Monday, May 22, 2017

Quetico Spring Fishing with Adam Macht

I just got back from a week-long trip into Quetico.  We did some exploring but spent the bulk of the trip fishing on Argo and McIntrye.  The lake trout fishing was fantastic.  Our best success came trolling crank baits that dove 15’ – 30’ (my favorite was the Rapala Deep Diving Tail Dancer).
A lure with a white or silver flash seemed to be most effective.  I had good response with a Norman Shad lure as well.  There were times throughout the trip that a jig with a 4” white minnow (artificial) was very productive.  We had plenty of fish to eat!  Interestingly, in one of the fish we caught to eat, it’s belly was full of flying ants (I should have taken a picture!!).  I had never seen this before.  They must have been coming to the surface to pick the ants off the water.  It was unique, and might explain why the bite was a little slower that day.

Argo Lake 
Foggy Morning on McIntyre

Morning on Argo

Solo sunrise on McIntyre

Overall, the trip was great.  We had great campsites on Argo and McIntyre, and the only canoe we saw was a family of 4 with 2 small kids.  It was so quiet and peaceful, and it is always fun to spend a week with good friends in Quetico.  I hope you get a chance to get out and enjoy this beautiful wilderness up here!

Adam Macht
Piragis Outfitting

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Spring Trout Trip              

When four adult, slightly past middle age, guys, get together for a camping trip you know there will lots of jokes, jabs and jabbering.  The great thing about a boyz trip to the Quetico for lake trout is the chance to be little boys again or a primitive hunting party or some combination thereof.   At these ripe ages there less bragging and less muscle testing and a lot more dependence of each other and modesty, the result of what little wisdom that has been gained over so many years.  All for the better to have more fun,  take fewer portages and prepare a few good meals that men have garnered from years of watching their wives. 

This was a laid back, no worries about catching a lot of fish and happy to be out, kind of trip we did last week to the fabled North Bay of Basswood Lake in Quetico Park.   It was the week before fishing opener in Minnesota and two weeks before the same in Ontario.  Lake Trout is the only species that we could keep that were in season.   When we caught a smallmouth bass and a walleye, both handsome specimens, they had to go right back in the lake.   The lakers were playing hard to get on us.  We trolled a lot of water at different depths and saw some great scenery, absorbed too much solar radiation on the hands, ears and nose but rarely had to reel up lunker lakers.   Actually, there were no lunkers caught last week.  The bay was cold and calm most of the 5 days we were there but she was pretty stingy with the red fleshed trout. 

When a lake trout was landed it was meant for the pan and the meals were exceptional.   I made a first for me; trout tacos.   It was just snap decision while hiking the isles of Zup’s grocery in Ely the day before the trip to buy cole slaw mix and dressing and some real big soft taco shells.   I just breaded strips of trout cut off the filets and fast fried them laying them in the taco with some fried cubed potatoes and onion topped with juicy cole slaw.  It seemed to be a hit among the four men cooking around the campfire.    One of my chums for another trout dinner baked his filets over the fire in aluminum foil with butter and onions; another big success story for the guys.   We spent time contemplating how much water to use for oatmeal and whether or not the pork loin over the fire was cooked enough or if a little pink was now ok to serve America’s other white meat.   With the occasional sip of box wine from a plastic bag details of cooking were more easily worked out.  

Perhaps the most solemn moment of the trip was the scattering of the ashes of one of our fathers who passed away recently.  Jack was a friend to all, a great hockey coach and a bit of an old curmudgeon but renowned for his unique expressions and liberal use of language that would be bleeped out on TV.   Not that Jack was on TV but he a star to those of us who knew him.  If you knew Jack you always smiled when his name was mentioned.  He did some fishing up north and he loved to visit Ely with his wife Ann to see what their son was doing now to live the life of a modern entrepreneur woodsman.  Like father, like son, Steve managed to scatter a few choice words in every conversation we had last week.  It’s a loose group when the men that are still boys at heart, make a trip to the woods to catch lake trout in spring.   Enjoy the photos and come up soon. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mother's Day and Fishing Opener -- Adventures in Ely

This past weekend were two of my favorite days of the year.  For once, Saturday, came without snow, without hail, without a blustery windy, rainy day that was more about what rain gear to put on that would allow for multiple warm layers underneath than fishing. It was a pleasant day. So of course, that meant that I ultimately had other plans.

One of my fishing partners had to travel to Virginia, Minnesota mid-day to finish up her last hour of behind-the-wheel-driving so that she can take her driver's test as close to five minutes after she turns sixteen as possible.  My oldest daughter is all about fishing, just like her mother.  Her younger sister is also one of those people who will sit in a canoe or ankle deep in water for hours as long as they are biting.

Sure I had a couple of friends that had asked me to hit the water for opener, but I'd promised Lucy that I'd fish first with her, and so, I took the day to work on my novel.  Writing went well enough and all and all it was a relaxing day in which I solved some problems, gained some ground on character development and discovered something I'd been hoping to find.

That evening we went to an early graduation party for one of my son's friends and the next morning was church.  After that Lucy, Juliet and I changed clothes, loaded up the gear and canoe, stopped at the bait store for supplies and headed out.  We needed to be back before five to get started on dinner for Mother's Day.

The sun was out and there was a breeze that pushed us around a little bit, but most often let us be.  The water isn't very warm due to quite a few nights in the twenties, but it isn't just a few degrees above freezing any longer either.  We had sustained ourselves with a quick lunch just before leaving and I have to admit that with the warmth of the sun on my face I was perfectly comfortable just lounging in the stern seat of our Wenonah Champlain.

We had our lines out and the girls spent time between bites to add laughter to the lake.  For some reason Lucy and I repeatedly over cast nearly every time we threw towards the shore.  Probably over zealous after a long winter :) and so we ended up tangled in a few branches and bushes.  That only contributed to the hilarity.  It didn't take long though for her to land the first fish of the season.  On Mother's Day.

Well before that I felt like I'd achieved my goals.  Sitting there in the canoe, peering down through clear water, I felt like Spring had finally arrived.  With the sound of strong wings beating the air a wood duck landed on a house attached to a dead spire of cedar rising up out the lake bottom about 6 feet from my end of the canoe.  She disappeared inside and it was about that time that we too, felt the pull towards home and dinner and the celebration of MOM.

I pulled up that anchor, we stowed our lures, hooks, and rods and put our paddles to water.  Pulling through the cold water it was hard to imagine that just a little while ago we'd have been walking out here.  Up ahead though, shot up two of the clearest signs that the season had changed for good... a pair of loons surfaced, stark white markings against black so deep in color that it takes on purple and green coloring.  Sleek, young, streamlined.  Up close, only a few feet from the canoe, I'm taken with just how beautiful they are each time I see them.  One after the other, they dove underneath the surface and with powerful kicks from their legs glided past.  Every detail was visible in the clear water and their white spots seemed to glow until they surfaced again twenty yards away.

I wanted to stay, but the blackflies had arrived as well, and so we climbed out, grabbed everything and Lucy took off down the trail with the canoe on her shoulders.  Just like when Simon was a very little boy, Juliet now voiced what always comes to mind.  Walking behind, it looked like Lucy wore a giant yellow hat.

Olive bread and barbecued chicken awaited and the giving and receiving of gifts for the two moms in my life.  My wife and my mom.  As Simon would later post, "GOAT" -- the Greatest Of All Time!

Happy Mothers Day to all you moms and Guys, if you spent all weekend fishing, you missed out.

Peace, Tim Stouffer, Piragis Northwoods Company.

Update on Foss Lake Prescribed Burn May 15, 2017

Reviews are Appreciated and Certainly Important

It's great when you log onto your computer on Monday morning and find out that someone else has taken the time to feature you on their guide site.

It's also great when you see without any prompting at all except our excellent customer service and selection of gear that one of our customers takes it upon themselves to share their satisfaction.

Raymond did that on Facebook... here's what he had to say, "I love Piragis Northwoods Company. "

We can't agree more.

If you'd like to review our Canoe Trip Outfitting department we invite you to do so on our Facebook page or Trip Advisor.

We'd also like to encourage all of you to write reviews of products that you've purchased from the Boundary Waters Catalog on their individual product pages.  It only takes a short amount of time, lets us hear your feedback and helps other canoe campers and outdoor enthusiasts make decisions about products that you enjoy!  We promise it is easy and fast and we check everyday to see if there are reviews ready to be posted.  To avoid spam and inappropriate language the reviews have a short waiting period, so don't worry when they don't appear right after you enter them, it usually takes 24 - 48 hours to post.

Thanks Everyone!  Your feedback is important to us and we sure appreciate your reviews.  In today's online driven marketing world, it is very important for customers to be given the opportunities to review products and interact with our company via social media.  We realize for some of you that's not your cup of tea, but we also realize that the majority of us always turn to reviews when we are shopping for any products online.  We have so many great ones that have stood the test of time over the years that we'd just as soon like you our best customers to speak for them.  You use them, you recommend them by word of mouth, and now you can do so online.

Thanks, from Your Friends in the Great Northwoods,

Piragis Northwoods Company and the Boundary Waters Catalog

Friday, May 5, 2017

What does Hegman Lake look like in the Winter?

Have you ever wanted to walk on water?  Visit the pictographs on a windswept day?  Or perhaps you've just wondered what the northland looked like during winter.  We visited one of our favorite (and many of yours) places this winter.

We thought you'd like to see Hegman Lake in March.

If there are other places you'd like to see or things you wonder about around the Ely area and our favorite wilderness, please comment below and let us know.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Poem Silhouetted by Timothy James Stouffer


Against the last of Winter’s 
remnant, pines strike
a pose familiar.  When 
the skies wouldn’t stop
weeping but couldn’t
agree on flakes or tears,
the sun, brief and frustrated,
settled the matter.

A signature on that first
day of May that fleeting
formed a question mark
in the second morning
and inquiried of us all.  What
do we think
the shadows keep?
Who might the 
light reveal with
its brush under the boughs?

Sifting through the slush
of sunrise, my fingers grow
cold and numb
searching by feel in the thick darkness
for the words to our song
that began with Spring
but has lost itself
against the reflection
of the reaching
Red Pines.

Where is it that the path
leads us two from here?
Like some darkened maw
swallowing the borders
marked so carefully
on the map we hold.

©Timothy James Stouffer 05/02/2017

All Rights Reserved Ely, Minnesota