All Things BWCA Newsletter – December 2018

All Things BWCA Newsletter – December 2018

What’s Going on in the North Woods

  • bwca ely MinnesotaAround The Base
  • The Fishing Corner
  • Wilderness Wisdom
  • The 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

December is a Magical Time for Outfitters

by Blayne, our fearless leader

December is kind of a magical time in the lives of outfitters.  The Fall process is a lot like tucking the kids in for bed.  You know, you send them into their room, tuck them in, and leave the door open a crack.  Then out they come again, maybe a few times, before they finally decide to give it up and close their eyes.  So it is in our world.  The last boats are out of the water.  The water system is pulled.  The firewood is stacked.  Then it starts.

bwca snow winter

One of the furnaces isn’t working just right.   The winter water line has an issue.  The snowplow is draining the battery on the pick-up. Yet more painting needs to be done.  Well, we are very happy to report that the kids are finally in bed and we are enjoying the serious onset of winter.

williams and hall outfitters

The lake is frozen, as you can see.   The first ice shacks are popping up here and there.  Truthfully, our winter wonderland is coming alive.  We spend a lot of our Fall time on the road and when we return the single thing you notice most is how quiet it is.  The quiet and the stars are just amazing gifts that we get to enjoy.

This year on Moose Lake has been wonderful. We had a great canoe season.  We saw lots of folks come and go.  And, we enjoyed some great stretches of perfect weather.  The sunsets were awesome, the bugs were not bad, and above all….the fishing was some of the best ever.  This was one of those landmark years for Charlene and me.

It’s Our Anniversary!

It was our Diamond Anniversary as Canoe Outfitters.  It is so hard to believe that we have been here for 25 years now.  The time has gone by so fast.  Being able to live here and see the seasons come and go has been one of life’s great blessings for us.  However, that is not the best.  Wood’s Davis told me this when we bought the business.  He said, “The really great thing about being here and being in this business is that you get to know so many folks and you get to see families grow and come to enjoy the wilderness.”

So it is for us, we see that 12-year-old boy scout walking down the aisle at a sports show pushing a baby stroller and sporting a beautiful young wife and kid.  We see family reunions that reconstruct trips past.  We see Dad’s turn into Grandpa’s.  And we see folks that know nothing about the wilderness, camping, fishing, canoeing turn into Boundary Waters aficionados. Now, how great is that?  Most importantly, we have had the opportunity to make friends around the country that we truly look forward to seeing every summer.

williams and hall christmas

At this wonderful time of the year, we are thankful to each of you that has helped make our first 25 years special.  We want to take this chance to thank those of you that visited this summer and look forward to seeing you “Up North” again in the future.  We wish you the Merriest Christmas and the Best New Year EVER!

Adventure On!

Special Holiday Gift For Our Customers – HO HO HO!

Our friend and wilderness author,  Jim Rahtz, has taken many wilderness adventures and spent a career promoting and teaching nature secrets to America’s youth.  He has included many Boundary Waters trips among his exploits.   Jim has recently published a book titled Boundary Waters 101.

planning in the bwca

It is short and concise, and answers many questions that one may have when planning a trip to Canoe Country. It also offers lots of sage advice for old hands, too.

As a Christmas gift to Williams and Hall guests, he is making available a Kindle version of the book for FREE.  The offer is available starting on December 15 and ending December 18,  only.  Go to the following link and at checkout you will see the price is set at $0.00.

Link to Amazon:

williams and hall outfitters ely

It’s Showtime – Winter Sports Show and  Customer Night Dates

Please catch up with us this winter at a sports show or Boundary Waters night near you. The dates are now posted on our website. You can see them by clicking here. 

These are great times to visit and plan your next excursion into this wild country.  We will do our best to continue to reach out to you through our blog and newsletters.  We will let you know of any changes in rules or regulations that come down the pike just as soon as we can.

The Fishing Corner

Off-Season Tools for Boundary Waters Fishing

by Dave, our Resident Fishing Expert (and an all-around good guy)

So, with the Boundary Waters canoe fishing season over and mid-winter fast approaching, you might question just what fishing tools would be needed now?

Knowledge is Power

To coin an old cliché…” knowledge is power”. Have you ever fished a Boundary Waters lake for, say walleyes, with no success only to find out later from some guy on a portage that “that lake ain’t got no walleyes!” This can be a disheartening bit of information…to say the least. When you are already limited on time, you’d like to make the most of it.

bwca fine fishing

Arming yourself with information for your next Boundary Waters fishing trip will not only up to your odds of fishing success but is a fun way to spend some time on a cold & blustery mid-winter day.

There are many sources of Boundary Waters fishing info available out there but before you start collecting, there are a few things to know. First, no one person knows everything about fishing in the Boundary Waters. Some know a lot, though. Making some connections with “people in the know” can be one of the best tools to have. Easier said than done. Start with friends you know who might have some BW fishing experience (those willing to share). Next, look at your outfitter. Experience and knowledge, combined with other guest’s experiences is a great place to source info. Blogs and bulletin boards can also be a good source but much like on-line product reviews, need to be taken at face value pending a little cross-referencing.

Cross-Referencing is the Key to BWCA Fishing Success

The cross-referencing is the key.  First, there are countless “how-to” fishing articles & books out there, written by reputable fishing experts. While the bulk of the informative fishing article is not specific to fishing the Boundary Waters, many can be applied to BW fishing.  Visual sources, like YouTube, while typically not in an instructional format, can be very helpful if you know what to look for.

Minnesota dept of natural resources

One of my favorite sources of information, as I’ve mentioned to many guests, is a feature provided on Minnesota’s DNR website.

“Lake Finder” is a great source of information that connects you with actual field data collected by DNR Fisheries crews. Providing info like water depth & clarity, lake size, and type, and fish netting surveys could help keep you from fishing for walleyes in a lake that has none. Another key feature to the DNR’s Lake Finder info is a link to lake depth maps, which can be invaluable info in anyone’s fishing arsenal.

Combined with internet access to satellite imagery, finding important structures and locations can be fun and effective. Perhaps the most important point in all this is the cross-referencing. As great as the info in Lake Finder is, there’s still some cases of older, less updated information. Corroborating information from multiple sources is important.  By combining and confirming what you learn you will arm yourself with some valuable “Off Season Tools for Boundary Waters Fishing”.

bwca fishing

Fish On. Be Free.

Wilderness Wisdom

williams and hall outfitters bwca ely minnesota

Thinking About Snowshoeing

by Kevin

With winter and snow comes the opportunity to try a new winter sport like snowshoeing.  Snowshoeing is a great way to get outside in the winter.  The learning curve is not as tough as skiing and it can be done locally.

snowshoeing in the boundary waters

The Basic Needs of Snowshoeing

If you are a beginner, here are a few tips on equipment.

  1. Insulated, high-topped boots work best to keep your feet warm and dry. Gaiters can be helpful to keep snow out of your boots.
  2. Dress in layers – base layer, an insulating layer, and outer layer.
  3. A good hat and gloves are a must and should reflect the type of weather you will be out in.
  4. Wear sunscreen when it is sunny.
  5. Consider wearing a backpack with a hydration bladder. You can carry a snack.  And, the backpack is handy if you get hot and want to shed a layer.

As far as equipment goes, all you really need is a pair of snowshoes.  Poles are highly recommended.  Many local places will rent this equipment.  Match the snowshoes to the type of terrain you will be walking in.  Finally, have fun.

Paddle On.  Be Free.

The Scout Scene 

Holiday Lessons in Giving and Receiving

by Kevin

The holidays offer Scouters great ways to mentor youth in the ways of giving and receiving.  Few life lessons can be as important for young scouts.

Learning to Give

As Scouters, consider talking to your troop about ways that the Scouts can give back to their community during the holidays.  Have the troop plan an event.  Here are a few ideas.

  • Organize a coat drive
  • Be a good neighbor to those in need, including elderly homeowners who need a little help.
  • Send cards or care packages to members of the Armed Forces

The list can go on and on.

bwca boy scouts high adventure

In addition, scouts can learn about receiving as well.  Many troops run fundraisers during the holidays.  Work with the scouts on how to be gracious when someone makes a purchase.  This will make a real impression on the buyer, and create a better sense of gratitude for the seller.

Duty On. Be Your Best.

Tips For the Boundary Waters Photographer 

bwca holiday photos

Taking Great Holiday Photos

By Kevin

With holidays coming up, I thought we could all use a few tips on how to take better photos during the festivities.

  1. Be ready to shoot – Make sure you know how to use your camera, whether it is a traditional camera or a cell phone. Practice with special effects and zoom.  By practicing, new ideas will be sparked for creative photos.  Also, make sure your device is charged.
  2. Watch for that perfect shot – Keep an eye out for that perfect holiday shot no matter where you are. Good anticipation can lead to great photos.
  3. Get in close – Inevitably, it seems, most photos of people are taken from too far away. You end up with a lot of sky or ceiling and not enough detail of the main subject.  Don’t be afraid to fill your subject with the frame.
  4. When photographing groups take lots of photos – Photographers tend to put under pressure to get group shots over with. People have better things to do than to stand there and get their photo taken.  Set up the photo before you gather the group.  Then it takes lots of shots.  Getting everyone to smile and have open eyes is a real trick. And try to make it fun.
  5. Make sure you are in a photo or two – If you are the main photographer of the group, you may not be in any photos. Ask someone to take a few shots with your camera and to try to include you in the photo.  Otherwise, no one will ever know that you were there.

Share Those Photo Memories

Finally, remember to share your photographs with your subjects.  People love to get photos from holiday gatherings, especially if they are in the photos.

Shoot On!

We Can Help You Secure Your 2019 Permits for Boundary Waters  and Quetico Canoe Trips

Quetico Park permits are available no sooner than 5 months, to the day, ahead of the actual start date. 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

Great For Holiday Gifts!

Need a great gift for that paddler in your life.  You can always find Williams and Hall merchandise online.  Our online store is now called Moose Lake Trading Company.  Just click the link at the top of our home page or go directly to Moose Lake Trading Company by clicking on the logo.

williams and hall ely mn

We are ready to custom plan your 2019 BWCA canoe adventure. Just click the Gateway To Adventure sign to get started.

gateway to boundary waters canoe 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.