BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
December 09 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 1
Elevation: 1249 feet
North Kawishiwi River - 29
Kicking Back on the Kawishiwi
May 17, 2011
Number of Days:
We arrived in Ely shortly after 6:00 p.m. Had to stop at Spirit of the Wilderness to pick up our canoes and then off to Sir G's for dinner. During dinner we realized that we had forgot to pack the cast iron skillet, so we'd have to stop some place in the morning to either buy one or rent one. I have to admit that I was concerned this might be a bad omen for our trip but thankfully I'd be wrong about that. After dinner we went back to Erik's (Buzz17) house and started packing gear and had some time to X-Box it for awhile. Nice way to kick back and enjoy the time before getting up at 4:30 on Wednesday morning.
Got up at 4:30 and finished packing a few odds and ends and made it to Britton's by 5:15. It was weird how much faster things went with only four guys. Usually we're there for almost an hour with eight, but this year we were in and out in less than 40 minutes. Stopped at TGO's place to pick up rainbow chubs and some herring and spent some time chatting with him about the DNR and their new restrictions on untreated ciscos because of VHS (Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia). Interesting conversation to say the least. One last stop at Canadian Waters to rent a cast aluminum skillet and off to entry point 30. We were there by 8:00 a.m.
I honestly don't think I have entered the BWCA with such perfect weather. Temps were in the low 50's with sunshine and calm winds. All of us were in shock and this was the first time in five or six years that I didn't have to wear my rain gear during the trip in. Because we were a smaller group, we had toyed with the idea of heading east into Insula, figuring we could make some good time, but for a variety of reasons we decided to stick with our original destination near the split in the Kawishiwi River.
As we paddled, we were really awed by the beauty of the river; it was nothing short of serene. What was even stranger is that every campsite we went by was vacant. We eventually decided to claim site 1148 just after the river splits into the north and south branch; it is a beautiful peninsula site with a lot of space. The only drawback to this site was the lack of dry downed timber. A few trees must have blown over this winter or spring, but they were really green.
After getting camp set up, we headed back up to a set of rapids we had portaged by on our way in and managed to land some nice walleye and several northerns over 30". Not a bad way to start the trip. Cooked up the steaks for dinner and fished another set of rapids in the evening without a lot of success. But we already had a start on Thursday's dinner, so we weren't too concerned.
What another beautiful morning! Temps in the low 50's again and mostly sunny. This was the first time since 2006 I didn't have to sleep with long underwear on (sorry if that is too much information, but this was weird considering the below freezing temps we'd been dealing with the previous four trips).
After breakfast we headed to the rapids we had fished the night before and this turned out to be one of our best days fishing ever. In the morning I caught a 19" and 20" walleye and my canoe partner, Erik, caught at least six northern in the 32"-34" range. Brett, one of the guys in the other canoe, managed to catch a beautiful 25" walleye.
We went back to camp for an early dinner, a fish fry, and then decided to head back to the same set of rapids for the evening bite, and what a night! Around 7:45 I thought I got snagged on a rock as I'm prone to do with a jig and a minnow, but then I felt the line tug the other way. Whatever it was it felt solid. After about two or three minutes of trying to get this thing to the surface I get the first glimpse of the monster walleye that had decided to take my 1/16 oz Blakemore Roadrunner. After a another minute or so I manage to land a 29" 9 lb walleye, by far the biggest one I have ever caught. I'd always hoped to catch a 5-7 lbs fish up there, so obviously I can check this off my bucket list. After a quick pic, I released the fish and continued fishing.
About a half hour later I hook into another good fish that ends up being a 26" 6.5 lbs walleye. About five minutes after that my friend Trevor, in the other canoe, lands a 26.25" walleye.
Finally, Erik hooks into something massive only to discover that he has a 15" walleye on his ultralight that a fat (and I mean fat) 36"+ northern is trying to eat. He manages to keep the fish on the line for two or three minutes and gets it to the surface two or three times, but unfortunately the northern eventually spits the walleye out. The good news is we were able to keep the walleye.
Another beautiful morning, but quite honestly we were hoping for some overcast skies because our plan was to head up to Conchu Lake, a designated trout lake, and catch some brook trout. After catching a few nice northern on slip bobbers and herring while eating breakfast, we then headed up to Conchu, which was about a 35-40 minute paddle. And for the first time during our trip we started seeing other canoes; for the first two days we had been the only people staying in this area and the solitude was much appreciated.
Conchu is a crystal clear 200 hundred acre lake. I think we could see up to 15' deep, which didn't bode well with the high sun. In fact we could see schools of 20-30 large mouth bass following our lures and canoes around the lake. They were obviously in their pre-spawn more-interested-in-reproducing than eating frame of mind, though we did manage to land a few in the 14"-16" range. Unfortunately we never came close to catching a trout.
After dinner, an awesome fish-bake, we went back to our honey-hole at the rapids, but there wasn't much action. Trevor managed to land a 15" walleye, and we caught a few small northern, but the hogs had apparently eaten enough or moved on.
We finally woke up to an overcast and breezy day with some sprinkles, which was more like the weather we had grown accustom to on our previous trips. We were also aware that this was the day that Rev. Harold Camping had predicted that Jesus would come back so maybe the weather was a prelude to the end of the world. I had told the guys prior to leaving that our trip might get cut short if Jesus came back on Saturday, but there wasn't anything I'd be able to do about that and there wouldn't be any refunds :^) I also told them that I'm post- tribulational in my theology, so even if Jesus did show up, he'd have no choice but to leave me behind to experience the Tribulation, but at least I'd get my fishing in. (For those of you who don't know, I am a pastor, but have no idea how and why people bother to pay attention to someone like Camping because the Scriptures clearly state that NO ONE knows the hour when Christ will return, and he only makes the rest of us look like fools...but that's another topic for another website).
Once again, we caught some nice northern in the morning while eating breakfast and then Erik and I decided to head to the rapids we had fished on Wednesday afternoon while Trevor and Brett decided to try the honey hole once again. We caught a few smaller fish and then decided to troll our way to the rapids where the other canoe was. About half way back, Erik snags a really nice eater walleye so we decide to stop and check the area out by jigging. I'm glad we did. Much to my surprise, I limited out in about an hour and a half--only the second time I've ever done that. Erik picked up one more really nice fish and then the bite turned off.
We eventually met up with Brett and Trevor at the honey hole, but it had all but dried up. So we went back to camp for dinner and then the wind and rain came. We had hoped to get out for the evening bite, but the weather pretty much squelched that idea. So we hung around camp drinking coffee and fishing for a few more northern on the slip bobbers and herring.
Given that we had less than a two hour paddle to get back to the entry point, we had a very leisurely morning eating breakfast and packing up camp. Thankfully the rain had stopped early Saturday evening so things had a chance to dry out a little bit, though they were still wet. On our way back, we scouted out a few other areas Steve Nelson from Spirit of the Wilderness had told us about, and they look very promising for our 2012 trip. It was also nice that we took our time because we would have otherwise probably driven through the tornadoes that hit the Twin Cities on our way back to Rochester.
As I alluded to above, unless something changes, our plans are to go back to this area next year. I was shocked that an area so close to one of the busiest entry points could provide such solitude and amazing fishing. I just hope it doesn't get overrun now :^)