BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
October 28 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 14
Elevation: 1324 feet
"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.
Portage Wheeler Noob
October 01, 2020
Number of Days:
Thursday night the van was packed in preparation of picking up my used, new to me, kevlar canoe in Ely. My wife and I hopped into our makeshift cabin (the van) and made our way up north.
Our van would be our vamper for the course of the next couple days. We set it up in such a way that would could comfortably sleep in the back but still have room to hold our food, clothing, some fishing gear, and the items needed to canoe around for a couple days.
We left late in the evening so at about 3:30AM we decided to call it a day and parked at Breitung Monument Park and jumped in the back for a short snooze before the morning sun greeted us.
With about 3 hours of sleep we woke up at the park. We broke out our stove and utensils and had a nice hearty meal of a family breakfast favorite consisting of warm white rice, milk, brown sugar, and cinnamon. That warmed us up along with a cup of coffee. We "broke camp" and headed towards our outfitter destination to pick up the new member of our family.
I had decided after my first trip taking my daughter into Hog Creek earlier that I wanted to sell my 2 man fiberglass Adirondack and move to a kevlar 3 man. After many discussions with outfitters and reviews online I finally decided to purchase a Wenonah Seneca that was being retired from an outfitter. Upon arriving at the outfitters and picking up "Annabelle" we headed out for a day trip to make its inaugural run. I wanted to hit some waters we had not been on yet so opted to hit Fall Lake and get into Newton Lake.
We dumped our gear at the EP of Fall lake hopped into the canoe and were off! What a beautiful day! Although we woke up to 38 degrees it was now warmed into the low 40's and with very little wind it was a great day to be on the water. The fall colors on the tree's were vivid and breathtaking and the water and wilderness were as quite and calm as I had ever seen. I don't know how I had never been to this area in the fall!
We headed towards Newton Falls while just getting a good feel for this new canoe. Most of my experience with a 3 man kevlar was with a Souris Quetico 185 so this was a nice change. It's very hard to form a good review and opinion if you only use one product your whole life. I thought that overall the Wenonah Seneca was a very stable canoe that cut through water very well. I think I'm going to be happy with the purchase.
We jumped over the 83 rod portage and got into Newton. We rigged up our fishing poles and got out on the water. I normally spend hours analyzing places to fish in order to have success but this being our first day out and not really having an agenda I didn't really know what to expect so we just paddled up Newton with cranks and also trolled some lindy rigs with minnows. We did end up finding a spot that picked us up a couple small pike, a perch, and a small walleye.
Nicole, my wife, was starting to get a little chilly so we decided to head back to Fall Lake and head into town.
We ended the day at a place I am fond of, the Boathouse Brewery. Not that this is any sort of hidden place but I really do enjoy the food and the beer here. I am not a huge fan of fruity beers but I fell in love with the Blueberry Blonde. Just a hint of blueberry but a nice crisp finish. Nicole and I enjoyed our brews and supper whilst deciding where to spend our second day. I had done some research found a lake that may be a good fit for us.
We decided to head over to a campground to park and get some shuteye. While fully expecting to pay for a camp site we were pleasantly surprised when the Fenske Lake Campground had a sign that said that there was no fee after September 30th. The campground was pretty empty so we picked a nice level spot and resorted to the back for some shut eye.
Saturday morning at 7AM we woke up and had ourselves a quick meal of oatmeal in a brisk 38 degrees before we headed into Ely to Voyageurs North to pick up some chubs to target pike and some portage wheels to head to our destination.
This was something new I had not done before. Rarely am I in a spot that can use portage wheels let alone use them. We had decided the night before that we would take the 1.25 mile portage from Fall Lake to Ella Hall to fish for pike. My research had told me that the pike in that lake and bass had a high growth rate and there were many in that lake. It sounded like something easy to fish for while exploring new water. I wasn't really on this trip to boil the ocean and manually portage 1.25 miles so we tried out the portage wheels. Wow did that make the trip easy! It made 1.25 miles go by in no time and by 10:30 AM we were sitting on the edge of Ella Hall ready to catch some fish!
We got on the calm glassy water with a strategy I had employed on Basswood a few years ago to have success with large pike. We essentially use a bottom bouncer and make a pike sized lindy rig equipped with a big hook and a spinner. We trolled large chubs around targeting around 19-20 ft of water and looking for bait balls. Instantly we started getting bites anytime we passed over a bait school it was furious and frequent. We were struggling actually getting the fish into the canoe though. We seemed to be losing them right at the canoe. It didn't take us long to realize when our rate of actually pulling in a fish was 1 for 5 that the pike were grabbing the back of the chub and fighting until we got close to the canoe and then letting the bait go and swimming away. I had a remedy for that I would take care of at our lunch break.......
On our way towards Ella Hall Island my wife picked up the largest largemouth of her life. A pig 5 pounder poked its head out of the water to say hello and just like that we were having a great day!
We stopped at a camp spot on the south side of the lake for lunch and had a beer and a sandwhich while I made some make-shift stinger hooks for our rigs.
Back on the water we started trolling with our new improved pike destroyers. Fish on!!! oh but it's fighting like a smallie. BOOM! a nice 3.75 pound smallie. I'll take it!
We continued to target the 19-21 ft contour and finally started hooking into the pike one after another. At one point we both doubled up on pike going over a bait ball. At some point though the Blueberry Blonde was calling my name and it was time to head back over the long portage and into town.
We made out way back through the portage running into a dad and his three sons grouse hunting. We stopped and chatted for a bit as I was curious about grouse hunting and the differences between that and going for pheasants. We wished them luck and moved on, hearing a gunshot while we moved in the opposite direction quietly hoping that they had success and found a grouse for dinner. We got through Fall Lake and again found ourselves at the brewery with a pizza at our table and a beer in our hand. Stuffed, we headed back to Fenske Lake Campground to get some shut eye.
We woke up to 32 the next morning. We brewed a cup of Joe and had a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs before we broke camp and headed for home.
It was a great short trip and I now have another, longer, fall trip in mind next year.