As we approach the middle of August, fishing continues to be good on the Gunflint Trail. Andy McDonnell at Bearskin Lodge commented that fishing has been steady all summer rather than up and down like it was last summer. At Golden Eagle Lodge Dan Baumann's guests have been catching lots of big smallmouth bass and releasing them due to the slot limits on Flour lake. They have been getting plenty of eating size wallyes but few big ones. Moon and Aspen Lakes have also been providing good fishing for bass and walleye.
Luana Brandt at Nor'Wester Lodge says that her guests have been really happy with the fishing. Shari Baker at Gunflint Pines had a party out on Seagull Lake who did well on trout, northern and bass. She said the walleyes on Gunflint Lake have been doing better than usual.
The best catch of the week goes to a 21-year old Indiana girl fishing on Loon Lake. Tom Caldwell from Loon Lake Lodge said she caught (and released) eight lake trout one day. All the guys in camp were envious and referred to her as "that girl." Sometimes women just have the touch.
Guests and neighbors on the South Gunflint Lake road have been seeing wolves. Barb Gecas at Heston's Lodge has had three guests report seeing a wolf. Shari Baker has also had guests seeing the animal. One of the neighbors told me about seeing a big wolf in front of the fire hall at 8:00 a.m. one morning. Sue Ahrendt of Tuscarora Lodge has been seeing wolf puppies on the Gunflint Trail. With all the rabbits around, Sue figures there is plenty for them to eat. We just don't want a car to hit them
Down at Hungry Jack Outfitters Dave Seaton has seen a big bear with very large arms. It looks like the bear was a body builder. With all the blueberries this year, the bears are not going hungry. According to what I have read, a good berry crop increases the reproductive success of bears. Well, this year has(and still is) one of the best blueberry crops in years.
Dave has also had some guests from Russia who find the Trail to be like Siberia. This is probably because both places are part of the boreal forest. In Russia it is called the tiaga.
Debbie mark at Seagull Outfitters said that the temperature of Seagull Lake is 77 degrees. That is exceptionally warm for water temperature up here. It is probably why all the kids are every resort are living in the water. The best part is that we have had enough rain so that there is no fire ban.
Lin Sherfy from Rockwood Lodge has had canoeing guests coming in after seeing a huge moose. Lin has seen the pictures and agrees that this one really is huge. It is located somewhere north of Winchell Lake.
Two sets of a cow and a calf moose have been regularly seen around the road by Seagull Lake. These have got to be the most photographed moose in the world. Cars are stopping all the time to snap some pictures.
Finally the warm weather has done wonders for the garden at Poplar Creek Guesthouse. Ted Young says they have gotten 18 ripe tomatoes from just one tomato plant. This is really early for tomatoes to ripen up here. Usually we don't see red until late September.
Just as an aside Ted says that his wife, Barbara, hates to make beds in this hot weather.
Gunflint Trail fishing continues to be good. The resorts I talked with said their guests were doing well. Bob McClough at Bearskin Lodge reported that fishing is good for walleyes with leeches, slip bobbers and jigs on Crocodile, Moon and East Bearskin. He has even seen a lake trout and a largemouth bass come in from East Bearskin.
Dan Baumann at Golden Eagle Lodge had two more large walleyes caught off the resort's docks. The hot fishing, however, is for smallmouth bass. In addition to rapalas, the bass are biting on Zara Puppies which are a surface lure. As you reel in after casting, you use the tip of your rod to put a little action into the lure. It zigs ans zags across the surface. Dan says that every time he demonstrates this lure, he gets a fish.
Guests with Forrest Parsons at Hungry Jack Lodge have been exploring a variety of lakes. One guest got a nice 8 lb. lake trout on Clearwater Lake. A party of three went up to Seagull Lake. In addition to catching a 32" walleye (which was released), they filled out three limits of smaller walleyes for eating. Leo Lake continues to regularly produce rainbows on worms.
Luana Brandt at Nor'Wester Lodge also has guests bringing in eating size fish. Tom Caldwell at Loon Lake Lodge said his regulars who know where to fish on the lake are steadily bringing in fish. At Heston's Lodge Barb Gecas had some guests catching small fish on Loon Lake which they just threw back. The guests were thrilled with their catch. It may be due to the fact that the fishermen were three and five years old and out with Grandpa and Dad.
Animals have been quiet lately. Bob McClough had a young mallard they named Rocky. Some guests found him washed into the weeds with a large rapala snagged above one eye. After removing the lure, they let the mallard go. For several days Rocky ran around trying to join another mallard family with no luck. Eventually, he found a family willing to accept him or perhaps it was his real family.
Over at Poplar Creek Guesthouse, Barbara Young has lots of birds coming in. One day while she was gone a new bird came in. Between looking at the bird and at the bird book, this one was mistakenly identified as a Mongolian Thrush. The guests joked that it had a Mongolian firepot in its beak since Barb and Ted cook Mongolian firepot dinners in the winter. Barb came home and correctly identified the bird as a Magnolia Thrush.
Nancy Seaton claims that she has never seen such a bumper crop of all kind of babies. Not just birds but also loons, bunnies and fox. Maybe the warm spring gave all these babies a better start. Or it could be due to the fact that almost no one is reporting seeing wolves.
Rockwood Lodge has had a cow and 2 moose calves island hopping says Lin Sherfy. Guests have been stumbling over them at odd times of the day -- 10:00 a.m. or 3:00 p.m. Of course, if they send someone out to see the moose, the animals remain very elusive.
Mike and Sue Prom from Voyageur Canoe Outfitters took their kids on a canoe trip. They saw lots of loon families with two babies. They were also amazed at the variety of sizes in these young loons. Some seemed almost ready for feathers while other were tiny and riding on their parents' backs.
Shari Baker from Gunflint Pines noted that we have had a relatively bug free summe. It has been wonderful.
The most constant story with everyone has been the berries. Both blueberries and raspberries are very early and there ae lots of them. Sue Ahrendt from Tuscarora Lodge walked up the Centennial Trail to the first overlook. She stopped to pick some raspberries. A flicker of motion caught her eye and for a few brief seconds she and a young bear stared eye to eye. Then her dog Denali was off chasing the bear.
With this blog finished, I am off to join my neighbors picking berries.
It's July and resorts on the Gunflint Trail are busy! If you are coming this way, now is the time to call your favorite resort and get a reservation.
Meanwhile the fishing continues to be good. Andy McDonnell at Bearskin Lodge says that evening fishing with leeches and a slip bobber have yielded a 27" and 28" walleye. He feels that walleye fishing in the Bearskin area is better than it has been the last couple of years. Ted Young at Poplar Creek Guesthouse says his guests have been catching walleyes on Little Ollie lake which is unusual.
Teressa Baumann at Golden Eagle Lodge also has had some nice fish come in. A 30" and a 28" walleye were caught off their dock using leeches. Her son, Zach, brought in a 28" northern. Ericka over at Hungry Jack Lodge says that Leo Lake has been giving up some rainbows while walleyes, smallmouth bass and northerns are being caught on Hungry Jack Lake.
As usual the animals are out in force. Ted Young woke up at 6:00 a.m. the other morning to see a moose walking towards his apple trees. It immediately gave him a dilemma -- call the guests and risk the moose eating his apple trees or scare the moose away and save the apple trees. Luckily the moose just smelled the apple leaves so the guests got to see her.
Babies are out all over. Andy McDonnell says the fox babies have learned to follow when the staff is trashing fish guts. They follow the truck and feast on the guts. Golden Eagle has a loon with two babies. Teresa has also seen mallards with 10 and 7 babies.
Dave Seaton at Hungry Jack Outfitters has our best baby story. They have a loon with a cracked voice who has not been able to get a mate. This lonely male found a mate for the first time this year. He is so happy to have a baby that he is overly protective. At the same time thee is a very determined eale on the lake who wants loon chick for dinner. Every time the eagle swoops down, Dave can hear the distinctive call of the loon as he has a fit. So far the baby loon is still with us.
Everyone up and down the Trail from Luana Brandt at Nor'Wester Lodge to Shri Baker at Gunflint Pines to Sue Ahrendt at Tuscarora Lodge can't stop talking about the berries. The strawberries are good now and the rspberrries and bluberries are coming along fine. Sue swnt scouting one day and found pincherries, dewberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. She says don't get disappointed if you find some blueberries tha were caught b e cold snap. There are sill lots of blueberries around.
Two activities are happening on the Gunflint Trail now. The first is a grand opening of the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center. It will oficially be open on Sunday, July 4th. Earlu opinions tell me that it is well worth the stop. The second is that the U. S. Forest Srvice is conductin an archeological dig at Gordon's Site on Gunflint Lake. They will be here through next week and it is a grat opporunity to see an actual dig in progress.
Speaking of the Forest Service, they have just come out with a guide to the new Centennial Trail. This trail was built last fall between the Kekekabic Trail and the Round Lake Road. Tom Kaffine from the Gunflint District has identified 14 historic spots on the trail. He then wrote a small brochure telling you the signifcance of what you are looking at. Spend an afternoon hiking this trail.
June is really fishing time on the Gunflint Trail. At Bearskin Lodge, Sue McCloughan saw a huge 6 lb. splake come in from Alder Lake. Crocodile and East Bearskin Lakes have also had good catches of walleyes. Dan Baumann at Golden Eagle Lodge had a 9-year old girl put all the other fishermen to shame. Using leeaches with a slip bobber off the dock she caught a 28" and a 24" walleye. Dan also says that the herring have just started to hit. Any kind of shiny spoon like a Little Cleo works well for them. Forrest Parsons doesn't want Hungry Jack Lodge to get left behind. He had one of this guests come in with a 27 1'2" walleye. Once again the lure was a leech on a slip bobber in about 8-16 feet of water. The bass have also been hitting good on Hungry Jack Lake.
Lin Sherfy at Rockwood Lodge had an unusual fishing story. A solo canoest was fishing dragging a stringer of caught fish behind his canoe. Suddenly the stringer started shaking. He began to pull it in. There was a huge northern feasting on one of his walleyes. The canoer didn't want that fish in his canoe so he shook it off but lost half a fish in the process.
Sue Ahrendt of Tuscarora Lodge noted that fishing for lake trout has been good in the Boundary Waters. The fish are in about 30-40' of water.
Curtis Blake from Seagull Creek Fishing Camp had a 16-year old out with his younger brother and father. The boy caught a 30" walleye weighing about 10 lbs. Jon Schei from Gunflint Lodge has been guiding Mary Jane Platt, one of his steady guests, this week. She caught a 31", 12 lb. walleye on a spinner and crawler. Jon has also been catching lake trout on ciscoes and crank baits in 40-80 feet of water.
Tom Caldwell from Loon Lake Lodge always has an interesting fish story. This week he had a novice fisherman in camp. The man announced that he was going out to catch walleye, which is not the most plentiful fish on Loon. The fisherman came in with an 18" walleye. Then he announced that he was going to catch a bigger one the next day. Sure enough the man came in with a 21" walleye. Maybe it was beginner's luck.
Paul Beattie at Cross River Lodge has seen good catches of trout, northern and walleye come in from Gunflint Lake. Last but not least, Debbie Mark from Seagull Outfitters says that even owners get to fish a bit. She was out last Sunday and caught a 27" walleye on a leech and slip bobber. They let it go and waited for the two smaller walleyes to bring in for dinner.
While all this fishing has been going on, the animal population has made several appearances. Nancy Seaton at Hungry Jack Outfitters takes the prize. She had two people walk into her outfitters at 7:10 this morning. They had just hiked the moose viewing trail below Swamper and seen moose at the pond. These people understood that you look for moose on moose time (early) rather than our time (afternoons). Dan Baumann says there is a cow and a calf moose hanging out on their drive but no bull yet. Sue Ahrendt says that canoeists are seeing lots of moose in the BWCAW.
I think that Sue Ahrendt and I are seeing the same wolf. We both saw a large but thin wolf near the Tucker Lake Road at different times. The animal stayed right on the edge of the road as a car approached. Then it went off the road just a few feet and looked at you. The wolf did not look malnourished but could have had a little more meat on its bones. We speculated that it might have been an old Alpha Male that was kicked out by a younger male.
Lin Sherfy gets the last word. She has a Saw-whet Owl that is driving her nuts at night. The call of this owl sounds like a truck's backup horn and it's right out her bedroom window.
The Gunflint Trail is open for another season of fishing. What a glorious opener it was. There may be some complaints because the surface of the lake was like glass. For those who have suffered through typically wet, windy and cold openers, this was very nice. Bring on the suntan lotion.
In the mid-Trail area Forrest pParsons at Hungry Jack Lodge reports that his guests brought in a variety of fish. Leeches and minnows on slip bobbers and Lindy rigs were the baits of choice. Dan Baumann at Golden Eagle Lodge said his guests had a great time catching and releasing northerns. He also had good reports of lake trout catches on various mid-Trail lakes. Up at Tuscarora, Sue Ahrendt said that her canoe guests were doing very well on the traditional lake trout lakes in the interior of the BWCAW. Debbie Mark at Seagull Outfitters had guests catching walleyes on both Seagull and Saganaga in 35' of water. John Schei was guiding on Saganaga and did very well. On Saturday he noticed a bug hatch on the surface. He quickly took all the sinkers off his baits. Then it was a waiting game until the lake trout got into the surface bugs and lures. The fish were all about 3 lbs. Jon was most successful with a jig and minnow for walleyes and crank baits for lake trout.
Adam Treeful took two guests up to North Lake for some night fishing. They caught lots of northern and lake trout but no walleyes. With the low water, it is a real project to get a boat into first Little Gunflint and then North Lake. Both he and his two guests had to work at it. Surprisingly the most difficult part was bringing the boat back down the rapids from Little North to Little Gunflint. Big boats, large v-bottom boats, and heavy boats just can't do it.
Spring is, of course, about more than just fishing. Many of the neighbors welcomed other signs of spring. Lin Sherfy at Rockwood Lodge had some baby Hairy Woodpeckers who just loved the rain and following sunshine. Mr. and Mrs Snowshoe Rabbit (still with white feet) were preparing to welcome a new family at Rockwood and several other places on the Trail. Nancy Seaton at Hungry Jack Outfitters has seen fresh moose track several mornings but the animal has remained very elusive. Deb Mark was happy to see "her" Blue Herson return to the bay on Seagull. She also has a moose in a back pond.
Somehow Shari Baker at Gunflint Pines found a few minutes to take a walk in the woods. The plethora of blooming flowers that greeted her seemed more like June than May. Marsh marigolds and violets are all over. Pincherries are in full bloom. It is the wild berries that were so surpising. Strawberries are in full bloom and blueberries are starting to form the berries already. I am starting to think about making jam.