Vacancies & Information
May 9, 2022 – The Snow Is Melting, Things Are Wet, And We’re Into Camp!
Well, after 4 days of having a massive loader on the road with a plow on it, we have gotten the road into camp open and brushed waaaay back. In the deepest spots the snow was still 2-2.5' deep, and in the sunny spots the road was melted right down to the gravel. Plowing the snow was a relatively easy and quick job for the machine and could have been done in a day, but since we have it up there we have had our operator take a few days and really push back the Alders along the shoulders of the road. It has been a long few days for him spending more time sideways on the road then actually travelling down it, but the line of sight and ability to pass an oncoming vehicle has improved considerably. This is actually the first year I can remember where I haven't had to fire up a chainsaw to get in, the loader was more than capable of handling any downed trees and brush sticking out on the road.
The weather has warmed up significantly lately and has caused the snow to melt very quickly. This paired with the rain we have been getting, and are forecasted to get, has a lot of North Western Ontario flooding. So far highway 105 (which goes north to Red Lake) washed out completely removing a pretty large chunk of the pavement, as did our Highway 599, fortunately north of us; just before Pickle Lake. There is a lot of water currently running over our road into camp, but fortunately it is such an old road and packed so hard that it isn't washing out anywhere. There are a couple spots with as much as 18-24" of water on or running across the road, but it is still solid underneath and drivable. We do have some more rain in the forecast, but we are hopeful to see the road dry up over the next couple weeks. Another plus is that we got a fair bit of snow before we got any real cold last fall and it doesn't seem like there is too much frost in the ground. As a result the road hasn't gotten too muddy despite all of the water. Of course there are a handful of spots we have rutted up with the loader and the truck, but so far the road doesn't look like it should be too rough. Not any worse than normal anyway, haha!
Everything at camp looks to be in good order! It's always a very pleasant surprise to do the first inspection and not find any damage or unfortunate surprises, such as a bear in my bed! The ice is also starting to pull away from shore and the bay in front of camp is opening up nicely. I don't think we should have any issues with ice by opening day.
Well, I think that is it for now. We will be moving up to camp this week to really dig in and start getting ready for our first guests arriving late next week. I'll try to post some more updates and photos before opener and will have a fishing report sometime after opening day!
Updated Vacancies – May 13th
Current vacancies for the 2022 season:
May 28 – June 4 – 1 Cabin available
June 11 - 18 - 2 Cabins available
June 25 - July 2 - 1 Cabin available
July 2 - 9 - 1 Cabin available
July 23 - 30 - 1 Cabin Available (2022 only)
July 30 - August 6 - 1 Cabin available
August 6 - 13 - 1 Cabin available
August 13 - 20 - 1 Cabin available
August 27 – September 3 – 1 Cabin available
September 10 – October – Scattered openings every week
April 13, 2022 – The Winter That Won’t End And Some New Orleans Pictures, Finally!
Current vacancies for the 2022 season:
May 28 – June 4 – 3 Cabins available
August 27 – September 3 – 1 Cabins available
September 10 – October – Scattered openings every week
Well, I guess Mother Nature is getting caught up for the drought last summer. We are in the middle of April and still have about 30" of snow in the bush and still have close to 36" of ice on the lakes. And to top it all off, we are forecasted to be hit by a massive blizzard that could be another 12-18" of snow before the weekend. We have been seeing warm days where the snow has begun to melt, but most nights it is back down to 20-25 degrees F and everything refreezes. We are hopeful that by next week we will start seeing it go fast, but until then there isn't a whole lot we can do besides enjoy the late ice fishing season and wait until it is all over. We do have a plow lined up to get us into camp late next week or early the week after as a contingency plan in case things aren't melting, and fear not I'm sure the lake will be open in time for the season opener on the 21st of May.
As I mentioned above, we have been out doing a bit of ice fishing. Walleye season closes on April 15th, and this time of year they tend to concentrate near the mouths of the rivers they spawn in and feed quite actively before dark. With the days getting longer we enjoy getting out for lake trout in the morning and then either switching spots or lakes and fishing for walleye in the evening. Of course I'm not great at remembering to take pictures but here is a shot of some walleye Lindsay, myself and one of our friends caught last week.
I think we are all done chasing walleye until May as we have a bunch of family coming for Easter and we will be getting ready for that, but I do hope to get out for trout once or twice more next week before the ice starts to go.
I'm a little late I know, but here are some pictures of our trip to New Orleans. Of course we did an airboat tour, which was Lindsay's first time being on one so we had lots of fun! We were fortunate enough that my Aunt Kristen was able to join us from Atlanta for the last few days of the trip as well, which was awesome as we don't get to see her nearly as much as we would like to. She even came down in time to make it out fishing with us on the Gulph.
We were there over Mardis Gras which as you would expect was both crazy busy, and an absolute blast. We spent a little too much time enjoying the sights and parades ourselves though, and didn't take too many pictures. Mom has always loved parades so she really enjoyed going down and catching one or two of the parades daily. The highlight of the trip for me (and I'm pretty sure everyone else too) was of course getting out fishing. I have read about how great the Red Drum fishing is off of Louisiana, and boy it did not disappoint! We hired Captain Ed from St. Bernard Fishing Charters (who I can't recommend enough) for a day on the gulf, and the 4 of us caught A LOT of fish. We were mainly targeting bull reds and sheepshead and we must have caught at least 20 reds close to or pushing 20 lbs. and easily another 25-30 sheepshead. We all had a great time and cooked up a really nice meal when we got home!
All in all we had a really great trip together, and after 2 years of Covid it was nice to be able to get away from home and explore the world a bit. I hope everyone has a great Easter, we are looking forward to spending it with my mom and Lindsay's family. We are even cooking up a Louisiana style shrimp boil with seasonings we brought back north with us, alongside some of the red fish we brought home as well!
March 21, 2022 – Current Vacancies, Border Changes, and What We Have Been Up to!
Current vacancies for the 2022 season:
May 28 - June 4 - 4 Cabins available
August 13 - 20 - 1 Cabin available
August 27 - September 3 - 2 Cabins available
September 10 - October - Scattered openings every week
Now that it looks like things are beginning to return to normal and we are expecting to have a regular season, I will be starting these posts with our current vacancies and will be sure to keep them up to date if any cabins book up. If you are interested in any of our openings, please don't hesitate to give us a call or email.
As of April 1st you will no longer be required to have a negative Covid test to enter Canada, BUT you do still need to be vaccinated and have proof of that. So far we haven't heard anything about the ArriveCAN app, but to our knowledge it is still being used so make sure to fill your information in there within 72 hours of crossing the border. You can add multiple travelers to one entry so not everyone in the group will have to do it, but you will need their passport information. If you have a bigger group I would recommend splitting up by vehicle and not do the entire group just to make the crossing a little easier. So far we haven't heard anything about the proof of vaccination being lifted to enter Canada, and personally I don't see that happening for a while, but who knows.
We have updated our prices for 2022. The new prices can be seen here https://www.presslake.on.ca/rates/ We didn't increase anything significantly, just a little bit to keep up with inflation and to help us recover from the last two seasons. Weekly rates for the cabins increased by $10.00, same with weekly boat and motor rentals, and nightly camping rates increased by $2.00. Gas prices will essentially be market price as each delivery we get is different. We have very slim profit margins on gas (~ $0.05/L or $0.18/gallon) to try to help keep the price of it down as we know how expensive it is after having it trucked into us, especially when comparing it to U.S. prices. You guys have it good down there when it comes time to fill up, trust me!
Well I think that is all of the house keeping stuff! The last 5 weeks or so have been pretty busy for us. I went on my ice fishing trip that I wrote about in my last post, coming home with about 36 hours before we left for Winnipeg to fly to New Orleans for 2 weeks. We had a wonderful time and I will write more about that in the next couple days when I round up some pictures I can post as well. While we were down there Lindsay's Grandma who had been in poor health for the last couple of years, took a turn for the worse. When we returned home from our trip Lindsay stayed in Dryden to visit on our drive home, while I brought Mom back to Ignace and returned to Dryden the next morning. We spent the week with Lindsay's family and Grandma in the hospital and the following weekend she unfortunately passed. Of course it has been difficult, but we are thankful to have been able to get home and see her. The funeral was held last week and I got home on Wednesday after being gone for nearly a month, and Lindsay just got home on Saturday.
Naturally things have been a little chaotic, but we are home and getting back into routine a bit and I just wanted to get our vacancies up with a quick update. As promised above I will write about our vacation and share some photos sometime this week!
February 8, 2022 – A little housekeeping and what we will be up to for the next few weeks
Not too much has changed up here since my last post. It seems if the weather isn't crazy cold then we are getting snow. We have seen more snow this winter than we have in a long, long, time and it's still only early February. As much as we are sick of having to shovel so much, our lakes really need it and hopefully we will see good water levels in the spring.
Lindsay and I are still trying to get out ice fishing whenever we can and recently had another 2 night stay in our new hut fishing for crappie near Dryden. The fishing was a little slow but we were joined during the day by Lindsay's dad, grandpa, and their friend Jim which made the drive over worth it fish or no fish.
We haven't been out in a about a week though, and won't be out this week either as I am trying to complete a fairly lengthy "Honey-Do List." I am headed to Thunder Bay on Thursday to join a friend from there, plus two more from southern Ontario for a 5 day ice fishing trip. My friends uncle has graciously let us use his cabin which is on a lake trout and walleye lake, and is surrounded by many stocked lakes with brook or rainbow trout, and additional walleye and lake trout lakes as well. This is our second winter doing this now and we are all really looking forward to it, especially because we don't get t see our friends from down south very often. We are hoping to be able to hit a different lake every day and do some exploring around to new country. Hopefully 'll have some pictures to post when I get home!
The busyness doesn't stop there however. I will only be home from fishing for two nights and then Lindsay, my mom, and I are headed to Winnipeg to catch a plane to New Orleans for a two week vacation. We will be there for the last week of February and the first week of March and through Mardi Gras. So far we don't have many plans as we don't like to travel with too much of an agenda, but we are excited to explore the city, the food and drink, and the culture! Plus it will be nice to be somewhere that isn't so cold for a little bit, haha.
I will be setting up an out-of-office autoreply on our email for the three weeks that I am gone with any important information, and will handle any reservation inquiries in the order with which they come in. I will be keeping an eye on my email and will answer any pressing questions if anyone has any, but of course will be away from our schedule until after the first week of March.
Well I think that's about all that is new with us, so on to just a couple of housekeeping items I want to have posted on here. To start, it seems that nothing has changed with the protocols for crossing the border. You will need to be double vaccinated, have a negative test taken within 72 hours of crossing (info about crossing the border and what tests are accepted can be found here: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/flying-canada-checklist/covid-19-testing-travellers-coming-into-canada), and you will need to have completed the questions asked in the ArriveCAN app; also within 72 hours of crossing. If you have any further questions I recommend calling the CBSA at 1-800-461-9999 and talking to a real person as the website can be difficult to interpret. I will update this information again as well as Canada's current Covid restrictions as we get much closer to spring in case anything changes.
Secondly, we are implementing a more formal cancellation policy. Now that the borders are open, and the vaccines are available, travel is possible again and we are no longer rolling deposits over to the next season if you can't make your trip. Of course that will change if the border were to close down again, but as long as travel is permitted we are holding reservations like a typical year. We have decided that we will work with a 4 month lead time to return deposits in the event of a cancellation. As long as your week starts more than 4 months ahead of the date you are cancelling we will return your deposit, otherwise we will have to keep it as we will be very unlikely to rebook that cabin. We are really excited to get to see everyone again!
Lastly, we will be reviewing and updating our pricing when we get home from Vacation in March. It has been a number of years since we have done this and we have decided it's time to review and adjust again. We won't be changing anything dramatically, we have always only ever raised our price by $10.00 per person, and will keep to that rule moving the weekly rate from $340.00 to $350.00. We will also be adjusting the boat and motor prices, bait, etc. but again they will be very small increments. I'll mention when we have the new numbers in a future blog post and will update our pricing on the "Rates" page of the website.
Well I think that is all for now. It will be a little bit before I write on here again but hopefully I will have lots of stories and pictures to write about when I get back!
January 20, 2022 – Happy New Year!
Happy New Year Everyone!
Well it's safe to say that winter is here! We have had a ton of snow so far this winter (which should help get the water levels back up in the spring) and the cold has been pretty steady over the last month. We have been having the odd warm day or two thrown into the mix but it hasn't been uncommon to see temps down to -30 F. Despite the cold and the snow Lindsay and I have been able to get out ice fishing quite a bit.
Normally we put my Dad's old ice shack out on Paguchi, a lake trout lake near town and spend a lot of time ice fishing there, or bouncing around to a few other lakes with our Otter fold over. After a couple of tough years of getting the hut stuck in slush and damaging it forcing us to repair it on the ice to get it off the lake in the spring, we decided it was time for a change. The shack is getting pretty old and the floor and skis are about done, so it seemed the best option would be to retire it and build a new one rather than trying to put a whole new floor under etc. Well we decided that we were getting done with dragging it on and off the ice every year and the headaches that go along with that. Keep in mind up here we don't have plowed roads on the lakes where we can tow the shack out with the truck. We have to pack a trail with the snow machines and hope it freezes solid enough to tow the shack out with the machine a day or two after, and the last couple of years that hasn't been the case and we have gotten stuck in slush forced to leave the hut where we were stuck. Anyway, our solution this winter was to pick up a new portable shack that we could bounce from lake to lake with, and even winter camp in.
We decided to go with an Eskimo FatFish, it is 8' by 14' and so far we have been absolutely loving it! Here is a pic of our first set up with it in my backyard:
Since ice fishing season has really gotten underway we have done one day trip with some friends. It's awesome to be able to fit everyone in there so comfortably and all fish together.
We have also camped out in it twice. Once for one night:
and the second time for two:
We set up some of those foam puzzle piece floor mats for a floor and set up a couple cots and away we go. Lindsay, Cedar, and I have really been enjoying adventuring off to different lakes and setting up for a while. The first night out it got down to about -20 and the hut stayed close to 40 degrees overnight. Plenty warm enough all wrapped up in a sleeping bag.
On the docket for this weekend is a lake trout trip with us and 2 other couples. After that we will be looking to go somewhere new and set up for another couple night stay. Now that we are through the holidays we will be spending a lot more time on the ice and should have some content to write about for some more frequent posts on here, stay tuned!
In other news, Mom has made a full recovery from her back surgery back in September, and is feeling great and getting around even better. Truthfully the operation didn't slow her down very much or for very long (probably not as long as it should have), but now her recovery has been long enough and the surgeon is happy with the results so she has been out doing lots of walking and snowshoeing with friends. It's really nice to see her not in constant pain anymore.
I am receiving lots of emails regarding our current rules surrounding Covid and what crossing the border might look like this summer. Currently Ontario is back under another lockdown until January 26, thanks to the Omicron variant. So far it has only affected restaurants, gyms, public spaces, etc. and noting major like international travel or the land borders, and it doesn't look like this lockdown will change any of that. Hopefully we will be out of this lockdown soon and back to our new "normal". As far as crossing the border this summer is concerned, I don't want to speculate too much as policies seem to change so frequently and we have a while to go before we are open. Currently you need to be vaccinated and have proof of that with you, answer all of the questions on the ArriveCan app and have a negative PCR test all performed within 72 hours of crossing. As spring approaches I will try to keep the most up to date info on our blog here for easy reference, but I encourage everyone to call the CBSA at 1 800 461 9999 well in advance of your trip to make sure all of your ducks are in a row. The crossings are really easy as long as you are prepared.
Well, I think that's it for now. Take care everyone and wish us luck fishing this weekend!
November 28, 2021 – It’s Been a Busy Fall!
I know I haven't posted on here in a couple months but this fall has been a whirlwind. Lots of fun, but crazy busy. With the border opening up our September actually felt like a normal month! It was great to be busy again and to see so many familiar faces around camp. In fact, this September was probably busier than normal with so many guests booking later trips to make up for having lost their dates earlier in the season. We really appreciate everyone who made the journey up this fall despite all of the hassle and uncertainty with the border crossing, it is a big help getting us over the hump from Covid.
As the fishing season faded into hunting season we actually started to get some rain. By the time we left the water levels weren't quite back to normal but were A LOT closer to it then they had been. Hopefully we will get some snow this winter and a bit of rain next spring and the levels will be back where they belong. We had two groups of archery hunters in this year for moose hunting. Unfortunately neither group was successful, but both saw lots of animals. That's just part of the struggle with archery, closing that gap and getting in close enough. But everyone left happy to have seen so many animals and after having a weeks vacation in the north.
The rifle season however, was a much different story. This year we had the most hunters we have had in camp in a long time with all of the cabins booked up and one group camping. Every group in camp got an animal, and some even got a couple as they had extra tags. We ended up taking 10 moose this fall and everyone was extremely happy! To top it off we even had really nice weather all fall long and didn't run into the usual challenges of freezing water lines and heavy wet snow pulling down brush on the road. Unfortunately I didn't have the chance to take too many pictures of the moose coming into camp as we were hunting ourselves and helping a new group find their animal. Below is a picture of Geoff with the cow we shot opening morning, and if anyone wants to email me any moose pictures from this fall I will gladly get them up on here!
After we wrapped up moose season and everyone was gone on our final Saturday at camp, Lindsay and I were actually packed up and home by Sunday night. We had to come back on Monday and Tuesday for the last loads of our stuff but we had the place shut down and drained off very quickly this year. This is mainly in part to a lot of help from my friends that were up for our moose hunt. We were lucky enough to get our animal early and between grouse hunting and helping other groups they really busted their butts to get camp in order and shut down. This was a huge help because we spent Wednesday at home and then left Thursday morning to head down to our cabin to start deer hunting. It would have been a much more insane week (if possible) than it was without everyone's help, I appreciate it guys!
We spent a week down at deer camp, joined through the first weekend by my friend Matt who shot his first buck!
A couple of days after that Lindsay was able to take the second biggest buck we have on the property. This was made even more sweet as she saw it opening morning but couldn't get a shot at him from low visibility and a blurry scope. She got the focus figured out on the scope and made an awesome shot at 125 yards and dropped this awesome buck right in his tracks!
I am still yet to fill my deer tag but am headed back down for another week or so on Wednesday to try my luck at getting the big 10 pointer I have been chasing for two years. We are still getting pics of him but he is really smart and doesn't come out during the daylight too often. I'm hoping he will be coming out to feed now that it's getting later and the rut is over. Wish me luck!
After our week of deer hunting we came home and I had three days to unpack and repack as it was time to head for Colorado to meet my friend Jake from Wisconsin for a week of DIY elk hunting. This was the first time either of us have ever hunted elk or ever hunted in the mountains. I arrived a day early (3 days before opening day) to set up our camp in the National Forest:
Jake arrived the next day where we would begin by spending two days hiking around scouting and getting a feel for the land. Elk are migratory and work their way off the mountain as the snow piles up. After doing a tremendous amount of research and talking to a few very helpful people with Colorado Parks and Wildlife we were expecting to find the elk between 8000 and 9000 feet; about midway down off the mountain into the private valleys where they winter. When we arrived there was virtually no snow, and after two days of scouting and the first 1.5 days of hunting in that elevation band without seeing any fresh elk sign, we realized they had to be somewhere else. We spent some time looking at the GPS's and decided we needed to get higher up the mountain and farther from the roads, as we are the 5th hunting season these elk of have seen this fall and all of that pressure must have pushed them farther back in. Well, on the 3rd morning of our hunt we found our first elk at almost 10 000' and learned a very valuable lesson about getting skylined on a ridge. As we crept over the ridge we had been hiking to, to peer over the edge and glass into the valley below we watched two spike elk and one decent bull moose run out of the valley. It was a real mix of emotions as were were super excited to have found them but pretty bumbed we were dumb enough to bump them like that. Overall we were just happy to finally know where some were and to have seen some really fresh sign on the hike in. As we sat there the rest of that day we watched two cows and a calf feed through the valley, and had one bull that was likely legal (4 points on one side) come absolutely running through our meadow not stopping long enough for us to tell if it was legal for sure or to get a shot. And no, this one we didn't bump haha, although I'm not sure what did as he was not wasting any time.
It was a 4 mile hike up to the valley where we found the elk and we would begin each day by getting up at 3 and leaving camp by 4. That would get us up to the ridge where we could glass by first light. The plan was to glass all morning until the thermals switched and then follow fresh tracks and stalk into their bedding areas mid day, returning to glass in the evening. This was made extremely difficult as any time we would get any snow at all it would melt the next day by 10 am, and the ground underneath was too frozen to detect tracks. That usually left us having to watch the valley all day long, and with some days getting close to 50 degrees the elk just weren't moving. Pair that with the extremely clear skies at night and the big full moon and the elk were all but nocturnal. That being said we hung in there as we knew there were at least some elk around in that area. On the second last day of the season we had some decent snow and a mess of fresh tracks so we followed them to where they joined up with more animals on a ridge top where they all bedded down. It was hard to tell in all of the chaos in the snow but there were at least 7-8 animals together. We finally pieced together that after they got up out of their beds they headed down into the valley we had been glassing. We decided to not go down in there until the next day as a last ditch effort as we didn't want to risk blowing out the whole valley with a day and a half left to hunt.
We didn't see any animals that afternoon and were back in our glassing spot by 6:30 the next morning. By 7 we spotted our first elk feeding out of the brush in the meadow. Cow, damn! Then a calf. Spike. Another cow and calf. Two more spikes. there we were on the last day of the hunt with 7 elk feeding inside of 300 yards from us for almost a half hour and there wasn't a legal bull in the group. We stayed there until a little after noon when we finally called it to go start packing up as Jake had to leave early the next morning. Neither of us ended up taking an animal but throughout the week we saw 13 elk and 7 moose, we learned an enormous amount and had a great time. The success rate on elk hunting averages out around 10%, so I'm pretty proud to say we came as close as we did on a foreign landscape hunting a completely new animal. Even more so considering we only heard about 6 shots all week and talked to a few other groups of hunters who have hunted that unit for years on end and still haven't killed an elk. We also learned that we could have had cow tags in addition to our bull tags. That was a dumb oversight on my behalf as I saw cows were draw only and figured you would need a few points to be successful, turns out the success rate is 100% in the drawing with 0 points; another hard lesson learned. Had we grabbed cow tags we would have been coming home with a couple elk. But hey that's hunting!
I totaled it up this morning and we hiked 74 miles and climbed 15 900' in elevation over 9 days. Elk hunting isn't for the faint of heart if you want to get after it and get into some animals. It was one of the more difficult things I've ever done but we both trained our asses off for this hunt and frankly I can't wait to go out west and do it again next year! Below are the rest of the pics from our adventures:
This was my first time out west and first time in Colorado and boy it sure is gorgeous! While I was gone winter happened back home. I returned to find over 8" of snow and temps a lot colder than when I left. I'm off to have some lunch and then to get the last of the snow moved before going back down deer hunting.
Take care everyone and Happy Thanksgiving south of the border!
October 6, 2021 – Too hot for October, but we’ll take it!
As the title suggests, we have been having an extremely warm fall! About mid to late September, we had a week of cooler weather and got a lot of rain, as much as 5" in one 24 hour stretch. Since, things have been right back to bright, warm, and sunny, but fortunately the rain we did receive brought the lake up to levels much more akin to normal for this time of year. The lake is still low, but not nearly as low as it was a month ago. In fact we actually have had to pull the docks up twice now, a welcome change from constantly pushing them out. We are yet to have our fist frost and according to the weather there isn't one in sight. Lindsay and I still have lots of vegetables finishing ripening in the garden actually, probably the first time we have ever been able to push it into October. Daytime temps have been consistently over 70 degrees every day with the warmer days still getting up over 80, and with the little wind we have been having the weather has been absolutely gorgeous!
The fishing has remained fantastic throughout the fall. The walleye are still on the humps, with some good numbers and bigger fish being caught at depth around the reefs, even out to 40 feet. The usual fall smallmouth migration onto the humps, especially at 7 Pine Island, has been occurring as normal and there have been some really nice bass caught! I unfortunately haven't received any pictures of bass but have heard of groups catching as many as 20-30 in an afternoon with some really nice 18-20" fish being caught. Below is a picture of Renee with a monster Northern she caught in August!
We have remained pretty busy throughout the fall, especially since the border finally re-opened, but our fishing season is tapering down and we are getting into moose season. We had a group of archery hunters in last week and have another in this week that have been putting in lots of work on the ground to try and fill their tags. Unfortunately neither group has been successful yet despite seeing several animals each. Both groups have cow tags which of course are difficult to fill with a bow as the cows don't tend to come into a call like a bull will. It also doesn't help when the bulk of the animals the groups have been finding have been bulls. Lot's of really cool encounters though with one bull coming into 7 yards! Hopefully their luck changes, and I'm sure we will see some animals on the ground when rifle season opens on October 16.
Speaking of moose, about 2 weeks ago I woke to find this young bull laying in the lake near camp!
I apologize for the almost 2 month wait since my last post. Since the border opened back up we have been pretty busy and I just haven't taken the time to get an update on here. It also doesn't help that hunting seasons have begun to open up, so any and all of our spare time has been spent chasing some critters around in the woods. Lindsay, Cedar, and I logged a few really fun duck hunts this fall and have been slowly transitioning out of that into grouse hunting. We like to try to get a bunch of birds for the freezer before things get pretty crazy with big game hunting.
I have a pretty busy fall ahead, as we have a week of moose hunting starting on October 16. Then on the following week we will be very quickly getting camp closed down and getting moved home so we can get down to our cabin near Fort Frances for the opener of deer hunting on October 30, where we will be spending close to a week chasing whitetails. After that we are headed home, around November 5, as I will be getting packed up to head down to Colorado on November 8 for my first ever elk hunt. Needless to say I am getting extremely excited for all of these adventures and cannot wait to meet my friend and hunting partner in Colorado for our DIY hunt. It will be both of our first elk hunt and first western mountain hunt. It's going to be a huge learning curve I'm sure, but I can't wait! There will be lots of pictures and blog posts to follow this fall!
In other news, Mom had surgery on her back on September 15, it was very successful and she is recovering well! She has been dealing with debilitating sciatica pain in her leg caused my a herniated disk in her back for the last couple of years, and we finally decided the only way for it to get better was to go ahead with the surgery and have 2 of her vertebrae fused. The operation only took roughly 90 minutes, and now that her nerve isn't being pinched she is essentially pain free! Well, pain free in her leg that is, of course now she has a sore back from the operation but that will heal with some time and is a good reminder for her to take it easy for the next couple of months while her back heals up. Thankfully she can stand and walk for a lot longer than the couple of minutes she was able to stand at a time before the surgery.
Well I think that is all for now, I likely won't be posting a whole lot between when moose hunting opens and I get home from Colorado, but will try to get a quick post up with an update about moose season. And of course I will have lot's to write about in late November. Stay tuned!
August 11, 2021 – The Border is Open, Finally!
Well it looks like Trudeau and his government stuck to their word and the border is open! Our first US guests, Kevin Western and his group, arrived Monday morning. Kevin said the border guards were professional, relatively quick, and asked the questions you would expect them to ask. Now Kevin and the group had all of their ducks in a row and information submitted into the ArriveCAN app, which of course makes everything a lot faster and smoother. When they arrived they were about 15 vehicles back from the border, and it took them roughly an hour to get across. We have been hearing that wait times have been varied and can be pretty damn long. I have heard as long as 7-8 hours at International Falls and Baudette. I haven't heard of wait times being that long at Pigeon River, so I would recommend crossing there if possible.
July 19, 2021 – **THE BORDER IS OPENING** Finally, some good news!
Well, after almost a year and a half Trudeau has finally made a definitive statement regarding the border closure, and it is the one we have all been waiting for! As of August 9th, the border will be open to non-essential travel for any individuals that are fully vaccinated. So far this is about all we know:
- Proof of a completed negative test from the past 72 hours will be required
- It appears as though another test may need to be done at the border
- You must use the ArriveCAN app, and have your information and proof of vaccination uploaded within 72 hours prior to your entry
- You must have a 14 day quarantine plan in place in case the CBSA decides it is required in your particular case (We currently aren't sure if just turning around and going home will suffice, but I imagine it will)
This information was taken directly from the Canadian Government website found here: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid
June 20, 2021 – Yet Another Border Closure Extension
Well as the title suggests, and as I'm sure many of you have heard, the border closure has been extended another month until July 21. As much as this is tragic news, it does come with a ray of hope. Nothing has been officially released, but several news outlets have reported that talks about reopening the border and developing and releasing a roadmap of what that will look like are in the works, and they have quoted various politicians across Canada, eluding to this information being fairly accurate. Some news outlets reported that the border restrictions could begin to loosen in July for fully vaccinated people looking to travel, as Trudeau is requiring Canada to have 75% of the population vaccinated with their first dose, and 20% fully vaccinated; and we are close at 66% and 17% respectively. Now we are remaining hopeful that all of this is true and things will begin to open up next month, but for now this is all speculative so we are keeping our expectations in check. There is supposed to be a news release tomorrow with more information and I will be sure to share a link to that info on our social media pages. You can read the most current information available here: https://globalnews.ca/news/7961418/covid-canada-us-border-closed-july-21/
In more exciting news, we have had a couple small groups of Canadian guests in, and the fishing has been really, really good. Great numbers are being produced and we are seeing some size as well! Below are some pictures from the last two weeks.
Here is Scott Laforest with a beautiful 32.5" walleye, which I believe to be one of, if not THE biggest walleye I have ever seen come out of Press:
And here we have Doug Kelvin with an incredibly fat 41" Pike he caught, weighing 24 lbs!
The weather has been all around dry, but fortunately it has cooled off a little over the last couple of weeks and we have seen some cloud cover. Water levels are pretty low and dropping, but not as quickly as they could be if it was still as hot as it was at the beginning of the month. The walleye are still being found in the current where there is cool moving water, but are beginning to move out onto the reefs and we are seeing some nicer fish coming up out of that deeper water. Despite only having a few guests through, we have seen at least 3-4 walleye over 23" so far this year!
In other news, I was fortunate enough to take an absolutely massive black bear this spring! Since the spring hunt as been reintroduced, I have been buying a spring tag, mostly just to have with me when travelling to and from camp if there is a good opportunity to take a nice bear for the freezer. The tag is transferrable to the fall season if it isn't used, so I have been using it strictly as an opportunity tag with plans to work harder in the fall when we have a little more time than we do in the spring. Anyway, Lindsay and I decided to go for a drive one evening before the season closed, and happened to stumble into this absolute monster of a spring boar:
After seeing 10 other bears that night, and passing up 2 that I was within range of (they were maybe 80 lbs each) we stumbled into this old guy and I was able to get a shot. I didn't get to weigh him as we was WAY too heavy for us to move whole so we butchered him right there, I am ball parking him at around 350-400 lbs in early June. I did weigh the 4 quarters, backstraps and loose meat, and the head and neck which came to a whopping 250 lbs, leaving behind a LOT of fat (and we took a bunch to render), the hide, rib cage and guts, which I figure had to be at least another 100-150 lbs. Given how late in the day it was and the temperature outside, I wasn't able to take the time to skin the hide out for a rug or mount, so we butchered him quickly so as to not lose any meat, and still didn't get home until 3 AM! I did however keep the skull for a trophy and to measure, and just finished cleaning it up yesterday and prepping for whitening:
After some quick and very rough measurements, the skull should score around 20.5", meeting the Boone and Crocket minimum of 20". This is the first B&C animal I have ever been lucky enough to take, and I can't wait to display this skull!
Here is one more picture I find pretty interesting, check out how much fat this bear was carrying considering it was June 2nd, when I took him:
He must have wintered very well and found a great source of food this spring. And no, this was nowhere near a dump or landfill, haha!
Anyway, I believe that is all for now. We are wishing everyone the best and hoping like crazy the border opens up next month. I'll be sending emails out today to all of the affected guests from this closure. Take care!
May 30, 2021
Well, we have been out at camp for a little less than a month now, which frankly is a little weird as on any normal year we would have been up here for closer to two months by now to open up and get ready. With the closed border we haven't been in as much of a hurry to get out here, which is nice as it gives the road a chance to dry out so we don't rut it up too bad, and gives me a chance to get a little more done around my house in Ignace. We were so slow getting out here this year in fact, that we actually did our annual spring clean on what should have been opening weekend, a good two weeks later than normal. Covid really does make things feel strange.
Anyway, we were very pleased to find that we didn't have any damage to any of the buildings or docks over the winter, and everything is in really good shape. We are currently sitting here vacant, but have everything fired up and ready to go in case our stay at home order in Ontario is lifted and we can resume taking locals, or better yet the border gets opened up and we can start seeing some familiar faces. In the meantime, we are going to use this downtime to try to get as much done around camp as we can.
We renovated cabin 1 last year with a new bathroom and flooring, and plan to do the same to number 3 this summer. I'm also going to continue staining the buildings and hopefully get that taken care of this summer, and just try to get a bunch of small maintenance issues resolved that have been left for far too long. A few of our docks are getting older and a little tired, but without revenue and the current lumber prices I think we are going to have to wait another year or two before building new. I will be making any necessary repairs to them and keeping them in good standing, but hope to start replacing the oldest ones over the years ahead.
There is currently a small active logging operation in the works on the first 6 miles of the road. This will mean there will be some new clear cuts for your (not so scenic) viewing pleasure on the drive in, but means some serious road maintenance for that first 6 miles. Resolute, the company in charge of the operations, have replaced some culverts, done some brushing and ditching, have trucked in some gravel, and will be grading the road (right into camp I might add) after they are done hauling. Although the total makeover only comes in about 1/3 of the road, they will be fixing that terrible first mile of the road and will be cleaning up some of the potholes the whole way in. And as much as it sucks to look at clear cuts, they are great for wildlife and for forest fire prevention, so the prospect of some fresh moose hunting areas is exciting! We are really looking forward to seeing what everything looks like in a month or two when it's all done.
Our weather has been pretty strange this year. We had a remarkably warm March which led to the loss of all of our snow and most of our ice as most lakes were open by early April, but then the temps dropped again and things got cold. Cold enough that there was a small skim of ice starting to form on some of the lakes, although it never really amounted to anything. Temps stayed cold through April despite nice sunny days, and started to warm up again once May started. Since, it has been very hot on the nicer sunny days, but still cool when there has been overcast and we actually had two nights of frost on Wednesday and Thursday night. It looks like that is all behind us now though and we should be rapidly warming up into summer. We are very happy for that as Lindsay and I have already planted our gardens at camp and in town and had to do some pretty frantic covering to make sure nothing froze.
And now the moment you have all been waiting for, a fishing report! Since the season opened on the 15th, we have only been out on the weekends, but have been able to find a lot of fish and some really nice size. On opening day I was at a bit of a loss as to where the fish might be (see strange spring weather above) and struck out in both Wintering Creek and The Narrows. The following day we decided to try Frank's Hole as we call it, down near the entrance to the English River heading South, and really got into some fish. We had a busy day so we didn't stay long but caught lots for a nice meal. Last weekend we spent a little more time on the water, but never went past Frank's Hole. We caught A LOT of fish there that ranged anywhere from the little 13" guys to one 23.5", and had a lot of fun doing it. I haven't been out since last weekend, but hope to spend a little time this week snooping around to fill a spring bear tag, and chasing some walleye on the lake.
Unfortunately we still don't have any news about what might come of the border this summer. I will be sure to reach out the second we do. I hope everyone is staying safe, healthy, and sane!
***May 20, 2021 – Border Closure Extended Until June 21***
Looks like more bad news for our spring fisherman as the border closure is extended another month into June. I will be reaching out to all of the affected guests tomorrow, but figured I would put something up on here and on Facebook for the time being. I will post another update here on the blog after our long weekend coming up with a fishing report and some updates on what's going on out here at camp.
I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy!
**April 22, 2021 – Border Closure Extended Until May 21**
It is with much chagrin that I am reporting that the border between Canada and the US will be closed for at least another month, until May 21. As of right now that is the only new information we have. I'm hoping that before the next announcement in a month there will be some sort of information available with a re-opening timeline and frame work, and some information about whether or not proof of vaccination will be required to cross the border, but that is just hopeful thinking. I have already reached out to the guests affected by this extension and will be sure to post on here when we learn anything new.
Take care and I hope we are able to see some familiar faces this summer.
April 14, 2021 – Sadly, No New Information
We are quickly approaching May and the start of our season, and as the title suggests, we still don't know what to expect for this summer. It seems all decisions are still being made one month at a time without any information given about a long range plan or what to expect over the summer. All we know for sure is that the border is closed until April 21, with the possibility of another 30 day extension. Additionally, on April 8, Ontario went into another province wide stay at home order closing all but essential businesses for 28 days. Nothing has been announced officially but I would guess with our current situation that we will see the border closed for a couple more months, at the very least. We are remaining hopeful that we will see it open sometime this summer, but it is impossible to tell.
I have been receiving emails inquiring about the status of the border almost daily, and as happy as I am to touch base with everyone we unfortunately don't have access to any insider information as outfitters. I really only know as much as you can learn from a quick Google search of the border closure. Of course I am more than happy to answer any questions anyone may have, and it is really nice to chat with guests who we haven't been able to see in over a year, I sadly don't have much to offer in terms of answers. If you are looking for info on the border closure the best thing I can suggest is to just give it a quick Google every once in a while, and we will be sure to update our blog the second we learn anything valuable.
We also have not heard anything about whether or not proof of vaccination will be required to cross the border. If I had to take a complete guess, I would expect it to be required, at least in the beginning. If you are planning on coming up for your reservation (assuming an open border) I would recommend getting the vaccination as soon as possible just to be safe. I wouldn't think that proof of vaccination would be required forever, but I imagine the border will open incrementally, and will include certain restrictions to start. Again, this is just a guess and not based on any official announcements.
Well enough of the depressing and serious stuff. Things around here have been really good, despite being back in another lockdown. Lindsay and I had been keeping busy with ice fishing and a couple of trips down to our hunting cabin in Barwick to start doing some more work on the property in anticipation of this deer season. We have started cutting a few new shooting lanes and moving a few stands around now that we have spent a year there and are learning about the deer's behavior a bit.
It started warming up considerably in March, and we lost pretty much all of our snow and ice in early April. We had lower than normal snowfall this year and the water levels seem to be very low everywhere so we are hoping for some rain to help bring them up a bit and to help prevent forest fires this season, as we did not get the normal amount of spring run off. That wish has been granted for the past week or so as we have gotten some rain almost daily, and yesterday and today it turned to a small amount of heavy wet snow that I wouldn't expect to be here for more than a day or two.
Lindsay and I tried to get into camp last week and were met by relatively good amounts of snow on some of the shadier corners of the road, so we decided to not risk getting stuck and turned around. It seems there is always a little more snow up there and it always takes about a week or two longer to melt than it does in Ignace. I imagine with all of this rain we have gotten that all of the snow will be gone up, but the road will likely be muddy and we will let it dry out a bit before attempting to go back for fear of making ruts.
Otherwise we are spending our spring getting ready to get out in a boat in a couple of the lakes around town we like to fish and don't get the chance to once we get busy at camp. We have a few lakes around stocked with Brook Trout, and one near Dryden stocked with Rainbow Trout. They aren't very big but are fun to catch and are delicious to eat. We are also hoping to get to Thunder Bay to do some spring Rainbow fishing and Smelt dipping in the streams flowing into Superior, if this current lockdown ends.
Well I think that is all, I hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy. We hope to be able to see everyone this summer!
February 16, 2021 – Winter Has Finally Arrived!
Well it sure has been a strange winter! We came out of the fall and into the early winter with well above average temperatures and well below average snowfall, which made for some pretty slushy lakes as the little snow we did get was before we had any real solid ice. Since then however, we have had about two weeks of pretty extreme cold with most morning lows close to -40 F. The sudden cold snap has made doing just about anything outside a lot less fun, so we have been spending a little less time fishing than we were through January. The one upside to the cold is that it did tighten up all of the aforementioned slush on the lakes making travel much easier, and the forecast through the weekend has us warming up to much more favorable temperatures again. We plan on making up for some lost fishing time over the next couple weeks.
When we were getting out fishing regularly, we were having quite a bit of success on walleye and lake trout, catching the odd incidental whitefish or burbot to go with the more popular game fish. We usually have more than enough trout and walleye to eat but I like to keep a few whitefish to throw on the smoker come spring, and have a few friends that like when I drop off a burbot for them, so we keep a few of those as well. We have been fortunate enough to land a couple very large walleye this winter (3 over 28" now) and were able to live release all of them. Otherwise I managed to catch one pretty nice whitefish at around 4 lbs, and we are yet to pull out any big lakers. Here are a few pictures of some of our catches and one picture of a couple stocked brook trout I was able to catch one morning:
It seems Covid isn't going anywhere in a hurry. Here in Ontario we are just coming out of another lockdown today that has been going on since boxing day. It seems to have slowed down the cases over the end of the holiday season though, so hopefully it was effective and accomplished what it was meant to. We are glad to see it being lifted though, and it is nice to see some more stores and places open again. As far as the border and our upcoming season is concerned, we still don't have any new information. As of right now all we know is that the border is closed until February 21, with the potential to have that date extended upon review. So far since the original close in March, the border issues have only been addressed on a monthly basis without any long term outlook or plans made public. This of course makes it very difficult for all businesses, especially outfitters, to plan their season and to contact their guests accordingly. I am hoping that the border will be open for our 2021 season of course, but right now it is hard to believe that it will. We will be monitoring the situation closely and will be reaching out to guests and posting on here whenever we learn anything useful. In the meantime we really, really, appreciate all of our guests support and loyalty choosing to keep deposits and reservations with us for when this is all over! It makes it a lot easier to sleep at night knowing that when this is done we still have a strong customer base to rely on to get us rolling again!
I hope 2021 is going well for everyone and that you are all healthy and well!
December 19, 2020 – A Very Busy fall and a Lot of Hunting!
As per usual I need to apologize for taking so long between posts, this fall really got away from me! Our moose rifle season opened up on October 17, and just recently closed on December 15. Normally we aren't as concerned about the closing date as it is a long season and we usually find success within the first two weeks. Unfortunately, that was not the case this year, for our group anyway.
For those who aren't familiar with our moose application process, it significantly improves one's odds of drawing a tag if you apply with a group of hunters. It's a complicated system and is actually being completely redone for the 2021 season, so I won't get into it in too much detail, but we were a group of 7 hunters this year and I held our cow tag.
Our bad luck started on the second day of the season when one of our group members missed a cow that could have filled our tag. The day only got worse as during the evening hunt I misidentified an orphaned calf for a cow and shot it, with the two week calf season not yet being open. It can be a real challenge to tell the difference between a calf and a yearling cow, especially when the calf isn't next to it's mother for comparison. On top of standing there solo, it was in knee deep water which hid one of the identifying features of a calf; they seem overly "leggy". Anyway, we brought the calf back and reported the error. The moose was seized and donated to the local food bank, and I was issued a fine for the mistake, but was still able to keep the tag. All in all I'm very saddened to have mistakenly killed the wrong moose, but am very happy to see it donated and not going to waste.
In the meantime, we had three groups of hunters in camp. Two of the groups filled their cow tags on opening day, and the third group managed to fill theirs mid-week. My group was only hunting on the weekends to start, as a lot of the guys don't have or can't take any vacation, so I spent the week getting camp closed down and packing up to move home. We hunted the second weekend without any success, and then I finished closing down camp and coming home that following week. We had some unseasonably cold weather and some snow through the end of October, with temps easily getting down to around 20 degrees F, so it was nice to get the pipes drained and get home.
Once home I continued the pursuit of our moose with a couple of breaks to go down to my cabin near Fort Frances to hunt deer, which I'll elaborate more on shortly. We continued moose hunting through November whenever I was home, without any luck. November is typically a tough month to hunt moose as they seem to duck into the thick woods and are very hard to locate. I believe this is a response to the hunting pressure they feel during the last two weeks of October. The moose being in hiding paired with some unseasonably warm November weather made for a very unproductive month. Things began to look up in the last two weeks of the season though as temps dropped and we began seeing a few animals. The moose we were seeing were either the wrong sex, or were taking off before we ever had an opportunity for a shot. And then our bad luck continued, when a second cow was missed cleanly by a group member two days before the season closed. That was the last moose we saw despite hunting two more days, and really summed up our 2020 season, and 2020 as a whole - haha.
Despite not getting our moose, it was a lot fun being able to spend so much time hunting. Of the 46 days the season was open after we got home from camp, I either deer or moose hunted 42 of them. It has been insanely busy and a little exhausting, but an absolute blast. Before I move on from moose hunting, I should post a picture I received of the only archery moose taken at camp this year. You can read more about the archery hunt in my last post, but here is a picture of the bull taken by Scott Kelvin and his group.
Fortunately, Lindsay and I were a little more successful deer hunting than we were moose hunting. I made two trips down to the cabin to deer hunt, being joined periodically by Lindsay and some friends. The first trip was joined by my friend Matt, who helped me transport in and install a new air tight stove where there was once an old cookstove. It went really well, but was a bit of an adventure as we have to ATV into the cabin. Here are a couple pics of our set up and the new stove installed:
As for the hunting, Matt only had a buck tag and two short days so he was unsuccessful. Lindsay joined me for the rest of the week though and after holding out for the first half of the week hoping for a buck, she spent her tag on a nice mature doe. It was her first deer and she made a great shot on a really nice deer! With very little help and some instruction, she gutted and skinned it herself, and we butchered it in the cabin over a couple of drinks the next night.
Knowing I had lots of time I was holding onto my tag in hopes of shooting a nice 10 pointer I had lots of pictures of:
Unfortunately, we had an unseasonably warm November as I mentioned above, and it made the bucks totally nocturnal. I hunted hard for almost two weeks with no luck. I came home to try my luck filling our moose tag and to get a little work done around the house, before returning to the cabin for another week to chase deer. Unfortunately, the week I returned, it seemed all of the deer went nocturnal and I couldn't even find a doe to put my tag on. I was completely shocked as the first trip down we saw does almost every sit. My luck changed on the last evening I was there however, when a doe with two big fawns came to my bait pile. I never had a great shot on the doe (I don't love orphaning fawns anyway) and she was acting a little cagey as I think she may have winded me, so I took one of the fawns so as to not go home empty handed. It wasn't the buck I had been chasing, but that's totally fine with me. I am thrilled to have gotten to take a couple deer from the property and to fill up the freezer!
Now pretty much all of our hunting seasons have closed and things are slowing down and returning to normal. It was a great fall, but I'm ready for a break. The weather has gotten back to normal as we have about 8-10" of snow, and temps are around 10 degrees F. The ice is a little behind this winter, but is safe to walk on and should be safe to snow machine on soon. I haven't been out fishing at all, but plan to this week before Christmas.
We would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Hopefully 2021 will be a significant improvement on 2020 and we can get the borders open and see some familiar faces. We are yet to hear anything about the border prospects for the new year, but we will be sure to keep everyone posted as we learn anything.
October 8, 2020
I would like to start off by apologizing for taking well over a month to get another post up, but hunting season has started up and we have been pretty busy. Duck season opened on September 10th, and grouse on September 15th, so we have been spending quite a bit of time out chasing birds. Cedar and I had a great opening day shoot for ducks, coming home with a nice limit including two wood ducks which are a rarity around here!
Since then we made it out a few more times, and even brought a couple of my friends from town out; all with great success. There seems to be a lot of birds around this year and there is definitely a very thick crop of wild rice.
The grouse hunting has been really good as well, and most outings have produced limits. Lindsay, Cedar, and I have been enjoying some early morning drives chasing them around and doing some scouting for the upcoming rifle season for moose. Two more friends, whom I moose hunt with, were up over the weekend so we could do just that. While out we managed to get our 4-person limit of 20 birds, and found a nice moose shed! It has been a lot of fun and is really getting us all fired up for moose season in less than two weeks.
Archery season is currently open for moose right now and we have two groups in camp who have been out hunting hard. There was a surplus of cow archery tags in our area this year so there are lots of those in camp, but only one bull tag. The group with the bull tag managed to fill it this week, but so far there hasn’t been any success on the cows (I didn’t get a pic of the moose but will hopefully get one from the group and include it in a future post). Cow hunting for archery is very difficult of course since they don’t like to come to a call like a bull will, which is part of the reason there are so many tags available. The archery groups will all be gone this weekend, and our three groups of rifle hunters will be arriving throughout next week to prepare for opening day. The moose are rutting and moving quite a bit right now, so hopefully they see some more success in their last couple days!
Fishing traffic has slowed as myself and our groups of guests are all focused on hunting, but lots of fish are being caught when sought after. It’s pretty typical fall fishing, the water temps are dropping and the walleye are still on the reefs but are beginning to work back up them into the shallower water on top. The smallmouth are really congregating on some of the reefs as well, especially around 7 Pine Island. I really love smallmouth fishing this time of year as it is pretty easy to catch some really nice fish and they put up such a fight.
I had a bunch of friends up over the long weekend in September and 10 of us managed to come back with our limit of walleye. We had a ton of fun and a great fry, plus everyone got to bring some home as well!
The weather has actually been pretty nice so far this fall. We had an early cold snap and a couple heavy frosts in early September, but since it hasn’t hardly dipped below freezing, even at night. Most nights the temps are getting down into the mid 40’s, and they are warming back up to the low 60’s during the day. It has been relatively cloudy with intermittent rain, but nothing serious that would ruin an entire day of hunting or fishing. I’m hoping this warmer weather lasts until we get closed up so we don’t have to worry about any frozen pipes before closing, fingers crossed.
In other news, we celebrated Mom’s 70th birthday this year by inviting a bunch of friends out to camp and doing a big pig roast! It was a really great time with too much food and drinks, just the way a birthday should be! Thanks to everyone who made the journey into camp to celebrate with us, Mom really had a lot of fun and appreciated it. As usual I’m bad at getting photos, but have a couple pictures of the guest of honour opening up some presents.
I think that’s all of the news for now, I’ll try to get another post or two up before we move home for the winter and let everyone know how the rifle hunt goes.
We hope everyone is staying healthy and safe,
August 26, 2020
I hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy. Camp has been slow, which is to be expected during these times, but we have managed to stay quite busy despite. Last week my Mom's family traveled up from Southern Ontario to spend a week with us relaxing and fishing. We had lots of campfires and spent a good chunk of the week on the water or exploring different beaches around the lake and swimming. We caught and ate lots of fish, and everyone had a great time. It was an absolute pleasure getting the kids on a few fish and watching them have so much fun running around camp and using the paddle boat and kayaks.
Here are a few pics from throughout the week:
In other news, the border closure has been extended until September 21, and at this rate I can't imagine that it will open at all this season. We are just remaining hopeful that everything will return to normal over the winter months, and come next spring we can open back up as normal. Or whatever our new "normal" will look like after Covid. Despite not seeing 99% of our guests this year, we have had a few groups of Canadians come down this summer to do some fishing and to support local business. It has been a big help and we are very grateful to everyone who decided to spend a little bit more money to go fishing than they normally would, and to support local business! We are also very fortunate that we have a handful of groups of moose hunters coming in, which will be a nice way to round out the season and help us be prepared to open back up next year.
The weather is beginning to feel like fall. When the sun comes out we are still getting sunburns and hot temperatures, but the temps are dropping a lot at night, and the days are beginning to get shorter. We have had a very dry summer this year and the lake level is low, so we are hoping for a little rain over the fall to help bring it back up before winter. We have had a few inches over the past couple weeks and would like to see that trend continue, as long as it isn't too much to ruin going outside!
The fishing has been very good all summer, and that has continued into the fall. The walleye are found in the deeper water, roughly 20+ feet, and on the sides of reefs when actively feeding. I would pretty much describe the fishing as typical for this time of year. Numbers are still really good, and we are catching the occasional bigger walleye out of the deeper water.
Otherwise not a whole lot is new up here. We are beginning to get ready for hunting season as ducks opens on September 10, and grouse and rabbits (hare technically) on the 15. I am fortunate enough to have a moose tag this year, and after our group didn't having one last year, we are pretty excited. Lindsay and I both have bear tags we plan to fill as well, and both have deer tags to spend down at the cabin once we close up shop this year. It's looking like it's going to be a bountiful fall and we are going to fill the freezers up, I can't wait!
July 21, 2020
Let me start off by apologizing for my absence, despite not having many customers around this summer we have been keeping remarkably busy. As awful as the current state of the world is, it's a sort of once in a lifetime opportunity for us to be able to get caught up on a lot of maintenance. So far we have painted the ceilings in cabins 5 and 6, replaced the floor in the fish house, and have been renovating the lodge to be a more workable space. Before having built the new shop we had to store a lot of stuff that didn't fit in the old shed in the house with us. This meant general disorganization and that our clothing inventory was actually stored across 3 different rooms and was a nightmare to sort through looking for a specific item. We have since moved all of the cleaning supplies out into the shop and completely outfitted that room to hang and organize all of the clothing. We have also gutted and built shelves in a small room in the back of the lodge that was solely used to house a heap of stuff we never used (you couldn't even walk in there it was so crowded) and now Mom has a nice space to store all of the bedding. This should make us a lot more efficient and make our jobs a lot easier on Fridays and Saturdays.
Oh, and I almost forgot. We have also had a local contractor, Roger from Wintering Getaway, down doing some work on cabin 1 for us. We have not only gotten rid of that old terrible shower, but built a whole new bathroom on the back of the cabin and opened up the kitchen to make room for a pantry. We also updated the flooring throughout. We are waiting for the last of the materials which are on back order, but here are a few pics:
We hope to be able to do this to cabins 2-4 in the years to come as well. It really opens up the cabin.
All of this downtime has also given me the opportunity to spend a bit of time at my deer hunting cabin, fixing it up. The cabin has a good foundation being on bedrock, and all of the logs are solid, but it has sat relatively unused for a number of years and needs some TLC. We have gone down for 3 2 night trips this summer and have been able to seal all the gaps between the logs and have stripped the exterior of water damage and mildew and have it prepped and ready for stain.
Some of the logs had some gaps from the cabin settling out over the years and them not having been chinked. Most didn't require any work, some were small and required some, and others were pretty large. Lindsay and I were able to pull out the existing insulation between the logs to clear the gaps and sealed them with spray foam. We will likely go back and chink the gaps that we had to seal after we stain as well. To clean the exterior of the cabin we used 7 gallons of Sansin Wood Cleaner and 191 gallons of water, brought in by ATV in jugs. It was a lot of work not having water and power as we had to use two deck sprayers and two scrub brushes to apply, scrub, and rinse the walls; but they turned out great!
Here are a couple of the older pictures I have already posted for reference, and the new clean walls:
The weather has mainly been hot and dry. And I do mean hot, we had probably two weeks that averaged over 90 F. Fortunately we have gotten a little bit of rain recently and it has cooled off a bit, it's a very welcomed change for working around the yard. The fishing has remained very steady despite the hot weather though. Two weeks ago we actually had a full camp, as our regularly scheduled Canadian clients were here, in addition to a couple of new groups that came down for a long weekend. Everyone had a successful week fishing and we saw a few entries on the fish board. Nothing massive but a lot of nice 20-22" walleye, and one very large 21" bass!
Last weekend we were quiet so I had a bunch of friends up to celebrate Lindsay's birthday. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. It was very hot and we had a blast playing yard games and got out for a pretty good days fishing. Especially since we weren't working too hard for the fish and spent a good while swimming around the boats. Everyone had a blast and we had an awesome fish fry. Of course I'm terrible at remembering to take a picture of the fish before I start cleaning them, but here is the group that I had in my boat.
As far as the border closure goes, I'm sure everyone knows by now that it will be closed until August 21 at the earliest. To be completely honest, and this is just my personal opinion, I would be surprised to see it open at all this summer. We are remaining hopeful, but I don't see the border being opened on our end until there is a large scale drop in cases in the US. Hopefully this mess is over soon.
Well that was a bit of a long winded post, but I think it is a pretty thorough recap of everything we have been up to since my last post. I'm going to try to get some more pictures of fish up on here and on our social media pages as I have had a few requests and have certainly been slacking. I hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy!
June 16, 2020 – Border Closure Likely To Be Extended Again
As the title suggests, it seems as though the travel ban is going to be extended another 30 days until July 21. This has not been confirmed yet and no agreements have been signed, but Trudeau stated in a press release yesterday there is a "general consensus" among himself and our premiers to extend the border closure. Once I know for certain that this is the case, I will be contacting all effected guests. Hopefully this will be the last extension and we will be able to get back to business as usual come July.
It is a huge bummer so many people are missing their family vacations this summer and we really do miss seeing everyone. The entire tourism industry and so many other small businesses are feeling the effects of not having the economic support of your travel. We do want to say thank you to everyone who despite not being able to make it this year are keeping their reservations for 2021. It is a wonderful light at the end of the tunnel knowing that despite losing so much revenue this year we will be able to pick up like normal come 2021.
We are starting to get ahead of the virus in Ontario, and are doing especially well up here in the North West. Our premier has actually adopted a regional reopening strategy that allows different regions to open the local economies at different paces, rather than making decisions for the entire province as a whole. This is a welcome change as all of the cases in Ontario are centered around the Toronto area now. We are beginning to get back to life as normal up here and so far there haven't been any repercussions. I believe this is why the government is opting to keep the borders closed for now. We are beginning to pull ahead and I would hate to see a second wave come through shortly after reopening and seeing all these businesses, ourselves included, have to shut back down and go back into quarantine. Hopefully nothing like that happens and this is the last border closure extension, and we can get back to business as usual come July.
In this down time we have been able to get quite a bit done around camp. It took much longer than expected because of all the initial cleaning and brush work involved, but I painted the ceilings in the kitchens and living areas in cabins 5 and 6. Man what a difference a coat of paint can make, everything looks much cleaner and the cabins are a lot brighter. just remember if you see any paint on the walls that was from the last person who painted years ago, not me - ha ha!
We also finally got the floor in the fish cleaning house fixed. The building has settled into the ground a little so the floor isn't as level as it used to be, but new plywood helped strengthen it back up and the new linoleum is a welcome change from the torn stuff last year. I'm horrible at remembering to take pictures and didn't get any before and afters of the ceilings, but here are a couple of the fish house.
We are also putting an addition on the back of cabin 1, the materials have arrived and work should begin this week. We are going to build a new bathroom on the back of the cabin and then gut out the current bathroom to open up the kitchen some more and add a little more storage. We will finally be rid of that terrible shower that everyone, including us, hates.
The weather has been sporadic. It has been pretty windy most days and some have been hot pushing 80-90 degrees, and then a couple days later it's back down to 50. There was actually about 8" of snow north of us last week! We didn't get any here but it was very cold and rainy and we almost had a frost. It has been very strange. I haven't been fishing a whole lot, but I did go out to Red Rock two nights ago, and Lindsay and I caught probably 40 walleye in 2 hours. There were a lot of little guys but we probably turned loose about 5 that were around 18" and i lost one at the boat well over 20". It was a blast!
Well I think that is all for now, as mentioned above once I get certain confirmation about the border I will be contacting any effected guests. We sure hope everyone is doing well in these strange times, stay healthy!
June 6, 2020 – Nonessential Ban Lifted For Tourism! We Will Open For Ontario Residents On Saturday, June 20!
It was announced two days ago that resorts would now be allowed to accept Canadian customers as of yesterday! This is another step in our province slowly reopening the economy, and is a great step forward. However, this news does not come without some newly required protocol, and of course a little confusion. It was also announced at the beginning of the month that Ontario would be extending it's state of emergency until the end of June, which is the reason for a lot of the protocol that will have to be followed.
I will be trying to decipher the regulations and determine what we will need to do over the next week, and will try to keep this up to date as I learn anything. For now this is what we know:
Currently we are allowed to provide cabin rentals to Canadian groups (only from Ontario) that all live within the same household. We are however not allowed to take any campers as publicly shared facilities such as our shower house have to remain closed, and we do not have power, sewer, and water hook ups. Beaches are allowed to be used, but social distancing practices must be followed and enforced. It seems most other publicly shared areas will have to remain closed (ie. our firepit, etc.) but I am looking to clarify this for sure. We will also have to put some new temporary rules in place as well, like only one cabin in the fish cleaning house at a time, etc. Sanitation and cleanliness will be a top priority for us, so we appreciate everyone's cooperation with following whatever rules we have to enforce, and in doing their part disinfecting things after their use.
It seems as though we will be able to offer boat and motor rentals still, but I will not be able to do any guiding. I am not sure about travel restrictions for people from separate households sharing vehicles on the way here and then sharing a boat once here. In the meantime I would think it's best to keep to your own household just to be certain and for simplicity. I believe we will be able to offer gas and minnow sales like normal, but will be asking guests to wait outside the minnow shed rather than coming inside. Same with the use of our main office. We will have to restrict guests to only coming in if they require something, and you will have to remain outside to use the internet. Only one group will be allowed in at a time.
We have decided to remain closed until Saturday June 20, to allow us enough time to understand all of these new rules and prepare accordingly. I am also in the middle of a number of small renovations and jobs in the cabins and will need the time to finish that up as well. As mentioned I will update this blog as we learn more, and all of the information about new policies will be available and in your cabin upon arrival.
It is possible we will see a lot of these restrictions lifted at the end of the month IF Ontario lifts the state of emergency. If it does not, it is possible we will have to enforce them longer. As for the border closure, it is still potentially opening on June 21. This does of course have the potential to be extended again. We hope it won't be extended, but with Ontario still being in a state of emergency until the end of June, I wouldn't be surprised if it was.
All in all this is a good step forward for not just us but for the whole tourism industry and the province as well. I believe reopening is going to be a slow procedure that will be complicated and have many steps, but at least we have begun that procedure.
In lighter news, things around camp are looking great! As mentioned i am trying to use this down time to fix up some small things in the cabins and to do a little painting and staining as well. We have a contractor that will be putting an addition on cabin 1 later this summer, building a newer bathroom off the back of the cabin and opening the current bathroom up to expand the kitchen. I wouldn't expect to see this finished until fall, but we do plan on doing this to all 4 of the smaller cabins over the next few years.
I haven't been out fishing as much as I thought I would be, but the walleye are biting well. It was a slow start as we had a late spring and an early opener. i believe the fish were still spawning way up the rivers on opening day, but were starting to work their way back out by the following weekend. The lake is still low for this time of year, but we have got some rain that has brought it up a bit, with more in the forecast. The weather has been a little unpredictable. We had a week or so of extremely hot weather that was followed by a real cold snap with a frost two nights in a row. Now things are back to normal and are warm when the sun is out and just a little cool when it isn't or its windy.
It is very strange being here for this long and not seeing you guys. We have been enjoying being able to use this downtime to do some much needed work around camp and to finish a few personal projects and jobs as well, but we are really looking forward to getting things back to normal.
I hope everyone is safe and well and we will hopefully start seeing you soon!
May 20, 2020 – **BORDER CLOSURE EXTENDED UNTIL JUNE 21**
It was announced yesterday that Ontario is keeping its borders closed for another 30 days, until June 21st. For those who's trips have been affected I will be reaching out to you today to inquire about next year and your deposit.
We are going to miss seeing everyone who is going to miss their trip this year. Hopefully this is for the best and we can get through this without a second wave and get back to business as usual.
A huge thank you to all of our clients, old and new, that are re-booking for next year. It is making this whole pandemic a lot easier on us knowing we are only losing revenue this year and not business for future years. You guys are what allow us to keep doing what we love!
Everyone stay safe and healthy!
May 15, 2020 – No New Concrete Info, But Some Insight
I'm currently writing this while looking at the lake over a bunch of cabins that are normally buzzing with guests getting ready for opening day. This morning there is no buzzing or activity whatsoever, and it is definitely a strange sight. This is the first time in our 32 years of business we won't be able to open for the opener. Admittedly there is a certain peace and serenity to seeing the place totally empty, but I would trade it in a heartbeat to see groups of anxious fisherman excited to get on the water.
We have been out at camp since last Friday, beginning our usual spring preparations. We had a cold and late spring this year so were later than normal getting in as there was still lots of snow on the road. Everything out here looks like it wintered really well though, and there isn't any damage which is very nice to see. The water levels are extremely low this spring, and most of our docks are completely out of the water. It seems every spring poses a new challenge to overcome, and we are hoping the water will come up over the next week or so to help us resolve this one.
The weather over the last week has been unseasonably cool and windy. Most days have felt more like October than May, with temps around 40-45 during the day and dipping well below freezing at night. The wind has seemed to blow out over the last couple days though, and there is sun and warmth on the horizon. It will be nice to not have to worry about leaving water running overnight anymore.
Now for the information you are here for:
We are still yet to receive any sort of timeline as to when we may be able to open back up, or when the border will be open. However, there have been a few changes and I'll detail them the best I can below.
Ontario's declaration of emergency has been extended until June 2. This means that there is a fire ban in place, crown land camping is prohibited, car pooling is prohibited, no gatherings of 5 or more people, or any organized events, etc. We are allowed to go out and fish (thank god!), but everyone in the boat must be from the same household, and enforcement has the right to check your id's and lay fines.
Ontario has begun allowing some businesses to open back up. You may have heard or read that golf courses, campgrounds, marinas, and some stores are now able to open. Although this sounds promising, all services offered by these businesses are severely modified and certain criteria need to be met in order to open. As of right now the only services campgrounds can offer is to allow "guests with seasonal contracts" access to their campers or vehicles. So until things progress further, we are still unable to open or provide any services. This is however a step in the right direction, and hopefully there will be no spike in Covid cases as a result, and we can keep rolling out the economy.
As for the border closure, the date is still tentatively set for May 21, but is expected to be extended another month until June 21. This decision has not been officially made, but Trudeau has publicly stated that our government is in communications with yours as well as Homeland Security, and that our interests are in extending the closure. It was also said that talks were "going well" for extending the closure, so I would expect that to become a reality. There is still a week for them to officially make a decision, and once I hear more I will be sure to get another post up on here. Some information on this can be found at the following link:
In the meantime, we aren't officially cancelling any weeks past opener, but an awful lot would need to happen in the next 7 days for us to be allowed to open. I would expect to see us closed for another month or so anyway, but nothing is certain. I will update the blog again early next week, hopefully with some more information, and will immediately begin contacting potentially effected guests then as well.
Stay safe and healthy everyone, hopefully this is all over soon.
April 19, 2020 – Borders are Officially Closed Until May 21
It was announced by our Prime Minister yesterday that both of our governments agreed that the border closure would be extended by at least another 30 days, until May 21. Non-essential business are still closed until further notice as well. This means that we will officially have to close for our opening week, with a very tentative opening date of May 23. We will of course need the closure on non-essential business to be lifted and the border to be open by that date in order for us to open. We remain hopeful that this could happen, but it is likely we will be delayed further.
I will of course keep everyone updated as we learn any new information and will be sure to contact groups if their weeks are effected. We are going to miss seeing everyone who will be unable to make their trip this year.