BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
January 23 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 4
Elevation: 1864 feet
Lizz & Swamp Lakes - 47
Awesome fishing, crazy weather, (Meeds lake trip)
August 05, 2015
Lizz and Swamp Lakes
Number of Days:
It was a sunny day with a little breeze but very mild for August when we gathered at our High school track coach’s house. We got together the last of the gear, made some last minute preparations, and were on the road by shortly after 2PM. We stopped for fishing licenses and then at another place along the North shore to stretch our legs and see some scenery. Those 4 hours from our home up to Grand Marais always seem to take an eternity, probably has to do with all the excitement for a new trip but it always seems to drag. The excitement for a trip never gets old though.
We stopped at Sven and Ole’s for some pizza and it lived up to the hype. It was pretty busy so after we ordered our pizza we explored for a while and the temperature had to be somewhere in the 50s which was unbelievable for August. The whole trip actually was like 55-70 which we couldn’t believe for August. We quickly devoured our pizzas then were on our way to Rockwood Lodge on Poplar lake to stay for the night. I had never used a bunkhouse before but that is what our coach usually does and the guy from Rockwood Lodge always gives him a great deal. It is definitely a slick way to do it, very convenient. We played some cards and caught up on life a little bit then headed to bed early.
Nick and myself were up with the sun and we ate our breakfast of rolls and some OJ and watched the sun rise as we looked out over the lake. Within the next half an hour everyone was up and we were packed up and ready to head out quickly. We watched the video and got everything squared away and were paddling out by 8:30. It was a sunny day with a few clouds with the temperature in the low 70s. We were halfway across Poplar when coach realized he left the permit on the dash of his truck so he and Chaz go back to get it while the rest of us continued on towards Meeds. The portages were pretty short but the portage from Caribou to the little pond was the rockiest and worst footing I’ve seen on a portage. We still made good time and found one of our preferred sites open so we took it as we could see the other one across the way was occupied.
The island campsite is pretty nice with at least 4 tent pads but only one really nice one. We found 2 other decent ones to pitch our tents on and put up our rain shelter and set up the rest of camp. Then we went out to collect some firewood from the west side of the lake that was burnt a few years back. The wind slowly picked up throughout the day which made paddling across the lake a pain but nothing too bad. We sawed and chopped up the firewood and got a big stack to last us a few days then headed out fishing. It was getting very windy so we tried to fish some small bays and tuck behind the islands but the wind made it a pain. Nick and I were fishing rapalas and managed about 10 smallmouth in about 2 hours small to medium size with the biggest being like 18”. We came back for a dinner of ham steak and baked potatoes and headed out walleye fishing for the evening. We were hoping the wind would die down some but no such luck. Between the 6 of us we caught 15 walleyes in a couple hours but it was pretty windy and rainy so that hampered the fishing. Mostly eater size but I caught one 22”. Once we got in from fishing we lit a campfire and just sat around and reminisced about memories and stories of the old days. It was very fun and nostalgic. We all went to bed at different times. Nick and I stayed up awhile just enjoying the campfire and the peace and quiet that the boundary waters offers.
We woke up to a cool and misty morning that was overcast and drizzling. We had a breakfast of eggs and sausage and then headed out fishing for a few hours. Unfortunately it was windy once again that made it difficult to fish deep areas or down timber well. Nick and I did pretty well catching probably about 10 Smallies in a couple hours and missing a few more. When we got back to camp the other groups had done pretty well too catching 17 and 25. We had left a little earlier than the others and coach handed out flukes to the other guys so that’s what they did so well with. We were just fishing rapalas. I had heard of flukes before but had never used them. However, for the rest of the trip mostly we all used flukes. Personally, for me it was a love/hate relationship with the flukes. On one side the bass absolutely love them and I really love the action in the water of fishing them and I can see while they do well. But you miss A LOT of fish!!! I caught over 50 smallies on the trip but easily had over 100 bites so it was frustrating for me missing like half of them.
(For those of you unfamiliar with flukes it is a plastic power bait minnow that is salty and usually light colored (we used white). The hooks are the long shank or shaft hooks usually fairly large but there is just one hook so I’m sure that accounts for a lot of the misses. The other difficult thing with flukes is the timing for setting the hook. I tried setting the hook instantly, pausing, and everything in between but it really didn’t matter it was just if you got the specific timing for that particular fish. The other thing I didn’t like about them is that about half of my catches were hooked in the tongue area or lower only about 1/3 of them were in the lip or mouth area. I really didn’t like that but we ate a lot of them and I’m pretty good at getting hooks out quickly with minimal damage so I’m confident most of them lived but I still didn’t like it. )
We had some lunch back at camp and a few people took naps and I went out fishing with Greg. With the flukes we went to town on the smallies probably catching 30 between us in a couple hours and missing probably double that. It was some really awesome fishing. We didn’t measure any of them and unfortunately I forgot my gopro so didn’t get any footage from that afternoon but a few smallies had to be close to 20”. The day was still overcast and breezy but we just hugged the shoreline and fished the drop offs. We came back to camp shortly before dinner and helped cook up the fish fry and stuffing for dinner. Fresh caught fish is so delicious!!! It was a great meal. After supper we tidied up camp then headed out for some evening walleye fishing. It was again windy and overcast but not quite as bad as the previous night but between the 3 canoes I think we only caught like 10 or so. The bite was pretty slow so we ended a little earlier than usual and headed back to camp. We had a nice campfire and just sat around for a few hours again telling stories and plans for the future.
Woke up to a nice sunny morning for the first time on the trip. We had some pancakes for breakfast then headed out fishing for the day! Nick and I decided to try the very West part of the lake and we had a lot of success. It was still very windy though which was frustrating. In a couple hours we caught about 20 fish but again missing about 10 or so but it was a lot of fun! It still was pretty mild in the low 70s but we decided to go swimming and screw around a bit and clean up some. Most of us then decided to do some napping and I read my Bible by the lake for a while which I absolutely love doing up in the BWCA. Then Chaz woke up and asked if I wanted to go out fishing so we went out for like an hour and a half. We caught probably 20 bass between the two of us and my first northern of the trip. We were fishing our way back to camp when we started to hear some thunder in the distance and noticed the wind picking up more so we bee-lined for camp quick. We pulled all the canoes up and flipped them over and just finished tidying up camp when it started raining.
At first it wasn’t too bad but then the rain started to get heavier and heavier, then the wind started to blow sideways. Then the rain started to lessen but then the hail came for a few minutes followed by more wind. We were all sitting under the rain tarp looking out over the lake and watching the storm and it was pretty incredible with the thunder and lightning. At one point we started to get a little nervous as the clouds above the lake began to rotate and swirl but a funnel cloud never formed thankfully (although I guess there was one spotted a few miles from where we were along with a tree falling over and smashing a canoe, which would be terrible). So, it was a pretty powerful and amazing storm to watch but I also really enjoy storms. Some people might not have liked it too much. It was one of the craziest storms I have ever witnessed though and by far the worst BW one I have seen. My coach has been up there 50 or 60 times and he said he had never seen anything like it. After the rain stopped it actually got pretty calm and the clouds parted a bit for the sunset. It was a spectacular sequence of events. With the huge storm then such calm and beauty after was pretty cool. Coach Postler said that the walleyes wouldn’t bite after a loud storm and rain like that so we didn’t go out but I wish I would of. It was a nice and calm perfect night to fish so I wish I would have gave it a go. I understood his logic though and we might not have caught anything it was just our only calm night. We just relaxed the rest of the night and made a delicious supper of rice and fish. We sat around the fire and sipped some cocco and cider and told some more stories and relived the glory days of high school track.
We woke up to another sunny day thankfully and packed up or camp. It rained several inches the night before so we were worried about the short wet and rocky portages so we decided to take the long portage directly to Poplar. It was a beast of a portage but not too tough. It was pretty long but really wasn't too bad then we were right on poplar so I’d consider doing it again but the rest of the guys were done and said they’d never do that again. I’m in pretty good shape though and it was tough for me so its definitely not for the faint of heart. Once we got back to Rockwood we loaded up the gear and headed out down the gunflint. We decided to stop at the Trail Center for the breakfast and famous Durje’s flapjacks. It was a delicious and great way to end the trip.