Art Classes and Fishing! Social Distancing at Northwind Lodge

I don’t believe there are many resorts in Minnesota whereupon the guests can learn how to paint AND go fishing.  Northwind Lodge is one of the few places that this is possible.  Hats off to jobs well done by Jim and Terri Rhoads of Iowa!  Jim last touched an artist’s paint brush in 3rd grade.   It’s been a while and yet his artwork today would say otherwise.  Terri has a bit more experience and her painting is lively and appealing.  Frames are going to kick both paintings to another level.   Both Jim and wife Terri had a great time as did I.  Art lessons are ALWAYS fun for me as well.   Painting, telling stories, and concentrating REALLY hard make learning to paint a lot of fun!  Two to three hours feels like an hour.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Jim and Terri took up painting when they return home.  It’s a great activity any time of the year.

When not in class, they are on the water, baking pizza on the Weber outside of the cabin, going on hikes,  and of course, catching fish.  This is the greatest way to socially distance out of all the options available.

Paintings by Jim and Terri Rhoads Northern pike on Jasper Lake Jim Rhoads holding a largemouth on Jasper Lake This is a NOT a bluegill

Calista Lands a Beauty!

Jasper Lake Bass
Calista Lands A Beauty!

Calista Smith, age 7 and 1/2 with her nice largemouth that she caught right off the dock at Northwind Lodge.  Holding up her catch is her dad Kevin who is here with her mom, Carrie over the Memorial weekend enjoying dark skies, very temperate weather, calm water and good fishing.  Calista has now put several fish on the dock including more largemouth and several nice northerns.  Mom, Dad, Grandma and her husband have been enjoying fresh, coldwater fish this weekend as well as art lessons with Joe up at the Fernberg Gallery.

First Weekend Gone – and it was a beautiful one!

Our first weekend with lodge guests went by beautifully.  We had sunny blue days, temps in the high 60’s, low 70’s and everybody was hiding somewhere.  Well, hiding is perhaps the incorrect word but one party was fishing from their kayaks on neighboring Triangle, another took their canoe on a day canoe trip from Lake One to Ojibway and another spent their days fishing on Jasper.  Sounds like everybody caught fish, too.  Usually, when the days are this beautiful, fish are less cooperative.  Apparently, the fish are fed up with quarantine as well.

Two of our our groups stopped in to see my growing, but un-hung art collection. That’s always fun for me.  Many paintings have stories and while socially distancing, I waved my arms, pointed and told a few.  It’s a bohunk thing.

I spent a good part of the time painting and figuratively “guarding the fort”.  It’s insanely quiet so I’ve been able to get a long way on a whimsical landscape I working on right now.  It’s almost done. Then, it’s back to a larger commission for which I developed painter’s block.   Going whimsical/abstract-ish, helps me break out of the creativity killing fog that sets in once in a while.

For those of you sick and tired of watching and waiting with this China plague, if you are healthy, you can come out and play in the woods.  Please practice social distancing when in the presence of  people outside of your group.  (yes – we know, we don’t like it either but it’s ridiculously easy here)  Stay in a nice housekeeping cabin for ONLY $89.95 for the first 2 people and $10 each additional person.  That’s for any cabin!  (We try to fit it to your needs and size.  Taxes not included.  Total 9.875%  Three night minimum rental required.)  These rates apply THROUGH May 26.  We still have openings and we’re a Mom & Pop resort, not a gargantuan center on a highly populated lake.  We are surrounded by the BWCA.  Bring your canoe.  Go take a day trip.  Hang out on Jasper.   Roast a steak on the Weber.   Live the simple life in the woods.   Come look at art.

Give us a call.  It’ll most likely be me answering.  If I’m not in, please leave a message.  We’ll call back.  218-365-5489

Jasper Lake Near Ely MN - cabin rentals near Ely, MN

May & Memorial Weekend Special – NEW! Personal Shoppers!

We all need a break from Covid-19.    While we all struggle with getting back to normal, we do have an advantage out here in the woods.  Unlike every metro, or big commercial operation, we are not an overdeveloped facility with large numbers of people moving around, big meeting rooms, etc.   Social distancing is very easy.  If you don’t have mask on when you leave your cabin, nobody’s going to shame you if you even see anybody.  That’s the nature of living in the woods when the closest cabin is 100 feet away through the woods.

Jasper Creek in early May with Cabin 3 in the background
Jasper Creek in early May with Cabin 3 in the background – at Northwind Lodge

Our guests arrive to relax and enjoy themselves here at  Northwind Lodge, a traditional, “ma & pa”  Minnesota resort.  I was once told by a MN state official that small resorts are a dying breed and our relevance was fading as to our importance in tourism.  I wish I could find that dude now.  I wonder how his big convention centers on over-populated lakes with a spas, restaurants, and golf courses are doing right now?   Sorry,  but after that insult to our type of lodging experience for many years by people who were supposed to be helping, I feel the need to rub this new truth into his face just a bit.  Don’t worry, I’m working through it….

New for 2020 – Personal Shoppers!  

If you feel you don’t want to go shopping, we can do that for you.  Put together a list, work with us over the phone or email, and for a cost 10% of  your bill at the grocery store, we’ll get your groceries for you.    (If your total bill is $200, your Personal Shopper cost is $20)  We have good groceries in Ely with two stores available.  We’ll put them in your cabin fridge for you.  If you need an item that you forgot from your main grocery list,  (if you can wait a bit) we’ll take a run to town for you at our earliest convenience if we don’t have the item here.  Hey, gas is cheap and we want you to have a good time.  Just know that this is Ely and we may not have hydroponically-grown arugula and radicchio.  You might have to settle for romaine.   Once you get here, you can be on your own, enjoying your exotic salad and listening to the loons.  They have been here for about two weeks at this writing. Yes, they are noisy right now as you would expect to hear from a jaded dweller of the north woods who is writing this blog post.  Every day at Northwind Lodge is like watching a Tarzan movie, whereupon deep in the jungles of Africa, a hired loon from northeastern Minnesota is calling hauntingly in the background just before the drums begin their chant of danger.   Cue the loon!  (That loon looks silly with all that bling and those blue sunglasses he wears inside all the time…and, what’s with that five pound wristwatch, anyway!?  Actors….SMH…)

Jasper Lake at Northwind Lodge, May 2020
Note the clarity of the water here in NE Minnesota.

So, let’s get back to normal together.

We know times are tough on many fronts for all of us.  We are feeling it all too well.   But Northwind Lodge is here for you to provide an escape that won’t break your bank account while giving you some respite from the new, untamed, wilderness out there.  We’ve been doing this since 1944 officially and actually a bit earlier than that.  That’s 76 years, now!  How many places do you know have been around for 76 years and run by the same family in the same spot on the same lake?  Apparently, we are NOT fading away.

Beginning May 11th through May 26th – Rate special!

Cabins for 2 people at only $89.95 a night.   Three (3) night minimum stay requirement, and $10.00 per night for each extra per person.     Personal Shopper fee is 10% of your grocery list bill.  Of course, should you have a question about any of this, give us a call or message us in Facebook under our “Northwind Lodge” page

Our intention is to help get back us all back to normal so you can buy your own beans & weenies – not that we mind one bit.   We’d love to have you come stay.  Our only request is that you minimize your human contact on the way here and, of course,  please stay home if you are ill.  If you have a mask and want to wear it, please do.   Please bring your own bath towels, personal effects and fishing gear.  We do have some tackle here for sale.  Motors are available for rent on request.  Kayaks and beach canoes are free to use.  Have a fire by the beach or waterfall but give everybody some space.  It’s pretty much common sense for the times.  Campfire conversation from 6 feet away is optional and doesn’t spread anything but maybe some humor and good cheer.

The deposit required is $300 or the cabin total, which ever is less at the time of the reservation.  Sorry, but we cannot refund deposits for any reason.  Please be able to commit to the time you have reserved.  Thank you for understanding.

Call now 218-365-5489 to book your respite at Northwind Lodge. (you may need to leave a message – we’re running around outside, in and out.  We’ll call you back.)

Jasper Lake from Northiwnd Lodge
Deep blue water, no people.

 

Guided Fishing Trips at Northwind Lodge

marcus-brett-opt
A great of guided day-fishing trip out of Northwind Lodge!  Check out the possibilities below plus the cabin rental deals for June!  

Ely Minnesota guided fishing trips

Third & Fourth Generation Guides will outfit you for your fishing trip and we’ll help you and your family get started on the right foot.  Fish for walleye’s, bass,  and northern pike. Learn how to fish our region and experience wilderness fishing at its finest with a veteran guide.

Wood Lake Guided Trips

1.) $290  per day with Bernie.   Bait and tackle included –  2 person limit

2.) $250 per day with Dan.   Bait and tackle is included – 2 person limit

Groups of four will need to hire both guides for the same day or go on two different day trips with one guide as the rowing can be difficult for some people to keep up with the guide boat particularly if rough weather develops.

Your guide will maneuver a rowing boat or canoe on Wood lake which is a Boundary Waters Canoe Area  wilderness lake.  There are no homes or structures of any kind in the BWCA.  This trip will  requires a walk in on a portage.  Please Pack your own lunch and remember that no metal cans or glass bottles are allowed.  Plastic bottles and containers are allowed but, of course, must be packed out as well.  Duluth packs are available for people to help carry their day gear in the event that they do not have a day pack.   PFD’s also provided as no extra charge.   


walleyes-opt

Fall Lake Only –  4 Hour,  half-day trip

$200 for 2 people and $20 for each extra person up to 4 total.   Bait and tackle is provided and you may bring your own tackle to try as well.

Pack your own lunch.  No cans or bottles as this trip can cross into the BWCA.


Basswood – All Day

You must have a BWCA day-use motor permit.  If you do not have a permit, the guide can attempt to find a permit tag (it’s confusing and difficult government mumbo-jumbo) to see if a Basswood trip is possible during the time you are here.  Otherwise, for long-term reservations, please secure a day-use motor permit to Basswood in advance at  recreation.gov (click link).  Sorry, you must make a reservation in your own name.  We cannot do that service for you. Day-use motor permits are severely limited and hard to obtain.

$350 for 2 people and extra $25 each extra person up to 4 total.   Bait and tackle is provided and you may also bring your own to try.

This trip is in the BWCA.   Pack your own lunch and remember that no metal cans or glass bottles are allowed.  Plastic bottles are OK, but must be packed out.


What To Bring

For all guided trips you are required to bring your own fishing rods and reels, rain gear and appropriate clothing for the temperatures at that time.  Flip flops are never recommended and Crocs are not suitable footwear for portaging.  Preferably, closed toe footwear is recommended such as a running shoe or hiking boot.  We also recommend full length pants over shorts as sometimes there can be insects.  It makes for a more comfortable adventure.


walleyesfillet-opt
Walleye fillets in the field!  They don’t get any fresher than this!  Book ahead however!  Excellent guides are hard to find!

Reserving a Trip

Advance reservations are always welcomed due to planning, scheduling, preparation requirements and weather accommodations.  Please reserve your trip as early as possible.  Last minute trips are possible but can be hit-or-miss do to guide commitments.  We will do our best to get you on the water for a great day out out on the water.

Payment in full at the time of the trip reservation is required – Sorry, there are no refunds for trip cancellations.  

Call 218-365-5489 to make your guided trip reservation.

Fishing’s Fine at Northwind Lodge!

Boy, we’ve been having a GREAT summer this 2017!  Big fish, little fish, middle fish – everybody’s livin’ the dream!  We’ve been having all this fun despite the weather not really cooperating with us.  Lots of rain, but the fish remain undeterred as well as our great guests!    These are just June 2017 photo’s by our guests at Northwind Lodge!

Check here for last minute cabin deals – If you don’t come up and stay, you’ll be missing all the fun!  Start with Cabin Specials here!

 

The Wood Lake Experience at Northwind Lodge

Wood Lake is a BWCA lake which means no motors, cans, bottles, and you have to fill out a day-use permit at the head of the portage.   The portage is moderately rugged and 210 rods long.  A rod is 16.5 feet according to the King’s measuring system of a zillion years ago.  Translation:  The Wood Lake Portage is about .58 miles long one way.  It’s all downhill going in and all downhill  uphill coming back.  There are rocks and mud and logs and on occasion, bug who help you walk.  Once you are on the lake and in a Northwind Lodge rowboat.  everything levels out plus the bugs usually stay on shore at the portage namely – to help you get back out.  If that sounds horrible, it’s really not.  Take your time.  Wear some bug dope but don’t slather it on automatically like so many people do.  Have it handy and if you need it, apply it while on the portage.

Once on Wood, you will need to follow a river with no current for about 3/4 of a mile to get to the actual lake to fish.  Wood can have some rather spectacular fishing.  On the lake itself, you will see no man made structures of any kind.  We’ve actually had a few people literally freak-out by this, but that is the actual beauty of the lake.  And for those Boundary Waters zealots who thank the government for the lack of man-made structure – Wood Lake has NEVER had a permanent, man-made structure on it.  We used to be able to use little motors on it but they took that away in 1978 under RARE II, (a last-minute rider to the Boundary Waters law PL 95-495) which was signed by Carter and designed to take Northwind Lodge & Deer Trail Lodge out completely -I am now convinced.  Well, guess what?  We’re still here….but I digress…

Fishing from a row-boat actually ended up with us traveling  much farther into Wood Lake which is 453 acres in size,  with no fear and a little bit of planning.   Back when we had motors, we used to have to watch our available gasoline and our range ended up being limited.   The thought at the time was that if we ran out of gas, we would have to do the “impossible” and row all the way back to the portage. (Impossible and a super-human feat, we thought!)   In 1978, we discovered that we could actually row much farther in a day than the motor would take us plus instead of cranking up and moving to the other side of the lake when biting was slow, we worked our current spots harder and branched out from there.  By changing our technique, we actually ended up catching more fish with less weight and extra concerns even when it was really rough.  We also learned a heck of a lot about boat handling in wind.  People who only use motors really don’t know a heck of a lot – no offense – in controlling a boat when the motor conks out.   (They are so screwed while bobbing helplessly in the whitecaps!)  Relying on that motor all the time, especially in a wilderness situation, can be a false sense of security.  Don’t misunderstand me, however.  I find nothing wrong with a motor on the back of a boat, but there is a heck of a lot to be said about having your oars and knowing your abilities.  With that in mind, go to Wood Lake and plan on spending the day, taking your time and fishing all along the way. Do not plan on “fishing here” and then decide to crank up and go to the other side of the lake to try it there.  Because you are rowing and moving slowly but steadily, you fish while you move and you never know what you may discover or catch along the way.  Without all the running around people do with outboards, you actually spend more time with your lines in the water which ultimately improves your catch.

So, consider taking a trip into the designated wilderness for a day when staying at Northwind Lodge.  It will be a memorable experience and sometimes cold and wet – but your won’t forget it.   NOTE:  Wood Lake rental boats are only available for registered guests of Northwind Lodge.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sitting, beard, sunglasses, sky, outdoor, water and nature

Image may contain: ocean, sky, outdoor, water and nature

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, cloud, sky, outdoor, water and nature
Thanks to Rob and Jake Croushore for the great pics of their recent trip to Wood!

A Landing Net’s Life

My dad turned 83 years old yesterday and just to make the younger world feel diminished, I dragged him all the way down the Wood Lake portage and forced him to catch fish on Wood Lake for the day.  The portage is 210 rods long or .58 miles long and it was muddy and rugged after yesterday’s heavy rains which is par for the course on portages.  For an old guy with a fake knee and a double bypass some 15 years ago, he does pretty well.

Of course, I brought along my sidekick Delilah.   Once we hit the trail, she began her Wood Lake portage routine of blasting ahead at full speed,  turning off the trail into the woods and running parallel back along the trail only to come out behind me.  From that point, she snorts past me again, tongue flopping and nothing but a blurry streak of fur to do it repeatedly for the entire trail. I figure that she runs about three times the length of the trail every time we walk it.   In the back of my mind, I’m waiting for the moment she drives out a momma bear and cubs to meet me, but that hasn’t occured….yet.

As I walked the trail carrying my oars, our rods and my pack, I noted the fresh tracks in the mud – two people ahead of me.    As a boy, I was trained to not leave tracks – not in the figurative sense connected to symbolically saving the BWCA,  but instead, for real.   Hunting and trapping as a kid, we never wanted to be followed and the best way to avoid followers is to never leave tracks as best we could and we still do this to this day.  As a result, I observe this telltale “flaw” in others all the time and today’s tracks in front of me were no different.  I could tell both were men, in their late 30’s to early 40’s, weighing about 185 lbs. each.    They wore big floppy hats, mosquito head nets, blue, white and black, paddling gloves, and brand new long sleeve, nylon button-down shirts with brand new nylon, zip off pants.

As Delilah blasted silently down the portage, about 150 feet in front of me, up a hill and around a curve, I heard her let loose with the most ferocious, attack-dog bark her nine pound body could muster!  First I thought ” bear”  but that was immediately corrected.  There was a scream and panic as a voice-in-terror yelled, “Gggaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!  GET OUTTA HERE!  GO AWAY!!!! ” as Delilah stopped them in their tracks.  I tried to call her off, but she was unrelenting, so I picked up my pace to see two guys decked out in nylon shirts, zip-off pants, trail boots, blue-white-black paddling gloves, big hats and bug nets.  Delilah finally shut up as her job was done attacking the space aliens.  I chuckled and said when they passed, “I bet that scared the crap out of you!” to which one replied “Maybe a little…”

Delilah looked back at me all proud and alert for taking down the “aliens” with a good, solid whoopin’.  Then, she blasted down the portage once again.

When we hit the water, we endured a beautiful day with moderate catching but enough to keep up busy all day long.  In a pretty true test, we found that live bait and artificial lures ended up producing  about “neck and neck” .    There was no real, obvious gain in using live bait over lures.   Later in the day, the wind picked up and screamed from the west making for about 1.5 hours of tough rowing with a significant chop and some whitecaps.  I put together this video called “A Landing Net’s Life”  since the I had the camera stuck to the net.

Upon returning to the parking because not much wears Delilah out, she took off and chased a 70 foot long semi roaring past on the Fernberg Road.  The present road crew tried to catch her but she blew past them, returning to me and prompting a parking lot visit by a concerned, but laughing foreman looking for “a little brown dog that was chasing one of their semi’s down the new asphalt.”  Delilah stood up on the truck seat and smiled at him.

Good dog, Delilah.  Never give up.

My Big Fish at Northwind Lodge

This is a true fish story by Terry Rose, a longtime guest of Northwind Lodge.  Terry had a really great day a few summers ago and told this incredible story to me – and a lot of other people from what I can tell.  It’s a heck of a good story about how everything went right for once.    

Sheila and I just finished cleaning up after a great fish dinner in the cabin and I was kind of tired and thought I would just stay in and relax.  Todd and Ali went out past the narrows and it was so nice and calm on the water that I  thought, “What the heck?” – I will go out and throw the Spook around a little before it gets dark.  I went to my spot across from the cabin in the big lilly pad area.  I was in about 4 feet of water and working the Zara Spook across the top when there was a huge swell in the water behind it.  It looked like a submarine rising to a breach and then it’s mouth opened and the Spook was gone!   Before you knew it I was hanging on as I lost my grip on the reel handle and the turning handle spun over my knuckles, beating them up.  Keep in mind,  there was no real splash or anything in the water.   I could not see the fish but knew there was something really big on the line.  At first I thought it was just a good sized small mouth bass, but it just did not budge when I pulled on the rod, so I just maintained pressure with not even a millisecond of slack line.  The fish shot out in one direction taking my line around a lily pad stem and then line would cut through it like a hot knife through butter with the pad floating free.  Then, this unseen monster would shoot off to another pad and saw it off as well while lots of other weeds rose up from their tethers not surviving the strength of this gargantuan fish and the line he towed.

After shearing off weeds in various directions,  the fish finally found a clearing and actually started dragging the entire boat towards the north shore of the island on Jasper.    At this point, I just hung on some more hoping the line wouldn’t break and my reel’s drag would not fail.  About 15-20 minutes passed.  I finally got a look at him as he passed by the boat on another shorter run.   It was one of those looks where you take a big breath and then forget to breathe as the monster surfaced for the first time in many long, arduous minutes.  A thousand thoughts flew through my mind including “How am I going to net this?”, among others including, but not limited to, “OMG!”

On the shorter pass, I could tell he was about as tired as I was, but I was still able to get his head into my very small landing net.   It was really only his head up to the end of his gill covers that actually fit in the net.  I somehow managed to flip him over the gunwale into the boat and realized I had more than I could handle by myself!    At this point, I thought about just cutting the line and letting him go, but I knew that no one would believe me and it would just be another fish story.   Keeping my foot on the net to keep him from jumping out, I reached back and started the motor.  After going as fast as a 5 HP Honda four-stroke outboard would go, I arrived at the piers at Northwind Lodge.   Wouldn’t you know it?   There was not a soul around.  Nobody!!!!   I just wanted to get that monster back in the water before he croaked and, to my amazement, there was nobody at the beach on this beautiful day!   Not knowing the next move to make, I stood on the pier and yelled at the top of my lungs for help.

The man in the cottage across the lake road, Pat Webb  came down the hill as quick as he could.   He helped me measure and weigh my fish.  My major concern at this point was to get the hook out and release him.  As Pat held the mouth open, I looked inside and saw the lure just laying there in that big white cavern of a thousand, razor sharp teeth with those white and blood red gill edges at the bottom.   It appeared – to my surprise-  that the Spook was just laying in his mouth on the top of the gills and throat opening!    None, not even one,  of the big treble hooks on that good-sized Zara Spook were actually stuck in the fish!  After all that fighting, all that pulling and towing and slicing off lily pads and weeds with the Sufix 832 braided line on my reel not to mention the fish also actually towing me in my 14 foot aluminum boat out to deeper water, the fish was not hooked!  He simply would not let go of the lure.  It was a fight of him vs. me and the most stubborn won, apparently.

Wanting to get it back into the water,  I was forced to actually reach down inside with a 9″ Baker Hook-out tool and my hand had to cross the boundary of the fish’s outer most lips and into the “forbidden zone”  of its mouth.   Full knowing that touching any part of a northern pike’s mouth would result in a sudden, overriding “clamp-down” like an alligator snapping shut on a baby sheep, I was very careful to not touch anything as I gingerly reached in for that Spook.  It was very intense and felt like I was  diffusing the detonator on a nuke knowing that while extracting the device, touching any of the side would make the bomb blow taking out half of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area and all of Northwind Lodge. The intensity of focus along with the adrenaline rush of seeing a fish THAT big that I managed to get in the boat when I was all alone was immense.   Amazingly to me, I was able to get the lure out without “setting off the veritable nuke” on my hand thereby not needing a trip to the ER for extreme, slime-infused, lacerations.

After I got the Spook out, we quickly placed the fish back in the water and with a little back and forth motion to get the water across his gills he perked right up and swam away with a big flick of his big tail.  Of course, Todd and Ali missed the whole thing.  The fish measured 46 inches and weighed approximately 28 pounds.  This was certainly an experience I will never forget.   My grandson Dylan always talks about it because he was only 48 inches tall at the time.

And, that big northern is still marauding fish much smaller than himself to this day in Jasper.  That was quite a day!