When the heat from the pavement blisters the bare feet through my best Key West flip-flops, and the humidity thickens the air to the point where normal breathing becomes difficult, my mind takes me to a cooler place. It is a remote section of our country where eagles soar easily in the constant breezes that blow southward out of the Canadian tundra, and loons can keep their feet in cooler water throughout the summer. It is Lake of the Woods.
This vast body of water is one-million acres in size and includes more than 14,000 islands. Despite most of it being in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba, several extremely picturesque areas are part of Minnesota.
One of these wonderful places is called Northwest Angle, and other than Alaska, it is the northernmost spot in the United States. Though it is part of Minnesota, it can only be reached by road through part of Manitoba, or by air or water through Ontario. The people who live there are tough, friendly, and very special.
During my first boat ride out of Northwest Angle into Lake of the Woods, I experienced the majesty of more than a hundred bald eagles either in flight or perched in huge evergreen trees along the way. the day was topped off with some fantastic walleye fishing and eating.
Shore lunches are a tradition on Lake of the Woods. The combination of the boulder-strewn glacial lake, the scent of the campfire, and the exquisite preparation of the meal by the guide can be overwhelming!
Before leaving the area, one should take a float plane tour out to Oak Island, where it is possible to catch huge muskie from the surrounding waters. From the air, many remote islands will pass beneath the wings, and if one is lucky, a bull moose or other wildlife will be seen. This section of Lake of the Woods also offers great fishing for walleye, smallmouth bass, and northern pike.
Despite the cooler nights and great distances that are often traveled in these remote sections of Minnesota, the warmth of the people, the excellent fishing, and the kaleidoscope of natural beauty make Lake of the Woods a wonderful place to visit when it becomes too hot down south. For more info, call toll-free 800-382-FISH.