BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
March 25 2019
Kawishiwi Lake entry point allows overnight paddle only. This entry point is supported by Tofte Ranger Station near the city of Isabella; Tofte, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 33 miles. Access is a boat landing at Kawishiwi Lake.
Number of Permits per Day: 9
Elevation: 1653 feet
Kawishiwi Lake - 37
Number of Permits per Day: 9
Elevation: 1653 feet
Kawishiwi Lake - 37
Honeymoon of a lifetime
May 21, 2016
Number of Days:
What better place for a honeymoon than the BWCA for 2 nature/fishing lovers? Up at 5:30 to head to work for a half day, not that I got much done as I was day-dreaming of our honeymoon adventure to come. Justin was at home, finishing up the packing. I got home around 11:00 and we hit the road before noon. Ahead of schedule already! An hour in to the drive, we realize we forgot our cheese so we have to make a pit stop. We also decided to stop at Gooseberry Falls to stretch our legs and snap a couple pictures. An amazing start to our honeymoon! We get to Sawtooth Outfitters by five, watch the movie and chat about the anglers recent poor luck fishing with warnings of a slow bite. We hope to have better luck. Quick stop at Coho Café for a sandwich and off to the entry point we go for the night. We are happy to see there are a couple sites open at the Kawishiwi rustic campsite, so we settle in for the night. Talks about our route and adventure to come fill the night as the solitude begins to set in. We can’t wait for morning.
Day 1 of 8
Saturday, May 21, 2016 Up around 5:00, we like to get an early start on day one. It was a chilly morning and neither of us slept very well but we snap into it fairly quickly and hit the water by 6:00, the goal destination for day one: the 5 star camp on Malberg. I’m in the front with the maps and compass and Justin is the back to keep us on course. We have found an amazing rhythm together in the canoe and breeze through Kawishiwi Lake. As we paddle through Square, we experience the desolate burn area. This was quite shocking and sad to see. Justin mentions that the positive side, that there will be new growth and new life in the area in the years to come that will be beautiful for future generations. We hit the river on the way to Kawasachong with a couple short portages and beaver dams to get over. We notice fish spawning in a rocky choke point and get excited. Onward. The burn area surrounds us by this point so we breeze straight through to the long portages to Polly. Before the trip we discussed single and double portaging. We love single portaging because we are competitive and on a mission. We still will take in our surroundings and enjoy the nature we worked so hard to get in to but we figure 2 semi-uncomfortable trips is not better than a single uncomfortable one. I throw the backpack on my front, my pack on my back, take the canoe seats in one hand and the paddles & leeches in the other. We tied the fishing poles to the canoe which Justin balanced with ease on his shoulders with his big pack on his back. We take one break during the first portage but overall, it wasn’t bad. We were imagining our tough portages last year which were quite difficult at times so we were grateful for the nice trails. The second portage to Polly was a little more difficult due to the mucky and then steep entrance but overall, not too bad. Polly was really beautiful, especially after going through the burn area. We soaked in our surroundings as we quietly paddled through. The portages to Koma were nothing noteworthy but fun nonetheless. When we reach the final portage to Malberg, we realize what amazing time we were making, it was a little after 11:00 and we still had a lot in us. As we took in the amazing rapids at the end of the portage, we made the decision that we would try to push to the 4 star beach site on Amber, especially if the 5 star on Malberg was taken (or the 4 star in the northeast channel). As we load up, Justin says and we make a mental note that we should fish the rapids on our way out. The paddle through Malberg was filled with pretty sites. We were impressed with the lake and knew we wanted to fish it. The 5 star camp was taken as we paddle by and, therefore, our decision was made: off to Amber. We knew we just had one more portage and a little paddling left so we were excited with the prospect of making it so far on day one. Our final portage of the day and we decided to have a snack while we leisurely double portage our gear. At the midway point, we hit the mud and muck. I carefully walk through but find myself up to my shin after hitting a deep spot. On the way back through the portage, I try the other side of the muck to avoid the sinkholes, bad idea! I should have followed and listened to Justin as he just trudged through the middle but instead I found myself falling to my mid-thigh in the stuff. Grateful I didn’t have any gear on my back so we were able to laugh it off. We check out the campsites on the Kawishiwi River as we pass by, in case the Amber sites are taken. They are open and don’t look too bad. We cross our fingers that we get the site we hoped for. Last year we spent a long, exhausting day traveling in the rain, through LLC, all the way to Finger to find our goal campsite was taken. As we enter Amber, everything feels quiet, despite it being a bit windy. We turn the corner and see the site is open. We are thrilled! As we beach the canoe, we see what a great site it is! We excitedly set up camp. We love setting up camp and both have our own duties we always do so it’s a breeze. Once things are set up and protected in case rain rolled in, a precaution we will always take after the rainiest trip ever last year, it’s time for fishing. I pull in a smallie and a northern while Justin gets a nice smallie. Things weren’t really hitting and we were both hungry so we head back to camp for Quesadillas and call it an early night.
Day 2 of 8
Sunday, May 22, 2016 Layover day on Amber today. We start the morning with coffee and protein bars before heading over to an inside turn Justin thinks will hold some walleye. As we paddled over to the spot, the winds started to pick up. We both hope the wind doesn’t ruin our day of fishing. Trying to fish a specific spot with the wind blowing us around is certainly challenging but Justin ends up catching one walleye before we switch over to bass fishing. We fished the entire shoreline that we could considering the wind. The smallies weren’t hitting as well as our late June trip last year but we still pulled in quite a few with northerns mixed in. Justin even snagged an 11lb Northern which got our blood pumping. We stop on a nice rock for a lunch of summer sausage, crackers and cheese and I fillet our fish for dinner, one smallie and one walleye. We always make sure we only keep as much as we will eat. We continue fishing a few more hours with more of the same, some smallies and northerns here and there but man the wind just kept getting stronger. We head back to camp to regroup for a little bit. I gather a little more wood while Justin attempts to make a bow. We decide it’s worth it to try to hit the walleye at dusk again since the wind seemed to die down a bit, Justin caught another one but I’m still not on the board. When we get back to camp, we eat up our fish fillets but aren’t hungry for a side to go with it. We decide that although the site is great, the fishing on Amber isn’t good enough to satisfy us for another day. Tomorrow we will pack up to head to Beaver or Fisher. Side note; Justin lost his favorite pocket knife randomly today. Let me say, this isn’t the first time he has lost one. After looking literally EVERYWHERE it could be, we were baffled!
Day 3 of 8
Monday, May 23, 2016 The wind is the worst yet today. Since the wind is out of the south and we really want to move, we decide to pack up and go. We certainly love a good adventure. I get the tent packed up as Justin gets the food pack down from the tree. Hallelujah somehow Justin’s knife was clipped on the bottom of the pack. Somehow, when he swung the pack on his shoulder the night before, the knife transferred from his side pocket on his utility pants to the strap on the pack. What are the odds of that? We are both super grateful though because, if you know Justin, he loves his knives. Yay, a good start to the day. As we get on the Kawishiwi River, we realize how windy it really is. The waves were huge but moving with us. It’s a strange feeling to paddle and feel as if you aren’t even hitting water because the canoe is already moving just as fast as the waves. We decide we want to take a site on Beaver if it is open rather than portaging our gear to Fisher Lake and finding out the spot is taken or really bad. When we make it to the site across from the portage to Fisher, we check it out. It has some pretty views from above, a decent landing and a soft tent pad so we decide it will be good for a night or two. We unload our things and quickly set up camp, we are both excited to get to Fisher. Justin read on these forums that it is filled with 2lb largemouth bass and we are intrigued. It took us a little while to find the portage to Fisher, it doesn’t really match the map as it is a little too north. Nonetheless, the portage was nice and easy with just a canoe and fishing gear. We hop in the canoe and my first cast out, I reel in a nice largemouth. This gets us pumped. We spend 3-4 hours on the lake and pull in at least 25-30 of them. It was so much fun. Especially given the wind as we could only fish the west and south sides of north point! We checked out the campsite on Fisher and realize we made a good decision to stay on Beaver. I don’t think you could even land a canoe at the Fisher site because a down tree was in the way of the landing. After we return to Beaver, we fish around for a little bit. We catch a few smallies and some northern, including the biggest hit I felt all trip which broke my line, before heading back to camp for a cold dinner of summer sausage, cheese and tortillas. As we explored the site that night, we saw the biggest garter snake either of us have ever seen, pushing 4 feet.
Day 4 of 8
Tuesday, May 24, 2016 We didn’t get the best night’s sleep, there was something in camp making strange noises hitting our gear. We always tie up our food and then make sure all of our equipment is protected in case it rains so we weren’t sure what lured it in. All we knew was that it was mid-sized (we figured skunk sized) and it was making a noise we had never heard before. We yelled out of our tent, Justin frustrated we didn’t grab the small machete for protection but eventually it went away. After some research on our way home, we figured out it was an otter. Much less scary knowing what it was, we love otters! Anyways, we slept in a little bit and slowly packed up to head back to Malberg for a couple nights. We felt satisfied with the amount of fishing we did on Beaver and were ready for new scenery. The trip to Malberg was uneventful and we were happy to see the first two campsites open in case the two we were aiming for were taken. We pass the 5 star camp on the rocks to see it was open, cool! We decided to paddle a little further to see if others were open as well but found the next 2 sites taken so we quickly skirted back to the 5 star camp and it was the right decision. The camp was awesome! Great shore for fishing, multiple tent pads to choose from and amazing views. We set up camp and filtered some water before heading out to fish. This was likely our worst day of fishing. As we moved to the northeast side of the lake we passed a camp with some older gentleman talking loudly about bathing naked which annoyed us some. We like the quiet peacefulness of nature. We would like to have the whole place to ourselves but when we don’t, we expect others to be respectful and courteous. I hooked in to a decent smallie at this point which helped us feel better. We worked around the bay and when our canoe turned around we got a full view of this older man’s naked butt! We were both appalled at this point that they didn’t have the courtesy to wait until we left the area. Away we went with a bad taste in our mouths. We fished a couple more hours before heading back to camp, lots of northerns and a few smallies for the day. We had our first freeze dried dinner- BBQ Chicken with beans and rice. Neither of us really liked it but we were hungry. After cleaning up from dinner, it looked like storms would roll through so we decided to try fishing from shore with some slip bobbers and leeches. This proved to be very entertaining. The strong winds and current made it seem as if we always had bites because we kept snagging on drifting debris. I got one northern but we had lots of laughs. The storms rolled in about an hour before dark and things got a little dicey. The winds were very strong and the storm was back building. Justin didn’t want us to go to bed until we knew we were in the clear. We both love watching storms but seeing Justin get nervous, made me really scared! Luckily it was just some strong winds and a little rain. We heard later that some areas had some hail and areas of MN had severe weather that night as well.
Day 5 of 8
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 We woke up knowing we needed an attitude adjustment from yesterday if we wanted to catch fish, so we started the day with our second freeze dried meal and first ever BWCA hot breakfast, an egg skillet with sausage, peppers and hashbrowns. We both loved it and will be getting it again for future trips! Snarfing it down with some warm coffee hit the spot and we were ready for a good day. Even though it was windy again, we fished the entire western and middle side of Malberg and caught a good amount of smallies and northerns. The fish had moved off the warmest northern point to the southern shores with rocky out croppings which helped us a ton considering the wind. We talked with some younger guys heading to Alice, excited for walleye fishing as well as a group of guys coming back from Alice saying all the sites were completely full. We had a feeling Malberg would be full tonight as well. We cleaned some fish at, what I would call a 1 star, campsite to bring back for dinner. We also hit a spot on an Island east of our campsite where we saw some big sunnies to switch it up. Justin suggested we put on some micro jigs to catch the 1 lbs we saw the day before. We relaxed a little bit while we pulled in sunnys big and small. Made it back to our site in late afternoon for a dinner of fish and rice. We wanted to check out the paths and shoreline around our site since we hadn’t had a chance to yet and we found some great access to the lake for fishing. Justin suggested we try out a spot where 5 points of the lake converge which was wind protected, yet had current converging from 2 ways. His theory was predators sneak attack the bait fish at these points. Night #2 of slip bobbers and leeches and this time we had much better luck. Almost right away, Justin caught a nice, eater sized walleye. I am again jealous because I still had not caught one but after about an hour we caught 3 walleyes each, the largest being a 20” I reeled in. I also caught a few northern and a rock bass while Justin caught a nice 8 lb northern in 10” of water, 4’ off the shore. We went to bed that night all smiles, happy we had a great day on Malberg.
Day 6 of 8
Thursday, May 26, 2016 We enjoyed a leisurely morning of packing up. We wanted to make it to Polly today to reduce our traveling on the last day since we needed to be out of the water by noon to make it to my younger brother’s high school graduation. We knew we wanted to hit the rapids on the way out so we kept our fishing gear accessible with everything else packed nicely in the canoe. It was tough leaving the site knowing our trip was going to be coming to an end but we wanted to make the most of our last full day. We spent about 1.5-2 hours fishing the rapids with amazing luck. We were pulling in smallies, averaging 16” every third cast and man they fought good. We talked with a couple other groups during the time we were fishing and we both had an amazing time. When the hits started slowing down a bit, we decided it was time to head out. We made it to Polly with ease as the wind began to pick up, AGAIN! Theme of the trip for sure! We wanted to get an island site on Polly because we have never stayed on an island together in BWCA. We get to the first island site where we see people pulling away. They said they just stopped there for lunch and it was a great site. We excitedly pull up the canoe and unload because we already knew it was a 5 star site. We grab some gorp and walk around the paths to see what we have to work with. Found the laterine and then follow the path along the shore to the other side of the island where we find not just one but three very fresh piles of bear scat (appropriately size as one was large with two smaller ones). As we make our way back to our things, we discuss our options. Neither of us feel very comfortable staying at the site so we pack back up and head out. As we paddle through Polly, we realize that with the wind it will be hard to fish the lake and after killing it with the smallies at the rapids, we don’t feel the need to fish all night once again. We make the decision to head all the way back to Kawishiwi to camp for the night. We pass a lot of groups coming in on our way out, all heading for Malberg. I don’t think they all got sites out there. We also pass a group with young kids that were camping on Kawishiwi that were filled with questions. We just kept on pushing until we found a nice little site on a peninsula. We really liked the site but there probably wasn’t room for more than one tent. We slowly set things up, cast a little from shore and decide to make dinner. Rice and summer sausage. This tasted yummy after a hard day. We took the canoe out for a little bit with the wind dying down without much luck. This was the laziest evening we had on the trip and it felt nice just to sit around camp and reflect. We discuss future trips and determine we like to stay on the move, away from people but enjoyed the length of this trip. We go to the tent for some back rubs before falling asleep.
Day 7 of 8
Friday, May 27, 2016 We wake up and know this is our last morning in the wonderful BWCA. Justin didn’t get much sleep due to the noisy campers on the lake. Justin casts from shore as I begin to pack things up. Our plan was to drop off the canoe and then find a great place for breakfast. We return the canoe by 10:00 and then ask the people at Holiday for restaurant suggestions. Rustic Inn in Castle Danger. Sounded good, so off we went. We drove through Temperance River State Park to determine if we would want to camp there in the future, we decided probably not. Then we checked out the split rock lighthouse and walked around for a little bit before our stomach’s told us it was time to eat. Rustic Inn was an amazing place to eat and I highly suggest it! The onion rings were the best we ever had, Justin’s burger was awesome and my sandwich was gooey and cheesy. We picked up some treats on the way out as well. We made it to my parent’s house by 4:30 to shower and get ready for my brother’s graduation. I can’t believe the little dude is heading to college. Overall, we had an absolutely amazing honeymoon. This was the perfect destination for us and a great reset on your mentality. Disconnecting from all technology and responsibilities to just enjoy nature with the one you love is the best thing I could ever think of. Each trip solidifies our relationship and love for each other and we cannot wait to get back up there again soon.
Day 8 of 8
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