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‘Fly High and Fast – Vol. II Chapter 27: Lake of the Woods – Minneapolis

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JJ Meehan
The Meehan Family

The Lake of the Woods is a sportsman’s paradise.  Located in Northern Minnesota on the Canadian Border.  The lake area covers thousands of miles of lakes and extends into Canada.  The Wall Eye and Northern Fishing is fantastic.

Before I talk about the Lake of the Woods and fishing, I need to tell you a little about myself.   I’m a pilot not a sportsman.  I have fished, hunted and have never really enjoyed either.  This is not a blog on fishing or hunting but flying and the areas I have visited.

When I was a boy growing up on Ft. Belvoir in Virginia, I really enjoyed going to the rifle range for practice.  My Dad was an Army Master Sergeant and one of the benefits for me was that there was an in door rifle range not far from our home, maybe 1/2 mile.  Each Saturday morning a group of us would head up to take lesson from experts on how to use the M-1 Rifle and enjoy 60 minutes of practice in the indoor range.  I was good enough to earn a several awards.

I can also remember fishing on the Potomac River which was down the hill from where I lived again about 1/2 mile from our home.  I can never remember catching anything.

When my folks died I moved to Denison, Iowa my senior year of high school.  My aunt, Clare Meehan arranged with several of the local families to have their kids invite me go hunting with them.  I believe their name was Thies.  She even had one of her best friends, Alice Brandt, ask her husband, Walt Brandt to take me fishing and hunting several times.  I can only remember being part in one actual shooting.  The Thies boys arranged a hunting party one Saturday and about 6 or 8 of us went hunting.  I had an old 410 shotgun.

We did not have much luck but as we were heading back to the farm house we all spotted a squirrel climbing a tree.  All of us shot at the same time.  I believe this included three 12 gage shotguns, two 410 shotguns and two or three 22 rifles.  We all hunt the squirrel and needless to say there was not enough was more gunshot metal than squirrel when we were done.  I am not a hunter or fisherman.

On a business trip to New Orleans I had a chance to go fishing on Lake Pontchartrain.  I had flow the President of Banks of Iowa Computer Services, Joe Phernetton and two others to a meeting in New Orleans.  Needless to say the fact that I had drank too much the night before may have been an influence on my fishing the next day but while Joe was pulling in 3 fish at a time, I was either throwing up or doing my best to pull in one fish.  I don’t believe I catch any that day.  You can read about this flight and the fishing in Fly High and Fast – Vol. II Chapter 4: New Orleans, LA.

With all of that said, I love the beauty of the outdoors and the Lake of the Woods is one of the prettiest parts of the Midwest.

My first trip to the Lake of the Woods was in a Baron – N6WW in 1987.  It was a charter flight from Cedar Rapids to the Lake of the Woods.  Total Flight time was 3 hours.  Total Distance was just short of 540 NM (approximately 600 statue miles).  The weather was perfect and I had four passengers plus luggage.

There was absolutely no problems with the aircraft or the flight.  We took off around 6:00 am and landed in the Lake of the Woods area just before 9:00 am.  On this first flight I was in the Lake of the Woods just long enough to refuel for the return trip to Cedar Rapids.  I can remember that N6WW took about $200.00 in gas and the local Fix Base Operator gave me three large cans of Blue Berries.  The Blue Berries were the best I have ever had.  I was back in Cedar Rapids by 1:00 pm.

The second trip in the summer of 1988 was a little different.  Banks of Iowa Computer Services (BICS) had an office in Sioux City, Iowa.  The Office Manager, Darrell Elkins and his assistant, Mark Paradise were excellent fisherman.  Mark invited one of his friends and they talked me into flying them up to the Lake of the Woods.   It was agreed that we would share the expenses on the trip.

Because we also had a full load for the Piper Arrow Aircraft, N2123T, it was decided that we would ship our luggage UPS to the Lake of the Woods.  This worked out will and the luggage was waiting for us when we arrived at the fishing resort.

I took off early on a Friday and departed for Sioux City around 2:00 pm.  Sioux City was actually 275 NM to the west of Cedar Rapids on a heading of 270 degrees.  Flight time in the Arrow was just short of 2 hours.  We departed Sioux City at 4:30 pm for the Lake of the Woods.  The flight time from Sioux City to the Lake of the Woods in N2123T was 3 3/4 hours.  We arrived on Friday night around 9:15 pm.

I was not scheduled to fly until Sunday so I wanted to go drinking immediately.  Anyway, both Darrell and Mark wanted to fish immediately.  They headed to the docks to fish for catfish and bullheads.  I headed to the resort office to find a ride into town and the closest bar.   Got back to the resort about midnight and Darrell and Mark were still fishing.

About 2:00 in the morning I woke and had a need for the bathroom.   The room smelt like someone had died.  About this time Mark and Darrell got back to the room and we all agreed something bad had happened to cause the smell.  The office told us that there were no other rooms available and that the smell was probably a skunk that had let go under the building.  We spent the rest of the night sleeping in sleeping bags outside.  Thank God it wasn’t raining.

The Lake of the Woods is a beautiful place as shown in the photos below.



Lake of the Woods County was named because the lake covers a large portion of the county. Jacques de Noyon, a Frenchman who came from Trois Rivières, (Quebec), explored this area in 1688 and became the first white man to view the lake. He named the lake Lac aux Îles which means “Lake of the Islands” in English.

In 1885 the region of Lake of the Woods got its first settler, Wilhem Zippel, who was a German immigrant and a fisherman. He settled on the south shore of the lake in a place now called Zippel Bay. Shortly after, Alonzo Wheeler settled on a point on the southwest side of the lake which is now called Wheeler’s Point.

A terrible wildfire, which has come to be known as the Baudette Fire of 1910, broke out in October of that year, burning 300,000 acres (1,200 km2) and destroying the towns of Spooner, Baudette, Graceton, Pitt, Williams, and Cedar Spur.[3] Lake of the Woods County was founded January 1, 1923, with Baudette as the original county seat. Lake of the Woods County is also known as Minnesota’s youngest county. This county was organized on November 28, 1922, when residents voted to separate the northern Townships.




On Saturday between throwing up on the boat, I managed to catch the largest fish of the trip.  I only caught one fish while Darrell and Mark brought in a truck load.

On Sunday we packed up and headed home.  We departed around 11:00 am on Sunday.  I dropped them off in Sioux City around 3:00 pm and head home to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  They were kind enough to share their catches with me and I had enough fish for the next 3 weeks.

Lake of the Woods is a beautiful area with lots of wonderful lakes and luscious green trees.  Fishing and Hunting are not my sports, but I love flying and traveling.

Please visit my WEB Site for more stories on flying at  “FLY HIGH AND FAST”.


Written by jjmeehan13

May 21, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Posted in Flying

One Response

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  1. honour!


    May 21, 2010 at 3:26 pm

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