All Things BWCA Newsletter – May 2019

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

Ice Out!

by Blayne, our fearless leader

moose lake bwca outfitter ely

The Moose Lake Ice Cutter Was On Call

Well, so the ice left officially on April 28th.  Then it promptly snowed another 5” on the 29th.  See, the problem was Dave took the snow plow off the truck.  That is what will always bring that last snow.  The spring snow makes “Ice Out” a little bit like kissing your sister. You know, it is a lot less exciting than if we would have some gorgeous weather.  Nevertheless, the ice is gone and just as faith springs eternal, we know that eventually we will outlast a recalcitrant winter and claim some beautiful spring weather.

New BWCA Permit System

The USFS Permit System has received lots of press this year as our pals in the green suits decided to shake up our world and completely change the BWCAW reservation system.  Actually, the contract for the last vendor expired and they lost their bid to renew.  Thus, we were destined to get an updated system.  Now, my Grandpa taught me on many occasions that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  A lesson I have internalized.   However, just like the weather, we are not able to control the bureaucracy and a new system was indeed implemented over the winter months.   Granted, it was a bit like giving birth to a rhinoceros.

Thank you to the Forest Service!

You no doubt heard and read lots of stories about the new system and its implementation.  But here is the net, net of the whole deal…’s here and it works!  Kudos, to the Forest Service for hanging in there, fighting through many issues that I am sure they had little or no control over.  Undoubtedly, they had many problems that they could not anticipate and getting it all up and running was a Herculean feat.

It works, It works, Yeah!!!  When the day came, we were able to obtain 100% of our requested overnight paddle permits for our guests.   Needless to say, we didn’t get much sleep the night before, but with the Forest Service’s help, we got through with great results.  So, all of our parties received exactly what they wanted.

Still Plenty of Time and BWCA Permits for this Summer

There were, of course, Lessons Learned.  First, make a plan in the Fall.  Get to us with dates so we can get organized and get your permit application ready to go.  As we set here in early May, there are still many permits available for this summer, however, some key dates are booked for popular entry points and it may force you to adjust your vacation dates.

So, if you are one of those folks who are confined to specific vacation dates, or part of a group that involves lots of kids with lots of schedules, get your request to us early. Second, we received good results in the end, but it was not without a few glitches, and it was through the combined efforts of our staff and Forest Service folks that ironed them out.

Remember, we do not charge to get permits for our guests and it is really good to have someone in your corner.  So, using an outfitter to help with your permit is a smart move.

At the end of the day, it’s all good and business as usual, well as soon as the snow melts.

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Adventure On!

The Fishing Corner

Gearing Up

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

moose lake bwca outfitter ely

Moose Lake’s fickle weather

Well, it is supposed to be the fishing opener next weekend but true to form, the weather is proving, once again, to be the X-factor.

Work On Your Fishing Gear Now

It’s never unusual up north, to have a little taste of the season past but the sun is strong now and warm stretches are soon to be the norm. In the meantime, the best approach is to gear up. This means digging your stuff out of the storage closet, cleaning it up and making sure your equipment is working the way you hope it does when you get on the water.

bwca fishing trips

When it comes to fishing…equipment failure is not an option…especially on a Boundary Waters canoe trip. Three of the biggest headache causing issues, as it pertains to fishing readiness, are old/bad line, a failing fishing reel and bad/rusty hooks (usually caused by storing tackle before it was dry). A little investment of time and effort can cure most equipment woes, however.

Another possible issue can occur when folks borrow gear from friends or family. You’re less likely to be concerned about the condition it’s in, assuming its owner has it in “ready to use” condition. Realizing four lakes into your trip, is not the best time to find out it’s not. A little bit of pre-planning will go a long way to aiding in a successful fishing adventure.

We Can Help – Just Ask

One of the things that we do at Williams and Hall Outfitters is to help folks determine the type of fishing gear you’ll need to match the species of fish you’d like to target. General fishing, for instance, can be handled a bit differently than pursuing a specific kind of fish or fishing technique. Again, we can help you figure that out but it’s easier to plan ahead than to arrive without an idea.

Very often, people tell us that planning a wilderness canoe trip is half the fun. We can tell you that properly “Gearing Up” for your Boundary Waters fishing adventure is not only half the fun but at least half the reason for wilderness fishing success! So, “Gear Up”!

bwca lake trout

Beautiful BWCA Fish

Fish On. Be Free.

Wilderness Wisdom

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Getting All Tied Up in Knots

by Kevin

If you are like me, you can never remember what knot to use in what situation, much less how to tie them.  Sure, there are a couple I know like the two half hitch and the clinch knot.  But that is about it.  So what is a canoe camper to do?

Certainly, one option is to do a crash course using Google and a piece of rope before arriving at the edge of the lake.  The problem is that you still might forget which knot to use in a situation or how to tie it.

Instead, first figure out the most useful knots for canoe camping and fishing.  Here are few knots for the list.

  • The square knot
  • Two half hitches
  • Sheep bend
  • Truckers hitch
  • Taught line
  • Improved clinch

Actually, the list can go on and on depending on who you ask.  My solution is to purchase a set of cards with tying instructions for the key knots.  These sets are small and light weight.  You can even practice while enjoying the view in your camp chair.  Here is an example of these types of card sets.

bwca outfitter ely

You can order these cards here.

Paddle On.  Be Free.

The Scout Scene 

The Troop Needs to be a Good Fit for the Scout

by Kevin

boy scout high adventure

I can remember when my son was choosing what troop to join.  Most of his friends from Webelos were choosing between two troops.  It was hard because it appeared that close friends were going in both directions.  The point is that choosing the right troop will have a big impact on your child’s scouting experience.

A Big Decision

When choosing a troop, there are many things to consider.  Here a few items to consider.

  • Where does the troop meet and is the facility set up for both indoors and outdoors activities?
  • Is the troop Scout-led or are the adult leaders overbearing?
  • How often does the Troop go camping and does it have a history of high adventure trips?
  • Is the Troop in good financial shape?
  • Is the Troop large enough to create an engaging experience.
  • What is the Troop’s signature event(s)?

You can see more questions by clicking here.  This choice is important.  Give it proper consideration.

Duty On. Be Your Best.

Tips For the Boundary Waters Photographer 

bwca canoe trip photos

Base Camping For Great Photos

By Kevin

Looking for some amazing BWCA photographs.  Consider setting up a base camp to work out of.  This will allow you to simply focus (no pun intended) on wilderness photography.

Choose a Base Camp Location

Begin by selecting a lake to base camp on and getting your route planned.  You might start with a tow to get as far as possible into the wilderness quickly.  Look for a site on your chosen lake that will maximize either sunrise or sunset opportunities.

Protect Your Equipment

boundary waters photography

The make sure you carefully protect your equipment from the lake water and elements as you are paddling to your location.  One photographer suggests packing your equipment in a Pelican style hardcase that is waterproof.  He then inserts the hardcase into a dry bag for further waterproofing.

You may need to do some portaging on your way to your base camp.  One great idea is to lash your tripod to your canoe thwarts.

wilderness photography

Settle In and Start Shooting

Once you arrive and set up your camp, you can begin to focus on your photography.  Plan your days to be up and going early and late when lighting is best and animals are most active.  Camp chores, and naps, are best done during the middle of the day.  Also, plan a few day trips to surrounding lakes.  You never know when that amazing shot will arise.

boundary waters moose

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 Birthday 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.

Check out our great hats and other merchandise.

williams and hall outfitters bwca canoe trips

Just click the link at the top of our home page or go directly to Moose Lake Trading Company by clicking on the logo.

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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

As Featured on Minnesota Proud.

Paddle On.  Be Free.