All Things BWCA Newsletter – May 2018

All Things BWCA Newsletter – May 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

The Wait Is Over

by Blayne

bwca quetico canoe

Ice Out Has Occurred

Yesterday, our neighbor called and asked me if the ice was out.  I said well it is like Bill Clinton said about sex, it depends on how you define it.  There was some open water, but still big patches of ice. So in the strictest sense, it was not open.  Well, as of this morning, May 8, it is all open thanks to a warm night wind. So yes, there will indeed be a canoe season in 2018.  We did our happy dance and are now back to work.  I mean after all, the ice has been “going out” for a million years plus or minus, right?

tow boat bwca ely

A Tow Boat Stands Ready at Our Dock.

Dave and I just got back from putting the first towboat in the water, a true sign of  commitment.  You always are a bit dubious when the first boat goes in the water as to whether or not that motor will turn over, and then not die out half way down the lake.  I have learned that it is always best to have Dave take the first spins in the boats just in case.  See I have learned things in my 25 years on the lake.

Spring bwca

How Do Things Break Over the Winter?

The one thing that still mystifies me is how you can take out the water system in the fall that is operating perfectly, and put it all away in heated rooms and then you break it out in the spring, put it back together and it doesn’t work, go figure.  Someday, we’ll get that one figured out.

Ice Out Brings Spring Prep and Customers

Last weekend we had a crew in from the local community college and they raked leaves, moved heavy things around and generally got everything back in fighting trim.  Usually the first kid from our summer crew that arrives gets that privilege.  It usually takes him about two weeks in a hoody fighting swarms of black flies to get it done.  Well these guys put us a good three weeks ahead of the game.  We might even have time to get some spring remodeling in.  It is such a heart-warming occasion to watch others rake leaves!

bwca ice out moose lake

BWCA  Canoeists and the San Juan Capistrano swallows have something in common.

Well to top it all off, I just saw the first towboat loaded with a customer heading up the lake.   Just like the swallows at Capistrano, canoeists are back. More importantly, last night we heard the first loon of the season.  The Boundary Waters is officially open and ready for action.

Adventure On!

The Fishing Corner

Opening Day 2018

by Dave, our Resident Fishing Expert

bwca spring growth

A Canoe Country Version of the Spring Opener

The “Opener” for some folks means a new season of Major League Baseball. For others, maybe the the first day of school. Still others might get excited about a Grand Opening of a favorite store. In states like Minnesota, that have specific dates in which to fish for certain types of fish, Opening Day means one thing and one thing only…another fishing season to dream about and participate in!

walleye pike bwca quetico fishing

Great Spring Fishing Awaits

The official Minnesota Fishing Opener basically coincides with the opening of our canoeing season. This year however, the late ice out might have a different effect on fish behavior. Many of the stream and rivers are full of spawning walleyes and pike are way up in the shallow coves, not long after spawning too.  Bass will venture into some of the same shallow, mud bottom bays as well, in search of some warm water and food. They’ll spawn too, but not for several weeks when the water gets up close to 60° or more. Trout enthusiasts should be able to enjoy shallow lakers for at least a few weeks with the cold water. The many other creatures are showing up in typical fashion as if scripted to do so. Loons and warblers, turtles and spring peepers, as if to say “We’re Open for Business”.

loon bwca ely williams and hall

Up here in the Boundary Waters, the “Opener” is as much a state of mind as it is a specific date. So, if you have a little spring fishing in your future, let us know how we can help you enjoy your “Opening Day”.

Cast On!

Fish On. Be Free.

Wilderness Wisdom

williams and hall outfitters bwca ely minnesota

Smarter Than the Average BWCA Bear

by Kevin

Eagles, wolves, moose and bear – oh my.  Yes, the Boundary Waters has its share of amazing wild creatures.  Today, we will talk about Canoe Country bears.  The black bear is native to the BWCA and Quetico.  Black bears are usually about 250 to 300 pounds and vary in color from light brown to black.  There are no grizzly bears in the Boundary Waters or Quetico wildernesses.

williams and hall bwca outfitters

ursus Americanus

The good news is that BWCA black bears tend to keep to themselves and very, very rarely attack a human.  However, as with all wildlife, certain care should be taken with regard to wild black bears.

bwca wildlife

Know how to properly hang a bear bag.

Standard Precautions for Bears

When camping in the Boundary Waters, here are some standard protections to take.

  • When you arrive at a campsite, look for recent bear activity (tracks, droppings and scattered garbage).  If there is recent evidence, move on to another camp site.
  • Keep food odors out of your campsite.  Properly dispose of food leftovers.  Dispose of dishwater far from your campsite.
  • Keep all food and food odors out of your tent.  Absolutely no food in the tents.  Wash up after cooking so you don’t smell like food.
  • Hang your food in bear bags from trees or use bear proof containers.

If all of this fails and a bear pays you a visit, don’t panic.  Most bears are easily chased away by yelling, waving arms and banging pots together.  Just stay at least 15 feet away from the bear.

You should not fear bears, just keep your camp site in proper order and give bears proper respect.

Paddle On.  Be Free.

The Boy Scout Scene 

Over or Under the Collar – the Great Debate

by Kevin

As Scouters, we see it all the time.  Some boys, and adults, wear their neckerchief over their collars, while others wear them under their collars.  Which is correct?

scouts williams and hall outfitters

Settling the Neckerchief Debate

The neckerchief may the most recognizable part of a Scout’s uniform.  Each troop may choose its own neckerchief and can be a source of great troop pride.  However, the question remains – over or under the collar.  Well the answer is:

“the unit has a choice of wearing the neckerchief over the collar (with the collar tucked in) or under the collar.” This from the BSA’s Guide to Awards and Insignia.

While the BSA gives you a choice, it is recommended that each troop choose one way or the other, and then ask each troop member to adhere to the troop’s decision.  This will create a uniformed look for the troop.  After all, it is a uniform.

Duty On. Be Your Best.

Tips For the Boundary Waters Photographer 

Moose Musts: Tips For Photographing a Moose

By Kevin

bwca wildlife ely williams and hall outfitters

If you paddle in the Boundary Waters and Quetico, you always have the chance of coming upon a moose in the wilderness.  It may be in the water or on land.  No matter, the key is to be ready to capture this event with a camera.

Get That Great Boundary Waters Moose Photo

Here are a few tips for photographing a moose.

  • For the strongest effect, focus on the eyes of the moose.
  • Maintain a level horizon in the background of your photo.  Try not to be aiming up or down when you shoot.
  • Don’t limit yourself to horizontal compositions.  Turn the camera and take some shots with a vertical orientation.
  • Try not to cut off the moose’s limbs in the photo.  If the moose is standing water, capture enough of the water as to include where the bottom of the moose’s limbs would be.
  • Capture close-ups as well as photos showing the environment in which you have found the moose.  The moose does not need to take up the entire photo.

You never know when a moose may appear.  Have a camera nearby in the canoe and be ready when your special moment arrives.

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.