This is Minnesota fishing opener weekend and it is also the weekend that many take their first foray into the BWCA. This year is going to be different since there is still a lot of snow and ice on the Gunflint Trail. The shore lines are starting to see some progress, but it may be a bit yet before we can really get out on the lakes. While the lakes may not be ready for fishing yet, people are hitting the rivers and streams, looking for those elusive steelhead.
If you are a hardy soul and are going to go canoeing in the next couple of weeks, there are some precautions you should think about. First and foremost, please wear your life jacket. The lakes are very cold and it is going to take some really warm weather before they are safe. Of course you should wear life jackets at all times anyway, but many do not. This time of the year it is imperative because if you do tip, you have very little time to get to safety. The last thing you want to do is spend the first five minutes in the water looking for and putting on your PFD; the time is better spent assessing the situation and taking care of your paddling companions.
If you own a Hydroskin type jacket, which is basically a wet suit top, it is also a good idea to have this on.
Most importantly, if a tip occurs, get out of the water as soon as possible. You should be paddling close to shore, so hopefully you can quickly get out of the water and get dry. This is not a time to try to paddle across the middle of Sag.
The BWCA is a wilderness and should be treated as such. Do not be complacent because you have been there many times. Safety first. We like our visitors and we want you to be coming to see us for many years to come. It is very sad to hear about someone who will not come back due to a tragic accident.