Monday, 28 April 2014

Updated Ice Conditions: NWO April 26, 2014

Well, it has been one week since my last ice report. My Dad was up North again over the weekend and he took some more pictures of the ice. The ice isn't looking a whole lot different than it was last week (from the air), but the conditions are continuing to deteriorate throughout the area. Dad took pictures of some different lakes this time to give you a better overall idea. The pictures aren't quite as clear this time (different camera), but you will get the idea. If you look closely you can see the darker spots on the ice.

Although there hasn't been a whole lot of change in the ice over the last week, the good news is that we've seen warm temperatures and very strong winds yesterday and today. The rest of the week doesn't look too bad - the temperature isn't supposed to reach quite as high as we'd like (staying just under the 10 degrees Celsius mark), but hopefully the sun will be warm enough to do some melting. There is also a couple of rainy days in the forecast, which is always good for taking down the ice.

I will report back mid-week when my Dad returns from Kapikik Lake. This blustery day is going to make for a bumpy flight, but this wind is a good thing for our ice!

Until next time,

Meagan Stansfield

Lac Seul 
Slush on Bertrand Lake
Bertrand Lake
Another of Lac Seul
Wabaskang Lake
Canyon Lake
Cedar Lake at Northern Lights Resort
Edward Lake at K.C.'s Landing Resort - not a bad view to wake up to! April 28, 2014.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Ice Conditions in NWO April 21, 2014

As we approach opening weekend, those that are anxiously waiting to make their annual trip to Northwestern Ontario are wanting to know what the ice conditions are like. Remembering the late spring we had last year and looking back on the brutal winter we had this year, many people are nervous that the ice is going to hang on again.

All we can do is keep you informed on the present conditions and let you know how things are looking. Here is the inside scoop on the ice conditions as it sits April 21, 2014.

Over the weekend, my Dad and I got a good look at the ice conditions as we flew about 140 miles North, from Vermilion Bay to Kapikik Lake (near Cat Lake). We flew there on Sunday and back home on Monday, giving us a good look at lots of lakes in the area and at the different stages of melting. The snow has melted from the surface of the ice, many lakes are turning brown, and some even have open water.

The difference between the ice on Sunday morning and the ice on Monday morning was noticeable. Sunday was very warm and sunny. Yesterday (Tuesday) was also very warm and sunny, so I can only imagine that there is a noticeable change again in the ice conditions.

The brown ice that we see is caused by large amounts of runoff going onto the lakes and this type of ice will erode quickly if we see temperatures of +10 degrees Celcius or higher. The open water (mostly seen on Lac Seul), is also caused by runoff, but also from a current that runs through the lake. Every year, the the water level drops around this time, which causes current and causes the narrows to open up. Having said that, compared to previous years there is far more open area this spring on Lac Seul.

Will the ice be out by opening weekend? This is something we still cannot predict. We are on schedule IF we see lots of days with temperatures reaching the double-digits (Celsius). As I had mentioned before, today will be a good day for melting, but cooler temperatures are expected throughout the rest of the week.

You can keep an eye on our weather by visiting this link:

And as I said before in previous blog entries, my Dad and Chris will be the last ones flying on skis in the area so we will be able to give our readers very accurate reports of the ice conditions and the weather. You can expect lots more reports and pictures in the near future.

Check out the pictures below.

- Meagan

Lac Seul, Near McKenzie Bay
Lac Seul, West Side of McKenzie Bay
Lac Seul, West Side of McKenzie Bay
Brown Ice on a Lake North of Lac Seul
Lac Seul, Looking East
Perrault Lake
Clay Lake

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Crunch Time!

Just a quick update on Kapikik...

Dad and Chris just got back yesterday afternoon from Kapikik. They left on Monday for Ear Falls where they stayed the night in a hotel. Monday night was going to be a cold one, which was why they packed everything up and took off. They wanted to leave as early as possible on Tuesday morning from Ear Falls to hit the winter road.

They left Ear Falls around 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday in their trucks, hauling those great big trailers, full of snowmobiles, (2) boats, mattresses, and bed frames. They made it to the end of the South Bay Mine Road round 9:00 a.m. and parked their trucks.

They secured the boats behind their snowmobiles and piled the mattresses and bed frames inside the boats. They began their 51 mile journey across the several lakes and portages. It was still very cold at this time, which made for good lake conditions. The crust kept their snowmobiles and the boats out of the slush and by some miracle, they didn't get stuck even once! It only took them two hours to get to the cabin.

They arrived at the cabin at about 11:00 a.m., giving them the entire day ahead to work on the interior. They finished the bathroom walls & floor and they put together the metal bunk bed frames. The bunk beds are now complete with comfortable mattresses just like you'd find in a home; no flat foam mattresses here...

They had no problems on their way out either and were home by late afternoon yesterday. Next on the agenda is hanging the interior doors, finishing the plumbing, and installing the bathroom vanity. We don't have very much time now before the ice conditions worsen. It's officially crunch time!

Until next time,


Monday, 14 April 2014

The Progress Continues

So much has happened at Kapikik in the last two weeks and we have lots planned for the week ahead of us. It is now crunch time! Less than five weeks until opener!

During the first week of April, they made several trips to the cabin. The flooring is now finished and the snowmobile is unstuck! Once the flooring was done, they were left with no more material to work with. It was time to get more material to the cabin and the majority of it was at the Springpole Mine on Birch Lake. If you read my blog entry about our winter road trip "Battling the Elements in the Great White North", you will understand why. We have been waiting for better conditions to hire a large airplane to fly everything over from the mine to the cabin. Finally, last Tuesday, our day had arrived.

The "Big-Rig" Ready to Head to Sioux Lookout
I pulled the 24-foot enclosed trailer full of supplies up to Sioux Lookout to Slate Falls Airways. We packed their Turbo Otter full of panelling, doors, mattresses, and even a generator. The pilot headed North to Kapikik where he would meet Dad, Chris, and Chris' uncle, Jack. It was a bright sunny day, mild temperatures, but cool enough so that the snow wasn't too soft.

Perfect Conditions for Flying
After unloading the first load at the cabin, they took three trips back and forth from the mine to Kapikik and were able to move all of the material and supplies. At the cabin, they were able to use the snowmobile and a sleigh to move it all from the airplane up to the cabin. Their pilot, Morgan, was awesome and the guys at the mine were incredibly helpful. My parents are so grateful for everything they have done for us.

Loading the Airplane at the Mine
Unloading the Plane at the Cabin
After a very successful day, Dad, Chris, and Jack stayed overnight at the cabin. During their stay they were able to start putting panelling up in the bedrooms, install the kitchen cupboards & countertop, build the bar, and put together the bar stools. The cabin is looking incredible... the pictures speak for themselves.

The Kitchen is Coming Together
Our Hand-Made Bar Turned Out Beautiful
The Living Area
This past weekend, both my Mom and Dad stayed a night and finished the panelling in the bedrooms, and finished staining the kitchen cupboards.

Putting Up the Panelling
Mom Staining the Cupboards
Now, I know lots of people are wanting to know what our weather and ice conditions are looking like. Since my Dad has been flying so much lately, he's had a good look at all of the lakes around us. For the most part, the ice is turning brown from the amount of runoff going onto the surface. Brown ice is good as it melts fast. However, since the middle of last week we've been stuck in another cold-snap and have even seen some snow flurries! Not to worry though, starting mid-way through this week, the forecast is on our side again with sun and warmer temperatures.

The cold weather is not all bad for us. Dad and Chris are going to take full advantage of it. They left tonight to stay over in Ear Falls and they will leave early tomorrow morning to take on the winter road one last time. We have two brand-new, 16-foot Crestliner boats, two mattresses, and some bed frames that need to get to Kapikik. They have been waiting for the conditions to turn just right to take on the treacherous road and long, rough trail across all of those lakes again. Fortunately, tonight and tomorrow morning are supposed to be very cold, which should provide a good crust on the snow and keep them out of the slush. Our fingers are crossed that they don't have another adventure like the last! I opted to stay home this time :)

We will keep everyone updated on the ice conditions. Towards the end of this week or middle of next, I will be flying up there with my Dad and I will take some aerial shots of the ice so you can see what we are talking about.

Stay tuned :)

Until next time,


Thursday, 10 April 2014

Dock Pontoons Canada

Dock Pontoons Canada… have you ever heard of them? They are a Canadian company based out of Quebec that sells highly revolutionized pontoons for floating docks. These pontoons are the future for floating docks.

The pontoons are made of corrugated high-density polyethylene pipe, fusion sealed on both ends, and pressure tested against leaks during the fusion process. The double thickness walls protect against punctures making them MUCH more durable than Styrofoam.

Are you starting to wonder why I am telling you so much about this amazing new way to float your docks? Well, the best thing about these dock pontoons is that you can pick yours up right in Kenora or Vermilion Bay through your regional distributors – Wayne and Karla Clark!

My parents have been in the resort business for over 20 years, so you can imagine how many docks they have built! Now, with three resorts and ten outposts, they are building more floating docks than ever. My Dad has always used Styrofoam to float his docks, but has always been looking for a better way. Finally, he came across the ultimate dock flotation system with Dock Pontoons Canada. He ordered a whole bunch of them for his own use and they are coming all the way from Quebec! Since there are so many other people around here that could benefit from these pontoons, my parents decided to become the regional distributors. They will supply the area between Thunder Bay and the Manitoba border.

For those that are looking to upgrade their existing docks or are needing to build brand-new ones, this is very exciting news. We now have available the best and most economical method to float our docks, whether it is for commercial or personal use. When you purchase these pontoons, they come in a kit, which includes two (2) pontoons, six (6) fastening brackets, and an installation manual with easy directions. This is the ultimate kit to build your own dock with.

One incredible feature of these pontoons is that the ice will not damage them in the winter! No more taking them out of the water or floating them into a bay where they are safe. They can stay right where they are and the ice will not hurt them. Another awesome feature is that the wood does not touch the water, which allows you to use treated lumber and also ensures that the wood will last a long time.

Building docks with these pontoon kits is extremely economical and they will last so much longer than other types of docks. Unlike Styrofoam, these pontoons will not deteriorate or become water-logged, and they keep the wood out of the water. You can customize with various lengths and diameters, depending on your needs, and deck anchors and stabilizers are available upon request. They are very environmentally friendly and are light weight and easy to handle. Another awesome feature is that they are made in Canada!

This new venture is very exciting for us and for everyone in our area who uses floating docks! Please call and talk to myself, my Mom (Karla), or my Dad (Wayne) to get more information on these pontoons. You can reach us at 807-227-2154 or toll free at 1-866-744-2154. You can also send us an email with any questions you may have to Once the snow is gone, we will have display models set up at both Eagle Junction and Sunset Baits!

Thanks everyone! 

Until next time,


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

So This is Spring...

Waking up yesterday in Northwestern Ontario, you couldn't help but ask yourself - is this Mother Nature playing an April Fools trick on us? However, when you stepped outside into the foot-and-a-half of fresh snow, it was obvious that this was no trick. Within 24 hours we received about 18 inches of snow. Most highways were closed, many businesses in the area were closed, and all of the schools were shut down. A "snow day" on April 1st... who would have thought.

Dryden Ontario
The view from my front door, Dryden, ON.
This past winter has been one for the books. We've had record-breaking cold temperatures and the most snow we've seen in years. We now have over 5 feet of snow in some areas and 4 feet of ice on the lakes. We need everyone to cross their fingers and toes and hope for warm temperatures this month, along with rain and wind to knock down this snow and get the ice off the lakes.

After a busy day of shovelling yesterday, it is nice to see the sun shining today. The temperature is only expected to rise to the freezing mark, but hopefully the sun will be strong enough to do some melting. According to the calendar, we are now well into our second week of spring. I thought I would take this time to look back on this past winter and hopefully put it behind us. So far I have mostly focussed the blog on our adventures to Kapikik, but there has been lots more keeping us busy over the winter months.

Most people assume that the winter season is "down-time" for the Clark's, but that is definitely not the case. My parents like to keep busy all year round! Minnow harvesting still needs to be done, the two stores (Eagle Junction and Sunset Baits) are open all winter, and we still have guests in camp. Then of course there are the sports shows in the States, bait fishery meetings in Toronto, marketing work, bookkeeping, correspondence with guests, maintenance on all the cabins, and work to be done in the shop such as building minnow traps and furniture.

Chicago Sport Show
Minnow Traps
As far as the minnow business goes, we are not as busy in the winter as we are in the summer because we are not supplying the tourist camps. In the winter, we supply our own two stores as well as a handful of others. This winter, the demand for minnows has been low due to the poor weather conditions.  There are less people fishing due to the snow, slush, and cold temperatures. Less demand for minnows has been a blessing in disguise because trapping them this winter has not been an easy task.

In the summertime, all minnow harvesting is done by airplane. In the winter it is done by snowmobile. My Dad and Chris trailer the snowmobiles and travel as far as they can by truck, then break trail on snowmobile to the minnow lakes. Getting to the lake is half the battle. The machines get stuck countless times in the deep snow, they sometimes have to cut down trees to clear the trails, and usually one snowmobile will end up breaking down. Once they get to the lake, in order to set or check one trap, they must drill six holes with an ice auger to make an opening large enough for a trap to fit through. It takes the full length of the auger plus the extension to get through the ice this year. They usually set about 15 traps in one lake. To make things more difficult, many lakes have not been producing this winter due to low oxygen levels from the heavy amounts of snow and ice.

With the conditions being so bad, Dad has been avoiding harvesting one of his best minnow lakes because the only way to get there is by airplane. In order to meet the demand, he had to fly there the other day. Since he goes by himself, he must always be prepared for a very long day and possibly an overnight stay in the airplane because if he gets stuck in the slush, he won't be getting home anytime soon. In the past he's had to pack a trail with snowshoes and let it freeze overnight to get the plane moving again. Luckily he didn't have to do that this time, but he did get stuck. He was able to dig himself out and get home at a decent hour with a good catch of minnows. Everyday of minnow trapping for these guys is quite the adventure. I wish I had the time to write about each trip they make because there is always a good story.

We also supply the minnows (for free) to our fisherman in camp. We've had quite a few parties staying with us this winter. Despite the amount of snow and slush, they have been fishing the entire chain of lakes and of course, spending lots of time in the shacks in front of camp. They've caught and released some massive trout further down the chain, and some huge walleyes in front of camp. They've been keeping the smaller ones for dinner that they mostly catch in the shack. The two pictures below were taken a few weeks ago right out in front of K.C.'s Landing Resort.

trophy walleye fishing clark's resorts
Trophy Walleye caught & released at K.C.'s
walleye fishing ontario, ice fishing
Trophy Walleye caught & released at K.C.'s
And of course, I have to mention a little bit about the cabin on Kapikik. I haven't written about it since our trip by winter road. Since then, the guys have made many trips by airplane hauling supplies. Two weeks ago, my Dad, Grampa, and I stayed overnight at the cabin and finished off the rest of the pine, varnished the entire cabin, and finished all of the trim. My Dad went by himself the following weekend and started laying the laminate flooring. Dad and Chris are on there way there right now to stay overnight and finish off the flooring. Next, the kitchen cabinets will go in, and the panelling will go up on the bedroom walls. When the conditions improve, the brand new boats will be taken in by snowmobile. It is truly amazing how far that cabin has come along since February 1st, when we made our first trip. With all of the challenges we've faced, its incredible that we've been able to stay on schedule with the progress.

Kapikik Lake Outpost
Pine & Flooring done at Kapikik
My parents and I just got back from the Minneapolis Northwest Sport Show, our last sport show of the season. We had a great time, enjoyed the warm weather, and talked to lots of people. The question that almost everyone asked was if the ice will be out in time for opener. Looking outside right now at the 5 feet of snow on the ground and knowing that there is still 4 feet of ice on the lake, it is easy to assume that it won't be. However, it is honestly far too early to tell just yet. A lot can happen during the month of April and we can assure you that through our Facebook page and our blog, we will keep everyone posted on the weather and ice conditions. In the spring, my Dad is the last person that flies in the area on skis and now that we are into April, he will be flying almost every day. By the end of the month, we should be able to give you all a good idea of when the ice will be out. Lets hope for the best!

Until next time,