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

BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

May 28 2022

Entry Point 16 - Moose/Portage River (North of Echo Trail)

Moose/Portage 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 27 miles. Access is a 160-rod portage heading North from the Echo Trail.

Number of Permits per Day: 5
Elevation: 1348 feet
Latitude: 48.1230
Longitude: -92.0991
A favorite route offering many trip options and memorable things to see including;

World Class fishing for all four BWCA Species
Pictographs
Soaring granite hills and cliffs
Small lakes
Small rivers
Tumbling rapids and waterfalls
Wildlife, including Moose
Vistas from high points across the region if you're willing to climb. Rating Easy to Moderate. Day One. Get to EP16 off of the Echo Trail early. The initial portage is long, but well worn and smooth, sloping gently downgrade to the launch area. Load your canoe and head North. You'll be paddling with the slight current on this narrow winding river. The water is clear and make sure to tell the bowperson to watch for looming rocks!

namaycush redemption

by fairmatt
Trip Report

Entry Date: September 26, 2021
Entry Point: Moose/Portage River (north)
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
In July of 2021 our trip within the BWCA was cut short due to the fires and drought. Upon return from that trip Austin and I never mentioned another but we both knew that we would dwell on a redemption trip later in the Fall. The BWCA reopened an we planned a September trip to Lac La Croix to target and chase the Lake Trout. We've targeted them once before in this expansive lake with zero luck. What follows chronicles our trip to find and catch Salvelinus namaycush.

Day 1 of 7


Sunday, September 26, 2021 Austin and I load up and head north in a relaxed frame of mind. This is our first trip together in which its just my brother and I. No kids, no other trip-mates, no one else to plan for cook for and so on. I am really looking forward to the reduced load of responsibility and relaxing in a deeper way this trip. We get up to Ely and pick up our permit, some beer for the night and go eat at the Boathouse. The accommodations for the night was a bunkhouse at Fenske Lake Cabins. We stayed here before our July trip and really like the place. It was quiet and relaxing. We enjoyed a nice evening just siting by the beach taking in the Northwoods fall colors.

 



Day 2 of 7


Monday, September 27, 2021 Up early to head to EP16. We get all the gear loaded and head off into the misty morning. About 2 miles down the Echo trail we realize we forgot one of our bags in the bunkhouse and had to make the trip back. We get to the entry point around 7:30AM unload and make the portage down to the river.

The suns rays are breaking through the trees and mist, creating one of those Boundary Waters mornings you think about at home during a January blizzard. The first portage down river is short. The other side has changed some even since July when we were here last. The beavers have continued to build and the water level is much higher. They've created quite a pond between this portage and the next. We paddle over to the beaver damn just to inspect their engineering feat. Its not long, maybe 20ft across but its manged to hold up 10 or more feet of water. A quick portage around and on to the winding Nina Moose. Our spider friends have really done some work weaving their webs on the wild rice and sedges. The droplets of moisture collecting on them glisten like frost in the morning light. Its really quite beautiful. We get to the next portage and meet a couple of guys on the way out. They are friendly and mentioned in our conversation needing to find a way to EP14 to get their truck. Austin and I didn't think of it until we were loaded that we could have let them use Austins truck. We thought for sure our fishing luck would be doomed now. That changed in a minute after Austin "plopped" a decent Smallmouth right by the rapids. The weather could not be more ideal. The sun is out, its 60 degrees with very little wind. What wind their is causes the maple leaves to let go their attachment to summer and gently flutter to the ground as we portage. Just our walking seems to cause them to fall. The water levels are low. Those who have been on this river might appreciate this photo. Our goal is to make it to Oyster for a night so we paddle across Agnes and to the beach landing at the portage to Oyster River. We say hello to a friendly grouse on the river side and are on our way to Oyster. The Oyster river to Oyster lake portage is a really pretty one. Ive done it a few times and it never disappoints. We make for the north peninsula site and its open. After making camp we go out and troll for Lakers with no luck. The night is clear and calm as we dose off. I had a crazy dream that during the night something was under my hammock. This something batted my rear the same way a my cat bats at my dogs face. I remember trying to yell in my sleep but couldn't get words out just a strange panicked noise. Was it a dream? Maybe I read too many entries on the message board thread about creepy or weird things experienced in the BWCA?

 



Day 3 of 7


Tuesday, September 28, 2021 We awake and get camp packed up and are off for Lac la Croix. The portage between Oyster and Rocky is not difficult, offering a few rolling hills and some really old White and Red Pine and Birch trees. The landing on the Rocky side is well......rocky. We check out the pictographs and continue to Green. The paddle across Green was pretty. We noted the the number of large pine and other trees blown over on the west shoreline. Before the Green to Gebe portage we ran into a family of hooded mergansers. Soon we met two gentleman who were heading the opposite way as I started a carry on the next portage. Once on the Geb side I picked up the rest of their stuff, make it up the first climb and meet them carrying one of our bags. We thanked each other. I shared that if I would have known they were going to do that I would have left our heaviest bag for them to which he said with a smirk "Same".haha Geb-e-on-equat is a beautiful lake. We make for the stone chairs fishing along the way catching a few small bass. The chairs are interesting and more impressive in person. We lunch there and rest a bit. Its 11:30 and so far its been an enjoyable morning. We fished our way to the Geb river portage. Actually we landed at what I thought was a portage. I knew where it as I was here 8 years ago or so I thought! We actually were on a well traveled path but too far east. After the correction we enjoyed the brief and steep downhill to the river. More enjoyable small river paddling to the portage to Lac La Croix. The water was lowest on this part of our trip having to push through a few yards of sediment and plants in a few places. The portage to LLC starts on a beaver dam and the path is flooded with flowing water 3/4 of the way. Once on the other side we load up and take off unbeknownst to me leaving a fishing rod with a tail-dancer tied on. To whomever finds it...enjoy! Another portage around a set of rocks before the main lake was an unexpected addition to this portion of our day.

Once on the big lake I start thinking lakers. Eric who runs the Farwater youtube channel and works at Piragis was very helpful in coming up with a strategy to target these Lakers. I get the poles ready and once in a good area I started trolling. Right away I had two northerns on then something bigger. It was a lake trout. Our first ever on LLC. It measured around 32" For myself it really was a special fish. It was returned to depths. I kept marking fish so we kept slowly drifting with the wind then trolling into the wind. I had another on and lost it all the while Austin was fishing with the same lure, a Dr. Spoon but in a chrome/blue color and wasn't getting anything so we alternated fishing the clown patterned one I had on. Soon he was catching trout too.

It was time to find a campsite and we opted for the island site west of fish stake narrows. This sight is very nice and well located to fish both lady boot bay and fish stake. I dont think anyone else was camping on this part of LLC. After setting up camp and eating dinner we go out and paddle around the island and catch the setting sun while in the canoe.

 



Day 4 of 7


Wednesday, September 29 We get up and go fishing trolling to the spot we fished yesterday. I had a good fish on but lost it. Once in the same spot as yesterday we start trolling again. At some point we need to retie the spoon on due to a bad tangle. I end up using 5ft of fluorocarbon for a leader where as before we used 6 or even 7ft. which made landing the fish more challenging. The 2oz. of weight tied on didn't allow you to easily get the fish close to the boat. This slight change in length resulted in zero bites and I made the change back to the longer leader.

Soon Austin hooks into a really good one. We land the fish and it measures 33-34" some photos and back in the water she went. So we've now each caught one over 30" and are both happy as can be. I hook into another one maybe as big as this one a bit later but lose it at the boat. We decide we should head back and have a brunch. I make coffee and bacon egg and cheese on an english muffin. We laze about camp taking in the rest of the morning. We head back out and fish the narrows and only catch a few smallmouth then we head back over to ladyboot bay and troll the length of it along the west side, around the islands and then head to the campsite on the east side of ladyboot. Its a nice site and seems to not be used that often. Numerous pines have blown over onto the site taking a bit away from it but it has a great view and is likely that one doesn't see too many people paddle by.

From here we decide to get back to our island via Toe lake entering it from the south. Weve been on Toe before and wanted to see it again as well as see what this south portage looks like. We paddle up as close to the portage as we dare go, our efforts stymied by the drought and 300 yards of muck and wild rice plants. Turned the ship around and headed back up the east side of "Das Boot" and to camp. During the paddle up and down ladyboot we picked up a few small walleyes, pike and bass. Nothing huge but still fun.

 



Day 5 of 7


Tuesday, September 28, 2021 This morning we are planning a move to the boulder bay area after fishing. We head out and Austin catches a nice trout measuring 29" We troll around a bit longer then head east fishing our way to fish stake narrows. We catch a few bass and Austin hooks into numerous walleyes. We really enjoy fishing the narrows. East we go dragging a big Taildancer. I catch a smallmouth and pike before getting to the island site across from the pictos. This site is as nice as they come. We opt to get further down the bay so we take a break and hydrate. We fished into never fail bay whopper plopping several bass but the bay is evidently poorly named because we did fail to pick up a fish in it. We headed back out the bay and we saw a sow and two cubs headed on the shoreline. They were too busy to pose for a photo. This is the second time Ive seen a bear in this area. On down Boulder Bay we go hoping to snag the site just north of the portages into Agnes but it was occupied so we turn the corner and get the next site. This is a sprawling site suitable for a large group. We get camp set up and do some fishing without a ton of success. We sit around the fire for sometime and head to bed.

 



Day 6 of 7


Tuesday, September 28, 2021 We awake to a light rain and just lay in the hammocks until it lets up. We eat some breakfast but head back to the warmth of our hammock cocoon. At some point it lets up enough to paddle up to Tiger Bay and do some fishing. We catch a few Pike and then go check out campsite 175. Its the southern campsite on an island NE of Tiger Bay. It has a beach landing and a commanding view........of the dark rain clouds heading our way. We get in and paddle back to camp and escaped getting too wet. We make preparations for an exit tomorrow. The forecast says cloudy then decreasing clouds with a chance of rain in the AM.

 



Day 7 of 7


Wednesday, September 29, 2021 Arise early and get stuff packed up and are on our way towards the portage in a fairly thick fog. We unload and start portaging. We both had our headlamps on still and we needed them as the portage was very dark yet. Our lights reflected off of the water covered leaves on the trail illuminating our path in a very interesting way. No rolled ankles on these two portages and then we luckily were still able to line through the small rapids before Lake Agnes. Once on Agnes I throw the taildancer out and just after the giant boulder in the middle of the north end I hook into a nice 19-20inch smallmouth. We stop at another good spot we've caught fish at in the past and had no luck. The clouds are beginning to lift and clear some by the time we're on Nina Moose and we enjoyed another paddle out the Nina Moose river.

We made it out in a good time and and in great spirits. Our goal of catching a Lac La Croix Salvelinus namaycush complete and all with some of the best weather and fall color Ive ever experienced in the BWCA. Thank you to my brother who has been my tripping partner for many years now and for taking the time to take the majority of the photos and videos we have of this and other trips and to our wives who handle things back home like a boss...thank you so much for enabling us to enjoy this place we love. Thanks for reading!

I did put a video up on youtube...

 


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