Sunday, June 7, 2015

Northwoods creativity

About a month has passed since I arrived at Big Hook Camps Central Lake.  Mom, Dad and myself were incredibly thankful for an early opening this year.  The early season scramble is always a tense and busy time.  Flying freight until dark is a common scenario for me as we have over 15000 pounds of goods to transport from Sandy to the main camp and outposts.

Shadow inspecting the East Portage on Central Lake
Diagnosing the winter damage every spring opening can be a bit overwhelming.  Two significant mishaps occurred this past winter, both at Central Lake.  First, two windmills were inoperable as a major windstorm fried the internal electronics.  Having two of our three out of service is a huge deal since solar and wind are our primary sources of power. After many phone calls we were able to track down some Oklahoma. Turns out we purchased the last remaining parts that exist for our particular windmills, at least we lucked out on that! Now, ponder this, take a guess how long it takes to receive a shipment from the Oklahoma to the Opasquia Provincial Park.  I'll let you stew on that and will answer at the very end of this blog.

The second major issue we faced from winter damage was, no internet.  A shift in the cabin from  ground frost and an ice sheet from the roof caused the dish alignment to point awry.  Now calling a technician to come and tune in a dish is no small matter, as only TWO exist in NW Ontario.  An area almost the size of Texas and only two people are able to assist thousands of customers.  Needless to say Dad and I took it upon ourselves to solve the problem and after dozens of hours on the roof we managed to snag a signal from the sky.  It was an enjoyable moment to say the least.

Blue filter shot while having lunch.
Just yesterday (June 6th) after an excellent Saturday change over.  Dad and I stopped at our Cocos Lake outpost for a camp check and a chat with the customers.  After some friendly bantering we all decided to go our separate ways; the guests drove off in search of trophy pike while myself and Dad hopped into the plane...which did not start.  After a crank or two, the battery was dead.  Uh oh! First diagnosis, we have a faulty alternator on our hands. Hmmm now what? Our McGuyver instincts kicked into full swing.  After a sweep through the outpost Dad and I determined we had enough materials to jump start the airplane.  With my Leatherman pocket tool, I disconnected a line of 14/2 wire from the solar system while Dad removed the two 6 Volt batteries from our solar water pump.  After a couple brief minutes of stripping wire and combining the two batteries to make 12 volts we had our jumper system ready.

Those of you unfamiliar with 185 Cessna airplanes may find it interesting that the battery is located in the tail.  So, for our jump to work, one person (Dad)  had to sit in the tail of the aircraft and touch the wires to the old dead battery while the pilot (myself) starts the plane.  Well, sounds easy right?  Mother Nature decided to challenge us by suddenly notching the winds up to 20 mph right in our direction. After several different dock tethering scenario's we successfully started the plane and were able to make it home for a late dinner.  Sometimes it just takes a little creativity in the northwoods to solve a problem.

Numerous other fix-this and repair-thats have been performed in the last month and progress is being made.  All the camps are fully operational and customers have been enjoying the beauty of the north woods for a couple weeks now. The weather for our season opener was interesting to say the least;  32 degrees was the high for our first Saturday of the year.  Flying through ice pellets and snow showers left everyone longing for warmer weather.  Fortunately, warmer weather has settled upon us and the winter coats were shed in exchange for t-shirts.  The bugs have started to pop at bit and are no where near as bad as last year during this time.  During the evening they can be feisty so bring your spray if you intend to be out late.
A beautiful Burnt Lake CPR 


Fishing the week of May 30th-June 6th started rather slow after a wicked cold front.  Water temperatures fell 17 degrees from May 28th-May 30th after snow, ice pellets and sleet bombarded us.  However, the week ended on an uptrend after stable warm weather moved into NW Ontario.  Water temperatures are now back around 60 degrees on most lakes and the fishing has been excellent.  Walleye are holding in shallow mud flats or areas with rapids or current.  Pike have invaded sun struck shallow bays chasing bait and can also be found close to schools of walleye.

Most lakes reported several 40+" pike being boated and released; with hot lures varying from bucktails to delong eels.  Baits with slower presentations seemed to have the best success for trophy fish.  Largest pike reported to me was a 43.5" from West Lake on a jig.

Walleye have been hot after 1/4 oz jigs with smaller 2 or 3" tails.  Color hasn't been much of a factor as they seem to be striking just about everything.  I always have white, yellow, pumkinseed and flouro orange tails stashed in my tackle box.  Slow trolling #5 shad raps has been effective along 5-8 ft flats.  Fish should continue to hang in the shallower water for the next several weeks until the may flies hatch.

Good luck on the water everyone and make sure to send us your best fishing pictures.

Oh takes 22 days to receive windmill parts from Oklahoma to the Opasquia Provincial Park, the windmills are now in full operation.

1 comment:

  1. We take so much for granted...our stay is always great but do not see the work needed to make it so. A and e pratt