Boundary Waters canoe trip planning should be stress-free and fun. Here are some step to help you with that.
Who’s going? Your group make up will help us determine which canoe route is best for your group. Things to keep in mind: Age of the group, outdoor experience and fitness level. The maximum group size is 9.
What are the goals and interest of the trip. Here are a few examples: Fishing, relaxing, photography, solitude, wildlife, base camping or traveling.
Your Canoe Trip Dates. Entry permits are limited so it is important to plan in advance. We can help you with that to if your dates are already fixed the is great or we will find you the best canoe route based on the permits that are available for your date. Each season has different things to offer on a canoe trip. If you are looking for fewer bugs and more swimming opportunities July and August would be a good time of year. If fishing is the reason for you trip, May, June, and August would be best.
How many days for you trip? We can accommodate canoe trips of any length. We will make your trip anyway you want it.
What do you need to rent? We will help you out with our partial outfitting gear. Available to you are the essentials: Canoes, packs, life jackets, and paddles.
Trip Logistics: You drive to Ely, some people fly into MPLS or Duluth and then rent a car, and if you need tow service into Boundary Waters Canoe Area entry point, we can set it up for you.
Additional Services needed: Do you need a guide? It is not necessary to take a guide into the wilderness but we can help you find the right one for your trip if you book a trip early enough.
Call us to book your next Boundary Waters Canoe trip at 218-365-5489 or just fill out our reservation form.
At 12:15, July 4, 1999 disaster struck. Straight line winds hit our area and obliterated most of our neighbors. It just missed us by about a 1/4 mile. In its path, every tree taller than 40 feet snapped off have way up. Power line poles went as well and the just after Northwind Lodge went dark. I went over to the Moose Lake road to check on my mother-in-law Edith and her husband Bob Cary to see what happened. There were trees and exploded electrical transformers on the ground. Good thing I put a chainsaw in my truck because when I got there, Bob Cary was in his early 80’s and sawing on the pavement trying to open the road. Trees were twisted and under load so you had to be careful to watch so you wouldn’t get whacked when you poked the chain bar in there. It was truly surreal and the damage hard to believe. Fortunately, all the houses seemed to survive I think because the trees ate up the force of the wind. Now, where there once was brush, you had a scenic view of Moose lake as you drove down the road.
Well, as a result of the big wind, our outfitting customers had nowhere to hang their food packs. Everything snapped off. I had experimented with barrels and harnesses before and was not a huge fan of the one big barrel because it hits me on the tailbone. After a day of portaging, my tailbone is not a happy camper. So, I abandoned those in the mid 90’s. I really wanted to be able to carry 2 barrels but nothing existed to do so. Two barrels would allow two people a place to sit. They also allow one to separate out supplies better. Hiding two barrels makes it far more likely that a bear won’t find both and smaller barrels are easier to stash. The one big barrel has to be dumped out on the ground because everything you want ends up on the bottom. Also, the big barrel likes to roll around in the canoe which irritates me to no end. I hate stuff clunking around. I actually took one out on a long, 7-portage, day-trip to see how it would work. Well, it worked I guess, and comparatively, it’s cheap to own, but I was not a big fan.
I wanted a custom-made pack that would haul two 30 liter barrels so I headed over to Kondos Outdoors and met with Dan Kondos about my idea. In about 45 minutes, the Super Pack was born. I was going to make those little labels to sew onto the pack but I figured I would only sell 3 or 4 of these and at the time, I had to buy 5,000 labels so I held off. I should have had them made. We sold hundreds of Super Packs over the years to all sorts of happy campers. The only people who ever had a problem with it was a group of Boyscouts in a different state who borrowed a Super Pack from a guy who bought one from us, and a US Forest Service clean-up crew. In both cases, the scouts and the USFS did exactly the opposite of what you do with a Super Pack. They left the barrels inside the pack and hung it from a branch only to show the bears that the big pinãta at the end of the rope might have something good in it. Then they left camp for the day. When the USFS returned, a momma bear and two cubs were wailing on that nice, grounded pack which was holding those two barrels together resulting in their not sliding around which normally makes them hard to handle for a bear. In this case they were easy to hold down, jump on, and pummel. The bears managed to completely shred the pack into a garbage heap and tear a 6″ hole in the side of one barrel. Both barrels were completely flattened but they only got into one. That USFS worker who told me about the bears complained that these were not bearproof barrels to which I responded, “Well, who ever told you that they were bear proof and why the hell are you hanging in the first place?”
He answered that it was “government policy” to always hang your food pack, to which I replied by pointing out how asinine that was given that these packs are supposed to have the barrels removed and stashed in two opposite directions after they’ve been sealed shut. Then you hang that completely empty pack on any tree branch. If the bear smells no food, he won’t touch it and you won’t have a destroyed pack. I don’t think I was able to get through to that government worker about the error in his ways. Nobody really knew what the scouts did on their adventure, but I’m guessing it was equi-dumb. Those were the only two instances of which I’m aware regarding the destruction of a Super Pack going on 16 years of outfitting them now.
Now, when you get to camp, take the Super Pack up to the site and pull the two 30 liter, air & water tight barrels out of the pack. Use them to keep your food and it’s associated odors sealed off from the outside world. Use the two barrels as two chairs while in camp. When you leave camp and/or at nightfall, standing at your fireplace, stash one barrel 50 feet to the left and the other barrel 50 feet to the right, in the brush. Throw a couple of rocks and/or sticks, maybe an old downed log over the barrels to break up their appearance as they lay in the brush. You don’t need to bury them but if you can find a slump in the ground to lay a barrel in so they are harder to see, that is even better. And, while thse two 30 liter barrels are great to sit on in camp while you are there, make sure you don’t fry fish next to them. Don’t smear grape jelly on the outside. Also, don’t leave them unattended on a trail or the path to the biffy – bears walk on paths, too. What you are trying to do is minimize exposure to bears. You don’t have to go crazy in camouflaging them. If they are clean and odor free on the outside, they are not a target.
If you have the misfortune of getting the last campsite on the lake and it’s laden with bear signs including fresh scat, a ring of bark at the base of the hangin’ tree from where the bear has been running up and down the previous night, do this: Tie a rope around the necks of your two barrels, take them 15 feet offshore and anchor them floating in the lake. It’s pretty unlikely that a land animal like a bear will swim out and go “bobbing for apples” to see what’s in those barrels.
Contrary to myth and various internet bulletin boards, these barrels are incredibly tough, but not “bear proof”. Bears just don’t want them because a sealed up barrel smells like food-grade polyethylene which is a very clean, inedible plastic.
While portaging, remember to get the pack on your shoulders and then reach behind your head and pull each of the cover straps snug for a great fit up against your back. For short-torsoed folks, pull out the hip belt, flip it over and re-install it back in its slot. Easy to do and requires no tools. This puts the belt up about 1.5 inches higher for women’s torsos generally allowing the waist belt to be on the hips.
Each Red Rock Super Pack is custom built for Red Rock by Kondos Outdoors of Ely. Our Red Rock Super Pack holds both barrels beautifully and allows an extra 6″ of space on top for things you may need quick access such as raingear, lunch, a 2-3 man tent, etc. It’s easy to carry with a built-in foam-padded back, 2 contoured padded shoulder straps complete with sternum strap and hip belt. Made out of 1000 Denier Cordura Nylon containing 2-8 gal/30 liter barrels (20″ H x 12″ W) with tough dependable “V” channel lock band. Pack is 6684 cu in. Too much room for your food? Put the food in one barrel and your clothing or other things you want to protect and keep dry in the other barrel. Just don’t put the your clothes in a barrel with hard German salami or something truly ridiculous to bring on a canoe trip: cantaloupes. You might end up with a bear licking your ear on the portage…
This is a picture of a used Super Pack. You always see the shiny new gear, not the one that’s been out in the woods and actually used by real people. This one was on many canoe trips. I just shot some quick pics to show the straps, the barrels in the pack. Then I had to move because a truck was coming down the driveway, so I didn’t get the top zipped shut, but you get the idea.
Man, somebody hand me a paper towel. I started thinking about catching spring (May, June) lakers in the Boundary Waters and started drooling at the thought of fresh, fried laker fillets on an open fire. You fillet out a 5 pound laker. Then, take those delectable thick fillets and chunk them up in to 1.5 inch cubes. Then, shake them in the breading of your choice and put them in a hot fry pan with preferably corn oil, but any oil will do except sunflower oil (starts to smoke too soon). Flip the chunks on all 8 sides until the laker cubes are done – probably 2 minutes on the top bottom and less on each side. You are doing a bunch of them in the pan, so you prop them up against each other so they can brown. When they are golden brown, remove from the pan and set on paper towels on an aluminum or other (non-plastic) plate. You can eat these with your fingers like fish cakes. My keyboard is getting blurry at the thought of one of my favorite northwoods delicacies.
In reality, before you can begin drooling over a plate of fresh fried lake trout on Kekekabic lake or on a point in Thomas, you gotta catch one or more. In the spring time when the water is cold, they are cruising at shallower depths making the act of catching them an easier event. Follow the shoreline with one of these Red Rock Spinner/Spoons. Lakers love a good flash and they will come smokin’ in to investigate and attack. That is what you want. You want to rile them up and make them try to devour whatever you are pulling behind the canoe.
Our Spinner/Spoon was originally a lure designed for bass fishing in weeds – I don’t know when exactly, but you see that same style spoon (sans spinner and metal beads) in every grandfather’s tackle box in the attic or on some shelf in the garage. We added the metal beads and hi-flash colorado-style spinner to this old-fashioned spoon and now you have a Spinner/Spoon. How’s that for a literal name for lack of a better one? Who cares – it the end result that counts.
To effectively use these weedless spoons, you make sure you have a decent snap swivel tied to your line, attach the Spinner/Spoon. Start paddling the canoe on your course along the shoreline – not too close to shore on a lake trout lake (Kek, Crane, Thomas, Ima, Knife, and many more). Toss it out behind the canoe and let out about 100 to 150 feet to troll shallow behind you. Secure your rod either with a rod holder or jamming it into the gunwale held down by your foot – whatever works. You don’t want your rod popping out of the canoe on a strike. Then, continue paddling forward. If you are in a Souris River Canoe, you can do this all without losing your forward glide. If you’re in Wenonah, you are now dead in the water and need to begin paddling and developing new momentum while your lure is sinking and sinking. Wenonahs won’t turn when you need them to turn and they crap out in about 20 feet after you stop paddling. I don’t make this stuff up – no need – everybody who know canoes knows about the “crap out” of Wenonahs when you stop paddling.
You may want your reel’s drag to be set a tad lighter while trolling so it’s easier for your line to play out on a strike and harder to pull your rod over the side of the canoe. You can always tighten it up when your are fighting the fish.
On a darker/cloudy/partially cloud day – use the gold color. On a bright day with blue sky, use the silver. This rule applies most of the time, but sometimes the fish change it up so don’t adhere to it super tightly.
Be aware that this lure will also attract killer northern pike. Northerns like laker tackle just like lakers. The cool thing about Spinner/Spoons is that you can use them for casting in the weeds with the weed guard. Now, with the spinner flashing, they won’t be as completely weedless as they are without the spinner-bead part. This makes a good reason for fishing it along side of weed beds, especially cabbage weeds if you can find them. Northerns like weeds but big northerns also hang out in the same places as lakers which is open deep water. Northerns from the Boundary Waters are also delicious so don’t be bummed if you catch one. Be bummed if you catch a 20 pounder. That’s too big and too much for even a small army to eat. Let him go and eat the smaller ones. Find out about filleting northern pike and eating them here
So, this is an effective, easy to use lure for laker fishing in the pristine waters of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. We sell them in two packs – one gold and one silver. It will become your go-to lure for action and eating fish. Make sure you put a couple in your box before you go! You can only get these from Red Rock.