Snow has finally come to Duluth, and many of us in the north woods are enjoying a snow day as we hunker down during this leap day blizzard. What are you going to do as the storm rages and you fight off the feeling of cabin fever? Let me throw out some ideas to keep you from going stir crazy and at the same time continuing to dream of open water.
Make it a movie day – Pop in a Cliff Jacobsen or Bill Mason video in the DVD player and escape to the lakes and rivers of the north. It is a great way to pick up some new skills or just revel in the scenic beauty captured on each disc.
Condition the leather on your canoe packs – Grab the Lexol conditioner and rub it into all the leather on your packs, really soak those straps. Yeah, I know this doesn’t sound like a great way to spend a free day, but it will pay dividends when the ice melts.
Get the snowshoes ready – rest assured at some point this wind is going to lie down, and you can get out and play in the fresh powder. Tighten those bindings and plan on shoeing away in Jay Cooke State Park or up the Superior Hiking Trail. Both have great trails to test out the snowshoes, and don’t forget to take your camera along to capture what might be the only storm of 2012.
Dive into good book – My favorites are from Sigurd Olson or John Krakauer. With Olson you can relax and enjoy the soothing picture he paints of the wilderness complete with sights and sounds. Reading Krakauer gives you the vicarious experience of high drama adventure.
Spread the maps out and route a trip – Now this sounds more like it! Stretch all your maps out on the floor and plan a trip for the summer of 2012. Choose an entry point, book it at Recreation.gov, and if you have any questions give an expert at the Duluth Pack store a call.
There you go, now you have a few ideas to help you spend your snow day. My plan is to grab the camera and get some shots of the gently falling snow. OK, maybe not so gently.
Winter is here! Well, the snow cover is lacking, but there is good ice on many lakes. Lurking under that ice is the elusive walleye, however you are going to have to know where to find them. Please remember that ice is never safe; so always check the local conditions before you head out.
Just like summertime walleyes the wintertime fish like structure. The difference you are going to find in the winter is that the structure which is holding fish will be deeper. Use your depth maps and your locator to find humps and lines of structure that may be 25 to 30 feet deep with good drops on either side. Get your holes drilled by the late afternoon, because when the sun starts heading for the horizon you want to have a line down.
Drilling multiple holes will help you cover several different depths along a line of structure or a sunken island. Spend ten to fifteen minutes jigging in each hole and then move to the next one. Keep the presentation slow and easy letting your jig spend more time hanging than moving. And remember: “if you aren’t fishing on the bottom, you aren’t fishing.”
In the winter smaller jigs are better than larger for walleyes and I prefer the brighter colors tipped with a shiner or crappie minnow. At the present time, local reports are telling us that fish also being caught on fatheads. You may even find yourself in the situation where a naked jig will work with that slow presentation.
Again, before you head out on your favorite frozen lake, make sure the ice is plenty thick to hold you safely. The Brainerd Jaycees Fishing Extravaganza on Gull Lake has been postponed to February 11, 2012 due to ice conditions. Safety should always be the first concern before venturing out on the ice. Take the necessary precautions.
Good luck with the walleyes, and be safe.
Your fancy Kevlar canoe found a rock and there is now a three-inch Kevlar baring gash in your boat. Or how about this one? Your wonderful, canvas Duluth Pack snuggles nicely in the canoe, but your buddy dropped his external frame hiking pack and left a quarter-sized ding in your hull. Accidents are bound to happen, and everybody finds a rock sooner or later, it is a fact of paddling in Minnesota.
The thought of repairing that high-tech Kevlar boat may seem daunting, but simple repairs are completely within the realm of the do-it-yourself Boatwright. However, if you wrapped your ride around a rock, and it resembles something closer to a crumpled hanky than to a canoe I recommend taking it to an expert.
Here is a rough guide of the steps I would use to repair Kevlar boats at the outfitter.
- Find a resin repair kit Click here, check with an outfitter or call your original boat manufacturer. Short of finding a repair kit with all the pieces check out West Systems and their 105 resin combined with their 205 hardener. Through West you can also track down the fiberglass cloth and the cheesecloth you are going to use for your repair. Add a comment in the box below and I can forward you a repair list and links to the sites.
- Assess the damage to the boat. Light scratches are something you are going to have to live with if you paddle Kevlar. Damage so severe that is changes the shape of the boat will have to be handled by an expert. The repair I can help you with are the minor scratches and dings where Kevlar cloth is showing.
- Prep the area. Clean around the damaged area so there is no mud or scum where you are going to lay down resin. Use some sand paper to rough up the area, maybe 60 or 80 grit. The goal here is to give the resin something to hold onto.
- Cut your fiberglass cloth and cheesecloth to cover the area. Don’t skimp here, for gashes where Kevlar shows go at minimum one inch on either side of the scratch. For circular dings double the size of the dinged area.
- For the remainder of the repair: if you are inside, make it a WELL-VENTILATED AREA, and WEAR A MASK. If you are outside, most people like the mask as a precaution.
- Mix your resin. Follow the instructions on the label; it takes very little hardener or catalyst to get this reaction going. Good mixing canisters to use are those plastic deli containers you can throw away when done. My favorite brush to use was the one-inch foam brush, cheap and easy to pitch when done. OK, now you have about 15 to 20 minutes to work, so don’t mix more than you can apply in 15 or 20 minutes.
- Repair the area. Apply a light coat of resin to the area, lay down your fiberglass cloth, and gently cover the fiberglass with another coat of resin. For deep dings that occur on the inner hull where you have Kevlar, then foam, then Kevlar. Take a few strands of fiberglass, ball it up, and place into the hole with resin on it. Then lay down your fiberglass cloth, and apply more resin. For holes that have gone all the way through the hull use fiberglass cloth and perform your repair on both sides of the hull.
- Apply your cheesecloth, and gently flatten with nearly dry brush. For large repaired areas this is a must, it will help keep air bubbles to a minimum and really help smooth the resin as it dries.
- Sand to prepare for second coat. When the resin has hardened, meaning you can’t easily push your thumbnail into it, remove the cheesecloth and sand with about a 150 or 200 grit sandpaper. If there are a large number of imperfections in your repair area use the lower grit. Now clean the area again, and let dry.
- Mix second batch of resin and apply. Shouldn’t need the cheesecloth this time provided it goes on nice and smooth, but if you have doubts apply more.
- Let dry again, and lightly sand with 200 grit or higher sand paper.
- If you have questions about this process, or would like more information on tools, tricks, or techniques leave me a comment below. And as I wrote earlier, if the damage on your boat is more than a simple ding or scratch bring in an expert for a consultation. There are Kevlar magicians out there who can make your boat look good as new.
With the advent of the digital camera everyone has become a photographer in one form or another. From the professional carrying the Canon 1Ds to the amateur with the built-in SmartPhone camera, the majority of people can capture an image at anytime. And whether your destination is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or Timbuktu, here are a couple simple tips to think about before you press the button.
- Fill the Frame – Once you have chosen your subject think about the elements that surround. Does all that sky enhance the photo or is it not necessary? If I remove all those trees branches and zoom in on my subject will it be a better photo? Now fill up that frame with your subject and let the background clutter fall away. And remember: the most powerful zoom lens you have is your feet, so get close to your subject.
- Rule of Thirds – There is an old saying among old photographers: “Dead center is dead boring.” When you are framing a photo draw mental lines, and divide it like a tic-tac-toe board. This works if you are framing a photo horizontally or vertically. Now, try to get your subject to fall on one of those lines you have mentally drawn. Better yet, get your focal point right where two of those lines cross. And for all landscape shots, get the horizon off the centerline.
- Not every photo has to be posed – The best travel photographers talk and interact with the people they are photographing. This not only creates a rapport with the subjects, but also gets them to relax and let down their guard. Great photos are captured when people are at ease and their most natural. A big smile or a cheesy grin becomes an image which is just that.
Next time you pull your camera out of the canoe pack give one, or a couple of these tips a try and see if you like your photos more. And when you capture that really special image from the trail send it to us here at Duluth Pack and we will post it online. Who knows you might even win our next photo contest and become a Duluth Pack celebrity.
What an amazing stretch of weather for October in Minnesota, makes it hard to even think about the cold weather looming. But, at some day in the near future the wind will begin to blow and the lakes will begin to ice and we will have to have the boats ready for winter.
And while many of us here in northern Minnesota are canoe-centric, there is a great number of people throwing canoe packs in fishing boats and using outboards to chase fish around the lakes. Let me run down the process to winterize a two-stroke outboard engine. Leave the four-stroke I/O’s for the pros.
- Add SeaFoam and/or StaBil to the last tank of gas for the year. This will protect the fuel system and the remainder of the gas for the winter.
- Pull the fuel line and drain the carburetor at the public access before you pull the boat out of the water. This will keep old gas from gumming up the fuel pump and carburetor.
- Get the engine straight up and down at the ramp or back at the garage while winterizing. This drains any water that may be holding in the cooling system or lower unit.
- Pull the hull plug and all the plugs from live wells and bait wells in the boat. More than once I have seen a boat that not only still has the hull plugs in, but also has full live wells. If that were to freeze it would really do some damage. More importantly, it is now illegal to trailer a boat in Minnesota without removing the live-well or hull plug. If you are stopped, and the officer finds you in violation you may pay some hefty fines.
- Drain the lower unit of gear lube. I do this as I accomplish the following tasks to give it some time to drain.
- Remove the spark plugs and induce fogging oil into the cylinders. I know this may seem like overkill on an engine that mixes gas and oil, but the fogging oil is heavy and will inhibit rust in the cylinders. With the plugs back in roll the engine over once to spread the fogging oil.
- Disconnect and charge the battery. Use a small zip strip to tie together the positive cables and negative cables. If you have a warm, dry basement put it there, but a full charge will help it get through the cold weather.
- Put new gear lube in the lower unit. I like to use a pump to induce the lube into the lower vent hole; you must fill it up from the bottom. When full you will see it start to peek out the upper vent hole. Put the upper vent plug back in first, MAKE SURE THE VENT PLUGS HAVE THE LITTLE TEFLON GASKETS, now remove the pump from the lower vent hole and HUSTLE the lower plug back in.
- Store your boat in a safe place, and prepare for the snow load if outside.
If you have a better way or a different way of winterizing you outboard, feel free to leave me a comment. I am always looking for new ways to improve my method.
Now get ready for ice fishing!