BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
September 20 2017
Number of Permits per Day: 8
Elevation: 1191 feet
Snowbank Lake - 27
Disappointment Lake - 2nd Trip to BWCA
June 10, 2017
Number of Days:
Our previous trip in 2015 (the group I was fortunate to join goes every 2 years) was going to be a "travel" trip starting on Disappointment and ending on Ensign but trip problems at the start and then really good fishing turned the trip into a "basecamp" type trip spending the whole week on Disappointment.
Here is the link to that trip report:
Our group left from Michigan on Friday around 5pm driving thru the Upper Peninsula heading for Ely. We were treated to an incredible lighting storm above Duluth as we were heading into town. Heavy rains were on the backside that we drove thru as we arrived in Ely. We stopped at Brittons for breakfast and it was clear that everyone was excited for the trip this year. We were all hoping for good weather and even better fishing. After breakfast we made a quick stop at TGO(s) and picked up a few pounds of leeches. He was definitely entertaining and I took a few chances to get him fired up about smallmouth bass.
After picking up bait we headed up to Williams and Hall on Moose Lake to check in, get our permits squared away, and rent a few items. The check in went fast and we were soon headed to Snowbank Lake to start our trip. The entry point was busy as there were multiple Scout groups packing up for their own entry. We hurried to get everything situated and packed before launching. There was a slight wind out of the west (at our backs) which made the 45 minute paddle across Snowbank rather easy. The Scout groups weren't real organized as there was several canoes and apparantly no one leading the way. I believe there plans were to enter thru Parent and then travel to Disappointment but it was obvious they had no idea where the portage to Parent was. We told them halfway across Snowbank they might as well follow us to the Disappointment portage and only have to portage one time.
We made the portage and decided since our group had 3 canoes we would quick trip one canoe and gear across the portage so they could go ahead and get a site. Unfortunately that wasn't my canoe and gear so I ended up triple portaging that morning as we packed a little heavy knowing we were basecamping for the week. After finally getting all our gear across the portage we paddled across Disappointment towards our campsite for the week. Luckily we got the 5 star site on the southern side about a 1/3 of the way down the lake. It was the same site we had two years before. There is a nice kitchen area and multiple spots for tents. It is on a nice point with a handful of tall pines supplying just the right amount of shade during the day.
The only bad thing about our entry day was the wind kicked up something fierce just as we arrived at our site. In fact it was so windy that we couldn't even get out to fish the first day. I spent a few hours napping after the long night of driving. Around 6pm we had ribeyes that I purchased for everyone which hit the spot along with some instant mashed potatoes.
After dinner we sat around enjoying a campfire before heading off to bed. My treat to myself for this trip was a Eureka air mattress. I must say it did great the entire week and I slept well every night which is a luxury in the BWCA. There were no rocks or tree roots to bother me. After getting it initially set up it held air all week long until our departure day.
We woke up early on Sunday around 5 am. I can't believe how early daylight comes to Northern Minnesota. We were extremely lucky as the winds from the day before had blown thru the area and it was dead calm. The lake looked like glass and you just knew it was going to be a good morning. We headed out to our first walleye spot that we had done well at on the previous trip. We were wanting fish to eat the first night so we had planned on hitting it hard all day to make that happen. Fortunately for us the fish cooperated well that morning and we managed to keep 8 nice eaters for dinner. The fish were shallow (around 6 feet) along a nice muddy bottom. Slip bobbers and leeches did the trick. It probably took me about 20 minutes to limit out. My trip partner, Rob, took about an extra 10 minutes to get his limit. After securing enough fish for dinner we moved on to try a few different spots as it was clear we would probably be able to come back to our first spot to catch more fish if needed. We picked up a few here and there plus some nice smallmouth. Around 8am we decided to head in for a great breakfast of breakfast burritos. It was clear we were going to eat well this week being a basecamp and all. Not to mention we were suppose to have two additional people in our group but they backed out the day before. Since the food was already bought we packed it in anyway.
Here's the first morning quick limit.
The rest of the day was spent mostly canoe trolling and catching smallmouth bass. After breakfast we did get a really good rain for a couple of hours. Unfortunately we were out on the lake when it hit so we did get a little wet. The afternoon was spent trying to dry out. We had a great fish dinner that night along with some rice. After eating we had a few hours to fish. There were a few more spots we wanted to try to see if the walleyes were there. We did pick up a few but didn't set the world on fire.
Once back to camp we were treated to an amazing sunset. I love the sunsets you get in the BWCA and tonights was nothing short of spectacular. I was able to get a good photo which I will cherish for a long time.
We woke up on Day 3 to a steady rain but rather calm wind wise. We switched up fishing partners this morning. My new fish partner for the morning was Jim and we headed back to the spot we did well at the morning before. With fish on the menu again for that night we wanted to get after them early. Again, the walleyes cooperated with Jim and I both catching limits easily and securing enough for dinner. The wind was starting to pick up a little which would be the case for the majority of the rest of the week unfortunately. Back at camp it was pancakes for breakfast.
The morning catch:
With the continued rain and wind we spent the rest of the morning playing cards. After lunch I decided a nap was in order as the wind was now really kicking up. I love my trips to the BWCA and like to spend as much time as I can on the water but high winds definitely make for tough fishing in a canoe.
Dinner was walleye and Knorr alfredo noodles.
It calmed down a tad as the evening approached so we fished close to camp. I did get another nice sunset photo before heading off to bed.
The weather on Day 4 was full of wind. We spent a lot of the day just canoe trolling Rapala Original Floating Minnows or Husky Jerks. The pike were active and we caught numerous. Although nothing huge we did bump into a few over 30 inches. I love the scenery in the BWCA and only if this giant rock could talk. I can imagine the stories it would have.
We met a husband and wife couple who were spending the week on Snowbank Lake at one of the resorts. They like to portage over to Disappointment and walleye fish. While making small talk and finding out they were from Ohio we were all treated to a bull moose walking along the shore. Unfortunately I left my camera and phone at camp that morning so I wasn't able to get a picture. I was a little upset at myself as it was definitely the highlight of the trip for me. However, despite no photo I will always have that memory.
Once back at camp we were treated to another surprise. A bald eagle was perched in one of the giant pine trees at our campsite. He would end up hanging around for the remainder of our trip. He could pretty much care less about us as his spot provided him a very good view of the lake.
Where I live in Northern Michigan we have eagles and I even see them on my 40 acre property occassionally. But I have never been this close to one. It was quite the treat having him hang around all week and I got several photos of him.
We had MRE(s) for dinner. I'm not a big fan of them in the first place but it did hit the spot after a long day. I'm not a big fan of dehydrated foods with my opinion being you would be better off eating the bag they come in.
The wind was still pretty strong so we just fished around the island close to camp. On the side of the island out of the wind we found a nice flat of about 8-10 feet of water with deeper water close by. The walleyes were obviously coming out of the deeper water cruising the flat towards shallow water around the island to feed. We caught several walleyes including one nice one that Rob caught. I am guessing we caught and released about 20 walleyes that night.
Our eagle friend from camp even flew over to the island to watch us catch fish. I wonder how many free fish meals birds in the BWCA get using this method.
Wednesday morning started out sunny with a nice little chop on the water. Again fish was on the menu so we immediately headed to our island spot from the night before to lock down dinner. If you are after walleye, like to eat fish, and are on a good body of water with decent walleye populations slip bobbers and leeches should be part of your plan. It took about an hour to get dinner which took the pressure off the rest of our day.
Here are the walleyes that Rob and I caught that morning.
Despite being a little windy the rest of the day we did get out and fish mostly concentrating on smallmouth. They readily attacked our leeches and I also did well using Quetico Mike's Zulu setup. I would say the topwater bite wasn't consistent the majority of the week but in hindsight with all the winds we didn't have ideal conditions. In the mornings and evenings it could have been good but we spent most of that time focusing on walleyes.
Our last fish dinner included macaroni and cheese which was a hit. However, next time we will use the Velveeta shells and cheese as it will be simpler to make.
Another burnt sky before a good nights sleep on the Eureka air mattress.
Just like our entry day the last full day in the BWCA was extremely windy with gusts up to 30mph. We did get out a few times but it was tough sledding. The majority of the day was spent finishing off the rest of our food we packed in order to make for a lighter trip on the way out. MRE(s) were again on the menu that evening.
Here are a few more photos of the week including a few of loons that were nesting on the island across from camp. They weren't too bashful and on a few occasions came within 20 feet of our canoe.
We woke early and packed up camp making sure to leave nothing behind. We were off Disappointment by 8am making the portage to Snowbank easily. There was a couple just heading in to Disappointment and were excited to learn that we were leaving the campsite they were hoping for. It is a gem for sure as we had multiple groups paddle by during the week asking how long we would be there for.
Snowbank was windy and we paddled into the wind making for a tough paddle. I could only imagine how tough it would have been later in the morning. We reached the landing and loaded our vehicles then took off for Williams and Hall for a much needed shower.
After cleaning up we headed into Ely for some shopping, walking around town, a few drinks, and steaks at the Ely Steakhouse that evening. We even did a few shots of Plank in one of the realtor offices while shooting the bull with the owner. Pretty sure he didn't have a liquour license but if you don't pay it probably isn't a big deal. You have to love the people in Ely!!
We left early Saturday morning for the drive home to Michigan. We had good weather and made the 12 hour drive easily. It was deciced our next trip would be to a different lake which I am excited about as I would love to see some new country!
Thanks for reading!!
Until next time...I truly hope everyone gets to enjoy the peace and quiet of the BWCA. It truly is a vast, pristie land where a person can't help but to feel alone. There are only trees, rocks, water, and wind. Every day is painted by God himself. Each trip is a gift and allows me to gain perspective and clear my head from the pressures of life. It was an amazing week and I am better for having lived it.