Day 1 of 5
Tuesday, July 25, 2017 We were up shortly before 6 a.m. and off to the shower to get ready for today's big adventure. I checked over my gear several times and cleaned up the bunkhouse we were in. Finally I was ready for our 7 a.m. pickup. We were picked up by one of Ryan's guys he took us the few miles to the Fall Lake entry point, took our picture and sent us on our way at about 7:30. Ron and I motored right along across Fall. We did almost get swamped by a motor boat that flew by us about 30ft away. We got to the portage and checked out the Newton Falls a little. They were really cool especially since this was my first time seeing any type of falls in the BWCA. Since we quickly moved across Newton and the portage into Pipestone Bay I decided it was time to make a few casts. Ron and I cast around the base of the Pipestone Falls for a bit then decided to fish our way north through Pipestone. We caught nothing through here but we didn't really spend much time trying to fish. We made it into Jackfish Bay and then into Basswood at a pretty steady pace. Our goal was to make it into the Basswood River and find a campsite but that didn't happen. Ron and I were both sore but I wanted to continue to push onto the river but Ron persuaded me to stop for the day at the west campsite on the whale shaped island on Basswood near the Upper Basswood Falls. I agreed that pushing through the one mile portage was bit much after paddling as far as we had. We started setting up camp at 1:30.
Now I really enjoyed this campsite. I liked that it was up away from the water and felt very secluded. We started cooking our "dinner" at 3 p.m. because we were starved from pushing so far that day. We ate our great meal of steak and hashbrowns, then decided to go do some fishing
We fished until about 6 with no luck. We were marking a ton of fish in 40+ ft. of water. I'm not sure if the fish finder was acting up or if there was fish and they just weren't hungry. Ron and I went back to camp and played some cards for a while. We both ended up dozing off about 7:30 til 9. We both woke up and laughed at how pathetic it was that we were that tired and that we caught no fish the whole day. We buttoned up camp for the night and went to sleep around 9:30.
Day 2 of 5
Wednesday, July 26, 2017 We were both up early since we went to bed early. It was a gorgeous morning and the water was like glass. After breakfast I got one of my favorite pictures from all of my trips up here to date.
We broke down camp quickly and scooted on over to the one mile portage along the Upper Basswood Falls. We did fish from shore at the base of the falls and Ron caught a really nice pike about 26" or so. Back in the canoe and headed on down the river. At the end of the portage I did catch a tiny smallmouth, but it was my first BWCA smallmouth ever. We took the U.S. portage around the Wheelbarrow Falls and fished in the rapids for a while with no luck. There were starting to be more and more people around. We made it to the Lower Basswood Falls and the camp site under the falls was open. I reluctantly took it because Ron wanted to stop. I did agree that we should spend some time fishing here although I really wanted to get to Friday Bay because I had heard great things about it. We set up camp quickly and got right to fishing. Before we got out in the canoe I caught a nice pike right under the rapids by camp
We marked fish just about everywhere with current and 15-20 ft. of water. They didn't bite until later in the evening when we caught a few smallmouth and one walleye. Still not the amount of fish we were looking for. I took some cool videos and pictures of the falls from camp while Ron cooked dinner.
Ron and I relaxed around camp after dinner and just took in how spectacular the Lower Basswood Falls were. My only complaint about this campsite is alot of people come to see the falls so you kind of feel like a zoo animal when you are hanging around camp. We hung around the fire for a while before retiring for the night. It was very soothing to be hummed to sleep by the white noise of the falls that night.
Day 3 of 5
Thursday, July 27, 2017 Today Ron and I learn just how indecisive I can be. Now, my dad and I have a rule when we are fishing together, never leave fish to find fish. Well I learned that doesn't apply in the Boundary Waters. You have to move. Anyway back to the story. Ron woke up before me, per the usual. Breakfast was ready when I stumbled out of the tent around 7. Our plan was to go see the pictographs and fish around for the day and maybe just stay here and exit down the Horse River since we were being picked up at EP 23- Mudro. So we went and checked out the pictographs and fished around with minimal luck. Just one small wally. So, I decided that we are going to break camp and head for Friday Bay. After getting packed up around 11, we started to paddle north. We didn't make it past Moose Bay before I started to think about my dad and I's rule. Ron and I debate for a while and decided we should just stay around the falls but pick a site that is a little more isolated so we don't see people as much. We head back, pick a site, drop our bags off and head back to the falls to fish. We see some people coming down from where we just came from. I asked them were they came from and they told us Friday Bay. Ron and I look at each other and he doesn't look happy because he knows what question is coming and what will ensue. So I ask the guy, "How was the fishing?" I can see his face light up an he says something along the lines of "It was great! We caught walleye everyday, at least 10 over 20" and one that was 26", we found them in the weeds just casting crankbaits." Well know I can tell that Ron is excited but displeased because he knows we should be about half way there if I wouldn't second guess myself and try to live by normal fishing rules. I ask the guy how long it took them to get down here and he said just over 4 hours but it should be less for us because the current is in our favor. I tell him thank you and good luck. We paddled over to the campsite and picked up our gear. It was about 1 or so when we took off the second time for Friday Bay. We made it up to Wednesday before making a stop to stretch. We ate a little snack and drank some water at our stop. Ron and I loaded back up in our canoe and paddled on. This was a beautiful paddle, I must say. Not many people and beautiful scenery. I would highly recommend this. I want to get back here and spend a few days in the Wednesday/Thursday area. We rounded the bend into Thursday and I thought I heard the distant roll of thunder but I told myself I was hearing stuff. We saw a family at the campsite in the narrow shortcut to get out of Thursday Bay. We said hello and asked if they had heard thunder. They said no so we carried on paddling. Ron and I were finally out of Thursday Bay and headed toward Friday when the wind picked up out of the west. About 30 seconds later we could see a wall of rain coming. We were out in the open with no option other than face it head on and paddle. This was a wicked little squall. We were hardly moving but knew we had to get off the water and we are both too stubborn to let the storm push us backwards. We paddled with everything we had in us towards an island ahead of us. I wasn't stopping to look at the map to see what island it was. After what felt like a half hour we reached the island and it had a campsite. The skies parted and the rain stopped as soon as we reached land. I was soaked and freezing now. I actually laid down on the rock face of the island without a shirt on and it warmed me right up. This campsite was pretty nice so we decided to stay here and dry things out. It is the island site between Friday and Thursday. We set up camp and put up our clothes line. It was fishing time, after all that is why we just paddled 3.5 hours. Ron and I both caught some smaller pike but nothing really spectacular. We went back and cooked up dinner, ate it, and headed back out fishing. We came into a bay and were marking fish on the fish finder but we weren't catching them with our topwater baits. I quickly switched over to my other favorite bait, a 1/8 oz. pink jig with a shad colored zoom boot tail fluke. First cast and I hooked into my first walleye of the trip. Ron quickly switched over to the same set up. It was game on from there. We caught roughly 30 walleye in 45 mins. To this day, that is still the best 45 mins of fishing in my life. I think some baitfish got pushed into that bay from the storm and the walleye capitalized on it. We just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Now I know both of the fish with hooks in their mouth aren't hooked to my jig/fluke set up but its because I kept changing lures to see what they wouldn't bite on. Which was nothing. They were hungry. We ended up keeping two to save for breakfast. We fished until 9:30 then headed back to camp. We were both extremely happy we paddled all the way here, fought the storm and stayed at the site we did because it paid off. I slept great that night after finally having a great day of fishing.
Day 4 of 5
Friday, July 28, 2017
This was one of my favorite breakfasts ever up in the northwoods. Fresh walleye, bacon, and pancakes. What a way to start a day! Today was an all out effort on fishing since we had to break camp and travel every day prior. I did get some beautiful sunrise pictures though.
This ended up being the day of smallmouths. We caught quite a few nice ones. We did explore around a bit check out some other campsites. This was the solitude I was looking for because we didn't see anyone at all that day. We fished pretty much solely topwater because there was no wind at all. Smallmouth are so much fun to catch on topwater. They are just so aggressive and put up a great fight. We struggled to replicate our walleye success in the same spot but ended up catching 2 or 3 on the drop off were there is some current entering Friday. It was great to have a day to just fish all day and explore the lake.
Day 5 of 5
Saturday, July 29, 2017 This was our last day and we had to get from Friday Bay all the way to EP 23 by 5 pm for our pick up. We ate a quick breakfast and broke camp about 9. We decided that we packed up early enough that we earned some fishing time. We fished our way out of Friday Bay picking up a few pike. We started the portage to Papoose around 1. This was a nice portage we powered right through the 90 rods. We made quick work of Papoose & Chippewa Lake. The 6 rod "portage" between Chippewa and Niki isn't much of a portage at all and more of a series of logs and rocks to balance on to get through a shallow spot. Ron got rammy, as I couldn't quite figure out an easy way to portage the canoe through. After that debacle we were on our way across Niki and headed for the toughest portage of the trip, in my opinion. It may only be 45 rods but it is straight up hill and we double portage so we were both winded after this portage. Once we caught our breath we crossed Wagosh and made fairly quick work of the one mile portage into Gun. We did see some wolf scat on this portage. I remember looking at my phone and realizing we better start to move because it was nearly 3 o'clock and we had a long way to go still. We ate our lunch in the canoe on Gun Lake and carried on with our paddle. Gun Lake was a blur because I was so focused on getting out on time. I seem to lose track of time pretty easily in the BW. We skipped across Fairy and slid across Boot in what felt like no time at all. We reached the end of our portage into Fourtown so, Ron and I had to take our usual picture. (If you don't know what I am talking about look back at my Trip Report from 2016) This time we had our handy-dandy selfie stick.
Last time we were on Fourtown we had to race for the last campsite and this time it was a ghost town. We saw one occupied campsite. We started the infamous Mudro portage at our pick up time of 5. I was in a tizzy because I am punctual, Ron didn't care because he loves it up here and never wants to leave. I am beginning to be the same way. After powering through the series of up and down portages, we made it to Mudro Lake. We twisted our way down the creek to the exit. We ended up making it to the EP at 6:30. The guy picking us up was starting to get a little worried but he told us we weren't the latest ones he had before. Once seated in the van and headed towards civilization, I reflected on the amazing trip we had just completed. As a crow flies, the trip straight through was 43 miles, I believe. This was a different type of trip for me. I liked moving everyday because we got to see a lot of different scenery. This trip was a definite success. I cherish every trip I get to make up here, especially with a great friend like Ron. The BWCA is like no other place on Earth. It is a little slice of Heaven. Like always, as soon as we made it back to Cliff Wold's we started talk of the next trip.