BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
July 05 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 14
Elevation: 1381 feet
Trout Lake - 1
Ten days of September
September 09, 2009
Number of Days:
Up at 3:30am neither of us could sleep so we headed out early and made for the twin cities, me with my big cup of coffee in hand. After a short time we were at Tobie's in Hinckley and eating breakfast. I tried to talk the waitress into going with me on the trip and leaving CG at Tobies to do dishes. We switched drivers and headed north to Iron Mountain to see Chuck at Spring Creek for some advice on our canoe.
We had bought the MR Borealis the year before and due to poor decision on my part had cracked a couple ribs on a rocky river last spring. Chuck looked at the ribs and said they would replace them and put one more in to strenghten the canoe. We decided we would drop it off after the trip and they could work on it during the winter. I was looking at BB carbon shaft paddles with the wood blade and grip that look nicer than all carbon. Jokingly asking Chuck if he had a demo that I could take on the trip. He smiled and we then walked down to the barn looking for a paddle he and a friend had used on trips during the summer. The number of canoes in the barn is surprising with many different makes and models. There were two MR Expeditions in red and ivory that looked really nice and great designs. Chuck finally found the paddle back in the shop and CG and I were on our way to Virginia to find out if there was still a surplus store. After touring mainstreet we found the store heading north out of town. CG bought a pair of rain pants and we started toward Ely. Heck it was only 10:30am.
We arrived in Ely shortly before noon and stopped at VNO to check in and then to go have lunch at Subway. Lynn and John were gone on a trip, so Kevin was in charge and we spent time talking with him and purchasing a map that covered our route rather than having two maps. Kevin and staff were very helpful. We spent the afternoon reviewing gear and cleaning the eyes of jigs.
We had called Cossack earlier in the day and meet him and Turtle Tracker at WM & WP place and had a tour of the new house. WP does some amazing wood work and we coveted his kayaks. Coss then took us over to the property they had purchased and we talked how the house would be placed and their plans to achieve the dream. Supper at 5:30pm at the Ely Steak House with Coss/TT and TG. Little did I know that I would be blindsided at supper.
The others were already seated when we arrived and Coss came and showed us to the table. This was the first time seeing TG in almost a year and the first year for meeting Coss and TT. Do not order the full rack of ribs on the menu unless you plan on being very stuffed. CG and I both took half a rack back to the bunkhouse for breakfast. We discussed the planned canoe route and other things. It was a great supper and fun to see people from the board. I was then surprised with a piece of birthday cake and card from TG, Coss and TT. Some how TG had found out it was my birthday in a couple days and decided to surprise me. Thank you all for the card and kind thoughts. I am a lucky person for having such friends. We took photos of the group and then showed the others our canoe. Heading back to the bunkhouse we called it a early night and were ready for the next day. We had spent the day driving under blue skies with light winds, meeting good friends. We didn't know it would stay with us the whole trip. 09/09/09 We were up early and headed to the bait shop and get leeches and more fishing information at The Great Outdoors. Jim is very helpful and willing to share his knowledge of the bdub. We were at the Mudro entry point by 7:30am and began to unload gear. There were four guys from Indiana just entering also and they were taking the same route and we would talk to them several times today and during the trip. The sky was a little cloudy with light winds, the standard for the trip and to be repeated for the next ten days. Most pictures on this trip were by CG.
We started the trip with a short portage from the lot to the sandbar without having to portage thru the high grass,but water levels were low. We would dodge rocks all day and more than once need to backpaddle hard to avoid others. Plans were to headed east to Horse Lake and camp there the first couple days. Plans are just that plans and in the bdub those plans change often and daily. We paddled down the creek and across Mudro Lake, heading to our first real portage of the trip.
The portage into Sandpit Lake will wake you up early in the day with a good climb and then down on the east side. We double carried on each portage and quickly fall into our normal routine. We rarely say anything about what comes next, but simply pack and unpack with ease. The guys from Indiana are crossing the portage at the same time. We meet a couple that are tripping with two labs coming from the other direction. Eldon is a great partner and makes portages look easy. Me, well I huff and puff along setting my own pace but getting the job done.
After Sandpit the two portages into Horse Lake were easy and one has a long boardwalk crossing a marshy area.
Close to 300 rods and we were on our planned first stop of the trip. Horse Lake has numerous campsites but all were taken, which we found out after paddling around/across and back on the lake. Well looks like Horse River is being tackled today. The clouds had pushed out and the sun was shining with light winds and temps in 80's. Great for paddling but a little warm for portaging in comfort. The river was low and we took our time walking thru rocky areas and need to do only the three portages. We saw a first also, a red squirrel swimming across the river working as hard as those little legs could go. We finally were past the rocks and headed down the slow paddling grass stretch on Horse River.
We were headed north to lower basswood falls and Crooked Lake for a campsite. CG commented on how scenic the river was and we paddled on. After a half hour of paddling the scenic was starting to wear off and we were just traveling. Shortly we came out to the falls and made our way to the north side and stepped onto Canada soil for the only time this trip. This is the first time for CG on the route and he was taking pictures. We made quick work of the short portage down the rocks on the northside rather than walking farther north to the sand beach. We were on a mission now to find a campsite, knowing that it was later in the day and sites would being taken as we paddled. All the sites at the falls were taken and about a dozen people were fishing. Heading north into a light wind the day of paddling was going to get longer. CG is like a little kid at times, constantly asking where the next campsite is and are there anymore coming up. I kept saying just a little further down the lake, there were several sites taken just as we were paddling up to them. The sun was starting to get lower in the west and no home for the night. We made it to Table Rock only to find our buddies from Indiana lounging on the shore. They had planned on Thursday Bay but tired out before making it. They wished us good luck. Knowing there were two sites in the bay to the west we started paddling again, CG was asking questions and I was paddling.
The first campsite was empty but didn't have a good landing or look very inviting with lots of high grass, shrubs and trees with no breeze. The next site would be across the bay and we decided to look at first and if needed come back to this site. The sun was behind the trees and evening was coming on quickly. The next site offered a single tent site, trees to hang bearbag, some firewood and a rocky, slope landing. But it was to become home for the next two nights. Looking east from camp and tent site.
We both setup for trolling on the way down and hoped to pickup some fish on the way. We were lucky to catch a couple little northerns or slime dogs on the way. Most of the campsites were empty as we headed south. We meet three gentlemen from Ohio who were in solo canoes. They were headed to the bays later in the day. Down to the falls and the obligatory picture of the falls, portage and big rocks.
North we headed, trolling along not really expecting to catch many fish on the way. We were enjoying the blue skies and light breeze again. We talked about many things and enjoy each other company. Arriving back to camp we have lunch of cheese, jerky and trail mix. We decide to try the narrows near camp and switch baits and presentation. The next hours produce a few fish and we could have a fish dinner if wanted. A few small northerns and bass are caught as we worked the shoreline and jigged around islands to the north. When we decided to head back, I tied on a blue/silver rattle trap. I caught a rock, sauger, bass and northern within a half hour.
We headed back to the camp for a supper of crispy cheese casadeas, jerky and trail mix. It was a quiet evening and we enjoyed the first fire of the trip. Calling it another early night, we wonder what tomorrow would bring for weather. Tomorrow we were headed to the area of Thursday Bay. Knowing there were at least two groups camping on Thursday we knew that taking a camping site before then maybe necessary.
Friday, September 11,
We got up early and had oatmeal for breakfast and packed gear into the canoe. We were happy that there was no portaging for the next 6 days of the trip. We headed north up crooked lake and noticed every campsite was taken and it looked like they had been there for several days. The morning was a repeat of the last few days, quiet, sunny and light winds. It felt good to be moving again, now we needed to find a campsite in or near Thursday Bay. When paddling with a loaded canoe the gps shows us moving about 4mph, without major effort.
We meet one group on the paddle north that was coming from Thursday Bay and reported sites were full the day before. Shortly after we paddled by you could hear their canoe hitting a rock in the middle of a big bay. We travel north and made our way to Big Current. There was a canoe fishing the current and they reported catching bass and walleyes. We kept paddling but would come back to fish later in the day. The site just south of there was taken and the nw site in Thursday Bay was taken. Knowing two groups were headed to the island sites we decided to go back to check the sites in the little bay before Thurs. Rather than paddle all the way around we cut thru a narrow area that just had enough room for a canoe. The campsite just north of the narrows on east side is brushy and rocky. We paddled south to look at two more, I already knew where and which one we would take if it was available. The site is further down the bay and on the east side. Nice rock ledge for sitting area, sand beach on south side for landing and good trees for hanging bear bag. There are several good tent sites, but the site is used often given the bare ground.
We ate lunch and shortly I was looking at trees for hanging the bear bag and CG was putting up the tent. A tarp was put up but never needed, nothing close to rain was going to happen. We decided to head out to fish Thursday Bay and areas to the north. This was to be some of the best fishing of the trip but not the best. We trolled for a time and then decided to check out the current area. No one was there fishing so we settled in with a rock anchor and began to drown leeches. In a short time we began catching bass and a couple walleye and decided it was time to go back to camp for a supper of fish.
We decided to make onion rings for supper along with fish and trail mix for dessert. My eyes were watering before I was done cutting the onions and CG was laughing at me. CG is the official fish cleaner, using a Leech Lake filet knife he purchased last year. He also bought me one last year for xmas. Onion rings done and fish were in the pot in short order. We had watched a squirrel early in the day and now we had a small chipmunk running around. I first noticed him trying to look into our pots and pans but he was tall enough to see over the edge.
Another fire tonight and we sat out looking at the stars for another hour after the sun went down. Plans for spending the next day fising and exploring Thursday Bay. What would tomorrow bring for weather, who would catch the biggest fish?
The next day was very sunny with light winds with great fishing. Each day we fished the current early and then would troll Thursday Bay and explore and then come back to fish the current before heading home. The number of walleyes caught did not match the bass, but the bass were fun on ultra light gear. We used leeches on floating jig heads and also flukes.
The second evening while sitting in camp, I could hear a low grunting sound. Maybe it was a bullfrog but I don't think so. We decide to go for evening paddle and enjoy the calm lake and fish some more. Heading to the southern edge of the bay a dark spot on the shore was evident. Getting closer my suspicions were confirmed that a bull moose was the one producing the low grunt. Told CG to take his camera and start taking pictures as I paddled up because it might bolt anytime. The bull started to move out of the water and was headed back to the woods. Then I started giving a low grunt and he stopped and turned toward us. We watched him minutes before slowly paddling off and heading back to camp. The next day we would pack up and leave for Friday Bay.
CG woke up and was out the tent first. By the time I was up he had coffee waiting for me and my day started. Breakfast was oatmeal and we began taking down camp and packing the canoe. Packing was easier since we could leave the tent on top of gear today with no portaging. No trolling today since we wanted to find a site early and get setup.
Starting day 6 with a glass lake was a unexpected but welcome. We paddled up to big current and then headed south to Thursday Bay. We then headed west towards Friday Bay for the next few days. This morning we didn't meet another canoe on the water until almost to Friday bay. Checking on campsites I decided to keep going to check the island site on Friday or go a little further south and check the site in the northwest side of the lake.
I put the locator out knowing there was a reef just south of the island. Which means somewhere in the big water and its a small reef. We paddled SW, just cruising along with me watching the depth of the lake and trying to remember where the reef was compared to the shoreline. Traveling in 50' of water, moving up to 40', then 30' and finally shooting up to 15'. CG and I quickly started backpaddling and trying to stay in the same area. CG started warming up the GPS and I was trying to hold us in the light wind, using the shorelines to guide me. Lost the reef and tried to find it again to no avail. CG marked a spot and we then began making circles around that spot and found the reef again after 15 minutes of circling. We marked several outlaying points on the reef for reference and headed to the campsite. Now we wouldn't have to spend time looking for the reef.
The last time I stayed at the site we were headed for was in 1997 or so, it was Maverick's first trip to the bdub with my nephew and I. It has a big rock face but limited tent sites but affords access to the reef within 10 minutes of paddling. Exped pads take out the ups/downs of a site and we would setup for the next two days. CG selected a tent site, while I hung the bear bag. We threw gear into the tents and proceeded to rig the rods for reef fishing. Which turns out to be the best fishing of the trip.
Picking rocks for the basketball net anchor was the next order of business. We headed to the reef in a light wind and walleye chop. We had talked to several groups and everyone was catching fish in 30' of water. We had been lucky and caught over 30 bass of 19"+ so far the trip but no big walleyes. Our luck was going to change quicly in the next hour.
Using the gps we located the reef and anchored in deeper water looking for fish. After ten minutes we moved shallower and another 10 minutes moved up to about 15' of water. I quickly had a typical walleye bite, a light bump on the line, then another and finally a steady light pull. Setting the hook I pulled in a 19 bass, one of a several that size or slightly bigger during the day. Things were looking good, the next bite resulted in a 20" walleye, one of a dozen caught during the day, the largest being 23". CG then hooked a good fish, his rod being bent double. After 5 minutes he landed a 27" walleye and was all smiles.
We finished the day with several walleye for supper and headed back to camp to for lunch and planned to go out later and fish. Supper was onion rings and walleye. We are not known for our fancy meals, only eating basic meals. There are days where we may just snack and eat trail mix, cheese and jerky.
The evening fishing was just as good. We fished until dark and worked our way back to camp. Cleaned up and called it a night. Another day in paradise. What would tomorrow bring for weather and fishing.
Waking to another gorgeous day with light sw winds and clear skies. The plan was to fish all day and take lunch early in the afternoon and then fish some more and into the early night. A few photos of the site and Gisselle on the rock landing. Also, the paddle that Chuck from Spring Creek had loaned me.
The morning was one of clear skies and light wind. Before heading to the reef this morning we made a reef marker to help stay near/on the reef. Simply take a party ballon and blow it up attache some cord and a rock. Wrap the cord around the rock and upon getting to the desired spot drop the rock and it will unwind and mark your spot. We then began to follow up on yesterday, with fish after fish being reeled in. Big bass, big eyes and only a couple northerns were caught by both of us. That would change as the day went, with CG catching fewer fish. Never makes sense with both of us fishing the same setups, one catches fish and the other doesn't. This would change later in the evening.
After sitting around and talking for almost two hours we headed back to the reef. We heard commotion before leaving and looked down the shore to see about 50 meganzers working together chasing fish down the shore line. CG was able to get a few pictures then and a few more when we paddled out for the evening fishing.
There were four guys in two canoes anchored near our balloon fishing. We decided our balloon and we were going to fish. One canoe was catching nice eyes for supper and a few bass. Our entertainment was watching them standing up in the canoes to relieve themselves. One almost fell out and none of them was wearing a pfd. This is the same group we heard arguing and fighting the day before.
I couldn't get a bite to save my soul and CG was catcing fish left and right. Just doesn't make sense. In one stretch he caught 6 bass in a half hour and each was 19" plus.
I quit taking pictures and told him he needed to break 23" before another picture would be taken. After dark things really slowed down and we decided to take our balloon and head back to camp. It was a great day of company and fishing.
We had a discussion on moving when waking up. The wind was blowing harder than any previous day and coming from the SW. Was there a change coming in the weather? There had been over a week of blue bird weather, maybe a front was finally moving in? We decide to head to Gun Lake a daily earlier than planned but didn't want to spend time paddling across Friday Bay or getting wind bound until the last day of the trip. Last time I was here with Maverick, we paddled from Friday to Mudro but it was a long hard day and that was 12 years ago.
We packed up the gear and headed to the portage in the south end of Friday Bay. We would have a variety of portages today, from rocky to marsh and don't step there. The temps continued to be in the 80's and the wind died down after we crossed the bay. We would finish the day with the 300 rod into Gun Lake. There was a long paddle between portage one and two that is very scenic but no wildlife was seen. We were toteing water in the portable jug to make sure we kept hydrated on the long portage.
CG was a little dehydrated and had a slight headache. Hopefully all the campsites wouldn't be taken and our portaging would be done for the day. We started down the barrel of Gun looking for a available site. Finding the first two sites open we headed south hoping a better site was open and would be open to a breeze and have better view. Moving around the into the grip of Gun we found what we were looking for a southern facing campiste with trees for hanging the bag and a acceptable tent site, but nothing fantastic. We setup camp with the same rythem as other days and decided on beans and rice for supper. We had the whole lake to ourselves and sat up leaning back in our chairs talking and enjoying the quiet evening. Nine days of sunshine and light winds, wow amazing.
We spent the next day fishing with little success but enjoyed the paddle around the lake. We located the portage for the next day and headed back to camp for supper. The quietist day of the trip and needed to help unwind for return to the real world. We saw several groups traveling north and staying at the campsites we had passed. But we couldn't see them and felt like we still had the lake to ourselves. We had packed as much gear as possible to make it easier to get going in the morning. Tomorrow would be the day of rocks and portages.
Day nine was a day of little fishing and mostly relaxing at the campsite. The site over looked Gun Lake to the south and we were the only ones on the lake. We enjoyed the day and setup and watched the sunset and then went to sleep. We were mostly packed and ready for the next day.
The goat portage isn't the worst portage by far in the bdub. But it definitely works your muscle and has some great drop offs to the side. We meet a young guy with his daughter heading into Fourtown for a few days, it was her first trip. They were on the way with our well wishes that the great weather would hold. We unpacked the canoe and began the portage with packs to see how good the portage was, on the way over we meet another group. The are a couple of guys with several older gentleman including a dad that was talked into the trip. We are back for our second trip before they have finished thiers and give them the last of our filtered water since they are entirely out and will not be to Fourtown for awhile. We are on our separate ways. After the showers we headed to Pizz Hut for some food and then started driving west to Iron Mountain to drop the canoe off for repairs and to have skid plates put on for next year. The drive uneventfull and we soon meet Chuck's mom at the shop and dropped the canoe off. She made sure we wrote down what was needed and assurred us that the repairs would be done. Thanking her we headed south for the 6-7 hour drive to Mankato..