What’s open, what’s closed, where can you go — or not go — or kind of go? Those are all questions people in general and outdoor people in particular are asking — especially, those fishermen who enjoy an annual trip, or perhaps have planned a bucket list trip to Canada this summer.
Canada is one of those countries with borders closed (or sort of closed) to visitors due to the covid-19. This is particularly vexing to the thousands of sportsmen and women who travel to the unique area of Minnesota called the Northwest Angle each year.
What’s the NW Angle? Take a look at a Minnesota map and you’ll see a bit of a northward bump at the top of the map which includes a bunch of Lake of the Woods as well as a few square miles of firmament, isolated from the rest of the USA.
Why this exists dates back to treaties, misunderstandings and bureaucratic bungling when the international border between the US and Canada was being “officially” delineated. It’s an interesting story having to do with where the “best guess” about where the source of the Mississippi River was located.
Regardless, these days, there are numerous fishing camps and resorts located within the NW Angle, all of which are both the usual or even the bucket list destination for wanderlust anglers seeking a memorable experience. In the open water months, there are typically three ways to travel to the Angle. Some visitors actually fly in via float plane. Some prefer boating across the lake, though it’s a 35 or 40 mile trip by water. Most simply drive up, crossing the border in their vehicle, checking through customs and then crossing into the Angle and checking back into the northernmost portion of the continental United States. It’s a bit of a hassle but less expensive and time consuming than the other options.
Except for this year. With the border closed, many are just cancelling their plans while others are considering options #1 or #2. The resort owners are helping and actually, either option can add a bit of adventure to the trip if you have plans or still want to make plans for your family.
A first good step is to contact your favorite NW Angle resort. They can arrange, or at least give you a plan about how to get there without causing an international border incident.
They can give you a list of float plan operators who can assist your group. Which to choose depends on the size of your group and the amount of gear each wants to pack along. Prices will vary.
Another option is to use the Lake of the Woods Passenger Service. The passenger service boats people across the lake on a big, comfortable cabin cruiser type boat. Many who use a guide or rent a boat up at a NW Angle resort take advantage of this option every year to get their NW Angle vacation spot.
Many like to bring their own boat and even doing this comes with options. Like anything, it’s safety first. Not all boats are suitable since Lake of the Woods is a big-water lake. Still, most high-sided 18 foot and larger trailerable boats with enough fuel capacity and the right electronics and safety gear can make the trip easily with just a bit of luck with the weather.
Another option when boating across is to put most of the people and gear aboard a charter boat and follow behind the charter in your own boat. This not only can make the ride much more comfortable for passengers but also lightens the load of your own boat making it more seaworthy. It also helps that a big charter boat is handling the navigation and breaking down any waves for you across the lake.
Several American resorts on the south end of the lake are allowing vehicle and trailer parking on their properties for Northwest Angle travellers. These include Arnesen’s Rocky Point Resort, Wigwam Resort and Border View Lodge.
So don’t cross the Northwest Angle off your list for this summer’s travels. In fact, this may be the best year ever to plan this trip. Due to cancellations, many resorts which would normally be fully booked still have their vacancy lights lit. They await your call, the fish await your hook. For more information check out www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com