Welcome to the BWCAW blog of Ely Outfitting Company and Boundary Waters Guide Service!

See our websites at ElyOutfittingCompany.com and BoundaryWatersGuideService.com.

We are a Boundary Waters canoe trip outfitter, Quetico outfitter, and guide service in Ely, Minnesota. This Boundary Waters blog shares photos, stories, humor, skills, and naturalist insights from guiding in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

Most entries are from our founder and head guide, Jason Zabokrtsky. He is the Boundary Waters Blogger.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ice Out in Ely

Over the last couple of days, some of our larger lakes have become ice-free, including: White Iron, Shagawa, and Burntside Lakes. These are all record-breaking early ice outs. I don't have a report on Basswood Lake yet. We've been fielding some calls about March canoe trips - that's an extraordinary thing!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ice Out?

We've fielded some questions about ice out around Ely lately.  After record-setting warm temps recently, we've settled in to more seasonal temps.  It was well below freezing this morning.  Some of the small lakes that historical open up first (e.g., Johnson Lake and Robinson Lake) are now open.  However, the lakes that tend to go out in the second wave of openings (e.g., White Iron Lake and Shagawa Lake) are still mostly covered in ice.  But, it's looking like it could go any time, and probably before April 1.  The big border lakes such as Basswood and Crooked that tend to be the later ones to open up are still ice-covered, and it is unclear when they may be ice free.  There's a little known fishing rule related to the border waters that has some folks chomping at the bit for the ice to go out on Basswood and Crooked Lakes. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ice Skating On Frozen Lakes



Our winter season is ending abruptly, and we're making the most of it. Ice skating is a great way to be out on the lakes now at the end of the season. On a warm and sunny late-winter day, the snow on top of the ice melts into water. Then, over the course of a couple of days, that water drains down through natural cracks and holes back into the lake. This happened several days ago, and now we've got a whole surface of relatively smooth ice upon which to skate.

We are using "nordic" skates, which are long skates into which you can clip your own boot. The high, smooth curve at the front end means that you can skate easily over natural lake ice that hasn't been smoothed out by a Zamboni. A great idea, and a fun way to make some miles!


Looks like with the weather at hand, it won't last long. Soon we'll have those canoes out once again! If you haven't started planning your summer Boundary Waters canoe trip, give us a call and we'll help you plan a great adventure.