As the Gunflint Trail lakes warm up, fishing is changing a bit. The lake trout have moved into 40-50 feet of water and are biting on crank baits. Nice sized walleyes are still coming in. Teresa Baumann at Golden Eagle Lodge had one of the Sacharski brothers from the Chicago area catch a 9lb 2oz walleye on a blue rapala. Walleyes have also been biting well on spinners with crawlers in about 15-18 feet of water. Adam Treeful guiding out of Gunflint Lodge took a 19-year old guest to North Lake yesterday. They caught 15 large walleyes. Meanwhile on Northern Light Lake the Osbourne familly (Orlando, FL) has been fishing with Dennis Todd for a couple days. Dad Tom caught a 28 1/2" walleye, son Duncan got a 30" walleye and Mom Debbie caught a 32 1/2" walleye. They also got lots of smaller walleyes. Most were caught on jigs. Mary Jane Pratt (Edina, MN) and her daughter Karen were out on Saganaga with Jon Schei yesterday. They caught 25 lake trout up to 8 lbs in size. Throughout the week the bass have continued to bite well. Shari Baker of Gunflint Pines says that her guests have been casting for them with artificial lures.
Lynn Pauloski from Clearwater Lodge reports that the dragon flies have hatched. Aside from being beautiful to watch, they eat mosquitoes. That is enough to make them welcome every summer.
Animals sightings continue to come in. Perhaps the most interesting are the wolves. Debbie Mark from Seagull Outfitters says that her guests have seen wolves between Seagull Lake and Round Lake. They have also seen a wolf on the Moose Pond Road. Jon Schei has also seen wolves between Seagull and Round Lakes. It is unusual to see any wolves during the summer, let alone this many.
The biggest sightings of the week have been the explosion of wildflowers brought on by the warmer temperatures. The latest list features blue bead lily, prickly wild rose, bunchberries, lupine and lady slippers. One of my neighbors on the Trail has 24 lady slipper blooming in her yard. Even though lupine are technically considered an "invasive, non-native plant," they are still striking to see in bloom. Down along Poplar Lake and on the South Gunflint Lake road are two prime places to see them. Soon the blue flag iris will be in bloom. The best place to see them is in a pond just south of Trail Center. You can see it from the road but watch for other cars. Nancy Seaton of Hungry Jack Outfitters tells me that the frogs in that pond have been especially noisy at night lately.
Planning ahead a couple weeks, it is nice to see the tiny wild strawberry plants loaded with berries. Picking them is an on-your-knees job requiring lots of patience. Only A list people get my wild strawberry jam.
That's it from the Gunflint Trail for today.
The Gunflint Trail welcomed Jim Klobuchar's 35th annual bike ride this week. The trip started with some days on the North Shore. Then it was time for the long ride up the Trail. They journeyed up to Gunflint Lodge, Gunflint Northwoods Outfitters and Gunflint Pines for two nights. All 183 people enjoyed a "duff" day exploring the lakes of the Trail. Most decided on activities other than biking for this one day. It was a great group to visit us.
Fishing didn't stop while the bikers were here. Mike Berg of Seagull Fishing Camp reports that cooler weather earlier in the week didn't stop his guests from having good luck. Bob Alton (Fort Pierce, FL), Chuck Rexroat (Sycamore, IL) and several friends limited out with eater-sized walleyes and released a few big ones. The week warmed up and Dave Becker (St. Paul, MN) and Bob Invie (St. Louis Park, MN) had good luck fishing on both Saganaga and Northern Light Lakes. The bigger walleyes kept on biting but the eaters slowed down a bit. Minnows and leeches worked best. Down at the mid-Trail area, Forrest Parsons of Hungry Jack Lodge said that Todd Peterson (Edina, MN) caught a beautiful 30", 10 lb. walleye. And of course, the smallmouth bass are still providing plenty of action on the spawning beds.
The Becoming A Boundary Waters Family seminars are educating even the local residents. At Poplar Creek Bed and Breakfast, Barbara Young said Ellen from the Tofte U. S. Forest Service station gave a talk on birds of this area. One of Ellen's interesting points related to birding generally in the area. The American Bird Conservancy rates the Superior National Forest as one of 100 globally important bird areas. This is because of our sparse population and acres of uninhabited land throughout the forest. Those of us who live here tend to take our variety of birds for granted but the outside world thinks this area offers some superb birding opportunities.
This column could be filled with reports of animal sightings. In the last years the frequency of sightings has been on the rise. Many feel that the explanation lies in the Blowdown of 1999, the Cavity Lake Fire of 2006 and the Ham Lake Fire of 2007. These three events have lead to many acres of new growth in the forest adjacent to the Gunflint Trail. The young forest offers much more sunshine and feed for animals. So we look forward to an increase in sightings.
At this time of year, the forest young are making their first appearances. Luana Brandt of Nor'Wester Lodge says one of her employees was driving to work when a partridge family crossed the road. The young were just "puffballs" of feathers. Our favorite fox, Gimpy at Moosehorn Bed and Breakfast, brought one of his kits to visit owner, Paula Beattie. Mark Darling at Way of the Wilderness Outfitters had a visit from a repeat guest. It was a turtle who buries her eggs each year right in front of his main building. She did it again this year. As you visit the Gunflint Trail look carefully to see which animals you can observe.
Up and down the Gunflint Trail, I am hearing reports that the smallmouth bass are on the spawning beds. Most fishermen are using surface lures such as poppers. Pound for pound, smallmouth bass have more fight in them than most other fish. If you have a young fisherman in your family, this is the perfect way to get them hooked on fishing. Every fish they hook feels like a lunker.
In addition the walleyes and lake trout continue to bite. Bob Baker at Gunflint Pines says that walleyes on Saganaga have been doing well on leeches and crawlers. He also said that lake trout on North Lake have been biting on stick baits. Luana Brandt at Nor'Wester Lodge reports that fishing is great for walleyes and lake trout at secret spots. Apparently her staff has really gotten into fishing. The guys fix up all the rods and lures and give them to the girls who catch all the fish. Remember too that as our waters warm up the lake trout are going into deeper water. They like about 50 degree tempeatures and follow the cooler water down as the top waters warm up.
Sue Ahrendt from Tuscarora Lodge reminded me that a series of seminars will be going on all over the Gunflint Trail this summer. Basically they revolve around a new program of the Gunflint Trail outfitters called Becoming A Boundary Waters Family. The outfitters have even put out a book by this name that is packed with practical information on taking your family on a canoe trip. Considering the authors of the book, this is expert advice. You can also get information about this program on their website, www.becomingaboundarywatersfamily.com
It seems like there has been an explosion in the moose population all along the Gunflint Trail. For the past weeks I have been regularly reporting moose sightings. Usually the number os sightings starts to slow down as there are more tourists on the Trail. For some reason, people are still seeing lots and lots of moose. Ted Young at Poplar Creek Bed and Breakfast reported about guests who were hung up by a moose on Horseshoe Lake just where it narrows on the way to Vista Lake. After an hour they crept along the furtherest shoreline to get around the moose.
Luana Brandt has also reported that the blueberry bushes are full of white blossoms. Now it is down to the correct mixture of a little rain and a little sunshine for a great crop. Luana's mother-in-law, Alis, used to be the #1 blueberry picker on the Trail. Those berries were then turned into to awesome blueberry pies. Luana learned the pie-making area very well from Alis. So long about the last week of July start checking your favorite secret spots for blueberries.
Everyone on the Gunflint Trail reports an increase in fishing success. In spite of windy days and cool temperatures, the walleyes are moving out of the spawning areas. They are still pretty scattered but people are catching some nice sized fish and some eaters. Lake trout are also biting again and even the bass are feeding. The bass, however, are not up on the spawning beds yet. That will be another week or so.
On Saganaga Lake Mike Berg from Seagull Creek Fishing Camp had out Robie Wayne (Minnetonka, MN). They caught and released a 30 1/2", 20 1/2" and 28" walleye plus an 18" smallmouth bass. Smaller walleyes were caught for shore lunch. Ken Peters (White Bear Lake, MN) released a 28 1/2" walleye. Guide Curtis Blake had out Henry Withers (Savage, MN) and Martin Berskow (Bloomington, MN) on both Seagull and Saganaga Lakes. In addition to walleyes ranging from 24-27 inches, they had fish for dinner and fish to take home.
On Gunflint Lake Jon Schei took out the Wildenauer Party (Woodbury,MN). They caught 5 northern, some bass and a lake trout. It was all done during a little morning fishing. Above is their catch of northern. The lake trout was eaten and the bass released.
In the mid-Trail area Forrest Parsons of Hungry Jack Lodge reports that the bass are active right now. Walleyes are biting best in the evening hours. Teresa Baumann of Golden Eagle Lodge also had guests catching walleyes right off the dock during the evening hours. Forrest says that live bait have worked best for walleyes while suspended crank baits have been best for bass.
Andy Arendt from Tuscarora Outfitters has had several parties doing well with lake trout on the interior lakes of the BWCAW such as Tuscarora, Little Saganaga and Long Island. In these lakes the late trout are caught in 10-15 feet of water while trolling with a Sutton Spoon tipped with ciscos
Everyone along the Trail has been excited about the return of summer birds. Nor'Wester's eagle is back says Luana Brandt. Barbara Young at Boundary Country Trekking had guests from Illinois out on a guided birding walk. The guests added four birds (3 warblers and a flicker) to their life lists. Nancy Seaton of Hungry Jack Outfitters saw her first hummingbird for the year. Lots of partridge sightings are still being reported everywhre. A homeowner on Gunflint walked her side road and saw 17 partridge. But the bird sighting of the week goes to Bruce Kerfoot who saw a Baltimore Oriole at Gunflint's feeding station.
Finally, here's a reminder from Lin Sherfy at Rockwood Lodge to keep alert and drive carefully. Yesterday's wind blew a small tree across one lane of the Gunflint Trail near them. About 6:00 p.m. a car with a canoe on top came along that lane. There was another car coming in the opposite lane. Our first driver decided he couldn't stop so he hit the tree with his car. His aluminum canoe was swept right off the car. No one was hurt but the canoe.