Day 1 of 8
Friday, June 12, 2020 I love trip planning almost as much as going on the trips. It's a major way of how I deal being inside for much of winter. I kayaked every month but January this last year, and love the portability and versatility of my Aruba 8 Sundolphin. I began lake trout fishing last summer, but had only caught 2 lake trout before this trip (24" and 35"). My goal of this trip was to catch as many lake trout as possible, and to see a good section of the Gunflint Trail Area.
Friday morning, drove up from near Milwaukee, WI and arrived at Round Lake by 2:15. First time driving the North Shore, and I loved the beauty and cool air near Lake Superior. The parking lot was packed out, but found a spot to park eventually. My goal was to camp on Bat Lake. I took my time getting there, found all three sites occupied, and passed on to Gillis. Met a husband and wife who said all the sites were taken, so I continued to Powell Lake. Arrived at Powell at 7:15. I loved the open feel of the burn area, and camped on the south side campsite. Beautiful view of the whole lake, and next to no bugs. Day totals: 7 miles, 10 portages, and no fish.
Day 2 of 8
Saturday, June 13, 2020 I woke up at 6 AM to dense fog, so took my time making breakfast and getting going. Started fishing just before 8 AM, and caught my first BWCA lake trout within 10 minutes. It was the brownest trout I've ever seen, but still a laker. I decided to stay put for a day, and enjoyed the shallow water lake trout. All the fish were caught in less than 50 feet, vertical jigging. I am sure I could have caught more, but I also took my time to paddle around the lake and explore a small pond off the side of the lake. Daily totals: no paddling or portaging, 5 lake trout landed
Day 3 of 8
Sunday, June 14, 2020 I got up around 6:30, started fishing, and caught another lake trout within the first 10 minutes. I returned to camp, and packed up to head for Kekekabic Lake around 8 AM. West Fern had much clearer water than Powell for some reason. The portage from Virgin to Peter had nearly disappeared in places. I reached Gabi around 9:30, and crossed perpendicular to the wind. I took on about 2 gallons of water since I didn't have a spray skirt on. After drying out on the Agamok portage and draining my kayak, I continued on. Fished Mueller for a bit, but had no luck. Hopped through Annie, Jennie, Eddie, and the Kek Ponds to reach a site on Kekekabic by 4:45. I loved the clear waters and high bluffs around Kekekabic. Daily Totals: 10.5 miles, 15 portages, 1 lake trout
Day 4 of 8
Monday, June 15, 2020 My goal on Monday was to fish Kek Lake, a 50 acre lake that is 120 feet deep. I paddled down Kekekabic lake, and portaged into the lake. I thought the recent cooler temps would have fish shallow, but I marked very few fish shallower than 50 feet, and many fish close to the bottom in over 100 FOW. Even a breeze can throw off vertical jigging in a light boat, and I didn't plan very well for trolling. After a frustrating morning fishing, I decided to paddle back through the Kek Ponds to Eddy Lake for the fun of it. After catching some crayfish in Eddy Lake, I went back to the small bay at the east end of Kekekabic, and finally managed to catch my first lake trout there vertical jigging. I made a supper of fish fry, lake trout, and crayfish tails. Rain threatened, and the mosquitoes were getting going, so I went to bed early. Daily totals: 5 or 6 miles of paddling, several portages, and 1 lake trout.
Day 5 of 8
Tuesday, June 16, 2020 I woke up early to some light showers, and turned over and went back to sleep. Got up around 8 AM, and paddled down to Kek lake again. I got some bites, but was unable to hook up any of the deep fish. I climbed the hill between Kek and Kekekabic, but was unable to get a clear view of either lake due to the fresh growth of aspens after the burn. As the day got hotter, I finally caught another lake trout close to camp, and decided to start moving late in the day. I had packed up by 4 PM, and started pushing through portages with the goal of camping on Little Saganaga by 8 PM. I planned on making 10 rods per minutes on portages single carrying, which proved to be a pretty strenuous goal. I cast in a few times on Mueller, and managed to catch a decent pike on ultralight gear. I reached the Agamok-Gabi portage around 7:30, and decided against crossing into the wind. Before settling into camp on Agamok for the night, I was surprised to hook a lake trout in 5 feet of water where Gabi flowed into the lake. Probably one of the highlights of the trip. Daily Totals: 10 portages, 10.5 miles paddling, 2 lake trout, 1 pike, 1 smallmouth
Day 6 of 8
Wednesday, June 17, 2020 Got up early on Agamok and pushed across Gabi before 7 AM. I wanted to see Powell and West Fern again, and didn't want to end the day with the Tusc portage. I decided to paddle back out to Round Lake, and then portage back in to Missing Link. I fished a little on the way out, and had a lake trout follow an orange Rapala all the way up to the surface on Powell. My fish finder battery died, so I started to pick up the pace to make it to Missing link. Passed many groups on my way out. My plan was to spend the last day and a half fishing Missing Link and Mavis for brook trout. I only saw one other group on Missing Link, a father and daughter. After setting up camp, I began looking for the marked portage to Mavis. No matter how hard I looked, I couldn't find a single sign of it. After the long day, I didn't feel like bushwacking, so I cast a few times in Mavis, then made supper and went to bed. Daily Totals: 12 miles, 16 portages, no fish
Day 7 of 8
Thursday, June 18, 2020 I woke up and got a good breakfast, planning on bushwacking a trail into Mavis. It took me nearly 2 hours to finally determine that I can't follow contour maps very well, and that there was definitively no trace of any trail going into Mavis. The father/daughter group joined me. We cleared a portage the 45 rods down and back up a ravine, and finally made it to Mavis around noon. we both fished for over 3 hours, and didn't get a single bite. I borrowed a battery from them, and went back with my fish finder. I didn't mark a single decent sized fish in the whole lake in nearly 2 hours. I decided to call it quits, and headed back to Missing link to try my luck there. After another 2-3 hours of casting with only 1 bite, I called it a night and ate the rest of my mac'n' cheese with bacon dinners. Moral of the story is that bushwacking may end well, or may end in disappointment. I still am glad I put in the effort! Daily totals: 1 very intense bushwack into Mavis, no fish
Day 8 of 8
Friday, June 19, 2020 Got up around 6:30, pulled camp, and headed out. I had planned the trip well, but made a rookie mistake and didn't pack a liner for my main pack, or cut my ground tarp smaller than my tent. When I got up, both my pack and tent were soaked. My sleeping pad saved me from an uncomfortable night. I portaged out to Round in the middle of swarms of mosquitoes. I included a link to the Spot tracking map that I made of the trip. I love this feature! https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=1qLVjJBCW3uXsVRXbRq4HaT9jLuNJxsbU&ll=48.07437372085884%2C-90.985495&z=12
Trip TakeAways: Plan days for fishing, and days for moving. It's hard to do both well on the same day. Remember to dry bag the inside of my pack, and cut my ground tarp smaller next time. I haven't been using a ground tarp up until now. Charge the battery! Otherwise, this trip was pretty relaxed and chill. I want to work up my skill and experience to do Gates of the Arctic one day. Here are a couple of extra photos of trips leading up to this one.