Boundary Waters Trip Reports, Blog, BWCA, BWCAW, Quetico Park

BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

June 18 2024

Entry Point 14 - Little Indian Sioux River North

Little Indian Sioux River (north) entry point allows overnight paddle only. This entry point is supported by La Croix Ranger Station near the city of Ely, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 32 miles. Access is a 40-rod portage heading North from the Echo Trail.

Number of Permits per Day: 6
Elevation: 1364 feet
Latitude: 48.1466
Longitude: -92.2103

June fishing exploits on Lac La Croix

by BWfishingfanatic12
Trip Report

Entry Date: June 10, 2023
Entry Point: Moose/Portage River (north)
Number of Days: 9
Group Size: 8

Trip Introduction:
This trip was a trip of college and high school friends on a backwoods camping trip focused on fishing up to Lac LaCroix. Our group are in their upper 20s to early 30s with some of us starting families so these trips will likely get more difficult to plan and manage with growing families and schedules. My brother and I go to the Boundary Waters every year and have brought some of these friends on previous trips as well. All coming on the trip are avid fisherman and outdoorsman. Hope you enjoy my recap of our exploits and the joy we had with this trip and all the fishing intel and pictures from our trip.

Day 1 of 9


Saturday, June 10, 2023

First Day, June 9th (Arrive in Ely) at own convenience. We all arrived in Ely at various times on Friday evening. Some of our party had a drive over 10 hours, while others only a couple hours. We checked in at the Outfitter to get our permit and canoes and get the key for our bunkhouse. This was our first time both renting canoes and a bunkhouse. The bunkhouse was very convenient and inexpensive especially split multiple ways, and we will definitely be using these more in the future to get as early start as possible. I am hoping that some of our party will start buying some nice Kevlar canoes as it is costly to rent them but split 8 ways it was not really that bad. It was nice to have the light canoes for this longer trip.

Our group congregated in the bunkhouse as people got to town and got our gear consolidated and things packed up for our trip. It was nice to have a place to get organized and ready to kickstart our trip. We reviewed the trip details and looked over the map more once people got all their things packed and ready to go.

We were shooting to camp and fish in an area several miles into LLC that I had researched a lot about. The group was hoping to have a chance at some big lake trout so LLC seems to be the best option for that. The Fish Stake Narrows area was enticing but seemed like it would be a little too crowded so we were hoping to camp in one on the nice big sites that could accommodate our group North of the Lady Boot Bay area. This would allow us to have primo access to the big 4 species that we were after on this trip. (Lake Trout, Smallmouth, Walleye, and Northern Pike) We were planning to stay in this area for most of our trip’s duration.

Saturday, June 10th ~Temperature was in the high 50s-low 60s during the day. It was overcast and a little rainy to start the day with building wind in the 10-20 mph range with some gusts higher. -We had a very early start Saturday morning on June 10th. We left Ely around 5:15 so a little later than we were hoping too but still decent. Our entry point was at EP 16 (Moose/ Portage River North) which was a 50-minute drive up the Echo Trail.

This was a new location and route for everyone, but Brad (my brother) and I had been wanting to trip to LLC at some point and decided on this route with the group. From the parking lot it is a 175-rod portage to the river where we begin paddling. This is the only “long” portage of the trip. The first section is along the river with two short 20 something rod portages before we get to Nina Moose Lake. We were hoping to see a Moose or some wildlife but only encountered hordes of mosquitoes. I know this is a popular entry point, but I was expecting a much wider and easier to navigate river. It was fine but with the popularity of it I was just expecting easier is all. The portages were all short but there were a lot of beaver pullovers and other obstacles and a very narrow and shallow creek at times. The route in and out were the worst mosquitoes I have had in 20 trips up to the BWCA. (I have heard from many that this last year was the worst mosquitoes anyone could recall)

From Nina Moose there were portages of 70 and 92 rods to Lake Agnes. However, even with our early start the wind was already substantially building and was coming from the North/ Northeast and made us concerned about our paddle across Agnes and LLC. Some of our group were lagging already so we congregated right before breaking out onto Agnes to weigh options. (in hindsight I wish we would have made a different choice) However, making a long story short using GPS a couple of our party pointed out that it was “shorter” by miles to get up to the location on LLC that we wanted to anyways and we could avoid the wind a lot by going up through Oyster Creek, Rocky Lake, Green Lake, Gebeonequet, etc… I knew this route would include a lot more portaging, but I was worried about the wind, so I gave in to the group vote to take this alternative route. I think we should have tried to get across Agnes and just camped there if it was too bad, but the choice made for some very memorable moments and experiences that will not be soon forgotten ??.

So, we made the choice to meander up through Oyster Creek to the North. It was a twisty and windy meander up through a very narrow channel with numerous beaver dams to pull over. It was an adventure for sure! There were more portages, but the wind was not an issue with this route that we decided to take so I guess that is a plus. We stopped for lunch at one of the point campsites on Oyster. We had our lunch of PB & J tortillas, trail mix, apples, and beef sticks. The crew was doing better after some food, and we continued North to Pocket Creek and breaking out onto LLC around 3:30/4pm ish.

Unfortunately, the 2 campsites I had my eye set on were both occupied so we ended up settling for one of the storm wrecked sites a little more to the North. On the map section of this site, it has bad reviews, but we made it work and it had a lot of space for our big crew to sprawl out. The only part I did not like was that there was no shade, and it was pretty exposed up on a big flat rock but that helped the bugs not to be as bad in camp. We were able to find 4 good tend pads and some places to unload the canoes easy enough. We only managed to catch a few fish from camp during our stay so that is a negative in my book, but we made do with it and fixed the site up a lot. It was camp 148 in the maps section on this website.

We got camp situated and our tents and other gear up in the area and relaxed for a little bit and readied the fishing gear. There was ample firewood everywhere so that was a nice plus. A few canoes ventured out to fish a little bit, but we were all pretty beat. A few walleyes, pike, and smallies were caught by the 4 of us that got out fishing a little bit. Then we fixed a quick and easy dinner. For this trip we planned lunches and dinners together as a group with typically eating the biggest meal during the middle of the day. For dinner tonight we had Brats, chips, and some carrots.

Then we all settled in for a relaxing campfire with some adult beverages to relax after our long travel day. We spent time chatting about our families, life, work, adventures, and most importantly our Faith. Both my brother and I were blessed with some great Christian fellowship in our college days, and it was great to be in God’s creation exploring and sharing in the amazing fishing together.

Lakes traveled: Moose River, Nina Moose Lake, Oyster River (creek is far more accurate), Oyster Lake, Rocky Lake, Green Lake, Gebeonequet Lake, Pocket Creek, Lac LaCroix (~14 miles)   

 



Day 2 of 9


Sunday, June 11, 2023

~Temperatures dropped to the mid-30s overnights which made for some chilly but nice sleeping. During the day, the temperature was sunny and in the mid to upper 60s with clear skies and was calm to start the day with some mild wind kicking up in the afternoon in the 5-10mph range.

Everyone awoke at various times and breakfasts were on your own for this trip. Some guys slept in until 8 or 9 and other guys got up and started fishing. I got some breakfast and went out fishing with one of the Zac’s. We figured we would cast shoreline structure and get a lay of the land a little bit. It was a little misty to start the morning but nice and calm for topwater. I threw a variety of baits including a wake bait, wacky worm, jig and plastic for the morning session. Zac threw a crankbait and some other various lures including some topwater as well. In around 3 hours we combined for around 30 Smallmouth bass and a few pike. A lot of 15-18” fish but only a couple over 18” and no trophies over 20” for us this morning. Brad and Zack fished near or around us a lot of the morning and did similar to us but were able to pick up 6 or 7 walleyes on keitech swimbaits as they related to shoreline structure (timber).

I have always read that Walleye can relate to timber but have never caught walleye off wood personally. Brandon and Tyler focused strictly on Walleye and went North from camp up towards Canada. They were able to catch around a dozen walleye and they of course caught random smallies and pike as well. Jud and Matt elected to sleep in this morning. I think they both did some fishing off camp and caught a couple small pike and bass.

We had a lunch of rice a roni cheddar and broccoli rice with chicken. We relaxed around camp a little bit for a couple hours before heading back out fishing. Some people read, others swam, and some guys got some naps. Unfortunately, with the fire and storms that wrecked this camp a while back there was not much for options for hammock spots due to lack of mature trees. We were able to string up a big tarp for a little extra shade for us to have in camp. Back in the trees there were some bugs, but this site was really nice and exposed so they were not much of an issue for us.

The wind picked up a little bit in the mid-afternoon which made fishing a little bit difficult. We all ventured out in the evening to fish and all of us targeted Walleye. It was a slow evening overall for the group only catching about 20 walleyes between the 8 of us with a few pike and smallies. It was a glorious evening in the BWCA and was amazing to spend it with friends and family in such a beautiful place! A giant Luna moth joined us for the campfire festivities as well.

    

 



Day 3 of 9


Monday, June 12, 2023

~Low 40s overnight. Calm and sunny to start the day with temperatures in the upper 70s during the day. The wind kicked up quicker today and was in the 10-15 mph range for a good portion of the day, calming down in the evening like normal during the summer.

It was a beautiful day in the BWCA. We got some breakfast and got out fishing for the day. I took Jud in my canoe, and we went out fishing for some topwater Smallmouth action. We went and explored the expansive bays to the East with our whopper ploppers. We had a few hours of incredibly fun action catching around 50 Smallmouth between the 2 of us and a few decent pike, with one in the upper 30s. There was so much water to cover, and we explored as much as we could in our tour around. On the way as we circled back to camp, we found an underwater shelf and picked up 5 walleyes in short order. We filed this away to potentially return to for an evening fishing as we had struggled so far in finding quality walleye fishing in the evenings.

We made our way back to camp and had our fish fry shore lunch with wild rice and veggies as sides. The group enjoyed our fine fresh dining on walleye. We relaxed around camp for a while taking care of some camp chores, swimming, and resting.

We went out fishing again in the evening around the various islands and points near camp. A few of our party made a token effort after the lake trout as well and marked a lot of fish that they thought were probably trout but were not able to entice any to bite. 3 out of the 4 canoes had depth finders. We brought 4 units but one of them stopped working the first day so that was unfortunately the unit for my canoe. This hampered my ability to find structure throughout the trip and caused me to have more difficulty finding those sweet spots. 3 of the canoes stayed around camp while Jud and I traveled South to explore Lady Boot Bay area. We tried for trout in the deep area towards the top of the boot vertically jigging lipless crank baits and spoons. We did not have a depth finder, so this inhibited our ability to find those “correct” depths for trout as well as walleye too throughout the trip. The evening was decent for the 2 of us minus us striking out on the trout. We picked up some really nice bass (2 over 20”) and a few walleyes but did not find any of those sweet spots. We even tried trolling all the way back to camp and did not pick up any fish doing that which was shocking. It sounded like it was a slower night for the rest of the group again as well.

When we got back to camp, we had our salami and cheese bagel sandwiches, fruit, and some snacks and hung out with our friends and talked around the fire. An owl decided to join us from the trees above for our late-night conversations.

    

 



Day 4 of 9


Tuesday, June 13, 2023

~ Temps overnight dipped to the mid-40s, and the day was sunny yet again. The temperature soared to the upper 70s and low 80s today. Winds were in the 10-15 mph range again with higher gusts at times.

The group made the decision to move camp down LLC closer to Agnes due to fishing most of the water around us well and figured we had combed over everything quite well. My only regret was the lack of lake trout action. One of the reasons we chose LLC was a chance for trophy lake trout, but they were not cooperating during our time up there and we did not even manage to elicit a strike. I would have fished lake trout more but without the depth finder that made it tough to eliminate water and find the optimal depths to probe. So, with this being our last day in the area we fanned out to each hit the best spots we had found over the past couple days over that area of the lake. We had a big day on the smallmouth bass fishing the bays and sheltered areas due to the wind.

For lunch we had mac and cheese with the left-over salami in it with some carrots and the last of the apples. We started tidying up camp and getting things organized to leave early the next morning. Most of us jumped in for a swim in the early afternoon and lounged around camp for a bit. Then we went out fishing for the evening. Jud and I went back to that ledge that we had found a couple days previous. We set up our chairs on the shore and fished from there. It was a great choice to rest our back sides from the canoe seat and it ended up working really well. It was nice to be able to walk around and not have to worry about canoe control or anything. We do not know the exact bottom depth and structure, but it seemed to be some sort of feeding shelf that came up to 10-12 fow. We fished mostly slip bobbers, but I cast some with some swimbaits and jig and a leech to try out some different techniques. In about 3 hours we landed around 20 walleyes or so with a decent average size. The biggest was 25”. We landed a couple of bass and 1 pike as well. Just before dark we hopped back in the boat and paddled the couple of miles back to camp.

A couple of the guys had branched out further from camp and explored new water. One canoe went almost all the way down to fish stake narrows. Everyone was able to catch some walleye, bass, and pike but it sounded like Jud, and I had done the best tonight. For dinner we had one of the bear creek soups which are always good. We were able to reflect on the last couple of days of weather, fishing, and camaraderie around the campfire. We talked through the plan for the following day and talked more about Faith and life.

Overall, our first few days were a success, but I was eager to move to try to find something better prospects and fish some new water. I was happy with our outcome overall, and everyone was able to catch a decent number of fish but just did not love the campsite and we did not really fish many of the areas that I had researched and anticipated fishing. I had figured that we would camp in fish stake narrows or at the top of lady boot bay and we were a mile or 2 North of where I had thought we would be. However, we did get to try new water and we learned a lot, but we were ready to move on and try our luck elsewhere on LLC. Total numbers from upper LLC (rough approximate for the first 3 days of the trip) 125-150 walleye (biggest 26”) 50 Northern Pike (biggest 38”) 250 ish… Smallmouth Bass (biggest 21”) only a few over 20, a lot of 15-18” fish

     

 



Day 5 of 9


Wednesday, June 14, 2023

~ It stayed milder overnight only dipping to the low 50s. It was sunny to start the day and then it became overcast. The wind stayed milder today in the 5-10 mph range. The temperature stayed much milder as well only getting into the upper 60s today and it was even a little chilly for part of the day as a front rolled through midday once we had gotten to our new site.

We were up fairly early and stroking on down LLC by 8 am. It was a glass calm day and was perfect for traveling on the big water. I could not resist throwing my whopper plopper some in some fishy looking areas and wished that we would have taken more time fishing our way down this trophy lake. However, we were worried about getting a site, so I limited myself to the waiting times while we waited for some of our slow poke canoes to catch up to the group. I was able to catch some decent pike and some Smallies in limited fishing. It only took us a couple of hours to move down LLC, but the weather rapidly deteriorated with the sun disappearing and the wind picking up, but it was at out backs.

We settled in to one of the best campsites I have stayed at in 20 trips. We stayed at camp 177, and it sure is a beauty. (Supposedly, the island across the way is even nicer (camp 173) but my brother said he stopped there the day we left as it was empty then and he liked the one we stayed at more.)

I think it was around 11 am or a little before as we pulled into this gorgeous campsite. This site has it all, great canoe landings (multiple options), mature trees, tons of space, rocky points to fish from, sand beach on one side to swim from, great tend pads, lots of shade, breezy but protected areas if needed. Like I said amazing site. If I had to nit pick my only qualms would be you don’t have much of a view of the lake from the fire pit and the brown throne is very close to camp. We even caught some nice walleye and bass from camp during our stay.

After arriving at camp, we got out tents set up and camp organized some and the front rolled through. It was quite cool during the middle of the day and most of us donned our warmer layers. We explored our island some and most of us relaxed. We all set up hammocks and put our camp chairs out on the point to the North or on the West side of the site. Lots of great options. We cooked up a hearty soup for lunch and had some Bannock to go with it which was a great addition to our food arsenal that was new this year and will be returning. Most of us napped in our tents or hammocks during the midday wind and cool temperatures. We headed out mid-afternoon to explore the area with our fishing poles. Everyone fanned out in various directions with mixed results. Most people found bass and pike and a few of our crew were able to catch some walleye as well but it was rather slow going with the wind. We did find good-looking structure and locations to fish that we wanted to try once the weather was calmer in the evening. Zack landed a mid-30s pike without hooking it with his bare hands. The Northern Pike had t-boned a walleye he caught, and it would not let go. They got a cool video of it that I will try to link into the trip report if possible.

We all congregated back at camp in the late afternoon and had an early supper of teriyaki chicken stir fry. I dehydrated all the vegetables, and I thought it turned out really well. I think it will be returning on future trips. It is always nice to get quality veggies into your diet out in the bush.

Everyone but Jud headed out for the evening fishing exploits so that meant I headed out solo. The wind was a little bit of a pain to get out to my spot but not too bad. I anchored up on some good structure and had a quality slip bobber fishing evening catching 15 walleye, 13 Smallmouth, and a couple pike. I did cast a swim bait as well. The wind slacked off and it was a nice calm evening to fish and paddle pack to camp. The other canoes had done okay all catching bass and walleye, but I had done the best out of us for this evening. We had hot drink around the fire and told some hunting and fishing stories by firelight.

    

 



Day 6 of 9


Thursday, June 15, 2023

~Low 40s overnight so a little chillier again. The day dawned a little hazy but became clear with temperatures in the low 70s today which was quite pleasant. The winds stayed calmer today in the 5-10mph range. We were treated to some amazing Northern lights in the evening.

I made biscuits and gravy this morning for the crew. It was a hit for sure and will be returning on all future trips. No one was too eager to get out fishing as the bodies were getting sore from sleeping on the group and long stretches in the canoes. Everyone got out fishing throughout the day and explored the area for fishing prospects. Caught some fish here and there but nothing noteworthy throughout the day. Some of the group headed East and explored the Bottle River current area and reported some interesting artifacts and other items.

We had a fish fry for lunch with potatoes, onions, and carrot hash as a side. It was delicious. Potatoes are heavy and bulky, but I think it was worth it to me. Most of the crew jumped in off the rock point on the West side of camp after lunch. It was deep right off it which made for a good swimming location. Pretty lazy day around camp doing camp chores, talking, doing some slip bobber fishing, and reading my Bible. We all went out for a final evening of fishing on LLC as we decided to hop a few portages closer to our EP due to the lack luster fishing in the Tiger Bay area. I fished the same area as the previous night where I had done so well and only caught a couple which was perplexing but maybe I was not quite in the right spot or something. The night finished very calm, so I threw some topwater on my way back to camp and caught some nice Smallmouth to salvage the evening a little bit. The rest of the group did just okay again. Jud stayed back and lip bobbered from camp off the point and caught several nice Walleye and a few bass tonight. During our 2 days at this site, we probably caught 10 walleyes, 20 or so bass, and a couple pike from camp so that was a nice plus.

As we were enjoying our dinner and campfire, I kept noticing some weird stuff going on with the sky. There are a lot of tall trees in this site and the firepit is set back some from the lake so you really can’t see the sky all that well. Me and a couple guys walked down to the water’s edge and low and behold it was the Northern Lights. We all walked out to the point and enjoyed them for a good hour or so and got some cool picture. None of us have fancy cameras so we did the best we could with what we had. Definitely a cool experience! The bugs were not an issue at this site due to its open nature and breeze coming through.

Total fish catches from 2 days in Tiger Bay area of LLC 120 ish Walleye (Biggest 24”) 150 Smallmouth bass- none over 20 that I know of, several 18 or 19” fish. 25 Pike or so with a few mid to upper 30s.

                 

 



Day 7 of 9


Friday, June 16, 2023

~Upper 30s overnight which was chilly once again. Friday dawned perfectly calm and sunny. It was a beautiful morning, and we wished that we were out fishing the calm conditions, but we elected to move today closer to our entry point and stay on Agnes for an easier last day. Very little wind today other than a few gusts throughout the day but was very pleasant. Temperatures got up into the low to mid 70s again which made it a little warm on us but not too bad.

We made quick work of the portages and picked out a camp to our liking and that would fit our group size and needs. I made ramen and veggies for lunch as others set up camp, filtered water, and relaxed some. Pretty lazy day around camp overall as the trip began to wind down. Jud and I took a canoe out into the middle of the lake to jump off for fun and swim around. Some nice neighbors jumped in their canoe and paddled out quickly to “help us” as they thought we had fallen out and were in trouble. We thanked them for their kindness but assured them that we were fine and just swimming.

Jud and I went out fishing in the early evening but were not having much luck so decided to go back to camp and regroup some. A couple people in our group caught some nice panfish right from camp so Jud and I decided we would elect to fish from shore for our final evening (I would come to regret this choice).

4 of our group elected to fish from camp for our last evening while the other 2 canoes ventured out in the lake. The 4 of us that fished from camp caught a decent amount of Walleye, Crappie, and Bluegill. All were nice sized fish, and it was a fun last evening slip bobber fishing from camp. We probably caught around 20 walleye that were 16-24” in length, 20-25 crappies from 11-15”, and a few really nice bluegill and a couple pike. We were very excited about our fishing success and relaxing night fishing from camp.

Little did we know the success that the two canoes had out fishing on the lake. Brad and Zac were trolling Rapalas along the North side of the lake and were catching both slab crappie and walleye at will. They did not keep track of their numbers but shared that it was non-stop action for a couple hours. They came back to camp around 8 as they had caught their fill and a week in the canoe was putting a toll on all of our bodies. That was why the 4 of us had chose to remain back at camp.

Tyler and Matt did not come back to well after dark. They did even better and said that they did not want to come In and were still hammering fish when they decided they should come in, so we did not worry about them. They said they lost track at 60 walleyes with a bunch of nice crappies as well. They said the fish were slamming everything they threw at them. They were fishing a weed line and were on the deep-water side of it and they threw crankbaits, rippin raps, swimbaits mainly for lures and caught crappies, Walleye, and pike on everything they threw. They both said it was some of the best walleye fishing they had ever experienced. Unfortunately, we had to leave the following day and did not have another night to fish this lake and I regretted being lazy and fishing from camp, but hindsight is 20/20.

For dinner I made spaghetti and cheesy garlic Bannock. We ended up having an extra meal leftover, so we ended up having this meal in the evening on our last night and it was a good final meal. The Bannock worked pretty well but I can make less next time and need to make the patties thinner, so they cook all the way through. The guys said they did not mind at all but some of the insides were a tad undercooked for my liking. The bugs were tolerable at this site during the day out on the breezy point but come evening were downright miserable. Even with multiple thermacells going in a small area hardly seemed to make a difference. (but it did when you left that area) Safe to say no fire at this campsite and everyone dove for their tents after stuffing their faces with food and doing dishes.

          

 



Day 8 of 9


Saturday, June 17, 2023

~ Overnight temps dipped into the upper 40s and during the day they soared to above 80 but we were up and traveling early and beat the heat for the most part getting out to the entry point by 9/10 am ish. The wind and conditions were a non-factor as we were on the river for the couple of hours of travel that we had out to the entry point.

We passed several groups who were in their way in. The bugs were pretty awful on this stretch again. I liked the trip and some of the area well enough to return but I really did not like the entry point very much with the narrow river, shallow pullovers, etc. I am kind of surprised that is such a popular EP that people covet. Anyways, we made it back to our vehicles and got loaded up and on our way back into Ely to the outfitter to return the canoes. They offered complimentary Hamm’s. I am not much of a beer guy but figured why not and it actually hit the spot pretty well. We grabbed brunch at a local establishment to have a celebratory final meal and time to chat before we all went our separate ways. Everyone seemed to have a blast on the trip and want to do it in the future. 

It was a great trip overall with some really great friends. My brother and I are blessed to have met some great people in college who shared our Faith in God and our love for the outdoors. It was one of my favorite trips I have taken to date, and we will be hoping to get this group together for trips every 2 or 3 years moving forward. The difficulty will be once our kids all start getting older our group size will get too big, but I guess that is a good problem to have. We are planning an epic trip in Late May/ early June 2025 with this group to our best Walleye Lake to chase some trophies.

Total Fish Count for the Entire Trip (approx. but conservative estimates) • Walleye: 350 Walleye (biggest 26”) • Smallmouth Bass: 475 (biggest 21”) was very surprised we didn’t catch more big bass (less than 15 over 20”) • Crappie: 50 or so (biggest 15”) • Bluegill: Only 10 or so but all were 8-11”!!! • Northern Pike: 80 or so. Don’t think anyone targeted pike on this tip (a few in the upper 30” range but none over 40”)

 



Day 9 of 9


 


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