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Boundary Waters

Discussion in 'Fishing Reports - Out of State' started by moke11, Jun 30, 2004.

  1. moke11


    I am thinking of making a trip to the boundary waters in late July / early August. This will be a my first trip to the area and am looking for advice on accomodations, etc. I requested information from some outfitters, but was looking for advice from folks that have already been there.

    I am planning to take my boat and will be seeking walleye, pike, and perch.

    Any info would be great...

  2. Dingo


    Call an outfitter or two to get an idea of how much work you want to do(hiking) and how much you want to bring. I normally only use the outfitter for accomodiations before and after the trip. You can have the outfitter provide everything (including food) if desired. Most have nice canoes at a price that might be better than hauling your own canoe up there. I always use Voyageur North Outfitters in Ely, Minnesota (800/848-5530),

    Talk to Lynn for some good honest info. They do enough business that they don't have to lure more people up there.

    First step is to determine your entry point and reserve an entry permit. If you haven't done this already, you may be closed out of some routes. We normally reserve our route over the winter (for May). Routes will vary based on the fish you want to catch and the amount of work (hiking/paddling) you want to do. You can skip some of the first few lakes by arranging a tow further into the park (LaCroix and Moose, for instance, which allow motorboats).

    Also check out for more info from guys that do the BWCA stuff frequently.

  3. You say you are taking your own boat, do you mean canoe? There only a few lakes within the BWCA that you can have boats with motors and its a 25hp limit. There are of course tons of lakes outside the BWCA that would be great for a boat and motor. Like Dingo said Voyageur North Outfitters is a good place, I have not used them myself but have heard nothing but good things about them. My dad and brothers used them a few weeks ago for a trip up there. The pike are everywhere up there, wont have a problem catching them. The walleye you may have to work a little for. I have only been in early June and and they were still shallow and easy to catch. Dont over look the smallie fishing up there, its amazing! Hope you have a great trip. Let us know you entry point and maybe we could help out a little more. Also check out the forums on and
  4. Hey twistertail, how did you do on your trip up there? any monsters?

    I usually use Outdoor Adventure - they have always done a good job. My group always rents just a canoe & has gear for the everything else...if you rent too much it can get expensive.

    I'm heading up on the 23rd of this month - can't wait.
  5. Hey Jack I have a baby on the way so I didnt go. My dad and brothers went and did ok when they could fish. The wind kept them off the lake a lot and they had to make the trip back in a 2 day paddle instead of one because of the wind. They did do good when they could fish. The biggest fish were a 33" pike, 28" laker, 27" walleye, 20" smallie and a 22" whitefish. My dad and youngest bro dumped their canoe in the rough water and spent about 30 minutes in the 46 degree water before they made it to shore and built a fire and warmed up! Could have got pretty bad if they were in the water much longer. Dont know when I will get to go again but cant wait to go up there with my own kid!
  6. Wow - that sounds pretty rought,you are right, that could have gotten pretty bad if they would have been in much longer. I took a trip a while back in mid September up there - ice on the water & snow - I was a bit freaked out about dumping in that kind of weather - haven't been back that late in the season since. It sounds like they did pretty well with the fish though, I've never caught any whitefish or lakers up there before.

    You have a boy or a girl on the way? I recently got married & now have a 10 yr old daughter - kids really change perspective on things. I would really like to get her up there sometime - awsome to share those type of experiances.

    I'm pretty pumped about this years trip - the outfitter told us he only sees one other group each year with "those type of tacke boxes" (with all the big pike lures that look more like a suitcase than a tacke box) and we finally got the name of the lake the "other group" goes to. I'm looking forward to trying out some of their water.
  7. Not sure if its a boy or girl yet. Either way I will try my hardest to get them to enjoy the outdoors like I do. Does your stepdaughter like to fish?

    The 33" pike was the biggest we have got up there but we dont really target them, I know there are much bigger ones up there. Hope you have a great trip and be sure to let us know how you do. We have caught the lakers because we go in early June and they are still shallow and easy to catch. They are a blast to catch and tast better than anything!
  8. I used Wilderness Outfitters for a trip in late June and they were excellent! :)
  9. BWCA

    Basswood, Ella Hall & Mud Lakes, Hoist, Back, Pipestone & Jackfish Bays....

    The fishing was slower than normal - targeting pike. Only had one day real nice numbers, but did consistently catch fish. We came up with a funny idea this year, had a golden hook (a hat pin) & we decided whoever had the largest fish up to that point would get to wear the golden hook until that fish was beaten. The pike were all hitting pretty soft, just nipping lures.

    Day one- Easy portage in, camp set up by 11am. Nate take the pin with a 3.75lber. Northern lights.

    Day two - I take the golden hook with a nice fat 33' pike. This better not be the big fish of the trip. Side trip we find a nice bed, within about 3 hours the 5 of us land about 70 pike, no size however - entertaining but we want to find some big ones.

    Day three - we have 2.5 miles to go to finish out the four mile portage, nope, not kidding. The trip wouldn't be the same with out portages, but halfway through you have to question your sanity. At two separate locations beavers had wrecked the trail, turning one stretch into 600 yards of muck & swamps, turning the other into an actual pond, yup, right there in the middle of the portage trail. The biting flies where about the size of dive bombers. Finally we see water... we talk with a group who is camping near by, they have tails of a 7lb smallmouth & a shot of Jack Daniels for us. Northern light show back up tonight.

    Day four- my brother (OGF name = PIKEMAN) is fishing out of the solo canoe...I get pretty pumped up when he yells over "I'm gonna need some help over here". I drag up our stringer & paddle like crazy to get over to him... and then I see back. Wow, I know this is a nice fish. She only has one hook in corner of her mouth, we are in pretty good waves... how do we line our boat up to get her in the cradle? Bro tries for the net we keep in the solo boat but it almost cost him the fish. We pull up along side & I chuck all our gear into his canoe to make room for the fish....he tries to swing her around but is having difficulty controlling a moment of dumb inspiration bro says "I'm coming in". What the heck, boat to boat boarding of canoes mid lake in heavy wind? The worst thing that could happen is we flip both boats, lose our fishing gear, and get a bit chilly. The best, well... you don't get that many chances with fish this size. He makes it in no problem, I send the solo boat drifting down the lake to get it out of the way, & go for the cradle. swing and a miss. she comes back around & I got her. "take me to my rock" bro hollers (this is the same place he landed a monster & he has fond memories of one particular landing rock). We get her on shore & she is big, comes in at 43'. We do the weighing inside the cradle so the fish doesn't have to support her own weight. She comes in at....17lbs? what?. lets try that again.... yup, only 17lbs. This is the 1st pike I have ever seen this length without breaking the 20lb mark. One heck of a fish though, looks like I just lost the golden pin...

    Dave five....the morning run is frustrating, we see a number of pike in the 4-8lb range, can't manage to get anything to the boat. Rain comes in the afternoon. Uno tournaments. The evening run doesn't pay off, we catch alot of pike today but the best is only about 5lbs.

    Day six of the guys is cursed. every year he hooks a nice fish, and it always gets away. when his rod doubles over, wait wrong word, when his rod lays flat he gets the glow in this eyes. Thump, pause, Thump, pause, Thump. yup, she is big, little ones can't do that type of head shake. Finally, on his fifth trip he is going to break the curse...until the line goes slack....she spit. Never got to see her, only on for about 20-30 sec. I find a nice 6 or 7lber on a windbreak but can't get the fish to hit, follows me in three times. The weather ended up giving us a nice opp towards the end of the day, windswept bay & overcast conditions. Started to get a bit confused when 90 min in, 5 guys fishing & only 2 fish landed, both less than 1.5lbs. Picture perfect conditions, they have to be in here. Diligence pays off, by brother bags a 5lbers & just as some of the other guys in our party ask us how we are doing my drag takes off... very cool. Heavy weed cover & she hit on my light rod. Great fight & I drag up a 37', very fat 14.4lb. Thirty min later my brother is rewieghing the pike he just caught, and refusing to tell me the weight, ends up being a 38' 14.3lber. (never had two that close in weight).

    Day Seven
    We head out a 1st light. Spotting a 10+ cruising the surface we point it out to the other guys & bro & I cast away from the fish. Hoping to see one of the fellas with a nice pike...didn't work. Bro tags into a different fish holding in the beds. Ends up with a 16.5lb, 40' pike. The fellas are broken and have given up on catching a monster. Break camp, long paddle & off to our last campsite.

    Day Eight less than 48 hours I will be back at work.

    One thing of note, this year we had a lot of difficulty releasing the large pike. I've read about warm water stress but never had much of an issue with it. We are very diligent with releasing our larger fish, using cradles, weighting fish in non harming matter, using revival techniques, etc. but never had this much of an issue... a few of those releases took 15-45 minutes before they would go back.

    One of the guys caught a BIG bluegill on a large pike spoon? very weird.

    Pikeman breaks the curse. last year his best pike wasn't in the top 10. This year he had the magic.

    - cool trip - nice fish - awsome landscapes - 5 fish dinners over an open fire -

    Attached Files:

  10. WOW, sounds like you had a GREAT trip! Those are some awsome pike you got. Were your fish dinners pike or did you get into some walleye? Last time I was up there I thought the pike tasted as good as the walleye. Nothing better than fresh fish over an open fire, how do you fix yours. We just squirt a little butter in the skillet and shake lemon pepper or season salt over the fish while it cooks in the butter and in another skillet I usually fix up some really big biscuts and slice them in half and put a big thick chunk of fish in there, the best sandwich in the world! Did you get a tow through the Moose lake chain or did you paddle the whole thing? We got a tow on the way in to Knife lake but paddled the way back, getting a tow both ways next time. Sounds like just an awsome trip, I want more details!
  11. Lundy

    Lundy Staff Member

    Portages are a neccesary evil that I didn't enjoy.

    My brother and sister in law have been going at least twice a year for over 25 years. On one of their trips 3 years ago they took a family friend that had a heart attack and died on one of the portages. That was one bad trip!

  12. Cant even imagine that, would certainly make for a bad trip. Do they still go back after that happened? My dad is almost 50 and I worry about going up there with him and something like that happening. I just read a story about a guy going on a solo trip who was 79 years old, I hope I'm in good enough shape to walk when I'm that old let alone portage and camp in the wilderness.
  13. Lundy

    Lundy Staff Member

    Yes, They still go back at least twice a year.

    A heart attack can happen to anyone anywhere at anytime. The guy was in his mid 40's and in pretty good shape.
  14. You are right, I know several people that died from heart attacks who only in their 40's. Funny thing is my great grandpa had his first one in his early 50's, doctors told him he wouldnt live to see 60. After 4 more heart attacks he died at 90 from prostrate cancer. It was great having him around, not many people have a great grandpa when they are 23.
  15. man I can't imagine how horrible that would be - geez

    Most of the fish we keep are pike, we will keep a few in the 3-5lb range, let the big ones & the little one all swim away. I like to eat walleye but I think they fight about as well as a dishrag, so I don't target them.
  16. Some nice pike. It's great to land a large fish out of a canoe, particularly in the wilderness. Those lakes sound like there are some nice smallies too by the ones they were frying up. I've done some of the wilderness lakes in the UP of michigan but have yet to make the trip to MN.

    The canoes they rent I assume are kevlar? Their light weight must be great on portages. I have considered purchasing one in that material but they are more suited to lake tripping, too brittle for rocks and rivers (not to mention too expensive).
  17. Bill

    We started doing this trip 14 yrs ago, before I was in college. At the time we never had much $ so we started doing the trip with low cost in mind - raman noodles & skip on the kevlar. Got used to doing it that way - still take a few ramans & still skipping on the kevlar. The oldest of our group is only mid-30's - one day I'll be carrying the kevlar but not yet.
  18. moke11


    Okay guys, we are starting at Saganaga Lake at the end of the Gun Flint Trail.

    What types of baits are the norm for walleye / bass fishing? Since every ounce counts, I don't want to take stuff that won't get used.

    jigs / spoons / mepps

    What # line can I get away with (6, 8, 10)?

    thanks in advance...
  19. Canoebill, I've only done 2 trips but have used the kevlar both times and you wont believe how tough this stuff is. We turned one over to clean fish on the knife didnt even scratch it! I dont think I would spend the money on one if you were giong to us it a lot in rivers where you would be hitting rocks and stuff, even I think it would hold up just fine, but why spend the extra money knowing its going to get beat up. It was great on portages, we had a 3 man 21 foot canoe that was 42 pounds. It was a little weird to be able to see through the canoe, took a little getting used to.

    moke, I have never been on that side but you cant go wrong with a box of jigheads and twistertails. 1/8,1/4,3/8 was mostly what I took with just a few 1/2oz ones. You can catch everthing up there on them, also tubes work great for smallies and even walleye. Spoons are great for lakers and pike and you can catch other things on them but unless you targeting lakers or pike I would save the weight. I have taken them on my trips and used them a bunch on one trip for lakers but it was just extra weight on the other trip. I like having a few top water and a few crankbaits also. I take a spinning rod/reel with 8 pound line and a baitcaster with 14 and make sure you take and extra spool of line.
  20. moke11


    Well, we are back from the Boundary Waters (entry point Lake Saganaga, GunFlint Trail).

    Here is a link to the outfitters we used. They were very accomodating, and I would recommend them to anyone.

    It was a fantastic time, and I am definitely planning to go back again next year. A summary of points of interest.

    - Long drive (we took our time 3 days up, 3 days back, 4 days on the water). Next time, I will go for 2 weeks and do 7 days on the water. The UP of Michigan is also a spectacular drive.
    - 45 minutes after started paddling saw a bald eagle perched in a dead snag. Awesome.
    - 1st day we did not do much fishing. Spent most of the day paddling into where we wanted to be and confronting a head wind the whole way...
    - 2nd day rained most of the morning, and we wondered whether the tent would start leaking. Thank goodness, we were dry the entire time. Got out to do some fishing, and caught many small mouths and a northern that decided he had enought and chewed the line. I was surprised at how deep some of the lakes are (in excess of 100 ft deep).
    - Soil content also caught me by surprise. I was expecting bottomless peat moss, but almost all was rock (iron ore and granite) as a result, the water is very clear.
    - There was a nest of eagles (not bald eagles) above our camp site that was sure to wake us up at daybreak each day.
    - Saw a family of otters (3) that were a lot of fun to watch.
    - Emily and I each caught our first Northern Pike on suspended Husky Jerks. Although not big, they are a great game fish and fight til the end.
    - Caught one walleye, but a big one. 9lbs. 6oz. It was right at dusk and pictures did not turn out. uugghh!!! We consciously decided to take water-proof throw-aways. Next time, I will take the digital!!!
    - 2nd time for the long portage got us to thinking whether we were carrying anything that was not necessary, or that we forgot and should have brought. Other than the digital camera, could not think of one thing. Good planning.
    - We each had knee high boots that kept our feet dry the entire time. Going in september, this was a wise choice. Weather was high in mid 60's the whole time.
    - Did not see a bear or moose (good and bad)... Emiliy says she wanted to see a bear just not from the tent.
    - One of the most spectacular things is the lack of trash. Absolutely no trash anywhere including the campsite. We did our part to "Leave No Trace". We even hauled our coffee grinds.
    - only saw one canoe of two people where we setup camp, and this was fantastic. There was no one around. School was back in session, so there was no one around. Our trip ended just before the labor day weekend, and we passed a few people headed in while we leaving.

    Overall, this was a fantastic trip although I would not recommend to everyone. There was quite a bit of preparation in making sure you have everything without over packing. Depending on the lenght and difficulty, the portages can be challenging. But, that is what makes the fishing and scenery fantastic far away from anything and undisturbed. Just the way I like it.