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Observations from the Birchdale (Rainy River) site mgr.
New Member
Joined:
01/12/2016
Posts: 4
Just wanted to post a few observations from last week at Birchdale and answer some questions people have had.

This past week a few people asked if Iíve seen some real circus acts at the ramp. The answer is not really. It seems like most folks that have been here this week have either done this before or are experienced in the sense that they fish multiple times a year in various conditions so this is kind of a checklist and some reminders to help you have a better trip.

Most of what I have to say here will apply when the temps are cold enough to ice up the ramp and the past few days have been cold, especially in the morning. Also the wind has picked up mid morning to noon most days and that adds to the stress in a few different ways at the ramp and on the water.

The county would like me to be there when the number of boats warrants it. Saturday morning, even though it was cold and windy, I reasoned because it was Easter weekend and more people are likely to have extra time off, it would still be busy enough to be there. There were 5 boats by 10:30 am so Iím guessing the snow south of us and the miserable conditions on Friday had something to do with that.

As far as ice on the ramp make sure youíre in 4WD and then the best thing you can do is when you go back up the ramp make sure to stop as soon as your trailer wheels are out of the water and let the trailer (and boat if youíre leaving) drain well. Some trailers take a good minute to drain. Failing to do so will ice the ramp in minutes at 10 degrees or less. Itís okay to remind those before you and after you to do the same. Just because somebody doesnít stop doesnít mean theyíre an idiot. Oftentimes people are excited to get on the water, most for the first time, and just donít think about it. My goal is that every 4WD vehicle makes it back up on their own power. If you donít have 4WD it might be iffy when itís cold enough to make ice.

If thereís ice at the waterís edge remember to break it up before backing your trailer in the water or it will take your trailer lights out. Yesterday morning because of a lack of activity, ice was forming in an hour. Fortunately the guy who took his lights out yesterday wanted to install LEDís anyway.

Another thing to think about is if there is a weak link so to speak in your boat, trailer, or anything concerned with either, cold temps will reveal it, especially 0-15 degrees. If you start your outboard at home to make sure everything is okay make sure the water is drained out of the motor. Several water pumps/impellers have been frozen or otherwise not working. Some dry start their motors just before putting them in which isnít a bad idea. However I could not do that with my last outboard without destroying the impeller in cold or warm temps so I donít expect everyone to do that.

Itís not a bad idea to have starting fluid, some tools (spark plug wrench, screw drivers, knife, etc) and jumper cables or power pack available. Start the outboard in the water before unhooking the boat to make sure it runs and then back off and let it warm up good. Most motors take some time to warm up in the cold and run like youíre use to having them run.

Several glass and aluminum boats that were fishing the previous day have been frozen to the bunks the following morning. Iím not sure what to do about that. I saw a bunk trailer yesterday with the nylon strips on top of the bunks and they had no problems. Carpeted bunks are nice but they also hold water and freeze quickly to a hull.

If you put you put your trolling motor down it may ice up and want to stay in that position. Youíll get it up again but it might not be easy.

Lines and rod guides icing up has been a common problem this week so you might try rubbing some chapstick/lip balm on the guides and tip or whatever you have found that works.

Fishing on the Canadian side. If you have in your immediate possession a current Ontario license and outdoors card, no live bait (except crawlers in artificial bedding), no alcohol, are following the Ontario boating regulations and follow the proper border crossing procedures then youíre close. Iím not going to address the border crossing and return regulations and ask that you donít either unless you work for US or Canadian customs or Border Patrol. There have been some recent changes and I have several friends who work for US Customs who Iíve discussed this with and it is still not perfectly clear to me Ė at least not clear enough to offer anyone advice. Personally I have a current Remote Access Border Crossing permit from Canadian immigration and the US I68 and carry it on the boat. Itís not my intent to scare or discourage anyone from fishing across the line but if you are in violation itís not going to cheap or easy. And by the way the fish donít prefer one side or the other.

There is no border identification or markers so if you donít have the things above in order, stay on the Minnesota side. If you donít have a GPS make friends with somebody close by who can advise you. If you do have a GPS donít fish right on the line. Please respect their country and their laws. I have friends who donít like this or that about their regs and laws and while weíre still friends, we donít fish in Canada together. Besides simple respect and doing the right thing, I value the privilege of being able to travel and fish there far too much to mess it up.

LastlyÖ. PLEASE PLEASE WEAR your Personal Flotation Device. Yes I just yelled at you. If you have one but hate it buy something you do like and can wear for a day Ė float coat, auto inflatable Ė whatever you donít mind wearing and will keep you floating until you get to safety. I bought an auto inflatable a couple years ago and like the compactness. I consider myself a pretty good swimmer but have never attempted swimming with clothes and footwear but Iím 99% sure I wouldnít make it. Going under in 33 degree water would probably take your breath away. I would imagine several layers plus any sort of insulated footwear just compounds the difficulty exponentially. There are lots of things that can go wrong. You have more gear in the boat than normal with clothes, heaters, propane tanks, etc Ė stuff to trip over. The boat floor can get slippery. One misstep or trip can put you in the water. Think of it like insurance Ė you may not use it very often if ever, but when you need it you really need it.

This is getting very long but it still doesnít cover everything. My purpose is to help you be prepared and have a good and safe trip. Okay the truth is an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure so it potentially makes my job easier.

One more thing Ė the high schooler who shuttles people back and forth from the landing to your parked vehicle Ė he doesnít work for the county or state and since he's doing this at a public landing he can't charge a fee but can collect tips. I talked to his dad the other day and this is his 6th year of doing this as a courtesy. Please give him a tip. Iíve noticed some do and some donít and am guessing those who donít think the county pays him. What he does for you is at least as important or more so as what I do! Nobody really likes to have to walk back to their vehicle either in the beginning or end of the day so his service really takes the edge off of some folks who are anxious about maximizing their time on the water. When heís not there heís either in school or working one of his 2 jobs. No heís not related to me - just a plug for a young man who saw a need and did something about it. If I was smarter than he was I would do what he's doing.

Posted on: 4/1 20:37:04
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Re: Observations from the Birchdale (Rainy River) site mgr.
LSF Member
Joined:
11/30/2005
From walker
Posts: 445
Thanks, very very good suggestions, I've been their many springs and have seen what can happen, and some to me.

Posted on: 4/1 22:13:21
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Re: Observations from the Birchdale (Rainy River) site mgr.
LSF Member
Joined:
02/12/2006
Posts: 215
Great post. Some very relevant info.

Posted on: 4/2 20:03:30
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Re: Observations from the Birchdale (Rainy River) site mgr.
New Member
Joined:
01/31/2017
From Detroit Lakes
Posts: 1
Great information, we might hold off on gettin those LEDís installed until after this weekend. The conditions were brutal last weekend and it doesnít look much better prior to this weekend but we will be out there. Be safe everyone!

Posted on: 4/2 20:31:04
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Re: Observations from the Birchdale (Rainy River) site mgr.
LSF Member
Joined:
01/12/2014
Posts: 9
I am heading up this weekend for my first ever Rainy River trip. I am like a kid in a candy store!! Anyway I really appreciate all the helpful tips in the earlier posts. I do have a question though with the temps being so cold and water temps being low as well where do you recommend fishing? Deeper holes, edge of a break, etc? Last question I have is it typically better fishing the further west a person can get? Seems like what I have read on other posts is that everyone seems to try to get as far west as possible.

Posted on: 4/2 21:31:44
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Re: Observations from the Birchdale (Rainy River) site mgr.
LSF Member
Joined:
01/12/2014
Posts: 9
Starting to second guess making the trip after seeing pics of the ice reforming. Any thoughts?

Posted on: 4/3 17:14:03
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Re: Observations from the Birchdale (Rainy River) site mgr.
LSF Member
Joined:
01/05/2008
From St. Paul, MN
Posts: 2051
Lots of great info. I think people are nuts trying to open water fish when it's below freezing but that's just me.

Posted on: 4/3 18:03:43
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Re: Observations from the Birchdale (Rainy River) site mgr.
LSF Member
Joined:
01/09/2012
From ThiefRiverFalls
Posts: 43
The forecast for next week looks a little warmer. Gonna wait and see, maybe run up later next week. Gonna run out and ice fish this weekend, see maybe there schooling up in front of the pine island or Morris gap area.

Posted on: 4/3 18:35:15
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Re: Observations from the Birchdale (Rainy River) site mgr.
Staff Team
Joined:
09/22/2007
Posts: 4315
We were headed up next week but I am not that mad at the Sturgeon that I want to fish in 17 degree weather and 39 for a high. No big deal we will be up first week of May to try our LUCK..............Kirk

Posted on: 4/8 14:47:44
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