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Kabetogama and Namakan Trip Report

Discussion in 'Fishing Reports - Out of State' started by Backwater, Sep 27, 2017.

  1. My brother and I just returned from a 7 day fishing trip to Lake Kabetogama and Lake Namakan in Voyageurs National Park. The trip was fantastic and we both had a great time exchanging family stories and reliving prior trips to this area as boys when we camped and canoed the Minnesota and Ontario waters out of Camp Koochiching, on Rainy Lake.

    We rented a houseboat for the seven day adventure and ended up spending three days on Lake Kabetogama and four days on Lake Namakan. The area was beautiful this time of the year with the scent of pine needles in the air and all of the wild rice ripening in the weed beds. The fishing wasn’t exactly “world class” but the scenery and the chance to relive old memories more than made up for it, and we managed to catch a few fish along the way.

    We started in Lake Kabetogama on Monday, but parked our houseboat on the Ash River in Sullivan Bay because of the high winds on Kab. The 42’ houseboat was rented from Ebels’s on the Ash River, and it was very comfortable, but it was seriously under powered with only 60HP, which made it very difficult to control in high wind conditions. Kab and Namakan have deep channels, but they are studded with many Islands and shallow reefs that make navigating and maneuvering an under powered 42’ houseboat a little challenging for novices like my brother and I.

    The first three days of fishing on Lake Kabetogama were not as good as we had hoped it might be. There are a ton of U-Tube videos showing how good the walleye and bass fishing can be on Kab. Our chart-plotter put us over some large schools of Walleye and Small Mouth, but the fish just weren't biting. We threw everything we had at them, but got very little in return. I guess that's why they call it "Fishing" not "Catching":).

    We fished the reefs and narrows around Wolf Island, Pine Island, Ritchie Island, Freedom Island, Chase Island and the reefs off Martins Island, and trolled the entire southern shore from Daly Bay to Sullivan Bay . We also spent a day on Lost Bay. We saw tons of large fish on my Garmin, and tried everything: trolling bottom bouncers tipped with minnows or crawlers, jigging crawlers or minnows, trolling spoons and rapalas, etc. but the walleye just weren’t biting, and the Bass and Pike we caught were small to mid-sized.

    Our Verizon cell phones did not work at all on Kab or Namakan (no Verizon towers in the area). Luckily we had downloaded Google Maps to our cell phones, and were able to use those maps and the GPS capabilities of our phones to pinpoint our HB location as we moved. I have a Chartplotter with Lake Maps on my Lund, and those maps were very accurate, but those don’t help when you are trying to move the houseboat, and your fishing boat is tethered 10 feet behind you. Ebels provided a set of Lake Maps, and by using those with our cell phones we were able to move the HB around the lakes without any major problems.

    On Wednesday evening we moved the HB from Sullivan Bay to HB Campsite N51 on the northern shore of Namakan Island in Lake Namakan to try our luck over there. Namakan has more islands and much tighter narrows, so navigating and maneuvering the HB was a little tricky in places. On Wednesday night the weather changed, the temps dropped down, and the wind started coming in from the NE. Over the next few days, the fishing improved and we started catching some larger bass, pike and sauger, but the walleye bite never arrived. That night, we were hailed by a man and his wife who arrived in their 20ft Lund using their trolling motor. They had been fishing all day, and had drawn their batteries down to the point that they couldn’t start their 250HP motor. We eventually got them restarted and on their way home by jumping their batteries from my Lund.

    On Thursday we had to move the HB from the North Shore of Namakan Island to a protected bay on the South Shore of Kubel Island because we had a large storm coming in on Thursday night with 15-20mph winds out of the NE. It’s hard to sleep on a houseboat when winds are slamming it against a rocky shore, and the rental agreements make the renter liable for all damage, so we tried to be mindful of the wind and weather whenever we chose a campsite. The site on Kubel Island had a sand beach, and was partially protected from the winds, but the storm moved around to the East and shoved some huge waves into our lagoon, and they swamped the HB motor as we were trying to recharge the HB batteries that night. Because of the wind and waves, we didn’t notice that the motor had stopped, and only became aware of the situation when our interior lights dimmed and we stared to lose all power. By that time, there wasn’t enough battery power to restart the HB motor, or operate the CB radio. We finally got the motor started again by jumping the houseboat batteries from the fishing boat the next morning. We waited to try restarting the engine because I was worried that we might damage the electronics of the HB motor if we tried to start it while it was still flooded and wet.

    During our time on Namakan Lake we fished areas around Namakan Island, the Wolf Pack Islands, Jug Island, Sheen Island, Gold Island, Williams Island, Moose Bay, Hoist Bay, and Junction Bay. We also spent one day on a run up to Kettle Falls, and fished all the way up there and back, catching a few walleye, pike, and sauger. We caught lots of small to medium sized pike, lots of small mouth bass, and few nice sauger, but with respect to walleyes, we only caught a few small ones.

    Attached are a few pics of our best fish. Although they weren’t huge, the Namakan Small Mouth were great on top of the water and put on a real show for us. My brother and I had a great time and I we’d like to try it again sometime in the Spring of the year.



    Rybar, Rich B, HappySnag and 2 others like this.
  2. Decoy hound

    Decoy hound Supporting Member

    Sounds like a real adventure and those are darn nice fish!! The smallie and walleye are good sized!!

  3. What a fun trip that had to be with your brother! Old memories and stories and making some new ones for the next time. Gorgeous country and really colorful fish!
  4. We would cross the east end of Namakan lake to get to the Namakan river in canoes. Have spent a lot of years in the Namakan river being 5 years ago the last time. It is truly a beautiful wilderness. I need to get back there. Nice post and pictures.
  5. Thanks for your detailed boys worked hard for your fish....sounds like a fun time with your brother in a beautiful location....too bad the fish weren't going good for you, though you made some great memories....
  7. Call Tim Watson at 218-875-2075. He's lived on Kab for 68 years and has done many shows for Midwest Outdoors. Your trips up there will never be the same, promise! I have lots of pictures to prove it. He's been guiding us for 14 years.