Conservation Minnesota

Lake of the Woods

An advantage to living so far north is the Lake of the Woods, one of my most treasured places. If you haven’t been to the Lake of the Woods, located along the Canadian border west of the BWCA, you really must make it a point to visit.

Driving to the Northwest Angle, where we launch, includes crossing at least two borders. First, travelers cross a typical border into Canada. Then, after driving for awhile visitors are required to stop at a border checkpoint that is an unmanned garden-sized shed outfitted with a videophone in what appears to be the middle of nowhere. Here one calls into the U.S. border to provide passport information. While on the lake one might cross back over to Canada and then you must stop at a border point located in a cottage on an island to check back into Canada. It can be confusing and I’m never sure if we are in Minnesota or Canada at any given time.

Last weekend we planned a quick fishing trip at the last minute to the Lake of the Woods. We left early Friday and returned late Saturday — two full days and one night.

The first day we reveled in the bright sun. A subtle wind hummed, casting a peaceful spell over us. The brilliant sky combined with forested islands floating in the otherwise ocean-like water, pelicans with their grotesque beaks gathered in groups on rocks, loons floated here and there. We used leaches to bait our hooks in hopes of catching walleye. Fishing, while not especially successful was relaxed and our time on the boat included music, reading, and just being.

The day ended at Frolander’s Resort, a typical fishing outpost, and one of our favorites with clean, sparse rustic cabins, homemade food and good people — the smell of pine, a bonus. Most of the other guests were there to fish for muskie, a sport with an appeal that alludes me. Our evening had no agenda but included games, like Uno, Pictionary and Kings in the Corner, reading and bed by 9:00 pm.

During the night the temperature plummeted (50 degrees — yikes!) and the second day felt like fall with shockingly cold air, dark clouds, robust waves. After some cajoling of our 10 year old and dressing in as many layers of clothes that we’d packed, we launched the boat for another day of fishing. This time with a trusted guide from Frolander’s. While the sun peaked through the clouds only briefly throughout the day, the experience was more than pleasant. We enjoyed a typical shore lunch (consisting of fresh walleye, baked beans, homemade bread, potatoes and oatmeal bars) back on the grounds of the resort because of a fire ban –yes, surprisingly it is very dry there. And, fishing proved more fruitful.

Saturday night we returned home with our limit of 8 walleye, leaving the numerous crayfish behind that we’d accidentally caught, our faces chapped, our bodies tired, our minds content — another rewarding visit to the Lake of the Woods.

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