BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
October 04 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 3
Elevation: 1864 feet
Lizz & Swamp Lakes - 47
Poplar to Winchell Loop
June 17, 2015
Lizz and Swamp Lakes
Number of Days:
We woke up early morning on Wednesday eager to get on the road. So, we ate a quick egg bake my mother made for us and headed out on our adventure. We all had arrived at our home in Northern Wisconsin on Tuesday night and finished packing and preparing all the gear. The forecast was for quite a bit of rain so I was a little worried but we were hoping for the best.
The group was my brother and his girlfriend, my best friend from college and his wife, and then myself and another friend from college as well as a dog. 3 of us had been up before and 3 newbies so we planned a little easier trip for the 3 girls to get their feet wet. The area we were going was scenic with easy portages. My brother and I love going for the fishing but we decided to make a sacrifice for the group.
It is a 4 hour drive up to Grand Marais from our house. We stopped and got some fishing licenses as well as at the World's best donuts in Grand Marais (they were amazing). Stopped by the Gunflint Ranger station as well then were on our way up the Gunflint. We were paddling out from our entry point at Poplar Lake at like 10:30am
The forecast was for a rainy day but it was sunny and mid 60s with a slight breeze at our backs as we got under way. (Couldn't ask for a better day to start on).The portages were all pretty easy and went fairly smooth dispite our 3 greenhorns. We were a little slow at first but not too bad. Our goal for the day was Horseshoe. We heard that it could be pretty busy but that it had good fishing and was a pretty lake; so we were hoping on a Wednesday it wouldn’t be too busy. The first campsite was open but that was our 4th choice so we kept going. The two at the bend of the lake that we wanted were both taken so we settled on the one on the North shore of the southern part of the shoe. It was a spacious site, pretty wooded with two good tent pads so it worked for us. We unpacked our gear and explored a bit and then ate some lunch. We had summer sausage, bagels, cheese, granola bars and some trail mix.
Then after lunch we set up the rest of camp and 2 canoes headed out fishing and the other went to read and sun bathe. Our canoe only caught a few little smallies and a couple Northerns in a couple hours of fishing, which was surprising and disappointing to me. I do not claim to be a great fisherman but I do decent normally. The other canoe only caught one smallie as well so the fishing was quite slow but we were hopeful that the evening bite would be decent. We headed back to camp, collected some firewood, and relaxed a bit. Some people took naps and a few others read and talked and just enjoyed the still and quite of the Boundary Waters. We had an early supper of rice a roni and chicken and then headed out fishing. Unfortunately, the evening fishing was pretty slow as well. I managed a few walleyes in a couple hours but that was about it. My buddy is pretty new to fishing and so I was teaching him how to jig and he kept getting snagged which was a little frustrating. It was also a little windy so we couldn’t stay in the same spot very well. The walleyes were biting some but not very aggressively. I could feel a lot of them hit my jig but they wouldn’t take it. which made it really tough on him as he couldn't yet tell rock apart from fish. So, it was a bit of a bummer but it was still a beautiful night and it was fun to be out on the water. We talked around the fire for a while and had some hot cider and chocolate but then headed to bed pretty early because it was a long first day. Lakes: Poplar, Lizz, Caribou, Horseshoe
I woke up pretty early and walked down to the water and saw that Erika (my friends wife) had beat me up. I went up to say good morning and she showed me a picture on her camera that she took a little earlier of a moose cow with two calves that swam across the lake right next to our campsite in front of her. She was pretty excited about it which I was glad of because that is one of the reason I chose the route is to hopefully get some of my friends to see some moose. In a short time the rest of the crew were up. We had some oatmeal and granola bars, packed up camp, then headed out to the portage to Gaskin. It was another beautiful and sunny day for us about a mirror image of the first day. We made our way towards Omega and were hoping to get some seclusion. We wanted to get the lake to ourselves and we were in luck as we got the campsite we wanted and no one else was on the lake. Omega is a very beautiful lake and the campsite was one of the best I’ve stayed at in 15 trips to the BWCA. Once we got the campsite set up we played some cards, ate some lunch and then most people took naps and I went and climbed up a cliff and just sat there for a couple hours, reading my Bible and just thinking about life and all the changes coming for me. It was so wonderful. Then a few of us went out fishing and all we managed were 2 Northern pike so again we were pretty disappointed because you shouldn’t struggle to catch fish in June. I don’t think Omega is a real good fishing lake but you'd think we could catch a decent amount of bass just fishing shoreline but we had no luck. After we got back from fishing a few of us were feeling a little grimy so we jumped into the lake, swam around a bit, and cleaned up. It was very refreshing! Then we got supper going and just hung out and talked for a bit. After a supper of rice and fish, we cleaned up camp a bit and went to play some cards in the tent for an hour or so. Then a few of us had a campfire and a few went right to bed.
Lakes: Horseshoe, Gaskin, Henson, Omega
We woke up to yet another sunny day. Man the weather was turning out to be one of the highlights of the trip and not poor like I expected. I woke up right as the sun was beginning to rise across the lake and I just sat and watched for a while as the sun slowly burned the fog off the lake. I sure love those misty mornings on the lakes up there, so beautiful! We had or breakfast of oatmeal, poptarts and granola bars; packed up camp and headed out to our destination of Gaskin. It was a bit windy but the wind was from the west so we decided to tackle winchell to save some portaging and to just see some new scenery. It turned out being a good choice as the wind was at our back and it is a pretty lake. It did seem to never end though (such a big lake)… The portages were not too tough and we were at our site on the North shore of Gaskin before 11am.
The wind was continuing to pick up a bit and it looked like a front was coming through. We set up camp and got some lunch and relaxed a bit. Most people took naps or sun bathed and I did some shore fishing and caught 3 small mouth bass, one being the biggest of the trip at 18” ( I know that’s not that big but that’s how poor the fishing was). After a while the wind started to die down a bit so we went out fishing for a couple hours again only catching a few bass and Northerns. I couldn’t understand what was up with the fish. We headed back to camp and we collected some firewood, hung the hammock, and tidied up camp a bit more. I grabbed my Bible, headed down to the shoreline, read for an hour and cast out a slip bobber, catching two small bass. As evening started to inch closer the slip bobber started to go down with some regularity. So, I ran to get another pole and set up another slip bobber and caught a few more bass and some small walleyes. Then I landed a 21” walleye and right after I got him off one hook the other bobber went down so I set the hook and felt a big fish on the end of the line. I got it about halfway in when it broke my line, I was pretty disappointed to say the least. So, I put a leech on the other hook and cast that out and went to tie up the other pole again and the bobber started to go down right away. So, I yelled to Chelsea (my brother’s girlfriend) to come catch it. She come down and sets the hook and of course reels in a 25” walleye. She was pretty excited about it so I didn’t mind. Its fun to see other people catch fish too. So I was starting to get pretty excited about some evening walleye fishing.
So, we fried up some fresh fish and stuffing for dinner and headed out for the evening. Earlier in the day I was eyeing up a pinch point between two islands where it came up to 5’ surrounded by 20 fow. So we headed out there and anchored. In a couple hours we managed 5 walleyes but I probably missed close to 20. It was pretty frustrating but they were biting very lightly and being very finicky. We cast out slip bobbers too but we got none on those. So, I don’t know if the bottom was just different depths all around us so we didn’t have them at a good depth or what but it made me think about investing in a depth finder. I would say we were probably fishing in about 10 fow though. It was a fun evening but it was tough knowing they were down there but we couldn’t catch them. We started paddling back when we began to lose light. We made a campfire when we got back, made some hot drinks, and then went to play some cards for a while in the tent. Then most of the group headed to bed and my brother and I went to sit and talk about by the campfire. There’s just something amazing about staring into a fire and listening to the loons call from across the lake as you sit and reflect about life. Such wonderful bliss.
Lakes traveled: Omega, Winchell, Gaskin
Today was a layover day with no traveling so most people slept in myself included. For the first time all trip it was cloudy when we woke up. We made some muffin/ pancakes for breakfast and we just sat around and drank some cider and hot chocolate and just shared about life a bit. It was a free day so a few went exploring, a couple just relaxed, and a couple went out fishing. It wasn’t too eventful of a day just a lot of quality times with friends and exploring God’s beautiful creation. Wind slowly picked up throughout the day and started drizzling early afternoon. Managed a couple bass and Northerns but again not too much luck. We retreated inside our tent to play some more cards and wait out the rain. It lasted for about 3 hours. After that we made some soup for supper which was nice because it was chilly and wet. It sure hit the spot. No one was really up for fishing but me so I headed off alone into the drizzly but now calm evening. I went out to the same spot from the night before and it was the same type of bite. I managed 8 walleyes that night but the biggest was probably like 16” so they were all pretty small but again they were being finicky. The previous night we caught them casting and retrieving jigs but this night I didn’t catch any like that. The only way I could catch them was dropping my jig straight down and letting it sit a couple feet off the bottom and they would tap it. It again was very light though so it was tough to catch them. I measured the depth with the anchor and set my slip bobber up for the right depth cast it out and again nothing. I don’t understand that at all (i don't know why they wouldn't bite on a leech). It was just very peculiar to me. Once it was dark I threw out a blue rapala and trolled back to camp and caught a decent smallie which was a nice caper to the evening. The others were all sitting around the campfire when I got back so we just sat and talked about life more and all the different changes and transitions our lives are taking (we all just graduated college or about to). We used up the rest of our hot drinks and just enjoyed our last evening in the BWCA. I always save my mint hot chocolate for the last night. It is very nostalgic for me.
Leaving day is always very bittersweet for me. I just love it up in the BWCA so much but it is always nice to get a shower and to see people again. We covered the portages fairly quickly as the group had gotten pretty good at portaging only in a couple days. I was very proud of them. We passed a few groups just coming in and we wished them well on their way. We got back to the Poplar landing and loaded up the cars. I always like jumping in the water and cleaning up before the long ride home. Its just nice to get in to some dry clean clothes for the ride back. We stopped at Subway on the way back and got in some fresh food which was nice for a change and reflected on another great trip during the ride back. This was the best trip weather wise I have had so far. 60s to 70s and sunny every day exept for half of our lay over day. The bugs were not bad at all either which was a blessing. The fishing was a little poor which is a bummer for my brother and I because that’s what we like doing best but still all in all a great trip. All the new comers loved it and want to go again so that’s always a good feeling. Also. Really enjoyed having a dog with as well. Not as much maintenance as I would have thought but she just a small dog and pretty well behaved so she was a good addition as well.
Until next years trip I guess we'll just be dreaming of those days when we can sink a paddle and a line into that clear blue water up North and let all the stress of life drift away.
Thanks for reading I hope you enjoyed!