Winter Wabaskang Wonder
Updated: Apr 23
Happy 2023 Tall Pines friends, family, guests, and fishermen!
The First Blog of the season is here as Ryan and I made it back to Tall Pines Camp this week. As I sit here looking out the window I search for the Wabaskang, hidden beneath a field of white.
(For those just wanting camp updates, scroll 1/2 way down :) Our drive back Up North was eventful. We were excited to hear that the milder winter in Perrault Falls meant that we could return to camp sooner this year, and so we scheduled a border appointment for Monday the 17th. Despite some windy/misty/rain on Sunday, we packed, and packed, and packed. We took to the road by 4 AM saying goodbye to Illinois, but instead of the roads getting better each hour, they were getting worse. A winter storm system south of Eau Claire had circled back and stalled, just dumping on the area, including our direct path to Minnesota. After white knuckling it a few hours, we pulled over to wait it out. At that point we were resigned to the fact there was no way we would be at the border in time for the day's crossing.
Fortunately the winter storm advisory ended at 1:00 PM so we were eventually able to get back on the road and slowly but steadily we made it up to International Falls a little after 6:00 PM. One result of this delay is we got more of a taste of what those of you who break up the drive go through. I remembered there was a new hotel that just opened last July, Cobblestone Hotel, so we were able to get a room and try it out. I'm happy to report we highly recommend it! Super clean, everything's brand new, a nice no frills but all you could want breakfast is included, Pikes Place coffee, they even had a pizza oven for those that bring their own frozen pizzas. We had dinner in their restaurant and they had very generous portions . Well lit parking lot, pool and hot tub for those families that may want that.
And a sidenote- I think because they are brand new, not many people know about them, because they still had some availability for most of this fishing season- even peak June weeks! So...if you want to hotel it and haven't booked a hotel yet or can't seem to find one, check them out. We found a good deal with them on Expedia but I was able to book directly with hotel and they honored Expedia's price. (I get that off season on a Monday is not a Friday night in June so prices will vary by demand). They also have a May special going on now for our week 1 and 2 guests.
So Tuesday morning, we woke up to a beautiful blue sky and that was the start of a brand new day- and hopefully symbolic of bright new things on the horizon. Filled er' up one last time (Bootlegger's Fuel had best prices on the strip there), and then made our way to the border. We are grateful to the border agents for their understanding in weather delay; they were helpful and efficient, and I can't help but think how busy they are about to be- come May 19th- so we thank them. It almost felt weird only handing them passports this year as the last 3 years were so much more complicated. I'll share my tips for smooth border crossing in an upcoming email to all our booked guests.
With the driving ordeal behind us and such a smooth and seamless crossing, we took a sigh as we drove through Fort Frances, and felt that weight lift off us. With such a glorious day ahead of us, we took in the scenic 502 drive along the way to Dryden where we did a Safeway stop for some loose ends we hadn't packed. Check out an updated list of food items that can and cannot be brought across the border below!
And as always, as we got north of Dryden the remoteness brought smiles to our faces. The highway 105 was already showing some signs of spring as the Wabigoon River flowed with some intensity (not like last year), as much of the snow was melting away. Approaching Tall Pines Road, no snowmachine needed this year. A buddy had plowed us in a bit and we could park right next to our cabin! Awe the things you take for granted. Got a fire goin and unloaded quite a bit.
Got to have a celebratory toast on the platform that is becoming a tradition for us now. Made me pause to think about what traditions many of you have of first thing you do once you get to camp.
"Eagleman" even flew by to welcome us home. No other wildlife yet, but lots of tracks in the snow, so we'll be on the lookout. The ice on the Wabaskang already looked significantly thinner than end of last April.
Even got a short hike in Thursday afternoon as well as some visits with neighbors.
Saw open water in front of Gawleys already. The locals up here had said to be prepared for an early ice out but you never know up here, winter seems to want to hang on a bit. The level looks lower than what we'd like...BUT we thought that last year too and you all know what happened...AND by Thursday evening, a snowstorm began up here- on Friday we woke up to a winter wonderland.
Everything white. Beautiful, but Mother Nature doesn't seem to understand that spring is here and we all wish to be done with winter . Props to all the locals that have braved this all winter long. But what are you gonna do- Ryan may get to ice fish up here still yet afterall. Looks like about 10 inches out there with some higher drift areas, so again when all the snow melts, hopefully these water levels will rise comfortably, but not out of control.
We've heard from some of our farmer guests, and know that we're thinking of you planting crops right about now. So we hope the weather cooperates for you as well!
Tall Pines Updates:
Camp wise, we are so excited to share some new and exciting things with you. First, to confirm Earl is returning again! And equally exciting Patsy will be joining us as well. Earl will be our dockhand and Patsy will work as housekeeping and a friendly face around camp. They make a great duo, so we will all benefit from their presence.
Our apparel and tackle order was just delivered so here's a sneak peak at some of the new items we'll have available for purchase this season in the gift & tackle shop:
We have some infant, toddler, and youth sizes available this season. Here's Emilia sporting one of our new offerings (she was in Mommy's tummy last July when they visited Tall Pines)
Thank you to 4Imprint Canada and MelonInk for an extraordinary job in creating quality products at a price everyone can afford.
What can I bring across border?
Eggs: must be labeled as “Product of USA” in retail packaging (no farm/backyard 🙁)
Poultry was banned last year and As of March 15, 2023 this is what Canada.ca website says:
Retail packaged poultry products for human consumption that are clearly labelled as a "Product of the USA" are acceptable for import from any U.S. state, regardless of outbreak status. Some examples of these products include:
Raw table eggs
Vacuum-packed flats of raw chicken breasts and thighs
Frozen chicken strips or wings
Frozen whole turkeys and chickens
Hard boiled eggs
Poultry NOT allowed:
Restaurant food or leftovers with poultry
Homemade food with poultry
Poultry products and by-products from roadside stands or farms
Potatoes: Must be commercially packaged and graded/labeled “US No. 1”
Meat: Must have identification marks/label of what product is and proof of country of origin
Fruits/Vegetables from US are allowed
Limits of each category are 20kg each (dairy, meat, fruits/vegetables/condiments)
No bait (regardless if its in dirt, alive, or frozen) is allowed across the border. (see below for info on where to get your bait this year)
Alcohol amount you can bring DUTY FREE (you CAN bring more than this but then would pay duty on it- which usually is still cheaper than purchasing in Canada) is one product:
up to 1.5 litres
2 (750 ml) bottles
Up to 1.14 litres (40 ounces)
1 large standard bottle of liquor
24 cans of 355 ml each
Cannibas: Don’t bring it in, don’t take it out. Not allowed across an international border
Sports Show Recap
Our Chicago and Milwaukee sports shows were a success. Thanks to those who booked with us for the first time as well as current/returning guests that stopped by to visit including: Bob Diebold, Bruce and Debbie Davids, Ken Kunhle, Scott Minster, Joy Colbert, Scooter March, Gerry Budzinski, Al Katona, Mike Polozi, Tony Murray, Dr. Bob Murray, Brad Carter, Sean Taylor, Mike and Ethan Clausen, Dave Wolff, Joe and Stephen Carlson, Mr. Waggoner, Jack and Scott Gabreyna, Joe Nichele, Scott Brelsford, Ray Zmich, Jon Chmura, Craig and Ryan Martin, Jeremy Malinowski, Pete Olszewski, the Brian Curtain crew, Malcolm and Nettie McClung, Jeremy and Rachel Fidler, Mark and Sandy Minta, Erv Dombrowski, Pat Hansen, Don Richter, Tab Hornburg's group, Tom and Jack Deringer, Michelle and Greg Counter, Max and Marty, and I'm sure a handful of others that I can't place right now.
I am excited to share that we have recently been recognized as one of the 20 Best Ontario Fishing Blogs out there! While I know there are some incredible writers and bloggers out there that go unnoticed, we are honored to be featured as the #16 spot by Feedspot. I love sharing our experiences with readers and will strive to continue this blog for years to come.
We DO still have some June openings due to some cancellations including:
June 3-10 (cabin 11!)
June 24th-July 1 (cabin 2, 4 and Bear's Den)
and a number of August and September cabins.
Contact us to find out more.
Where to get bait:
We will once again be selling minnows, crawlers, and leeches(seasonally) by the dozen. However, for our groups that prefer to get a flat of crawlers on their way up, here's the 2023 pricing in Canadian funds we found:
Great Bear (right out of Fort Frances) $88 full flat
Clarks Bait (in Dryden) $110 full flat $60 1/2 flat
Bobby's Bait/Fuel (in Vermilion Bay) $130 full flat
*4 Seasons Bait in Ear Falls isn't open yet to get new prices, but they were $145 last year; Dutchies isn't open yet, but they sometimes had flats last year as well.
I will also be emailing guests about 6 days prior to trip and will let you know if we have surplus or shortage of live bait so you can be prepared.
Passport wait times we're hearing can be 4 months out right now! Please make sure anyone 16 and older in your party has a current valid one.
We thank you each one of you who is choosing to stay with us at Tall Pines this season. While we expect to be busier, we also strive to remain focused on our vision of inspiring, educating, and serving anglers of all ages with customer service and a product we are proud of so that you have opportunities to create memories with your loved ones, accomplish your own dreams, respect and conserve our resources God has provided, and share in the love of the Wabaskang Wonder.
Thanks and God Bless.