Well, we're here in Milwaukee wrapping up the end to our sport show season. We did more shows this year than we have it many years....no real reason why (aside from booking trips of course!), just with the kids all off on their own, it makes it much easier.
The shows have all been really good from a business perspective, but also it has been absolutely great to visit with many of our friends that we usually only see in the summer. Had an absolutely great dinner with the South Chicago crew...good food, good drinks & great company! Saw Larry Pozarski in Milwaukee for the first time in several years. Larry started coming to the camp in 1977, but hasn't been able to make it for a while- but hoping to in 2017.... saw Gil from Perch Lake there as well and great seeing Mike K in Milwaukee too...oh yeah - and Tal D who we haven't seen in a while! Plus John & Al.. and Norm & John.... and Joe & Rick....at Pheasant Run and - plus a great surprise with Doug, Dan & Mark (just missed Dean!)....actually we had 3 old groups come in to the booth in Chicago all at once so there was sure was a buzz of activity around our booth for a little while. ... It's funny how when something like that is going on, it attracts all kinds of others curious to see what all the hoopla is about. Great seeing Curtis P & his son in law in Schaumburg. Mike P & the guys stopped by in Minneapolis...geez - I'm sure I'm missing some too!
Anyway, we haven't been home a lot this winter, but it certainly has been a good winter weather wise. Right now, it's really starting to look like an early spring. Had some ice fisherman sporadically throughout the winter taking advantage of the great weather - saw some nice lake trout as well as nice walleye & pike!
Just getting ready to order some new boats and motors...looking like we'll be getting 3 new 16' & 15 Hp...good trouble I guess - looking really busy, but having to buy more gear & equipment. I absolutely love my Honda 15 HP motors....but I really like the Yamaha units as well...so you may see some more "Yammies" at the camp this summer. Looking at different boats, but right now leaning towards Lunds to complement our fleet of Lunds & Nadens. Likely be sticking with the MinnKota trolling motors and various brands of fish finders. Not adding any more upgrade boats this year (even though they're incredibly popular!).
We added some new 17' Souris River kevlar canoes last year and will add more this year. They were our first 17' kevlar (our others are 18')....the new ones received a big thumbs up from our canoe groups. Also in canoeing, we'll be refreshing odds and ends of equipment - stoves, packs maybe some tents etc.
We'll be adding more boats to more lakes for our remote lakes this year - plus will be adding new smaller outboards for remote lake day trips. As you all know, most don't leave the Seine Chain, but some do like to do day trips. We have a core of about a dozen lakes that are the most popular for day trip lakes....most are launch at or walk to a cache. We have over 50 lake options in the area though that our guests have fished, and some of those that were previously canoe lakes will get boats caches to make it a bit more enjoyable. We'll still have some tougher ones that'll continue to be canoe lakes though - gotta keep some tough!
Big news in these parts is that our spring bear hunt is back. We'll be running a hunt the first 2 weeks of May. The first week is already booked....but we can take 2 hunters the second week. The fall hunt is sold out.
Another new thing for 2016 is that we'll be opening the new Cabin 4! It is going to be an amazing cabin....lots of pine, vaulted ceiling, lots of windows overlooking the lake. It's 2 bedrooms and about 24' X 30'. We'll be hanging pine when we get back.
And - believe it or not, we'll be starting construction on our new lodge & office this year and hope to be opening it by late 2016 or early 2017....the plan is to have a liquor licence and a pool table, along with a short order menu (we'll also do our American Plan meals in the new lodge) ....you'll be able to have a drink, maybe some wings or a burger and enjoy an amazing view of Banning Lake! And it'll be open in the winter to welcome more ice fishermen & snowmobilers!
2015 was terrific year for us and we're looking forward to an even better 2016. Oh and, by the way, 2017 will mark the 50th anniversary that the camp has been in our family, so we're trying to plan some great things for next year as well!
Take care everyone - be safe - and we hope to see you in the woods & on the water in a few months!!