Category Archives: The Lake

Fall Fishing – Is it really the best time?

This week at the lake I went out fishing twice. Both times had some similarities and some differences.  Both times nobody caught any fish. 🙁 however, one trip was way nicer that the other!

Last Wednesday it was warm, sunny and calm as Shirley and I went out so when we didn’t catch anything we at least had a nice time on the lake and enjoyed the fall scenery on the lake.

In The Hades

Yesterday, the weather was a different story. Roy invited me to go fishing and in spite of the cool 3°C with drizzle / rain I was up for the adventure. I layered up in some warm clothing and headed out to Roy’s place on Blindfold lake. What I wasn’t prepared for was the high water level on Blindfold Lake and what that would mean in terms of going over the boat lift into Lake of the Woods.

On the way over to the boat lift there is some casual talk about how the water might be flowing over the road! Sure enough the dock and road are under about 2-3 inches of water and I don’t have boots. So it’s shoes and socks off, roll up the pants and wade around in the water to get the boat over the lift. Going over is not too bad. The water is 60°F and we’ve only been out for 15 minutes. Two hours later we’re much colder, it’s now raining and coming back up to Blindfold is a little more involved.

Step one, get the boat on the dolly and use the hand winch to get it started and then hook on a rope to use with the power winch.

Getting ready to bring the boat up with the power winch.

Step 2, use the power winch to get the boat up the steep side and onto the flat section

Step 3, here she comes.

Boat coming up the steep side of the lift.

Step 4, pack up the rope & power winch back into the boat and push the dolly over to the Blindfold Lake side, which of course requires more walking around in the cold water.

My feet in the water.

A quick 10 minute but frigid boat ride back to Roy’s and were in the cabin where it’s toasty warm and having a much welcomed  hot coffee.

Out on The Lake

It’s a calm day at the lake with a sun/cloud mix that is quite pleasant with temperatures in the low 20°Cs. A perfect day for some boating and fishing!

After picking up some minnows and catching up a bit with Al of Smith Camps I’m back at the dock picking up Shirley and we head out.

Goin’ Fishin’

However, the fish were not cooperating! We try a couple of spots with no success. At some spots the fish finder shows lots of fish, but the end of the line is still empty.

We cruise through Eagle Pass, Moore Bay, The Hades,  Copper Island and our very own Needle Point before returning home. A very enjoyable couple of hours out on The Lake.

In The Hades

Fun Weekend with Family

Wonderful weekend with family at the lake.

We arrived on Friday evening for a 10 day stay and after unloading we spend some time with Gail & Gord as they are finishing up their month stay. Eric, Parker & Dane arrive late at close to midnight and get settled in for the weekend.

In the morning Parker & Dane meet Bentley & Zoe (schnauzer dogs) and there is a lot of excitement, a few tears and lots of barking. After breakfast Gail & Gord pack up and begin the drive back to Saskatoon.

 

So much happiness and joy especially for me. So special to see the Grandkids taking in the lake life and having so much fun and adventure. We seemed to do it all hiking, biking, swimming, playing games, building Snap Circuits and Geocaching. Strong warm winds make the lake a little rough so no boating but other than that we squeezed in a lot of action. The weather was fabulous with sun and almost 30°C! Seemed like a July weekend not mid September!

Searcing for a geocache on the Storm Bay road

Checking out the new ladder on the tree fort.

The Stewart Boys

Feeding Time

I’m up early and on the dock with two cups of coffee and it’s a sunny clear morning with a light south west breeze. After some reading and just sitting enjoying the view I’ve decided to take the kayak and get a closer look at the 7am feeding.

Most days during the summer a small aluminum boat comes out of Smith’s Camp at the end of our bay at around 7am. One of the staff is responsible for disposing of the fish remains from the filleting shack from the previous day’s catch. They have a plastic garbage pail on board that is dumped on an rock out cropping around the corner from the camp.

Prior to this at about 6:30am a flock of pelicans congregate at this spot awaiting their breakfast delivery. They are joined by dozens of seagulls that circle overhead in anticipation. Bald eagles are also perched high in the trees awaiting this event. Today I spot 5-6 of them. Some are easily spotted, others are tucked away in the branches and others fly back and forth along the shore line.

All of a sudden all the pecans take off and fly around the corner to Smith’s. Sitting in my kayak I can bairly hear the faint sound of the outboard motor of the “delivery” boat. Sure enough, a few moments later the boat rounds the corner and comes into view with all the pelicans following in formation.

As the staffer pulls ashore and dumps out the fish guts the pelicans eagerly land and then edge ever closer to their breakfast. They can hardly wait until the staffer gets back in the boat and backs away before they attack the fish remains.

Today, the eagles remain in the trees for some reason, perhaps it’s because I’m there. On other days I’ve seen them swoop in and the pelicans and seagulls scatter as they take over at the top of the pecking order.

After watching for a while it’s time to paddle back and rejoin the family for breakfast.

Peak of the Summer

This is what we wait for all winter long and here it is. Hot (25°-30°C) and sunny with a light breeze form the south west. Quite a glorious day at the lake.

Up at 6am for a few cups of coffee and some reading in the quiet of the dawning day before easing into a bacon and waffles breakfast. A little yard work before the day gets too hot and I’ve satisfied my need to accomplish something useful for the day. Now it’s time to goof off, relax, adventure, and perhaps a siesta.

We take a scenic boat ride through the Hades and over to Scotties Island before turning back home.

After some dock time and a light lunch its on to reading a book which will inevitably lead to that siesta.

Rainy Day

A rainy day at the lake is still a great day.

I woke up to the sound of gentle rain and a light breeze rustling through the trees. It had been calm all night and as I drifted in and out of a dreamy sleep, I drank in the nature sounds.

Shortly, there was thunder in the distance and then closer as the wind picked up and a small storm rolled through our location. I went upstairs to check on the windows and then just sat watching the raindrops on the patio door form rivulets running down to the deck.

Time for that 1st cup of coffee and more gazing out at the magnificents of creation. It seemed like I was trying to lock it all into my memory, to preserve the feeling for as long as possible.

After a breakfast of corned beef hash with poached eggs on top, it was time to get busy with a small maintenance project.

So thankful to have this place to relax, rejuvenate and let the cares of life drift away for a time.

Fish Finder ≠ Fish Catcher

Spent a nice couple of hours out on the lake today doing some fishing. It was sunny with a light west wind and a little cool at about 8°C. While I was picking up some minnows I received a tip about a spot in Moore Bay from a local guide that was producing yesterday, but for me today, nothing.

I then went to the other end of Moore Bay were I’d been with my brother inlaw and caught fish previously. This spot is the “Fall Spot” and is supposed to be very good around this time of year. Upon arrival, the fish finder lights up and is “beeping” so much I turn off the fish alarm. Below is a screenshot of the Garmin echoMap.

Lots of fish but no takers!

Well, they may have been on the finder, but refused to get on the end of my line! After about 45 minutes and several passes over multiple areas that claimed to have lots of fish, just one nibble and that might just have been my wishful thinking.  I gave up and boated back to the cottage empty handed, but still enjoyed my time out on the lake.

Cottage Opening 2016

Opened the cottage a little early this year, the Thursday before the traditional May long weekend. I took a few days off and came down Wednesday evening. Part of the early opening was a group ride that was taking place in the Kenora area, billed as a “Spring Training Camp” which seemed like a lot of fun, and it would be nice to have the water running for a hot shower after the rides.  Plus, Gail & Gord are coming down on Friday and staying at the lake until they take possession of their new house in Saskatoon sometime in June. 

After last years pump problem where it wouldn’t prime, but in the end noting seemed to be wrong with it after I dragged it into town for servicing, I was a little apprehensive about this years startup. But, no problems! It started up just fine on the first attempt and after starting at about 6:30am I had the bulk of the cottage opening chores done by 8:30 and was sitting down with a cup of coffee and waiting for the hot water tank to do it’s thing.

 Being pretty lazy and enjoying the quiet. After a trip to town to look for an Apple power adapter for the laptop (unsuccessful) and enjoying the first Chip Truck of the year, it was time for a nap. Life roles at a different pace at the lake, well, at least for me. 

I’m thinking there are not too many people around right now as Netflix ran fine all evening without buffering. Normally, on a summer weekend, the wireless bandwidth is getting sucked up by all the neighbours and the Internet slows to a crawl, making Netflix almost unwatchable. 

The weather is cool at 0°C and drizzling, in fact right now it’s snowing kind of hard . HArd to see in the photo, but it’s like a micro blizzard which I’m sure will disappear momentarily, right?


The planned big group rides for the weekend have been cancelled because so many guys bailed because of the weather forecast. I guess I’m on my own. If there is a break in the weather I’ll take a spin over to Rushing River and if things really turn around perhaps a longer spin out to Minaki and back.

Caddy Lake

The first cottage experience in my life was the Caddy Lake cottage. I don’t have a lot of memories about this place as I was only 3 at the time, but a couple of them are quite vivid. The one that stands out the most is in fact probably  family legendary, and it involves a car.

Here we are, my sister Gail and myself in front of the cottage, next to the driveway, which is on moderate slope. This will become important later. I think Gail is restraining me here so that I’d hold still for the picture as my arms seem to be pinned behind me.

Gail & Garry at Caddy Lake Cottage
Gail & Garry at Caddy Lake Cottage – October 1955

Before the cottage was built and before the driveway, it looked like this when you’re standing at the cottage looking towards the lake, down the hill.

Down the hill to Caddy Lake
Down the hill to Caddy Lake – May 1955

By dad and Grandpa built the cottage by hand. And “by hand” I mean no power tools, in fact there was no electricity at the cottage. Every board cut with a hand saw, something that is almost unheard of today. Lighting was by candles and kerosene lamps. A wood cook stove was the main source of heat in addition to cooking. No microwave, no blender, no dishwasher, no washer, no dryer, no indoor plumbing!

One story I’ve been told was that my mom and some of her friends were there with us kids and I guess it was cold so they loaded up the cookstove with coal (or coke, not sure which) but apparently they over did it as the story goes. The coal expanded, lifting all the round cast iron covers off the top of the stove and it is said that the whole stove was glowing red.  I’m not sure how they resolved that but there was quite a bit of panic as they thought the wood stove might set the whole cottage on fire.

My big memory of Caddy is waiting in the back seat of the car at the top of the driveway as our parents were packing up to go back to Winnipeg on a Sunday night at the end of the weekend. We were given strict instructions to stay in the back seat and don’t touch anything!

"The Car", and our family cottage at Caddy Lake
“The Car”, and our family cottage at Caddy Lake – October 1955

We’ll, I’m almost 3, and a guy and this is boring so before long I’m hanging over the seat playing with the steering wheel. The car is a manual transmission “3 on the tree” an apparently the parking brake is not set. I manage to shift into neutral and the car starts rolling down the driveway towards the cottage in front of ours, and the lake. This is not good.

Just then my dad and Grandpa come out of the cottage with their arms full of stuff only to and see the car picking up speed going down the driveway with Gail and I in the back seat. They literally drop everything, run down and get behind the car and manage to stop the runaway vehicle before we can cross the road and hit the neighbours cottage.

I’m not exactly sure what happened after that but I’m sure I was in a bit of trouble that probably ended with a spanking. I’ve blotted that part from my memory.

Power outage

A 27 hour power outage follows a violent 5 minute storm where severe winds cut a swath just down the road from us and take the tops of two hydro poles. Where are those candles again?

We’re just getting ready to start dinner and this storm blows through and takes out the power. Nothing too unusual for lake life, but little did we know at the time that this would be one of the bigger outages in our experience of 30+ years.  Dinner was to be salmon with hollandaise so we switched to something simpler, mainly because the hollandaise sauce requires the blender, which requires electricity.

We call Hydro One which has a fantastic phone service for tracking power outages and providing updates. 400+ customers in our area without power and an estimated restoration of 8:30pm, then 11:30, then 2:30 am then… we went to bed.

The next morning, still no power. Off to town for some coffee and breakfast. On the way back, there are multiple crews of 6-8 guys each working in our area, yay!

Time for some investigation, I’ve never seen power line repairs up close. It’s 12:45 and the truck below is working on Thunder Ridge Road a short distance from the cottage.

Working the line
Working the line

This is one of the trees that went down. Being on the Canadian shield these big trees have very shallow roots due to the rocks, and are quite susceptible to being knocked down in a storm.

Downed Giant - The tree on our road that took out a power pole further up the road.
Downed Giant – The tree on our road that took out a power pole further up the road.

Trees get snapped like match sticks but surprisingly the phone lines stayed intact in spite  of being dragged all over the place and phone service was never interrupted.

Wood and Wires - One of the snapped trees and the telephone line, 3 feet off the ground.
Wood and Wires – One of the snapped trees and the telephone line, 3 feet off the ground.

 

Here one of the bucket trucks is working to get things straightened out before replacing some poles further down the road.

Line Work from the Bucket
Line Work from the Bucket

 

Here is the culprit for our roads outage. Lines are down to the right (our cottages direction) and straight back to another pole up behind Smith Camps.

Snapped - the pole on our road and in the distance the 2nd snapped pole.
Snapped – the pole on our road and in the distance the 2nd snapped pole.

 

A closer shot. The poles are almost 40 years old. First installed when the road was put in and 6 years before we started to build our cottage.

Snapped Close-Up - line down in two directions from this "T" intersection
Snapped Close-Up – line down in two directions from this “T” intersection

 

I continue down the road and over to Smiths Camps and up a steep hill to where the 2nd crew is working to set a new pole.

Pole Placement - lifting the new pole into place alongside the old.
Pole Placement – lifting the new pole into place alongside the old.

They have a very cool machine or tracks that can drill hole as well as lift and position the pole. Here its getting the new pole into position to drop into a hole that the backhoe has prepped. But there is a catch, literally. The arm on the machine is at its limit and it’s not quite clearing the old pole. To avoid the delay and hassle of repositioning the machine, the crew boss is up the pole and pushes it over the top.

Up and Over - The machine was at it's limit and the pole needed a helping hand to get over the top to save having to reposition the machine.
Up and Over – The machine was at it’s limit and the pole needed a helping hand to get over the top to save having to reposition the machine.

 

It’s in the hole and they are jockeying it around to get it nice and straight.

Positioning the pole with the very cool machine.
Positioning the pole with the very cool machine.

 

With the pole in place he’s moving on.

Pole #1 is done and the Terrex is getting ready to go. Fallen tree in background.
Pole #1 is done and the Terrex is getting ready to go. Fallen tree in background.

 

Moving to the Next Pole - driving by the pole that has just been placed while the lines are finished up.
Moving to the Next Pole – driving by the pole that has just been placed while the lines are finished up.

 

It’s down a steel hill but no problem for this beast.

Like a tank this thing just motors down a very steep incline back to the road.
Like a tank this thing just motors down a very steep incline back to the road.

From this pole, looking back towards our Thunder Ridge Road you can see the phone line in the air but the hot & neutral power lines are on the ground as well as caught up in the trees across the span to the other pole.

Phone but no Power - That line is the phone line but the two power cables are down on the ground. 300+ yard span to the other snapped pole.
Phone but no Power – That line is the phone line but the two power cables are down on the ground. 300+ yard span to the other snapped pole.

 

A little zoom shot back to the other pole shows the lines clearer. The black one is the phone line and the two low hanging silver ones are the power.

Looking Back - From the pole behind Smiths back to the pole on our Thunder Ridge Road.
Looking Back – From the pole behind Smiths back to the pole on our Thunder Ridge Road.

The backhoe is finished his work and is carefully going down the steep hill to drive over to pole #2.

Driver Skill - To get down a steep section the driver is using the bucket as a skid to prevent a forward rollover
Driver Skill – To get down a steep section the driver is using the bucket as a skid to prevent a forward rollover

 

Mean while “the boss” is hooking up the wires. All the hardware on the pole is setup and attached on the ground prior to lifting it into place.

Line Boss - This guy was running the show and he kept the guys on the ground hopping with passing up stuff and positioning the gear etc.
Line Boss – This guy was running the show and he kept the guys on the ground hopping with passing up stuff and positioning the gear etc.

 

Splicing the wires together is quite in interesting procedure. There is a connector device that is a tube into which the wires are inserted by hand. No crimping, no nothing and once inserted into these tube connectors the line is capable of being pulled tight to get the proper sag between poles.

Making Connections - Doing the top "hot" wire 1st
Making Connections – Doing the top “hot” wire 1st

Over at the other site on thunder Ridge Road, a pole is waiting.

 

Bringing in the new lumber.
Bringing in the new lumber.

Once again the pole is lifted into place and the backhoe fills in the hole and guy wires are attached and tensioned. This time they have the luxury of a bucket touch and the guys working up to don’t have to put on the spurs and climb the pole.

 

Working the Wire. Two boom trucks required to free the 300+ yard span from some trees
Working the Wire. Two boom trucks required to free the 300+ yard span from some trees

 

Equipment at work. The track vehicle on the left holding the new pole in place while the backhoe on the right continues to fill in the base around the pole.
Equipment at work. The track vehicle on the left holding the new pole in place while the backhoe on the right continues to fill in the base around the pole.

 

The “hot” wire is attached and they are just removing the clamp device that allowed them to winch the cable up. To lift this very long span they attached a bully to the top of the pole and then ran it down to another pull on the back of the boom touch, hooking it onto the trailer hitch. Then they ran the rope over to another truck on the road and used the truck to tension the cable.

Lots of messing around here as when they were lifting the cable, it was caught in some trees down by Smiths parking lot. They sent the other boom truck and had to work quite hard at pulling the cable free before they could finalize the tensioning.

Removing the cable clamp used to pull the wire into place
Removing the cable clamp used to pull the wire into place

 

With everything reattached a decision was made to cut off the part of the broken pole that was now being suspended soley by the telephone cable. Interestingly enough, these guys were only concerned about the power. It was clearly someone else job to come along afterwards and transfer the telephone cables to the new poles. Bell did that the following day.

Up goes the chain saw…

Chain saw hand up
Chain saw hand up

… and off comes most of the old pole.

Off with the old pole
Off with the old pole

It’s now 6:30pm and the crews are cleaning up and moving on. They were remarkably tidy as no leftover bits of wire snips were left behind. They had to check a few things, remove some grounding wires and do something a short distance away that apparently would not take too long. At around 8:30 the power is on! Yahoo! Good job Hydro One!