Boundary Waters Catalog Blog

Knowledge Base and Learning Center


top feature image

Type of Travel Personalities -Which Type of Traveler Are You?

Isn’t it interesting that every year thousands of people visit Ely, but everyone experiences it differently? There’s so much to explore up here, but how you plan your vacations and explore the surroundings depends on what type of traveler you are. 

You might find yourself among the following travel personalities:

Adventure Seeker

Your life revolves around conquering challenges, owning a lot of camping gear, and knowing not only how to use it but how much each piece weighs. You go to sleep thinking about your next vacation and have a long list of adrenaline-pumping adventures you need to get to. Minnesota has what you are looking for. Whether you want to go out and explore the wilderness in a canoe, experience camping, or go Stand Up Paddle Boarding or kayaking on local lakes, we have got everything you are looking for. We’ve also spent our lives seeking adventure and part of our travel personalities is definitely that of Adventure Seekers.

The Creative Finder

You have a love for unique things, everything handmade and authentic. As far back as grade school you may have begun your own art career and in college you enjoyed spending time around the art galleries and museums. You enjoy craft fairs and farmers markets. In Ely, you are most likely to sign-up for a class at the folk school, walk around the art galleries and spend most of your afternoon in a secluded spot with a sketchbook and maybe some paints. Ely, Minnesota has a vibrant and thriving Artist community. Indeed, you can find something creative to do or someone creative to share and talk with almost anywhere you go around Ely. You will especially enjoy the Blueberry Arts Festival, Harvest Moon Festival and Ely Winterfest (think Snowcarving Symposium). We welcome all Creative Travel Personality people to Ely and the Boundary Waters.

top feature image

Take this Off Your Holiday Bucket List: The Northern Lights

Minnesota is home to one of nature’s most spectacular phenomena: the Aurora Borealis – otherwise known as – The Northern Lights. People from around the world hold interesting views about these dancing lights that fill up the northern sky. 

The Inuit believed that these were the spirits of the dead playing a game with one another. While people across Finland believed these lights were caused by a fire fox who ran across the northern sky, leaving a trail of fire burning in the night sky. Even today, there are stories parents often tell their kids that the northern lights are messages sent from another planet or bursts of colors reflecting off distant glaciers. 

top feature image

A Fish Story

I’ve used Flexcut carving tools for twenty plus years. I come from a family of antique dealers and one of the first things I collected with my dad was pocket knives. When we moved to Minnesota in the mid-1990s I began carving wooden fishing lures. I got the bug to start collecting homemade folk art lures and carving my own after my Mom gifted me with two that she found during a “pick” of antiques. They came with a message from the then deceased carver’s wife. “Whenever my husband couldn’t catch anything, he’d tie on one of these. They always worked better than any Rapala. He made them himself.”

I still have his two lures (above left) and I soon carved my own version just a little wider with bit more of a cave to bubble more water on retrieve and reversed the paint colors. I carved this out of white cedar with a Flexcut Carving Roughing Knife and finished it with a Flexcut Carving Detail Knife and sandpaper. I added vintage red beads for eyes (I didn’t have any of the iridescent silver sequins that he had used on the original) and changed the plain #2 Treble hook to a dressed treble that I snipped off of a beat up Mepps Spinner.

top feature image

Poem: None of this Happens Without Effort

None of this Happens Without Effort

Camp is about prep
and work and anticipation.
There’s no running water,
no light switches or air conditioner
or heater after sunset.
No roof over your head 
and no memory foam in your bed.
Wood has to be gathered, sawn
for cooking fire, for warmth.
Tarp raised
for shade and shelter from rain.
Tent assembled in lue
of your house back home.
Water taken from lake
and boiled.

Fire materials gathered,
tinder, kindling, small and medium and 
substantial wood, all dry, all down,
all dead.

Fire can’t just be turned on,
it has to be carefully constructed in layers
of loving attention;
it has to be started
(no easy feat if it is wet, windy or cold and dark)
then tended and watched
always — like a child by 
a swimming pool.
It cannot leave your sight.

Camp just doesn’t happen.
It grows from the first moment you 
arrive at the site, like a sunset does
all throughout the day, formed from
memories the day before
when it was home to other campers.

As you shift a rock, gather wood, prepare meals,
count the stars and tie tarp lines;
as you find the best angles and granite slopes
for your camp chairs and fishing poles to 
balance remember that tomorrow 
when your canoe glides away on
the surface mirroring the sky
you’ll be just another memory
good or bad.

Leave more than just footprints behind.
Leave kindness, leave passion for the wilderness,
leave a head start for someone’s new home…
some dry tinder, a clean camp, 
a safe-and-totally-put-out-non-warm fire bed,
clean grate, good seating, starter pile of kindling
and firewood. No trash.
Leave it better than you found it.

Take memories made. Take pride.
In how you shared this lake,
this place that is so much more
than a red dot on a map.

©Timothy James Stouffer 07082023 All rights reserved
#elystreetpoet Ely, Minnesota
photo Nick Jones @vnick763 Header photo Steve Piragis
#piragis #piragisoutfitting #boundarywaterscatalog #boundarywaters_elymn #visitelymn #upnorthmn #bwca #bwcaw#canoecamping

top feature image

Customer Reviews, Testimonials

I will be back every year for more adventures and Tim’s Canoe Country Charcuterie.

Good food, great sights, the best gear, and amazing people. Lifelong memories made thanks to the hard work of all the folks at Piragis Outfitting.

Special thanks to Tim Barton for keeping us safe, fed, caffeinated, educated, and even entertained. Good times were had by all.

Also… no bears 😉 Rachel Frey


Cute gift shop and outfitter! Dog friendly and adorable gift shop upstairs Emily Estrada


We didn’t get outfitted this time around but stopped in at 6:30 AM to get some last minute things for our trip. Great store, great selection with very friendly and helpful service Eric J


Northwoods staple. An establishment of the BWCA. A solid outfitter that REI wishes it could be.
Alex Yantifovich


Have used this outfitter several times. They are incredibly knowledgeable about the area and can help with just about any aspect of your trip. Great canoes. Great people. Marcus Myers


Enjoyed out outfitting experience and the canoes and paddles were excellent! Anton DeLeon


I highly recommend Piragis. I was extremely impressed by their customer service. I booked my trip with Adam who has loads of knowledge. He was very helpful throughout the entire process from start to finish. Zack was very knowledgeable about all the gear and answered all of my questions. I am glad I chose the right company from the start. I will absolutely be coming back to Piragis in the BWCA. Thanks for a memorable trip. Terry Villar


Just finished up a 6 day trip where Piragis outfitted us. I was impressed with the quality of the gear as well as the well stocked store. They had everything we needed..be careful though as they really make sure you will not go hungry out there. The staff is very knowledgeable and answered all our questions pre and post trip. I will use them again. Shawn Bilak


Here’s the screen shots from Google Reviews. Thanks for reading and sharing. If you would like to write a google review of our services please feel free to do so! If you’d like to review some of your favorite products at the Boundary Waters Catalog, that feature is easy to use. Just sign into your customer account and each of our products online can be easily reviewed.

top feature image

Happy Independence Day

Happy Fourth of July, Independence Day from all of us at Piragis Northwoods Company and the Boundary Waters Catalog. May your paddles always find new adventure and the free spirit of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness always guide you home! photo @vnick763 Nick Jones #piragis #piragisoutfitting #boundarywaterscatalog #visitelymn#boundarywaters_elymn #fourthofjuly #independenceday2023

Please note the fire restrictions (aka fire ban) in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness have been lifted as of July 3, 2023. A fire ban is still in effect for Quetico in Canada. Stay safe and keep the fireworks out of the wilderness.

top feature image

We’re Having a Kayak Sale

Remember to check out the biggest kayak sale of the year.

Call Tom or Tyler 1-800-223-6565 to save today

Over 80 Kayaks in Stock
Solos, Tandems, Specialty, and composite models of Current Designs, Perception, Wilderness Systems Brands
June 28th to July 11th 2023
*Discount taken off lowest priced kayak Piragis Boathouse Open 9 am to 5 pm daily.

top feature image

Welcome to the Gift Room

Welcome to Piragis Northwoods Company and the Boundary Waters Catalog Gift Room. Below is a short video tour of our most visited room in Ely. We offer a wide variety of products to choose from. Each room in our retail store in Ely, Minnesota holds a world of treasures. From camping supplies, to clothes, and of course the room we are currently walking through The Gift Section. We try to do our best to mirror this variety online at boundarywaterscatalog.com, however the best way to enjoy this shopping experience is to visit us in person. Why not take a Boundary Waters canoe trip while you’re here!

The gift department of Piragis Northwoods is full of delightful items that are sure to wow anyone you gift them to, or to hold a sweet spot in your heart as a souvenir of your time in beautiful Ely Minnesota with Piragis Northwoods Company.

From wonderfully crafted pottery, to amazing photographic prints, you are sure to find something that catches your eye. Our wide selection of gifts doesn’t end there though. We also have candles that will fill your home with the sweetest of fragrances, and of course, blankets and pillows that will pair perfectly with those same candles to make your home a cozy wonderland.

Everything in our gift shop is meant to make you think back on your Boundary Waters trip fondly, so that even after you can no longer see the pristine wilderness forest you can still have a part of it with you. We do this by not only keeping a consistent wilderness theme in the room, but by also having local small businesses and artisans items available in our gift shop. This means that with every purchase you are taking a little bit of Ely Minnesota back home with you.

From handcrafted jewelry, to lotions, to kitchen ware, and even a loon whistle so you can never forget the sounds of  our introverted state bird the gift shop is sure to have you leaving with something that will fit perfectly in your home. And of course if you’re still missing the little critters of the forest we have a whole section to bring home a buddy from the Boundary Waters that will never leave your children’s side. So come in today and find your next gift for someone else, or even yourself, because everyone deserves to treat themselves and a trip to the Boundary Waters is a perfect occasion. 

top feature image

Boundary Waters Fishing Report June 28, 2023

With the rain and the recent cool down (thank goodness) the fishing report is in flux, but here’s what we know so far. Bear in mind that these are always a few days old and much affected by the current and upcoming weather fronts moving in. Plus it is Minnesota, if you don’t like the weather, just wait, it’ll be different soon. And. So. Will. The. Fishing.

Walleye – Walleyes have been moving around more in the last week, most likely due to the warmer temperatures of the water and heat that still persisted at the end of last week. That bumped up against our last storm front and the roughly inch and a half or more of rain over the weekend. It is raining now, a slow soaking rain and last night we received about 3/4 of an inch. As this weather varies, so does the depth of the walleye while they seek out sunken structure, sometimes up about 10 – 12 feet but mostly deeper around 15 – 18 feet above sunken reefs or rock piles. This is pretty good time of year for jigs with half a nightcrawler or half a fake darker colored worm.

Jigging for walleye seems to always work best when you find the bottom and then come up about a foot and jig from there. Trolling Spinner baits at this time of year works better if they are tipped with crawlers (a combo of flash and natural food). Reported top colors recently include gold (one of our favorites), pink (standard) and orange (pretty hard to beat). When the normal colors aren’t getting a response, I like to go with very dark colored jigs like black, purple or blue and after 7 p.m. I tie on a glow painted jig. I have always gotten better results with darker colors the deeper that I fish. This goes for panfish too although lately, with almost all of my fishing I lean towards the flash of gold jigs and gold spinners, whatever the size.

Smallmouth – The hunt for Bronzebacks has become elusive on some of the local lakes and Boundary Waters lakes but topwater is still winning the catch on many others — just like it has been for the last several weeks. If you can’t get strikes from any of the common topwater lures, then any rig with flash to it should help. Getting down towards fallen, sunken trees or rock piles near shore is key. Spinners tipped with worms (again – like for Walleye) will produce strikes. The old glacier ponds up here have some fantastic drop offs, sometimes very close to shore, and these are particularly great places where shadows meet sunlight in the late afternoon and early mornings to hit smallmouth where they are hunting. As the Summer continues, you will also find smallmouth bass in faster currents where rivers/streams and lakes join together.

We’ve got a variety of soft bait selections from Gulp Minnows, Powerbait swimmers, to Yamamoto and Kalins worms, including New Bang Lures Bass Assassins and some of our old standby Super Flukes from Zoom and of course Mister Twisters in stock here at Piragis Northwoods Company in Ely.

Pike – With the arrival of rain and fluctuating temps, the Northern Pike suddenly become more active. Esox lucius, wolves of our northern waters are more aggressive now that June is ending. Things that flash and grab attention are the norms like larger Mepps Spinners and Daredevle spoons. Fishing with sucker minnows and a large bobber has been working on Ely lakes, though it is hard to mimic this when you are days deep into the BWCAW. Setting up a rig off camp that includes a larger bobber and lighter colored worm or fake minnow (ie: Berkley Gulp Paddle Shad, Zoom Super Fluke or Super Fluke Jr., 5 inch Yamasenko Worm in Chart/Shad in our Retail Store) with a weight several feet up from the bait may work best to mimic a sucker minnow. Let this drift through the edge of current “bobbing” your worm up and down creating the mimicry of a dead or dying minnow. Anything you can do to present something that looks like a natural bait works better than not. This is why the varied retrieve of spoons and shad rap type baits (ie: something like a weight in front of a Strike King KVD 2.5 Wake Bait or other lures like Rapala Countdowns and Deep Tail Dancers in our Retail Store) works well (off speed, jerky, vulnerable motions). Shallow bays with vegetation, river mouths, the points on islands and weedbeds are hotspots for big pike. Pike are normally opportunistic and aggressive. They hunt for food that appears to be vulnerable and available with the flashes that make them angry.

The Lake Trout can still be mostly found deep (think 75 feet or perhaps has shallow as 50). That’s a lot of line. Big trolling spoons and larger lures like a Deep Tail Dancer work well. Sometimes, if you do find them shallower they’ll be over sunken islands. Sometimes they will hit off deeper points when you paddle around an island and the bait you are trolling behind you naturally follows your course as you change directions and it changes speed and depth with the slack of your line. Big, heavy jigs, larger spoons, something that can get deep, perhaps with the aid of a bottom bouncing weighted rig, these are things that help you present bait to the Lakers.

Photo below: Paul Knapp

If you are sensing a theme with each species that seems like we are suggesting odd ways of fishing then you’ve got the point. In the wilderness the fish can be obviously more plentiful, but your tackle that you’ve brought along will be naturally less plentiful. Giant, fully stocked tackle boxes don’t often make it into the list of weight you want to portage and fit into your canoe. Being creative with a select set of multi-use, very good producing lures and well-designed lures is a must. Trying something in a new presentation to the fish with an old standby lure (ie: Mepps Spinner tipped with a Gulp minnow) can be both fun and productive.

Be creative with what you have. Make sure what you take on your trip can give you a shot at success. For example, if you want to catch panfish but don’t take any small jigs or hooks or waxworms you probably won’t be eating any bluegill or pumpkinseed or crappie. If you only have smaller jigs and hooks along by mistake, you’ll have to use more weight ahead of your hook to get the bait down low enough for walleyes. If you only have full sized twister tails, gulp bait and artificial worms you’ll need to cut off pieces to use for panfish :).

Roll with the punches and if you have mustard and crackers you can use that instead of fish batter in case you run out.

Don’t forget to grab a copy of the New Boundary Waters and Quetico Fishing Guide
The long-awaited update of Furtman’s original guidebook for the Boundary Waters, this book is an integral piece of any fisherman’s gear. It’s got all the right info and more info to back that up. Besides being an interesting read, it is a book that so many paddlers and anglers before us have trusted in the wilderness and a great thing to put inside a dry bag in your pack. $14.95