to hit anything big and flashy.

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Lake Trout

Folks targeting lake trout have had success trolling and casting spoons and deep diving lures. As the water warms, the trout will start to move into deeper water. The deep diving lures become the bait of choice when they seek out the deeper, colder waters.

Remember…there’s one thing that requires no prediction. That is, there’s no fish to be caught without a line in the waters. We look forward to hearing lots of fish stories from you…this summer!

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Fish On!


Wilderness Wisdom

Have you checked out our All Things Boundary Waters Blog Lately?

by Kevin

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Some of the best wisdom to be offered for your successful paddling adventure in the Boundary Waters and Quetico wildernesses can be found in our All Things Boundary Waters blog.  Topics we have featured lately include:

  • Black Flies, Big Bass and the Beautiful Boundary Waters
  • We Need to Get Girl Scouts Out in the BWCA
  • What is a Boundary Waters Night?

Our blog is part of our website, and can be accessed from our home page, or directly with the following link.  http://williamsandhall.com/all-things-boundary-waters-blog/

Social Media, Too

Another great source of wisdom are our regular posts on our Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn pages.  We scour the internet for the best in paddling-related information and re-post it on these pages.  Just this week we re-posted an article from Backpacker Magazine discussing canoe camping basics.  You can see it at these links:

Finally, don't forget about the great tidbits of wisdom strewn throughout the pages of our website  - http://williamsandhall.com/.   Our goal is provide the most authoritative website regarding the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Quetico Park.

Paddle On.  Be Free.


The Scouter's Scene 

Dealing with Ticks

by Kevin

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness offers an incredible area for Boy Scout high adventure.  But like any wilderness, certain creatures need to be dealt with. Ticks do live in the BWCA and can attach themselves to scouts and their leaders.

Tips to Prevent Tick Bites

  • Wear protective clothing such as long sleeve shirts, pants and socks.  A hat is always a good idea.
  • Spraying clothes with insect repellent can provide an additional layer of protection.
  • Do a full-body tick inspection once a day.  If you do find a tick crawling on your clothes or skin, simply brush it off with a firm surface.  Or you can use a little duct tape to remove the tick (proving once again that duct tape is a truly remarkable product!).

How to Remove a Tick

Should you have a tick bite - in other words, the tick has started to burrow in - don't panic. Just follow these steps suggested by Boys Life:

  1. Start by washing your hands.
  2. Try to not touch the tick directly.
  3.  Get a quality pair of fine-tipped forceps.  Forceps should be included in the unit's first aid kit.
  4. Using the forceps, firmly grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull the tick out.  Back the tick out in reverse, being careful to not twist or jerk the forceps.
  5. Wash the forceps and the area of the bite with soap and water.
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Retrieved from boyslife.org

Duty On. Be Your Best.


Tips For the Outdoor Photographer 

Take a Photo of a Tree - There's More To It Than You Think

By Kevin

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How hard can it be to take a photograph of a tree?  You point your camera at the tree and click.  Well, that will give you a photo of a tree, but there can be so much more. Trees can make great subjects for photos and to take great photos of trees takes some time and thought.

A tree can tell a great story if you let it.  National Geographic suggests the following tips for great tree photos.

  • Get to know the tree you are going to photograph.  What type of tree is it?  When might it bloom?  What time of day does it receive its daylight?
  • Have patience.  If you study a tree long enough, it will reveal its secrets.
  • Focus on the most remarkable aspect of the tree you are photographing.
  • A tree can photograph well in all types of weather and conditions.
  • If you can, build in a little time for the unexpected.  Perhaps a bird or a rainbow will appear.
  • Go crazy with your creativity!

Shoot On!


We Can Help You Secure Your 2017 Permits for Boundary Waters  and Quetico

Quetico Park permits are available no sooner than 5 months, to the day, ahead of the actual start date and Boundary Waters permits became available for application on a first-come, first serve basis beginning in mid-January.  Now is the time to apply.

Remember...We are happy to secure your Canoe Country permits at no extra charge!


Purchase Williams and Hall Merchandise Online

Need a great gift for that paddler in your life.  You can always find Williams and Hall merchadise online.  Just click the "Shop For Gear" link at the top of our home page or go directly to www.paddleonbefree.com.


We are looking forward to seeing you this summer!

Thank you sign

We are working hard to prepare our facilities and equipment so that you can have a great paddling adventure.  We look forward to seeing you soon.

From your friends at Williams and Hall,                                                                             Charlene, Blayne, Dave and Kevin

Williams and Hall Outfitters and Canoe Adventures
williamsandhall.com                                                                                                  paddleonbefree.com
(218) 365-5837
[email protected]

Paddle On.  Be Free.