All Things BWCA Newsletter – March 2018

All Things BWCA Newsletter – March 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

We Are Ready for Spring!

by Blayne

I just heard our General Manager (and fishing expert), Dave, answer the phone. “Yes, I am ready for spring, don’t get me wrong, I like the winter, but I AM ready for spring.”  We are ready for spring.  Yes, that is the problem with Northwoods winters, they last FOREVER.  Good news, no bugs.  Bad news, we are ready to get going with the new season.

A Crazy Winter

williams and hall bwca winter

It has indeed been a crazy winter.  It was slow getting started, then super cold, and not much snow.  Now lots of snow and not so super cold. Well, it was 8F this morning – guess that is cold by some standards.  A friend in Florida was complaining about 55F days this winter down there. It’s all relative, I guess.  The current snow load does promise good lake water levels in the Boundary Waters when it all finally melts.

williams and hall bwca winter

Betting On Ice Out

Bets are being made in every “Up North” community this time of year about the exact day and hour of Ice-Out.  I have done about as well betting on that as NCAA March Madness, not well.  In typical Northwoods stoicism, we just adopt the attitude that “God put the ice here and he will take it back, at some point….probably.”  Here are a few pics of what some of the places you are familiar with in the summer look like now.  Quite a different look, isn’t it?

But, It’s Essential Gear

So meanwhile, we lay out our gear and make needed repairs/replacements.  We make countless justifications to our wives about just why these expenditures are essential.  Don’t miss the nuances here guys – essential is a much more compelling adjective than needed.  As only old fishermen know, it is not just oiling the reel and changing the line, but the relentless pursuit of the next greatest lure, that will define the success of the upcoming fishing season.

bwca quetico winter

So Charge!!!!, the season is almost upon us.

Adventure On!

The Fishing Corner

Time Change

by Dave, our Resident Fishing Expert

fly fishing boundary waters moose lake


Well, now that we’re on daylight savings time…we can look at frozen solid Moose Lake later in the day, for another 7 or 8 weeks. Regardless as to whether you like the time change or not, there’s one thing that hasn’t changed with the time. With this winter’s long cold stretches, we’re still quite a way away from open water.

boundary waters fly fishing gear

There comes a point where you run out of reels to re-spool and oil for the new season and tackle boxes to organize and re-organize. With warmer days and still cold nights, the snow on the lake will melt down to the ice surface and freeze at night. What this does is provide a giant, flat “proving grounds” (or “waters”, if you prefer) for two little known spring, Moose Lake activities.

Frozen Lakes and Fly Casting Practice

The first is honing the fly fishing skills. With all that un-impeded space, one can practice, or learn one of the secretly fun things to do on a Boundary Waters trip…Fly Fishing, Casting. Out on the ice, you can practice casting to your hearts content, while avoiding all obstacles. Even the most seasoned fly fisherman can benefit from a little “warm up” for the open water season. For anyone interested in learning or just getting into it, find a friend who’s into it and bug ‘em to teach, while the conditions are good (and safe). By the way, if you don’t have a safe frozen lake to learn or practice on…a nice, big, flat grassy yard will do the trick!

boundary waters small mouth fly fishing

Be careful, though, a giant smallmouth on a flyrod might just end up becoming another “hobby” to spend time and money on.

A Little Known BWCA Moose Lake Activity

Oh, and that other little known late Moose Lake ice activity? Yes, of course…flying a kite!

fly fishing boundary waters moose lake

Flying a kite on Moose Lake

Cast On!

Fish On. Be Free.

Wilderness Wisdom

williams and hall outfitters bwca ely minnesota


Layer Up For Early Season Canoe Trips

by Kevin

Ice out is a big deal on Moose Lake.  Once the ice is gone, canoe season is open.  But, it can still be cold in the Boundary Waters and Quetico.  Staying warm is key to enjoying an early season trip.  Warmth keeps you safe as well.

Take the Three Layer Approach

The best way to stay warm is to dress in layers.  We can divide layers into three categories – base layer, middle layer, and outer layer.

layered canoe clothing

Base Layer – for moisture management

  • Moisture wicking underwear
  • Breathable long underwear – choose among different weights to match the weather conditions
  • Sock liners

Middle Layer – for insulation

  • Fleece vest – water and wind resistant is best
  • Down (or synthetic) insulated jacket – remember that down is the most efficient but looses its insulating efficiency when damp.
  • Merino wool / Smartwool socks

Outer Layer – for wind, rain and snow protection

  • High quality, waterproof, breathable rain suit – separate pants and jacket with hood
  • Wind resistant cap that covers ears
  • Cold-weather paddling gloves

warm clothing bwca quetico

Paddle On.  Be Free.

The Boy Scout Scene 

Consider the Fifty-Miler Award

by Kevin

bsa fifty miler award boundary waters canoe

When planning a trip to the Boundary Waters, troop leadership may want to consider completing the requirements for the Boy Scout Fifty-Miler Award.  The award is designed to promote personal fitness, self-reliance, and outdoor knowledge and experience

Fifty Miles is No Walk in the Park

A 50-mile canoe trip is doable but difficult.  Generally, only older boys will have the stamina and strength to go 50 miles.  Also, accompanying adults will need to be in appropriate condition for such an effort.

The basic requirements to earn this BSA badge are:

  • Appropriately plan the trip
  • Trip must be 50 consecutive miles in length and last at least 5 days
  • Participants must spend at least 10 hours doing group trail or related work
  • Completion of the Fifty Miler Award Application

Don’t Lose Sight of Making It Fun

Williams and Hall can help you plan your 50-mile route.  Just keep in mind that such a trip is hard.  Give yourself plenty of time so that everyone can enjoy their trip.  Enjoyment and safety should always be the prime objectives – not just distance.

Williams and hall outfitters bwca quetico ely mn

Duty On. Be Your Best.

Tips For the Boundary Waters Photographer 

Don’t Forget the People On The Trip

By Kevin


When we are in an incredibly beautiful place like the Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness, we want to try to capture that beauty through photography.  We tend to focus on shooting the wilderness in its pristine state – and ignore the people travelling with us.  This is a mistake.

boundary waters canoe trips

Create Memories For Your Group

Photography creates memories.  Make sure your memories include not just where you were, but also who you were with.  Here are a few tips for group photos:

  • Try to have background that gives context to the shot
  • Take multiple shots to insure at least one good one
  • Get in close
  • Think about light so you eliminate dark or squinting faces
  • For large group shots, try to elevate yourself by standing on a rock or stump
  • Try a few shots using the camera timer so you can be part of the group photo
  • Tell Your group to smile canoe trips

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

The 2018 Spring Road Show Has Ended

We just returned from Canoecopia in Madison Wisconsin.  That ends our Spring travels to outdoor shows and customer nights.  We enjoyed every minute of our time visiting with friends, new and old.  Thanks for coming to a show or customer night near you.

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.