BWJ Blog

The Boundary Waters Journal Blog

News and Stories from the Boundary Waters Journal

April 17, 2014

April 17, 2014

I wanted to check in with you all as it has been about two weeks since my very first ever BWJ Blog posting.  The good news since then is we had a run of 50 degree weather April 8-11.  The snow actually melted down to the grass in the sunniest spots, giving at least a glimmer of hope for everyone that is anxious for spring.  The first blackbird arrived at our beaver pond below the house on April 10.  The next day, the first robin appeared in the yard.  A few geese have honked over, looking for a patch of open water to settle on.  Only the creeks with moving water are actually open so far.  The morning of April 15, we dropped back down to a low of 8 degrees which crusted up the snow hard enough for my bird dog, Custer, and I, to take a swing through the woods.  He put up two grouse and I saw 6 deer all out feeding in small, melted off patches.  They looked to be in pretty fair condition considering the severe winter they have just been through. 

The bad news is that our high temps have not reached freezing the last couple days and central Minnesota just got blasted with another heavy spring snowstorm.  Duluth got eight inches but here in Ely we only got an inch.  The forecast is for back in the 50’s for the weekend.  Given that the historical average ice-out for Blueberry Lake near our place is tomorrow, April 18, you can safely assume that the lakes will not be opening up until later that normal.  Let’s just hope it is not as late as last year- May 15 for lakes like Vermilion, Burntside, Basswood and Lac La Croix. 

I have been very busy writing/editing stories and photos for the next 3-4 issues of BWJ and marking up maps for hundreds of subscribers participating in our FREE BWJ TRIPS program.  Our new website makes participating in the BWJ TRIPS Program easier than ever.   If you still need my help marking up maps for your trip this year, please be aware that the deadline is May 10.  After that, I shift into full time canoeing/fishing mode with my Grand Slam Guide Service.  I still have openings for the following:  May 31- June 7- Smallmouth trip- 1 person.  Ely to Atikokan canoe trip across Quetico- July 6-14- 2-spots open.  Sutton River Trip # 1 – July 23- August 1- 1 person. 

I will be back when spring evolves enough to project probable ice-out in the Boundary Waters.   





I like the irony of April 1st for the posting of this first ever entry on the BOUNDARY WATERS JOURNAL BLOG.  Those who know me as the quintessential “anti-technology guy” will no doubt assume this is some kind of an April Fools- joke.  But it’s no joke, it’s for real and I am 100% committed to making the BWJ Blog THE ONE that Boundary Waters fans rely on for the very latest “conditions on the ground”.  This BWJ Blog will be all about sharing the delights and dilemmas of “Living On The Edge” of canoe country with our loyal BOUNDARY WATERS JOURNAL following.  Think of it as the best way to get timely info that is so important to making the most of your own Boundary Waters adventures.  For the past 28 years, BOUNDARY WATERS JOURNAL has been the #1 source of inspiration and information for helping you enjoy the BWCAW/Quetico.  The BWJ Blog will be no different. 

For those who figured it would be a cold day in hell when Stu Osthoff turned to blogs and facebook, let’s start this thing off with acknowledging this has indeed been the winter from hell.  We are talking many, many nights of twenty to thirty below and waist deep powder right through March.  Things finally crusted over yesterday but more snow is in the forecast for tomorrow.  I just finished working the Minneapolis Sportshow over the weekend and topic A was that this looks like a repeat of last year when the ice did not go out on the bigger lakes until May 15-17, post-fishing season opener.  A serious April heat wave could prevent breaking the late ice-out record of 2013 but it is a virtual lock that spring will be later than “normal” in 2014.  For the sake of my beloved Ely area whitetail deer, which are running on fumes right now, I hope spring rushes in sooner than later. 

Once again, this year, from mid-May to mid-July, I will be out in canoe country nearly every day with my Grand Slam Guide Service.  NOBODY knows what is really going on out in the backcountry like I do.  Watch for weekly updates here on water levels, bugs, blueberries, forest fires and of course reports on all aspects of canoe country fishing.  Come August I guide canoe trips for trophy brook trout on the rivers flowing into Hudson Bay, my Septembers focus on guiding the archery elk season in Colorado and then it is back to the BWCAW for October/November until the ice is too thick to paddle.  We even snowshoe into the BWCAW pulling our sleds with a heated wall tent camp to chase February lake trout.  Whatever the season, I pledge to share all I can about my passion for the wilderness experience. 

I wanted to share a few important announcements with you all. 

1.       Be sure to check out the ALL NEW BWJ Website.  You can subscribe, renew, purchase great canoe-camping gear from our Voyageur Trading Post, access our very popular and FREE BWJ TRIPS route planning service, research/purchase articles/back issues and learn more about all my Grand Slam Guide Service trips. 

2.       BOUNDARY WATERS JOURNAL IS NOW AVAILABLE IN AN ELECTRONIC VERSION (Available starting April 15, 2014).  Same great exclusive BWJ articles and photos in a digital format to enjoy on your computer and mobile devices. 

3.       I will be giving a presentation at the Midwest Mountaineering Spring Expo in Minneapolis on Saturday April 26 on “Real Food For Wilderness Canoe Trips”.  Come learn how I canoe trip all summer and never eat a freeze dried meal by relying on the BWJ Double Insulated Food Pack System.  You can also stop by the BWJ booth and visit about your upcoming trips.  Maybe I can help you out.  For more go to

4.       I have just a couple last openings for my 2014 Grand Slam Guide Service trips:

** Ely to Atikokan Wilderness Canoe Trip across Quetico.  July 4-12  (3 openings)  Complete 9 day package-- $1500/person

** Sutton River Brook Trout Trip    July 23- August 1.  (1 opening)  Complete 10 day package $5200/person

I look forward to sharing the seasonal highlights of canoe country with you here on the BWJ Blog while you are waiting for that next BOUNDARY WATERS JOURNAL magazine to show up in your mailbox.  Pray for spring everybody.     


Photo caption for Blog photo # 6119:  The five of us take a break pulling our heavy sleds into Ima Lake in mid- February 2014.   Even with snowshoes, it was a tough slog through deep snow this year. 


Photo caption for Blog photo # 6124: Jason Lenz, of Duluth, MN joined me for my Ely to Atikokan canoe trip last July and we got to talking about a BWCAW winter trout trip.  I was happy to see him get his hands on some nice Ima Lake trout as a reward for a pretty challenging hike in there.






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