Spring in the Northwoods extends from ice-out (usually around the first of May) to the end of June. This is a cool season that appeals to anglers more than any other time of year. With the fishing season beginning around the middle of May, walleyes and northern pike are the prized catch for most anglers. Lake trout swim just below the surface of the cool water, and it's the easiest time of year to land them too. Smallmouth bass can even be caught with fly rods during their spawn, from late May through mid-June. While the fish bite best in the spring, so do the flying insects. If you can't tolerate pesty, insects, come right after ice-out, or consider another season...
Summer is the favorite time for family and youth groups. From Independence Day to Labor Day, the weather is usually warm, the water is comfortable for swimming, and the bugs are not as much of a nuisance. But the fish are harder to find, as they retreat deeper to a cooler habitat. Moose are seen wading in shallow bays, and wolf pups are sometimes heard howling on August nights, testing their vocal cords for the first time. This is the busiest time in the wilderness, when reservations are a must. Make plans early!
Autumn is a peaceful, lovely season in Canoe Country. There are not as many people on the lakes, and flying insects are gone. The days are mild and the nights are crisp. Fish return to near the surface. The forest colors are magnificent. But tastes of the winter are sometimes felt as soon as mid-September, with measurable snow not unheard of. By mid-October, the leaves are down, and by month's end, calm lakes may glaze over with thin layers of ice. Even more than spring, this is a time of year to be prepared for any kind of weather.
The fun doesn't stop when the temperature drops. Our longest season, winter is strictly for the "whitewater" enthusiast. From the first of November through April, leave your canoe at home. The quiet wilderness is reserved strictly for crosscountry skiers, snowshoers and dog sledders. The Ely area is known for some of the best skiing trails in the world.