All Things BWCA Newsletter – February 2018

All Things BWCA Newsletter – February 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 Differences Between the U.S. and Canada

by Blayne

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The Most Asked Question

As our 2018 guests make their reservations for this upcoming canoe season, we find some questions are repeated over and over.  Foremost among those oft-repeated questions is this one:

What are the main differences between the Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada and Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW)?   More often the question is phrased as, what’s the difference between the US and Canada?

The Answers…

Well, while there are many differences, here are the ones we believe to be the most salient.

  • In the BWCAW, there are designated campsites and parties must stay in one of these sites. While in the Quetico, you can camp anywhere.  The BWCA sites have a fire grate and a box latrine.  In the Quetico, the sites are unimproved.  However, many sites have been occupied for generations.  The sites in both parks are first- come, first-serve occupancy.
  • A visitor will typically find that the Quetico has less traffic.  This is due to having far fewer permits.  However, there are routes that, during the high use weeks of the season, one will find a lot of other travelers in the Quetico.
  • Due to a lot fewer travelers, we would probably give the fishing edge to Canada.  However, the BWCA can be equally good for those that go prepared, and spend time actually fishing.  Most fishing in canoe country is de facto catch-and-release fishing,  so this means that there are a lot of fish, and a lot of big fish.  Remember that in Canada you must crimp the barbs on the hooks that you are using. They also suggest that anglers utilize non-leaded tackle.
  • Permits are issued five months to the day ahead of time for your desired entry point in the Quetico, while in the BWCA, there is a date when permits become available to the public, typically about the first of February.
  • In the US, there is a $10.00 reservation fee, and a per-person user fee of $16.00 per trip.  While in Canada there is a similar reservation fee, the user fee is significantly higher at $21.50 per person, per night. Both parks offer youth rates as well.
  • In Canada you must secure a remote area border crossing document (RABC) obtainable from  Canadian Customs and be in possession of a valid WHTI-approved method of documentation to reenter the US.  Most folks use a passport.

Manage Expectations

While, as we say, there are countless other subtleties as well, these are the biggies.  We urge you to include these points in the planning for your next trip.   There is nothing worse than misplaced expectations, particularly with group trips.

We will do everything we can to insure that each party has a safe and fun experience.  See you “Up North.”

Adventure On!

The Fishing Corner

Boundary Waters Spring Fishing is on the Horizon

by Dave, our resident fishing expert.

As the cold winter days keep adding up, it can seem like spring is far off in the distance. There are subtle signs though, that spring fishing can’t be that far away.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside outfitters ely bwca

Yes, the thermometer keeps dropping to -15° & lower, seemingly on a daily basis. The first signs of spring are out there if you’re creative enough to see them. In the North Country fisherman’s world, the arrival of spring fishing catalogs is, of course, one of the obvious first signs!  The TV fishing shows are in full swing…albeit, half of them are talking ice fishing. The sun is coming up a little earlier and setting a little later.  Soon the icicles will start melting with the renewed heat of the higher sun. Yes, the catalogs will sustain for a while but the days need a little more daylight and the sun definitely need more heat.

Ice Fishing Fix

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In the meantime, those of us in need of quality fishing time will concede to drilling through two feet of ice, in search of a big old northern, a feisty trout or a wayward walleye. In a couple weeks the ice fishing season will come to a close for walleyes, bass and pike (panfish and trout will remain open for a while).

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Time To Get The Fishing Gear Ready!

One of the spring exercises that helps fight the battle of cabin fever is to get into your open water gear and tackle. Clean, maintain and ready your fishing gear. Respool with new line, oil your reels and organize in preparation for the spring fishing that will indeed, show up as it always… eventually does.

So, for now, make the most of the fishing situation you have. Fish if you can, by whatever means necessary, brush up on your fishing knowledge, learn some new techniques, ready your tackle box and start planning for spring fishing…it’s a lot closer than you think.

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Another Beautiful Winter Day on Moose Lake in the Boundary Waters

Fish On. Be Free.

Wilderness Wisdom

Beware of Hypothermia During Winter Treks

by Kevin

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Getting outside in the winter is a great way to beat cabin fever.  But you need to dress appropriately.  Knowing the symptoms of hypothermia can save the life of someone else or your own.

Why Do We Shiver?

When we get cold, we shiver.  When your core body temperature drops, the shivering reflex is triggered to maintain homeostasis. Skeletal muscles begin to shake in small movements, creating warmth by expending energy. It’s your body’s automatic defense against cold temperature — an attempt to warm itself.

After Shivering Comes The Possibility of Hypothermia

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Someone with hypothermia usually isn’t aware of his or her condition because the symptoms often begin gradually. Also, the confused thinking associated with hypothermia prevents self-awareness. The confused thinking can also lead to risk-taking behavior. Symptoms include:

  • Shivering
  • Slurred speech or mumbling
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Clumsiness or lack of coordination
  • Drowsiness or very low energy
  • Confusion or memory loss
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Bright red, cold skin (in infants)


If you suspect hypothermia, call 911 and get help immediately.  While waiting for help, try to warm up the victim.  Remove wet clothes, and replace with dry blankets and dry clothes if available.

If  you are heading into the outdoors, keep a few blankets and a change of clothes in your car. Maybe include a fire starter.  Make sure someone knows where you are going.  And bring your cell phone.

Paddle On.  Be Free.

The Boy Scout Scene 

A Few Reminders of Why Scouting is so Great

by Kevin

At Williams and Hall, we are big fans of the Boy Scouts of America.  Blayne and I have participated as youth and adults, as have our sons.  Here are a couple of items to remind us of why scouting is cool.

Scouting Provides Consistency For Boys As They Grow Up

In this crazy world, it is nice for boys to have a place where they can learn on structured, but fun, basis.  Check out this photo.  The top photo of these boys was taken in 2007 when all six were cub scouts.  Ten years later, all six boys were Eagle Scouts and recreated their photo.

williams and hall outfitters boy scout high adventure

 Scouting Engages Boys In the Outdoors

Rank advancement is part of Scouting.  One aspect of rank advancement is outdoor camping.  This year, the BSA made early rank advancement a little easier by reducing the number of outdoor nights required to advance from Second Class to First Class (the total nights required to make Eagle Scout remained the same).  A nice change to encourage camping.

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 Girls Are Welcome

We are excited to see the Boy Scouts admit girls to the ranks.  Scouting is ever evolving as the world changes.  The BSA seems to have thoughtfully created Scouting opportunities for girls.  We hope it works. high adventure canoe trips ely bwca

PS – We are here to help your troop plan a 2018 BWCA trip

We would very much like to help Boy Scouts plan Boundary Waters trips.  As Scouters, we are dedicated to helping out any way we can.  If you have any questions during your planning process, just give us a call.

Duty On. Be Your Best.

Tips For the Boundary Waters Photographer 

Keep Your Focus For Great Winter Photos

By Kevin

Winter time can create amazing photo opportunities.  Dark, cloudy days or bright sunshine both can create mood and new perspective.  And, of course, snow adds a whole new element.  With some much going on, focus and shutter speed dominate your photography decisions.

Focus on Focus

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For a photo in falling snow, a camera will struggle to determine where to center its focus.  Sometimes, it will focus on the snow in the foreground.  Or, it might focus on the animal or the background.  At times like these, it may be best to use manual focus mode.  You then control the focus of the image.

Shutter Speed Matters

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What is your goal?  Do you want streaked snow like the photo above?  Or do you want frozen clarity (pun intended)?  The photo effect above is created using a slower shutter speed, in this case 1/15th of a second.  But remember to bring your tripod if you are planning to shoot with a slower shutter speed.

Dress warmly and go experiment, even in your backyard.  Practice makes perfect.

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!

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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

Canoecopia is in Madison, Wisconsin Starting March 9th

We will be at Canoecopia in Madison, Wisconsin again this year from March 9th to 11th.  Try to come to the show and stop by our booth.  Canoecopia is the largest paddle sport consumer event in the world, and a great time.  You can check out the show website by clicking here.

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

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We hope you 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.