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

BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

April 13 2024

Entry Point 24 - Fall Lake

Fall Lake entry point allows overnight paddle or motor (25 HP max). This entry point is supported by Kawishiwi Ranger Station near the city of Ely, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 7 miles. "Access is a boat landing at Fall Lake. Several trip options to Newton, Basswood, & Mud Lakes with additionalportages." This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 14
Elevation: 1324 feet
Latitude: 47.9527
Longitude: -91.7213
"This trip will be taking off from Fall Lake up through Newton Falls portage onto Pipestone Bay campsites. 3 day, 2 night trip into the wilderness.

Poplar to Gaskin and Meeds

by naturboy12
Trip Report

Entry Date: August 05, 2018
Entry Point: Lizz and Swamp Lakes
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 3

Trip Introduction:
The summer of 2018 has the B.I.G. L.I.A.R.S. headed back to the eastern Boundary Waters. We decided a little easier trip, with a chance for some exploration and bushwacking would make a nice change from some longer, tougher trips the last couple of years. I have already posted on this site in detail about a few of the events of this trip, but have included that information here as well.

Day 2 of 6


Sunday, August 05, 2018

After spending our Saturday afternoon wandering the rainy streets of Grand Marais and then sleeping at Flour Lake Campground along the Gunflint, we were up early and at the Poplar Lake landing around 6:30 AM. We got on the water quickly and paddled through Poplar, checking out the many cabins along the route as we headed towards the portage into Lizz Lake, where our Boundary Waters excursion would officially begin. We had our sights set on getting to Gaskin as quickly as possible, and hoped to snag one of the highly rated sites on the eastern side of the lake. Paddling through Lizz, Caribou, and Horseshoe was fairly uneventful, although we did get passed by a small group single portaging. When we arrived on Gaskin, we were a bit disappointed, as that group had taken our first choice campsite, and all others on that end of the lake were also full. We pushed to the west end of Gaskin, checking a couple sites along the way and ended up at #634, which turns out to be a pretty amazing campsite. Funny how things just work out sometimes.

We set up camp and quickly noticed all the moose sign around camp, including tracks, moose droppings, and some cedars that a bull moose had clearly had some sort of argument with. Judging by what we saw, the moose won that fight. We spent the afternoon and evening fishing areas around camp and trolling some of the deeper water and reefs we had passed over, and to our astonishment, we caught nothing. Well, we caught some 8" smallmouth bass, but that was it. We never count on fish on our entry day though, so it wasn't a big deal. We went to bed that night tired and ready to really figure out how to fish Gaskin over the next couple of days.

 



Day 5 of 6


Monday, August 06, 2018

Today was all set to be the best fishing day of the trip. Slightly overcast skies, light wind, and perfect temperatures. We fished hard, all day. We caught exactly zero fish that we could keep. The biggest pike was around 14" and the biggest bass was about 9". So, what do you do when the fish just aren't biting? You head to a burned area of Gaskin, check out a campsite that pretty much no longer exists, and find the biggest blueberry patch you've ever seen.

Seriously, we could have picked blueberries the rest of the day. It's a good thing too, because when you pack your food based on having fish to eat, the extra calories from blueberries at least helps to offset the stomach rumblings a little bit. It was early in the trip, so to get around not having fish, we decided we would eat our chicken packets with dinner instead of saving them for Wednesday as we had planned. We would just catch fish on Wednesday and swap that in to make up for it. It was a plan we had executed just fine in the past, and we were confident in making that decision.

The highlight of the day was a short bushwack excursion out of the southwest end of Gaskin (near the burned campsite) and over to Larsen Lake. Due to finding no area to land the canoes, and what seemed to be a tough up and over hill climb, we brought the fishing gear along but not the canoes. I discussed this short bushwack in another post here on BWCA.com, but here is the summary, originally posted in a thread titled "Larsen Lake" on 8/10/2018.

"We just got home today. Fishing took a sharp dive downward with the rain on Sat/Sun and Gaskin just didn’t cooperate while we were there other than 14-16” Pike. We did however make it to Larsen on foot, and took a few pictures.

I wish we would have brought the canoe, as it was only 200 yards the route we found after reaching Larsen to get back to Gaskin.. We went the hard way to reach Larsen (canoe would not have made the hard way), but the much easier way on the way back along a well established game trail would have worked. We did bring our rods, and fished for about 15-20 minutes with no luck. The mucky and brushy shoreline isn’t real conducive to shoreline fishing, and after a few snags, we gave up. My guess is that the lake holds fish, but with the dark stained water and no canoe, it’s only a guess how deep the lake actually is and what might be there. It was a fun bushwhack though, glad we were able to pull it off fairly easily with a compass and a little help from the game trail.

Here are a couple of pictures from the northern-most bay on Larsen. First picture is looking to the WSW towards the main body of the lake while standing in the middle of that bay. Second picture is looking more directly SW towards the bay on the south side of the lake. The rocks out a bit from shore in that picture are where we were able to stand for a while to fish. There is a small set of cliffs towards the eastern corner, behind where the pictures were taken, that give a nice view of the eastern end of the lake."

 



Day 7 of 6


Thursday, August 09, 2018

Knowing full well that our BW trip was nearing its end, Tyler and I decided to pass up the opportunity to fish for most of the day, and instead attempt our planned bushwack into Moon Lake, just west of Meeds. We got on the water early on a windless morning, took in some beautiful scenery, and headed back on the portage into Swallow. From there, we portaged to the west end of Swallow to start the process. I posted about this in a thread titled "Moon Lake near Meeds on the east side" on 1/16/19. It's a great thread with lots of information in it if you think you might want to get there. This is what I said:

"I did this bushwack in August 2018 with my 17 year old son, with much the same experience as Willfess provided. The difference is the creek was low enough and overgrown enough that when we went, we could only follow it for a couple hundred feet at most. After that, we walked the creek, and actually slid our canoe over the small trees that were completely arched over the creek, using the branches to support the weight of the canoe and just pushing it along, 10-15 feet at a time. It was tiring, but way easier than trying to weave through the forest, although it certainly would have possible that way too. When we got to the beaver dam, we put the canoe back in the water above it and were able to paddle/pull against the trees in the flooded forest until we got to more open water that led up into Moon. If you check Google Maps and see the open areas to the east of Moon, we were able to paddle that entire length, and saved a whole lot of extra work. If that wasn't an option (no beaver dam, really low water), that would have been a horrible area to get through as its very boggy and mucky. Luckily we didn't have to worry about that.

We stayed for a couple hours, caught a dozen or so pike in the 16-23" range, lost one bigger fish that was in the upper 20's, mabye 30", and ran into one of the most confused and angry beavers I have seen in my time in the BW. It was clear he wasn't used to dealing with humans in HIS lake. The lake is very dark stained, so we weren't able to see much below the surface, but there were sufficient weeds and we couldn't troll crankbaits without getting hung up, so most of the lake is fairly shallow (less than 15', most way less). We checked out the "campsite" area, which you can find marked on some maps. It wasn't much, but there is still evidence of fire use, maybe from people visiting in winter. We also found the narrow passage between the 2 parts of the lake, and paddled into the northern portion to explore. We didn't fish that portion of the lake, just the southern portion.

It was a fun experience to go where few others go, and despite the extra work to get in there, we really enjoyed it.

After our triumphant return from Moon Lake, we headed back to Meeds to talk with Curt. You're not going to believe this- HE CAUGHT FISH WHILE WE WERE GONE! Well, he caught 2 nice jumbo perch and a medium Smallmouth in about 5 hours of fishing, but after 4 days of no fish to eat, it was practically a feast! We tried fishing a little after dinner, and Tyler and I found some submerged rock areas that should have held fish, but produced nothing more than a crazy photo op. All in all, this was the best day of the trip as the Moon Lake bushwack had been our goal for the last several months. We sat around the fire that night, talked about the trip, changes and plans for our next visit, and just soaked in our last night in the BW. We did some stargazing, packed up the non-essentials, and went to bed fulfilled.

 



Day 10 of 6


Wednesday, August 08, 2018

This was a pretty standard travel day for us, other than my black eye and bruised ego. The temps were getting up there a little bit, making it just hot enough that the short paddles and medium length portages became a bit of a sweaty ordeal. We traveled through Henson, Pillsbury and into Swallow, with some very pretty portages in between. We took a quick swim break in Swallow to cool off before pushing into Meeds. We saw plenty of moose sign along all the portages, and while we were hoping to see a moose, we never did. Once on Meeds, we chose the middle campsite as both it and the western campsite were open when we arrived, and it turned out to be an above average site with a nice double bay canoe parking area with a sandy bottom. After setting up camp and eating an early PB&J bagel lunch, we hit the water to find the fish. It didn't happen. As we prepared for another fishless dinner that night (remember that chicken we ate Monday...oops), we decided we would exit the BW a day early. That allowed us to eat Friday's side dishes along with our planned dinner (sans fish) today and save Friday's lunch (bagels and peanut butter) to go along with Thursday's dinner in case this "no fish" thing happened again. It was a bittersweet decision, as we never expected lack of food to be a reason to leave early. We wouldn't have starved by any means, but we all agreed it was a good decision. We went to bed that night a little downtrodden by the sequence of events so far that week, but we had one big adventure planned yet for the next day that we were looking forward to.

 



Day 11 of 6


Thursday, August 09, 2018

Knowing full well that our BW trip was nearing its end, Tyler and I decided to pass up the opportunity to fish for most of the day, and instead attempt our planned bushwack into Moon Lake, just west of Meeds. We got on the water early on a windless morning, took in some beautiful scenery, and headed back on the portage into Swallow. From there, we portaged to the west end of Swallow to start the process. I posted about this in a thread titled "Moon Lake near Meeds on the east side" on 1/16/19. It's a great thread with lots of information in it if you think you might want to get there. This is what I said:

"I did this bushwack in August 2018 with my 17 year old son, with much the same experience as Willfess provided. The difference is the creek was low enough and overgrown enough that when we went, we could only follow it for a couple hundred feet at most. After that, we walked the creek, and actually slid our canoe over the small trees that were completely arched over the creek, using the branches to support the weight of the canoe and just pushing it along, 10-15 feet at a time. It was tiring, but way easier than trying to weave through the forest, although it certainly would have possible that way too. When we got to the beaver dam, we put the canoe back in the water above it and were able to paddle/pull against the trees in the flooded forest until we got to more open water that led up into Moon. If you check Google Maps and see the open areas to the east of Moon, we were able to paddle that entire length, and saved a whole lot of extra work. If that wasn't an option (no beaver dam, really low water), that would have been a horrible area to get through as its very boggy and mucky. Luckily we didn't have to worry about that.

We stayed for a couple hours, caught a dozen or so pike in the 16-23" range, lost one bigger fish that was in the upper 20's, mabye 30", and ran into one of the most confused and angry beavers I have seen in my time in the BW. It was clear he wasn't used to dealing with humans in HIS lake. The lake is very dark stained, so we weren't able to see much below the surface, but there were sufficient weeds and we couldn't troll crankbaits without getting hung up, so most of the lake is fairly shallow (less than 15', most way less). We checked out the "campsite" area, which you can find marked on some maps. It wasn't much, but there is still evidence of fire use, maybe from people visiting in winter. We also found the narrow passage between the 2 parts of the lake, and paddled into the northern portion to explore. We didn't fish that portion of the lake, just the southern portion.

It was a fun experience to go where few others go, and despite the extra work to get in there, we really enjoyed it.

After our triumphant return from Moon Lake, we headed back to Meeds to talk with Curt. You're not going to believe this- HE CAUGHT FISH WHILE WE WERE GONE! Well, he caught 2 nice jumbo perch and a medium Smallmouth in about 5 hours of fishing, but after 4 days of no fish to eat, it was practically a feast! We tried fishing a little after dinner, and Tyler and I found some submerged rock areas that should have held fish, but produced nothing more than a crazy photo op. All in all, this was the best day of the trip as the Moon Lake bushwack had been our goal for the last several months. We sat around the fire that night, talked about the trip, changes and plans for our next visit, and just soaked in our last night in the BW. We did some stargazing, packed up the non-essentials, and went to bed fulfilled.

 



Day 12 of 6


Friday, August 10, 2018

It's exit day! Well, tomorrow was supposed to be exit day, but since you've followed this trip report this far, you know we're headed out a day early. We decided to take the Meeds to Poplar portage and I'm glad we did. I like a challenge, and this portage certainly gave us one. It's long and has quite the changes in elevation along its length. But we again saw lots of moose sign, got to cut through a regrowing blowdown/fire area and see the very edge of where the fire had touched Poplar Lake. We all agreed that the people in the cabins on that lake had to have been worried when that fire made it over to Poplar. After a quick celebratory dip in Poplar Lake to cool off, were were again on our way. We saw a few otters swimming playfully along one edge of the lake, and were surprised by an older couple taking their morning swim well away from their dock and along a good stretch of the lake. We passed a couple groups on the main body of the lake, and ran into 2 other large groups at the boat landing. After wishing them well (and better luck than we had), we walked to the truck, got everything loaded up, and started the 8 hour process towards home.

While this trip didn't exactly go as planned, it was still very enjoyable. There are lessons to be learned on every trip, and I was proud of our perseverance through a tough week. A couple meal planning adjustments are on the way for our 2019 trip for sure! Despite our lack of fishing success on every day but one, I would definitely recommend this area if you haven't been through the lakes around the Poplar EP. We know the fish will be there when we decide to come back!

 


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