Wednesday (7/15) the annual Gunflint Trail Canoe Races were held. It was misting and raining off and on all day but nothing happened during the races. About 200 people appeared for the event. The new children's games were exceptionally popular but everyone found something to participate in. The event raised $14,000 for the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department. These monies are an indication of the high regard that the community has for all our fire fighters and EMT's.
Of course, fishing has continued throughout the week. Forrest Parsons from Hungry Jack Lodge reported that Joe Marko (Hugo, MN) caught a 28 !/2 inch walleye on a slip bobber in about 20 feet of water to start the week out right. My picture is of Joe and his walleye. Bob Baker from Gunflint Pines has been seeing good lake trout fishing on Gunflint and North Lakes. They have been jigging with spoons or using smaller spoons while trolling with downriggers. The trout are in 45-75 feet of water.
Dan Baumann of Golden Eagle Lodge told me his guests have been having great luck fishing for herring on Flour Lake. The fish have been biting on spoons like cleos and daredevils plus Dan's favorite, the sonar jig. To be successful bringing in these fish, you need to have a very light drag or the hook will rip out of their mouths. The herring have been running 2-3 pounds. Dan likes to smoke them or make fishcakes. Another favorite way to cook them is to gut, de-head and scale the fish and then bake them like you would brook trout. With a daily limit of 50 fish, this fishing offers lots of action. Dan also reminded me that Tommy Eckel from Grand Marais used to commerically fish herring on Flour Lake about 15-20 years ago.
Although every resorter hates to see rain during the day, this mist we have been having is a blessing for the blueberries. It just coats them with moisture and turns hard little balls into big juicy berries. Debbie Mark from Seagull Outfitters had guests who came in saying the blueberries in the burn area on Alpine Lake were "outrageous." Luana Brandt from Nor'Wester Lodge has heard reports of potentially huge blueberry crops around the end of the Gunflint Trail. Every berry lover is digging for their favorite picking pots.
The bears are also looking forward to berry season. Sue Arhendt from Tuscarora Lodge saw the remains from bears eating strawberries on the snowmobile trail. Considering the fact that our wild strawberries aren't much bigger than the tip of your little finger, how do these bears harvest the berries with their large paws? Sue said the bears were also digging up all the ant hills in the area.
The Forest Service and outfitters seminars have been very well attended this summer. The most popular ones are the more active seminars such as the paddle and a lunch one. If you are going to be in the area, be sure to check the seminar schedules to see if something catches your fancy.
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.
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.