BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
December 10 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 2
Elevation: 1865 feet
Skipper & Portage Lakes - 49
Cross Bay to Poplar
June 04, 2010
Cross Bay Lake
Lizz and Swamp Lakes (47)
Number of Days:
We packed up the car and started to make our way up Friday morning. We stopped at the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, WI, then pressed on to Duluth, where we spent the night. We took a stroll by the lakefront and happened to see one the ships come into port.
The bulk of Saturday was spent driving up the shoreline and making various stops along the way. Once we got outside of Duluth, I put the car window down and took in a deep breath of fresh air. Made me wonder if people up here take it for granted. It was extremely foggy throughout the duration of the drive, with temps in the 50's. We stopped at Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock, Palisade Head & Tettegouche. I'd love to come back up here during the fall to see what its like. Our destination for the evening was Clearwater outfitters. We headed up on the gunflint trail and stopped off at the moose viewing area. No moose to be seen that evening though. We stopped off at Clearwater, then headed to Trailcenter for dinner. I had the Canadian Walleye and Jen had the steak. Both were very good.
Sunday we woke up and had a great breakfast at Clearwater. As we were transported to our entry point, I noted how this area has alot more topography and seems more scenic than the previous trip I took. We hit the water at 10:30 am and set off for Long Island Lake. We had 6 portages and they were relatively easy. Once we hit Long Island, we set off for the eastern-most island site (based on a recommendation here). On our way there, we saw only one party on the lake. As we approached the island site, we realized it was taken. Damn! So we ended up taking the site near the island which is the furthest east site on the lake. It turned out to be a nice site. We had bratwurst for dinner, sat around the fire, then went to bed. Throughout the night we heard several loons calling. Very cool.
I woke up early and did some trolling, but to no avail. I noticed the evening before that several fish were surfacing for flies on the surface. I'm guessing lake trout? Gave up after about an hour and returned to the campsite for breakfast. We then packed up and headed to Omega. We had 4 portages today, and 3 of the 4 I would say were the hardest of the trip. The 1st portage from Long Island to Muskeg was very rocky, and ended with a beaver dam. After that there was a another short portage, then the infamous "Wall" portage from Muskeg to Kiskadinna. That portage certainly got the blood pumping. The portage into Omega was also somewhat verical. Our goal was to get the southern most site on Omega. Again, taken. So we headed back west and took the island site. As we pulled up to the site, Jen got out and reached down to grab some stuff out of the canoe. I noticed a few inches from her hand was one of those fishing spiders. I pointed it out to her and thought she was going to have a coronary. We noticed 3 of those spiders along the rock ledge at the campsite. Fascinating creatures. We were able to get a good fire going, and had steak for dinner, which turned out better than I had expected. For dessert we had smores. Not much luck with the fishing. I casted various spoons and rapalas, but no takers.
Breakfast today was french toast and sausage. The dehydrated syrup was surprising good. The original plan was to have a layover day on Omega and take a day trip into Winchell. Winds were blowing pretty good out of the east, and it looked somewhat overcast, so we decided to pack up and head to Gaskin. As we portaged from Omega to Henson, thought about Kanoes for a moment. No bears today though. We paddled against the wind on Gaskin and snagged the island site at the eastern part of the lake. Great site! Very spacious, good views, nice kitchen area. Unfortunatley we weren't able to enjoy the site long. It started to rain at about 1:30 in the afternoon, and it never let up. We took a nap in the tent, then came out to have dinner under the tarp. There is nothing like soup & hot chocolate on a cold rainy day! We also had beef stew and some sort of apple desert. Went to bed at about 8:30.
Woke up on Wednesday after it had rained most of the night. Stepped outside the tent an noticed a loon in the water right by the campsite with a 15 inch walleye that it was having for breakfast. It was a dreary day. We packed up and portaged into Horseshoe. Seemed like a mayfly hatch occurred here as there were mayflies all over the place. We pushed on to Caribou and selected a site on the north side of the lake. Did several casts from shore and lost a couple lures on some sort of snag. Ended up switching to a topwater and caught 1 smallmouth bass. Jen spent some time relaxing in the hammock and I joined her for awhile. Its hard to believe we are leaving tomorrow.
The last day we decided to pack up and head out in the morning. At the portage into Lizz Lake I stepped into what appears to be about 3 inches of water, but went up to my thigh in muck. We paddled out to Trail Center where the outfitter picked us up. After showering and changing into clean clothes, we got in the car and turned onto the Gunflint Trail to start heading back home. I told Jen that I was disappointed that we didnt see any moose on our trip. Not even a minute later I spot a moose walking off the road into the forest and I point it out to Jen. We snapped a picture and continued on our way. Ended up going back to Duluth for dinner at Fitgers, and going back to the hotel in Duluth for some time in the hot tub and pool. Its always nice to relax a little before returning to reality. All in all a good trip.