November 8th, 2010: We have moved into our new house and we're seeing deer almost daily in our backyard! I've taken a couple of days for a bit of Whitetail hunting but have spent most of my time getting the old house ready to sell and setting up the new house with an office and work shop area for my outboard engines and other equipment. I managed to get a doe last week and hope to get out a few more days next week with a couple of the guides (Tom and Cary).
I've also been working on getting quotes for a few new boats for next season, and deciding on which shows to attend this winter. The All Canada show has changed it's dates and location in Minneapolis again and that show has been declining in attendance for the past few seasons so I'm on the bubble with that one. Same with Des Moines and Omaha, but I'm sure I'll be back at those shows.
The newsletters were sent out a few weeks ago, right at the same time we were moving and the telephone company screwed up our toll free service, great timing! The phones are back up and running and we make every attempt to answer all our calls by forwarding to our cell phones when we leave the home office. If you did not receive a newsletter, please call or email with your current address.
Here's our new address:
Bolton Lake Lodge
130 Forbes Road
1-800-665-5321 (still the same)
1-204-254-0025 (new local phone number)
September 28th, 2010: The season is officially over at the lodge but Tom is still hanging around at the lodge looking for moose and getting a bit of work done. The water continued coming up into September but has finally started to drop over the past 2 weeks. Unfortunately the damage was done before the water dropped back down. The top of our main dock was ripped off it's cribs by the wind and waves and at least one crib was completely destroyed. We'll have a few projects before the start of next season including the dock at the east rapids and the dock at Aswap Lake which were also destroyed.
We closed up Aswap Lake on September 12th this year and then I flew the float plane back to it's home in Flin Flon for the winter. We're hoping to have the same plane back again next season, we know it's a real good one! If the economy was better, especially the exchange rate, I'd be buying that float plane to make sure it stays with us for a long time but for now we'll just have to continue leasing it and hope that it's still available from one season to the next.
We've been extra busy in the past few weeks in between shutting down the lodge, the outposts and moving back south (Winnipeg area) for the winter, we've also bought a new home just south of Winnipeg and we're in the process of selling our house. We'll be moving by the end of October so the mailing address is going to change fairly soon. I'll update again when we have officially moved. The house on the other side of town is closer to more of our friends and family, plus now that we don't work out of the St. Andrews airport there's nothing keeping us in this area. Although I'll miss being able to jump on my snowmobile to go ice-fishing on the Red River or go ride through a really nice park, plus I'll miss jogging along the River but I'm sure we'll find many nice areas for the same kind of action on the other side of town. We'll still be outside the city so we'll have that extra elbow room that we've really grown accustomed to.
The newsletters are in the print shop right now, I'll probably get them back next week, then we just have to stuff them in envelopes, put the labels on them and drive down to Grand Forks, ND to mail them out. I expect they will be mailed out in mid October.
I'm hoping to sneak in some time for a bird hunt - ducks, geese or chickens, anything will do. If not, then I'll be extra sure to get in a Whitetail hunt later in October or early November.
Here are a few more pictures that have been sent to me recently.
August 25th, 2010: Our season is almost over for another year, 2011 is shaping up very nicely already with commitments from the bulk of the staff and from most of the guests from this season rebooking for 2011!! I'm spending the next 3 weeks at the lodge taking care of the flying for our guests at Aswap Lake and getting a lot of work done around camp. It's been difficult over the past few days to get much done because of the weather we've had and the weather is creating more work every day for us.
It has rained so much in the past month that my previous prediction has come true earlier than expected and worse than expected, the lake has now risen over the main dock! The main dock has a slight slope so the part near shore is still above water, but the other end of the dock has actually been underwater for a few days and with yesterday's winds it has been very badly damaged. The outermost crib was toppled over and the last section of dock has broken away, we will need some major repairs to get it back into shape. I'm worried that the worst isn't over yet because if the water stays as high as it is, then the ice will finish the dock off this winter and we'll have to start from scratch next spring. We just put new stringers and a new deck on our Av dock and it's now floating off it's cribs as well. I'm hoping to fix that tomorrow but, again if the water stays high then we'll be in trouble next spring. At the start of this season we could easily drive a boat under the dock near shore, now the water is level with that part of the dock. The lake has risen about 4-5 feet since May, most of it over the past few weeks, at least 30 inches recently!
We've had to pull our protected dock in the back bay closer to shore twice already and now we have to wear boots to get to the dock. This is where we hide our float plane for the season, and it's a good thing it was there yesterday and last night because the winds would have sunk it very quickly if it had been exposed to those winds.
I'm enjoying the float flying but I think it will be even more enjoyable if the weather settles down. I've flown in very poor conditions over the past 2 weeks but refused to fly in the worst weather because it's just not worth the risk for myself, our guests or the plane.
Here are some more great pictures from this season that guests are sending to me by email, if your picture isn't here, send me one and I'll get it on!
August 13th, 2010: Wow, we have had a lot of rain here over the past few weeks. With just a few good down pours, the lake has risen 3 feet and it looks like it's going to come up again after this rain finally stops. We think it might be over the main dock by the end of the season if it continues like this! The higher water did not slow down the big Pike, but it make it a lot tougher on the Brook Trout river. The river came up a few feet as well so the Brook Trout were able to spread out all over the river rather than the few pools we were working earlier in the season.
I've taken over the float plane flying and it's been very enjoyable. It's nice to finally be getting some use out of my commercial license, and this way I get a good look at the outposts more often. We just rebuilt the dock at Joint Lake, new stringers going from shore to the crib and new boards over the entire dock. It looks great and should last at least another 10 years!
The last few guests coming out of Joint Lake have caught more trophy Pike than the guests coming out of Aswap, a bit of a role reversal lately! We're getting more trophy Pike out of Joint Lake than normal which is great to see.
I have a ton of pictures to share and I've been holding off because I've been waiting to get more yet. As the new pictures come in, I'll be sure to add them right away.
July 26th, 2010: It's been hot up at the lodge lately! Luckily in the evenings it's been cooling down to sleep and we've had some over night showers to keep us cool! It's been a nice mix of trophy Pike, Walleye and Lake Trout lately, but we haven't been to the Brook Trout river much at all this month. Can't wait to get back, they'll all be ready to hit again!
Enjoy some more pictures!:
July 13th, 2010: Some more great fishing over the past week! Dan and Bill who were part of my last update continued their streak of great Pike fishing and ended the week with 8 Pike 41 inches and bigger!! Other guests in camp also had a great week finding big fish and the guys at Aswap had a great time with the big Pike! They landed 14 Pike over 40 inches!! This is followed by the group before them who landed 17 Pike over 40 inches!!
Please remember to pinch your barbs if you're coming to fish with us or anywhere in Manitoba because it's the law and more importantly we are a long way from medical help. A young man was hooked in the back of the head by his father but luckily his grandfather was also along on the trip and he was a doctor. We have lidocane, needles, alcohol swabs, iodine, polysporin among other items in our extensive first aid kit but it's never an easy job removing hooks from guests or staff. Fortunately, the young man's father did a great job of flattening the barbs on his hooks so it came out fairly easily after his grandfather used some freezing. One of my guides was not as fortunate because he did not pinch down his barbs yesterday and we had to push the hook through his skin and make a new exit hole. We have a few members on staff with First Aid training along with other courses and this year I also bought a portable defibrillator so we can attempt to handle some situations but as I've said, we are a long way from serious medical help so extra caution should always be exercised while in these remote locations.
Enjoy these pictures from the past week!
July 5th, 2010: We still have not seen a lot of rain yet this season but the water has come up almost a foot on our lakes because of the rains all around us, especially from the south. We've had a few really good days of fishing recently and some individual successes that should impress the most avid fishermen! Just yesterday 2 fishermen, Bill and Dan arrived from Winnipeg along with another group who was going to Aswap Lake. Dan and Bill fished with their guide Rob from roughly 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and landed a 39 inch Pike, two 41 inch Pike and a 43 inch Pike, not bad for their first day of fishing on Bolton Lake!! The group who just left Aswap Lake landed "at least 17 Pike over 40 inches!" The group of guys who just left Joint Lake had a few over 40 inches as well, plus some more big Walleye!
Mark from Wildcat Creek Outfitters in Zionsville, IN came equipped to fly fish almost exclusively. He landed a couple of very nice Pike, a bunch of Walleye and he had a phenomenal day Brook Trout fishing! Check out the pictures below, they even have some of the flies he used while he was here.
June 28th, 2010: I've been updating our facebook page a bit more often, that's why I've updated this page less than usual.
The weather is very cool, cloudy and windy today but it's not going to last! We've had a good run of trophies as well, very consistent unlike many years where there's one lucky week when all the stars align and a dozen trophies per day are caught. We're averaging 3-5 trophies per day which is nice because every group is getting big fish! The weather has been cooperating this year, especially when we're bringing in airplanes to move guests! I've had a few seasons where every weekend meant bad weather and we struggled through the change-overs but we've been very lucky so far this year with our change-over days!
Joint Lake and Aswap Lake are doing very well. Yesterday as the groups were leaving, the guys from Aswap said that they had 3 Pike 41 inches or bigger and the guys from Joint Lake had the same plus a 27 inch Walleye! There have also been countless Pike between 35 - 40 inches at the outposts and the lodge this season!
More great pictures!
June 16th, 2010: The weather has been very warm lately and the fishing has been hot! More big Pike, Walleye and Lake Trout are being caught every day and the Brook Trout have been good every time we take the day trip over to the river! The outposts are doing well, trophies from both Joint Lake and Aswap Lake are being caught weekly by the groups.
June 5th, 2010: It's been a productive week with lots of nice fish! The bigger Pike are turning on and we've had a good mix of trophy Walleye, Lake Trout and Brook Trout as well. The weather has been very nice for late May, early June fishing. Just a bit of rain and not too much wind, we've had mostly sunny days which is great for the Pike. We have a very full camp from now until August with just a few exceptions here and there, hopefully some last minute groups will fill the holes. Enjoy these pictures from the past few days! And if you haven't joined Facebook click our link for even more updates although many of the pictures will be the same.
May 26th, 2010: Things are well underway here at the lodge! We have already welcomed our first guest for the lodge and at Joint Lake and we're already on our second group at Aswap Lake. The first group of 6 guys who fished Aswap for 5 and a half days had a great time again. They've been fishing Aswap since the first year we opened the camp and they always take the first week of the season so they know exactly where to go to find the big ones. They landed 22 trophy Pike (41 or larger) including 3 at 44 inches! I did not get the full break down but there was close to 1000 fish in total and and they also keep track of how many are between 35-41 and how many are Pike vs Walleye.
We set up the Brook Trout River the other day and the fish were biting there too! In just a few hours of fishing we landed about 20 Brook Trout and 6 of them were trophies! The big ones were biting, we caught a 23 inch and two 22's! That's the best I've ever seen for big Brook Trout in such a short time! I'm putting a video on Facebook, please click the link and check it out!
Camp set up always has it's share of challenges, this year the low water is causing extra grief as we've had to build a new docking system for the float plane and we're marking new rocks that we've never seen before. Cabins shifting, animals chewing wires off sewer pumps, small items like fuel hoses, paddles, and tools going missing have all added to the fun of getting set up for the season. The equipment is all working well and the staff is looking great for this year!
We're excited to get the Dash 8 into camp on Sunday with an even larger crew of guests for the lodge and our outposts!
May 3rd, 2010: We're about to get started with another great season of fishing, fun and food! Our next big project is the fuel and freight haul as well as getting the camp open and ready for business. Later this week I'm going to Flin Flon to get trained on the Cessna 206 so that I can fly the float plane this summer. We're going to have a pilot hired to do 99% of the flying but I'll be ready in case we need a back up plan.
On Sunday we're going to rent a 5 ton truck and drive it to Norway House with a load of supplies. We're going to charter a Cessna Caravan to fly in our beer, pop, canola oil, the new toilet system for Joint Lake, a new lawn mower, all the propane (approximately 60 cylinders) and miscellaneous supplies and food. The same Ag Tractor (crop duster) we used last season will make 12 flights between Norway House and Bolton Lake with approximately 800 gallons of fuel per trip. It should take us 3 or 4 days but after those few days we'll have almost 10,000 gallons of fuel, 10,000 pounds of propane (it's heavy because the cylinders weigh so much), 8000 pounds of beer (good times!), 5000 pounds of pop and food (just a start), and a few more thousand pounds of miscellaneous equipment, supplies and gear. I have Willie, Tom, Dillon and Cary all set to help me move all our supplies and as we're waiting for planes to arrive at the lodge and in between flights, I'll be setting up the water system and opening up the cabins and the lodge. Once the big haul is done we'll get the float plane over to the outposts to install the new toilet system at Joint Lake and get those cabins open and ready for guests.
The big news is that the ice is off Bolton Lake already! I have not heard about Joint or Aswap but it's safe to say that those lakes will be open as well because all our lakes go within a day or 2 of each other. Once I get to the lodge early next week I'll report on water levels and update our progress but this year will be a cake walk compared to the years we're fighting with late ice. It's amazing how the ice can go 2 weeks late one season and then 2 weeks early the very next season!
March 12th, 2010: Tom and I just got back from the North yesterday, mission accomplished!! The new boat, new motors and a truck we're all taken into the lodge and I can happily say with minimal damage. We had our share of breakdowns with the equipment including a seized starter or seized engine on the Bombadier, over heating on the Case 350 Cat, no fuel to the Case 450 Dozer, some new dents to the Dodge Dakota we brought in as well as 2 flat tires on the Dakota. The snowmobiles needed a bit of maintenance as well and with temperatures nearing 40 degrees one day and not getting colder than 20 degrees it was a bit hard on the machines. The only thing we did not get into the lodge that we wanted to was the new trailer I bought last fall. The warm temperatures allowed for enough snow to melt so that the truck was able to make it into the lodge under it's own power. Good thing too because with the Bombadier out of commission and the Cat's having issues we couldn't drive the 38 miles of old winter road (basically a snowmobile trail) to haul in the truck on a sleigh as we had originally planned. The Dakota got stuck several times and just before we were about to give up with 2 flat tires and being stuck for the 6th or 7th time we had to step back and make some tough decisions. We got unstuck with still 8 miles of driving through the bush trail and never got stuck again.
Two days of trying to fix our old equipment, 2 days of driving the truck in under it's own power, plus 2 days of getting to Norway House and back then we decided we deserved a break....so we went ice fishing! There was 33 inches of solid ice in most places, but there was no ice at the East Rapids. About 500 yards of open water around the East Rapids and the water is low! I'm hoping it will raise quite a bit when everything melts but I'm pretty sure we're looking at a low water season....my poor props! We fished a bunch of Lake Trout spots that are excellent in the summer, but quite dead in the winter. I think the Lake Trout spread out all over the lake in the winter so it's very hard to find them. My first fish was the first trophy of 2010! 24 inch Whitefish picture below. We caught a bunch of Walleye and a few Pike but it wasn't as fast and furious as the last time I ice fished the lake but it was still a good day to be out fishing!
We have one sport show left for the season, then I'm going to concentrate on hiring the last of the staff. We have some good new guides joining us again this year and a lot of our experienced guys coming back. So far we have Willie, Cedrick, Regi, Tom, Marcel, Cary, Rob, Nick and Ray all returning to guide again. Unfortunately, Winston who has been with us for more years than any other guide has decided to do construction work in Toronto this year. He will be missed by our guests and all the other staff this year, especially me because we've become good friends over the years. We wish him luck in Toronto but he knows that his job is always open to him if he wants to come back.
The season is shaping up really nicely right now. We have many dates sold out and the outposts have just 2 open weeks left before being completely sold out for the season! We're hoping to fill a few more holes in Minneapolis and continue to work towards 2011.
Plans to reopen Kitchi Lake in 2011 are under way. We're going to spend a couple of weeks working on the cabin this summer and getting new equipment into the camp. Extra Av gas is going to be flown into the lodge this summer for those extra trips into Kitchi Lake. More work to our heavy equipment and regular maintenance to the cabins and lodge are planned as well for 2010.
Here are a few pictures from our winter road experience.
February 19th, 2010: With all the changes to the website it's taken a while for me to learn the new system and get some time to do another update so this will be a good long one!
First, Tom and I have been through St. Louis, Indy, Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Omaha already and had great success at the shows this year! There's just Phoenix and another Minneapolis show left this season and then we'll be concentrating on hiring staff, moving supplies to the lodge and buying a few more odd parts and tools needed for the season.
Today I sent all our new motors, a new 18 foot boat and a truck and trailer to Norway House. Tomorrow we have 2 guys from Norway House who will break the trail into Bolton Lake to haul in our supplies. I'm hoping for a good report from them on the condition of the trail so that I can get everything I've bought for the lodge into camp. I should be there in the next few days to run the trail with my snowmobile and use our bombardier to haul in the boat, motors and truck. We'll have some good pictures and video from this adventure if everything goes as planned!
Aswap Lake has been sold out since early January when we were in Chicago and our last week was filled. Joint Lake is sold out until August 12th and since the 12th is a Thursday, we can sell any length of trip that somebody could want as long as it starts on the 12th. We're hoping to find 2-3 more groups for Joint Lake so that it's filled until the end of August.
We are looking forward to the upcoming season, it will be here sooner than we think!