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BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

July 19 2024

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
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!

LIS north to Little Loon, Gun, Gebe, Oyster and Shell

by Canoe Dude
Trip Report

Entry Date: July 26, 2007
Entry Point: Little Indian Sioux River (north)
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 5

Trip Introduction:
This trip was our sixth annual trip that a group of us had started. It started as six people this year, with one dropping out at the week before. I had purchased a used MN II and two of the other guys in our group had purchased one a couple years previous. Because of the odd man out, we would have to take my parents kayak, which had a portage yoke to use with since I had taken it on a year when it was just three of us. Our goal for our trip was to do a loop through the smaller lakes below Lac La Croix and return to our same starting point.

Day 1 of 6

Thursday, July 26, 2007

LIS North, Upper and Lower Paunesses, Loon, Little Loon

Being all packed up from the night before, we got up early from my parents house in Aurora and headed to Ely for our permit and leeches. The day started out bad when I found out that one of my tackle boxes had fallen out of the canoe seat bag that I had filled with tackle the night before (forgot to zip it shut, doh!). Good thing I had over packed on tackle and still had another tackle box to use.

We stopped at The Great Outdoors and picked up some leeches and then picked up the permit. Up the Echo Trail we went to get to the put in at Little Indian Sioux River North. The weather report called for isolated thunderstorms today, with the rest of the week looking hot in the upper 80’s. We had decided to travel up towards Little Loon Lake, which is off limits to the motors (Loon lake is not). We were on the water by about 11:30 after all the miscellaneous odds and ends were taken care of.

Well, as soon as we got onto the water, it started to drizzle. The drizzle worked itself into a steady rain. It seemed ok other than the gear getting a little wet, as the weather was fairly warm. Saw a few people on the portages, some complaining about the boats on Loon Lake and how they were water skiing, lol. We knew this was to be expected on a lake that permits motors. We stopped by at Devils Cascade to take a look, nothing spectacular really. I was more excited to find a patch of blueberries there I could snack on.

We started fishing where the river opens into Loon Lake. There I caught a decent size northern, although, we put him back, not sure if we wanted to clean fish tonight, as we would be pulling in to camp later than we would have liked. We made our way up through Loon Lake and passed a camp with a couple motorboats docked at it. Probably, the kids the other campers were complaining about. Right as we came about on Little Loon Lake, a larger dose of rain came down on us.

We looked at the first site on Little Loon, and the tent spots weren’t all that promising, so we headed to the north site. It had a small beach, some decent tent pads, although slightly slanted. We decided to call it home. After scarfing down some spaghetti, we decided to try our luck at fishing. One of the guys pulled in a 19.5” smallie on the east shore. I managed to catch a 14” walleye. All were released, as we were tired and weren’t sure about fish for breakfast.

We got a fire going after fishing, which was a little difficult due to the rain, but there was sufficient dry stuff to burn. The night presented itself with a very nice sunset with a near full moon. We capped the night off with our traditional Karkov shots followed by Kool-Aid and called it a night.


Day 2 of 6

Friday, July 27, 2007

Little Loon, Slim, Sec. 3 Pond, Steep, Eugene, Gun

We headed out by about 10 a.m. the next day and made our way over to Slim Lake. We saw a canoe of three waiting for us at the Slim Lake end of the portage. Talked to them about some of the lakes and fishing, ect… They said that they had slept standing up on Eugene (very slanted tent spots), and so that is something we wanted to avoid. We wanted to make it to Gun Lake anyway (the one below Lac La Croix, not the one by Mudro).

Judd caught a nice bass right by the portage exiting Slim. I caught a pike as well. Moved on to Steep after the Section 3 pond. Not much luck for fish, although we were moving through. On Eugene we decided to fish for some pike, as it looked as though this was a good pike lake from some research I had done. Sure enough, there were a few nice size pike. Jake landed a nice one we decided to call dinner. Clint caught probably the largest pike he has ever caught… The only problem was not being able to get it out of the water. It spit the hook as we tried to get the fish in the net (the net was too small hehe). The pike looked to be about 35” or so. Clint nearly went swimming after it as it slithered away. I was getting my camera ready to get the picture as it threw the hook, and missed an opportunity to get a good photo.

We made the next portage to Gun and saw that the water was some of the clearest water in the BWCA. This lake is supposed to hold lakers and SMB. We trolled some Rapalas, hoping to hook into a laker or bass. Judd hooked a decent bass we added to the stringer right before the south most campsite on the lake. We looked at the south site and it looked wonderful. Nice open area with good rock shore. We started to unload after a decent day of moving. Clint and Jake looked at the other site, while Judd and I landed a couple more bass to cut up for dinner. Fishing from this site is amazing. The water clarity allows you to see over 10 feet down, and there are masses of SMB all over. Almost like shooting fish in a barrel lol.

The site also provided for some decent rocks to dive in off and with the warm weather we took a swim or two. Massive blueberry patches surrounded the camp too. Not to mention we were the only ones on the lake. The vodka shots started to pour, as we cut up the fish. After getting the filets, we cooked the fish in aluminum foil, butter, salt and pepper, added to some wild rice soup. We soon realized that we had drastically underestimated our drinking supply when we cracked open our second 1.75L of Karkov (we had only brought two and this was our second of five nights). Once again, great moon rise and sunset as the day came to an end.


Day 3 of 6

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Gun, Little Beartrack, Beartrack, Thumb, Finger, Ge-Be-On-E-Quet

Getting off to our long day was really hard with all the blueberries to eat and bass still swarming around our site. We could visually spot several in the 17” range and had to catch at least a couple more before we left. We were wishing that we had more days in our trip and could have taken a layover day just fishing at this site. After we finally got on the water, we took the 120 rod portage to Little Beartrack instead of taking the 85 rod and 35 rod backtracking through Eugene to Little Beartrack. This proved to be somewhat of a bad idea as the 120 rod portage from Gun to Little Beartrack is made up of 80% round boulders covered in moss. If it had been raining this portage could have been suicide. I took an unexpected swim at the end when the muck sucked my foot down at the end as I tried to place the canoe in the water. Luckily the camera on my belt is always kept in a Ziploc bag inside the camera holster.

Little Beartrack has some nice elevation rises on the sides of it, making it a neat lake. We plugged through the Beartrack lakes and into Thumb, passing a group of women on the portage to Thumb. One of the women looked to be very old and we were all impressed on how deep they had made it into the woods. We moved on to Finger and caught a couple Bass before the portage. We chowed a quick lunch after the portage into Pocket. Ran across some dude hangin out naked on pocket, lol. As we passed their campsite Judd landed a nice Pike, but we put it back with hopes of walleye on Gebe.

We had a small pull over on a beaver dam on the Gebe Creek, nothing like the Beartrap River we had done the previous year. Once we finally made it to Gebe, we were very tired. We looked at the first site on our right (northwest most site), which looked like a wonderful site. I had heard of good walleye fishing in the South East corner of the lake and really wanted to check out the site right by there. We made the trek across the lake and noticed that the site had little to offer as far as tent pads, so we made our way back to the first site.

We returned to this site and fell in love with the huge boulder in the middle of it, wonderful site with plenty of tent pads and open areas. A few bass were caught off the rock shore with leeches and bobbers; however, nothing like the luck we had on Gun. We were too sick of sitting in boats all day to go out walleye fishing so just fished the shore and went swimming. Once again, we had a beautiful sunset and moonrise. We tried to keep the vodka consumption to a minimum so that we would have some for at least one of the two remaining nights.


Day 4 of 6

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ge-Be-On-E-Quet, Green, Rocky, Oyster

Today was a nice easy day with only a few portages. We made decent time and got to Oyster at around noon or one or so. We picked the first site into Oyster, nice that it had shore on both sides, and good open space for tents. We all decided to enjoy a nice swim on the side of the larger part of the lake after setting up camp to cool off a little bit.

After swimming, we went out in search of some lakers, probably around 4 or 5 pm. The wind was still pretty strong, and there were white caps on the lake. We decided to let the wind troll us and see what we might get. Even though the sun was shining and it was fairly hot out, we had some quick success by trolling some spoons about 50 or 60 feet of line out, with a three-way swivel and about 3 oz of weight bringing it down. Probably had the fish at about 30 or 40 feet down. We caught two with only trolling around once or twice, 19.5” and 23” lakers.

The laker meat was new to most of us, and made for some good eating. We gutted the smaller one, and filleted and breaded the bigger one to use with our sweet and sour fish. The bones and skin come off real nice with lakers, and its almost the way to go when cooking them, although the breaded stuff tasted as good as any of the other breaded fish you eat, just maybe a little more oilier.

There were some bones we discovered around camp; a large femur, mandible and some other smaller bone, probably from a moose. That night, we had another great sunset followed by another great moonrise.


Day 5 of 6

Monday, July 30, 2007

Oyster, Hustler, Ruby, Lynx, Little Shell, Shell

Great sunrise on Oyster brought in the day nicely. A little longer of a trip today, with a lot more people than we had been seeing on other days, probably people looping between EP14 and EP16. We made decent time and looked at a few of the sites on Shell, starting with the southern solo island site, which was taken. Most of the rest of the sites looked like there was something to be desired and we made our way up to Con Island. We took the northern most campsite on the island, just in time as a few groups popped out of the portage from Heritage (which is right next to the site).

The fire pit is surrounded by a bunch of tall pines on a large rock, about 20 feet up from the water. There is a little swampy area right below the rock where a beaver later showed up at and gnawed on some wood for a while. It seems you could walk to the other campsites on the island through the trails in the woods, although we never did. The weather was extremely hot, at least 90 degrees by our estimation, and the flies were really bad to the point where we had to wear pants. We did swim a little to cool off but not too much, as it is very shallow around the site, with some weeds and no good jumping points.

We tried some fishing in the hopes of some walleye; however, we didn’t even get a bite. Maybe the fish had been turned off by the really hot weather. We took down the rest of our vodka and pineapple chunks we had soaked in vodka. The vodka soak tasted much better than the pineapple chunks. It was gone all too fast though, next year more booze. We had another nice sunset but we didn’t really stay up for the moonrise. The sun and the heat had taken it out of us today.


Day 6 of 6

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Shell, Lower Pauness, Upper Pauness, LIS North

Today was our day out. We were all excited to put a few back at the Ely Steakhouse and get back to some of the other modern day comforts. We took the shorter portage between the Paunesses and found that there were a lot of lilies and weeds (we took the 40 rod portage on our way in). Finding the portage to shell from Lower Pauness might be tricky as it’s a clear cut through a lot of weeds, lucky for us we were coming the other way. I put down a porterhouse and a couple New Castles at the Ely Steakhouse and it tasted great. We reminisced about our choice campsites that we had had this year, and the good deal of seclusion we gotten from taking the road less traveled. Then we started talking about next year, maybe Kawishiway Lake? Who knows maybe we would even venture into the Quetico or try a PMA. All in all, it was a good year.



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