All Things BWCA Newsletter – April 2018

All Things BWCA Newsletter – April 2018

What’s Going on in the North Woods

  • bwca ely MinnesotaAround The Base
  • The Fishing Corner
  • Wilderness Wisdom
  • The Boy Scout Scene
  • Tips For the Boundary Waters 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

Changes in Latitude.  Changes in Attitude.

by Blayne


As we wrap up the winter marketing season, we are happy to be back in the friendly confines of Moose Lake.  We love seeing our friends and talking with folks interested in visiting our neck of the woods, but the travelling not so much. It’s not the cities that get you, but it’s the continual parade of folks that feel compelled to stop and share their stories of camping and fishing travail.  You know what I mean, we all hear it.  It goes like this.

bwca problems

We’ve Heard Em’ All

We went on a canoe trip and:  1)the wind blew  2)the bugs were bad  3)Grandpa burned the coffee 4)a bear came into our campsite 5)the canoe tipped over and…we got wet 6)our tent leaked 7)it was soooo hot 8)it was soooo cold 9)we forgot the_____ 10)the stove didn’t work 11)we could not get a cell signal 12)the ground was too hard 13) it rained 14)etc.,etc., etc..

The Canoe Country Gate Keepers

Once I was talking with a friend that led paddling groups into the Arctic, and he showed me pictures of the group members surrounded by swarms of black flies.  I was commiserating with him and he said and I quote, “Yeah, they are a bit of a gate keeper.”  It was a wonderful epiphany for me.

ely mn outfitter

Think of life’s experiences in general, so many things that are worth it require a bit of inconvenience on one’s part, don’t they?  For example. What about getting an education, or being employed, or hey, what about Christmas shopping (give me bugs any day)?  So when you start by considering the prize, which in our case, is a most incredible wilderness and all the wonders that come with it; is it such a stretch to comprehend that there may be some challenges that will accompany it?

The True Secret of Life

Here is the thing, there is an antidote to all possible issues.  Here it is, wait for it ……… Good knowledge and good gear.  No surprise here! These two weapons will trump all issues. Most times it is what you put between your ears and not on your back that really matters.  For example, if you are worried about getting wet, get good rain wear. Simple, right?  If bugs are a problem, find out what the locals are using to ward them off, what really works and copy it. Don’t read some article in a magazine that suggests the use of a certain woman’s hand cream, duh.  If you have trouble sleeping outdoors, well what can I say, practice makes perfect.

Turn bad experiences into personal triumphs.  You can do it. We are glad to share our observations on any of these subjects.  We are pulling for you. Step up your outdoor game.

bwca attitude

Just like Jimmy Buffet’s song – Change your latitude, change your outdoor attitude.

Adventure On!

The Fishing Corner

Ice Out Trout!

by Dave, our Resident Fishing Expert

There used to be a time when, long about the first week of April or so, the phone seemed to ring with a little more urgency. What’s the ice look like? When do you think? Will you have a towboat ready?

Moose Lake BWCA lake trout

Early Spring Lake Trout Fishing Fever

There was a purpose for these feverous inquiries. Lake Trout! Pure and simple. You see, the frigid waters immediately after ice out usually makes for some of the best and easiest lake trout fishing of the season. Most commonly considered a deep-water fish, difficult to “get down to” for the typical canoeist, lakers can be caught as easy as a bass along the shoreline in the chilly, oxygen rich waters of spring ice out. There are still a few hearty soles that take advantage of this bonus fishing but largely it is passed on, in favor of warmer times.

This May Be an Unusual Spring for BWCA Ice Out Lake Trout

With a typical ice out in the Boundary Waters coming about the last week in April, a mid-May fishing opener is already two to three weeks after the celebrated event and sometimes even later than that. The solution has always been Quetico Park. Our neighbor to the north offers favorable fishing regulations that allow for the lake trout enthusiast to literally go as soon as the ice leaves the lakes. This year it has become very apparent that our ice out date and the Minnesota Fishing Opener (May 12th) will be dueling dates! This means that “Ice Out Trout” in the Boundary Waters will be a reality in 2018.  While ice out requires a little preparation and the proper attire, it can be fishing adventure that may become habit forming.

bwca lake trout fishing

Great Ice Out Lake Trout Lakes and Lures

Some prime lake trout lakes reachable from Williams and Hall Outfitters include Knife, Kekekabic, Ottertrack, Ima, Thomas & Fraser. Some of the smaller, off the beaten path lakes are Amoeber, Cherry, Hanson, Ester and Eddy.  Dardevle spoons and Mepps spinners (not the tiny ones), are all a guy needs to tempt a trout but they’re not usually that picky under these conditions.

bwca winter ely minnesota

Not even close yet!

So, while it might be spring down at Augusta and the Masters…it was 6° below zero Sunday morning on Moose Lake. Maybe an “Ice Out Trout” is in your future!

Cast On!

Fish On. Be Free.

Wilderness Wisdom

williams and hall outfitters bwca ely minnesota


Canoe Country Trip Planning Tips

by Kevin

Visitors to Canoe Country can find trip planning complex and difficult.  Unlike many other recreational trips, information about canoeing can be harder to find.  Here a few tips for starting the trip planning process.

Williams and hall outfitters bwca quetico ely mn

Mapping Your Route

Boundary Waters visitors tend to plan trips that are too ambitious.  This is understandable.  You want to get far from entry points and see as much as you can.  However, this must be balanced against trips that are too long and too strenuous.  Give serious thought to what the number one goal of your trip is, such as fishing, seeing a particular new lake, etc.  Setting this priority will help in mapping.  Share this goal with your outfitter for even more help.

Wilderness Canoe Trip Length

Trip length is influenced by several issues including route chosen, days off from work, and skill of the group.  Create cushion in planning trip length.  Inevitably, something will come up that will slow you down.  Give yourself enough time to achieve your goals, engage with nature and decompress.  We rush enough at home, so why rush in a beautiful wilderness.

Best time for BWCA trip

Picking a Time to Go To Canoe Country

The reality is that there is no perfect time of year to take a wilderness canoe trip in the Boundary Waters and Quetico.  Like most things in life, there are trade-offs to consider.  One example involves fishing.  Early June can produce fabulous fishing but also usually produces large quantities of black flies.  The best answer for deciding when to go involves your group’s availability and your group’s primary goal.  The answer will become apparent.

Following these tips will kick off a successful planning process for your wilderness canoe adventure.

Paddle On.  Be Free.

The Boy Scout Scene 

Be Prepared To Drive Your Troop to the BWCA

by Kevin

We think a high adventure scouting trip to the Boundary Waters and Quetico is hard to beat.  Scouts and Scouters alike will have an adventure of a lifetime.  However, getting to Ely, Minnesota is not an easy task.  No matter how you do it, driving is involved.

drive to ely minnesota

BSA Transportation Guidelines Are Important

The Boy Scouts of America have put forth a comprehensive transportation policy for Scouters to follow when Scout Troops must use private or public modes of transportation.  Many times, Scouters will transport Troop members in private automobiles, SUVs and vans.  In addition to the rule put forth by the BSA, Scouters may find the following simple suggestions helpful.

Simple Driving Tips for Scouters

  • Get plenty of rest before driving scouts anywhere.
  • Share the driving responsibilities with other Scouters. A non-driving Scouter makes a good navigator, too.
  • Plan an itinerary that allows for frequent breaks, including stops for food. No driving while eating.
  • Do not put more people in your vehicle than it has seat belts for. Use of seat belts is mandatory.
  • Do not use your mobile phone when driving.
gateway to boundary waters canoe adventure

You have safely arrived at your destination.

A great trip to the Boundary Waters usually begins and ends with driving.  Make sure that you, as a Scouter, are prepared for this part of the adventure.

Duty On. Be Your Best.

Tips For the Boundary Waters Photographer 

Do You Have a Photograph Philosophy

By Kevin

boundary waters photography

Do you give thought to your photographs?  Ansel Adams, one of the all-time great photographers, said that photographs should speak to people and be open to interpretation.  Photographs should move beyond a rendering of reality to an expression of life itself.

Too often, in this digital photography age, we click merrily away without giving thought to what we are truly capturing with our cameras.  We almost look at photos as disposable, good for a moments enjoyment and nothing more.  Of course, creating a moments enjoyment is fine, but a photograph can be more.

boundary waters moose

A photography captures a specific, very brief, point in time.  From the point of view of the photograph, there is no before or after, just that split second – a point in time than can never exist again.

bwca photography

Creating a Photograph Philosophy

And, since you are capturing a never to be repeated point in time, it is best to know what your goal is when you press the shutter button.  Before picking your camera again, give some thought to these questions:

  • Is my goal to create an incredible photograph every time?
  • Or is my goal to create a “disposable” photograph that brings short-term joy to the viewer?
  • And is my goal to create some feeling of emotion when my photographs are viewed? If so, what is that emotion?

Better Photos Start with a Photograph Philosophy

By answering these questions, you can begin to build your philosophy of photography.  There is no one proper philosophy.  However, if you have a philosophy, the odds are that your next photograph will be better than your last.

Shoot On!

We Can Help You Secure Your 2018 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!

williams and hall outfitters ely bwca permits

williams and hall outfitters quetico ely







Purchase Williams and Hall Merchandise Online

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

Welcome to the 2018 season! We Are Ready For You.

gateway to boundary waters canoe adventure

Please give us a chance to help you plan your 2018 Canoe Country adventure.

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

Williams and Hall Outfitters and Canoe Adventures                                                                                        
(218) 365-5837

Paddle On.  Be Free.