BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
May 17 2022
Number of Permits per Day: 4
Elevation: 1500 feet
Brant to Tuscarora via Little Sag Route:
Bat - Mud
Gillis - burn area is evident:
Peter - first lake trout:
Little Sag - green trees again!
Mora - gorgeous divide of burn and green
Tuscarora - second lake trout!
Missing Link - with lighter food pack, the portage is OK
Awesome June Fishing on Knife Lake
June 12, 2021
Number of Days:
Friday June 11th: We all arrived in Northern Wisconsin at different times on Friday night as we were all on different schedules. A member of our party had some last-minute emergency type situations that delayed us a day and caused us to come out a day early as well. However, by 9pm all 4 of us had arrived and had our gear all packed up and ready to head out. We were all very excited for our trip and game planning for the next couple of days. The original plan was to leave in the early AM on Saturday but after looking at how windy it was looking on Saturday, we decided to leave in the middle of the night to get started as early as possible.
-Sunny, upper 70s and lows 80s, building wind throughout the day with gusts up to low 20s. -We were on the road by midnight and drove up through the night as we were wanting to beat the wind as much as we could. We were paddling out of the entry point around 4am. I would not recommend this to anyone, but we are experienced trippers and were familiar with the lake and the route as well as having GPS on our phones. We got to the other end of Seagull Lake as it was starting to get light. It was a little sketchy but ended up working out very well with how windy the day got.
We had a long day of travel the first day, pushing all the way to the South Arm of Knife Lake. We had some snacks and water accessible to refuel as we went. None of the portages wee overly difficult, just some long paddles and the wind was starting to build as the day went. We were very grateful that we had chose to start as early as we did. The 4 of us made good time and covered the lakes and portages fairly quickly. We decided to push off lunch until we got to the campsite. We were pretty exhausted by the time we reached SAK and the wind was blowing pretty good by this time. We traversed the big water carefully and skillfully and found a campsite to our liking. It was not our preferred campsite, but it ended up being a good 2nd choice and caused us to explore some new water. The site was nice and protected as well from sun and wind. This trip was amazing for bugs as well. You would think with how warm the weather was that they would be out in droves, but they were not bad at all.
We got some lunch and set up our tents and took care of other camp responsibilities such as collecting firewood, hanging the bear bag, stringing up some hammocks, and readying our fishing gear. As we were setting up camp Zack could not wait and longer and cast out a jig and plastic and landed a nice 18” Smallmouth on his 2nd cast. As we finished our tasks, he had caught several more Smallies which made 5 in less than 10 minutes. This made us quite excited for getting into some good post spawn action with the bass. We tidied up camp, hung the bear bag, and headed out fishing for a couple hours. We did not stay out for too long due to the wind but both boats managed around a half dozen smallies each.
Back at camp Zack, Tyler, and Brad all took naps for a couple hours as we had a long and hard first day. I went to read in my camp chair on the shore and cast out a slip bobber pole. Long story short, I did not get much reading or relaxing done over the next couple hours. In a couple hours of slip bobber fishing, I probably caught around 15-20 smallies. Most were on the smaller side (12-15”) but managed a few that were probably close to 18”. I did not measure any of these fish during this stretch of fishing. I got a short 30-minute nap in the hammock as I needed to recharge a little before heading out to do some evening fishing. We prepared our dinner and went out fishing for the last few hours of daylight. We typically use the first night to scout out spots and try to learn the area so do not typically do super well the first night. We did okay but not up to our standards, with my brother and I catching 5 walleyes and 8 Smallmouth bass. We were mostly dragging jigs and fan casting them as well around structure. We did do a little bit of slip bobber fishing right at the end of the night as well. The other guys managed a couple of each species as well.
We hung out by the fire back at camp for a little bit drinking some hot drinks and catching up on life some. However, we did not stay up too long as we had a very long first day of travel and were all pretty exhausted.
-Upper 70s, mostly Sunny. Some clouds in the middle of the day on both ends of a 3-hour rain shower. Some wind on both ends of the front as well but mild the rest of the day.
- We woke up to a beautiful boundary waters morning. Can’t beat waking up in God’s beautiful creation with friends and family and chasing wilderness game fish all day. We had some breakfast and went out fishing for the morning. We ran into our camp neighbors who were friendly and talkative and shared some of their fishing successes from the last couple days (they were headed out later that day). They shared that they had been doing well for walleyes and gave us a couple spots to try. We did fish their spots a little over the next couple days but only picked up a few small walleyes. We found much better spots on our own. (More to come on that later). Over the couple hour morning session, we managed a couple small walleyes and a few Smallmouth bass as well, but it was pretty calm and very sunny. For those of you that don’t know the South Arm of Knife Lake is a very clear body of water and a little wind our clouds tend to help fishing. As we were finishing our morning of fishing the wind was starting to pick up some and the clouds were starting to roll in. We got some lunch quick and could hear Thunder in the distance. We dove for our tents as it started to rain and got some rest during the hardest rain.
We were not sure how long the rain would last as we do not have a weather radio (I have been thinking about getting one, I’d be curious to see on this forum people’s thoughts on them and feel it would be a very nice tool. I am sure there are threads on the topic I can find). Our group goes to the Boundary Waters for the fishing some we could not stand not fishing any longer and braved the clouds and rain and headed out fishing. My brother and I had stayed at an awesome campsite in 2010 and done extremely well slip bobber fishing right from camp so decided to go fish out from there to start. Brad and I headed down that way and the other group caught up about 15 minutes later. Brad and I set up or poles and cast them out towards the underwater structure/ledge out from the campsite. We caught a few fish and Brad landed a nice smallie right as our buddies came around the corner to join us, with them remarking that was a great sign. It was still raining pretty good with a little bit of wind but nothing too bad. Over the next hour between the two canoes, I canoes I would guess we caught around 30-40 walleye and several Smallmouth. The average size for walleyes was mild with them running from 10-16” for the most part but it was good action. A couple of them were between 16 and 20” but definitely a smaller year class overall. As the rain quit, and the sun came out the fast and furious feeding subsided and the bite shut off quickly.
It was still only midafternoon, so my brother and I paddled across the way to fish some shoreline structure, underwater points, and a bay we had done well at in the past. We found some great structure and caught some very nice Smallmouth bass. We could see a bunch of big fish swimming 10-15 feet down below us as well which was cool. We took note of the structure and got a lay of the land some. (More to come on this location later, specifics of the structure and how we fished it one evening). For the afternoon bite my brother and I caught around 20 Smallmouth bass with 3 of them being over 20” with my brother catching a 21.5” brute. Probably one of the cooler fish catches I have witnessed. Story as follows…
On our way back to camp from fishing the above locations there are a couple islands we have caught fish on in the past. As we pull up to stretch our legs in the shallows between the islands, we see a big bass dart off. We pull the canoe up and grab our rods to walk around a bit and stretch our legs and do some brief fishing. I caught a 19” smallmouth in the shallows and as I was landing it Brad hooks one as well and yells that it’s the big one, we had seen. However, a couple seconds later he yells in frustration as it shakes his hook. We fish a little longer and Brad sneaks around his island and says he can see the big bass again. We realize that it must be on a bed or think that it is still protecting a nest stalks this fish for some reason. I watch as my brother stalks this fish like he is spotting and stalking a buck archery hunting with his head just barley poking over the crest of the island. The fish takes a couple more swipes at his lure but it must just be grabbing the plastic. Brad sneaks down for a little better angle and finally hooks the big Smallmouth bass after a couple more casts. The following is one of the craziest battles with a fish I have seen. The water is only a couple feet deep, and the fish goes berserk once it knows it is hooked. I grab the net and wade out into the water to help land this fish. We put the tape to a 21.5” Smallie that my brother states is likely his 2nd or 3rd biggest Smallmouth ever. We snap a couple of quick pictures and release her back quickly. It was one of the coolest fish catches I have seen from start to finish with the whole sequence. He was very lucky the fish gave him 5 chances. Hah.
We head back to camp feeling accomplished with some good action for our main two target species (Walleye and Smallmouth). We tidy up camp some and relax a little at camp while a couple guys whip up some supper. I cast out a slip bobber again and caught several Smallmouth again in a short period of time. We ate our supper and headed out for another evening of fishing. Zack and Tyler has found a small underwater 18ft hump out closer to deep water with their electronics earlier in the day so they elected to go anchor on that structure and slip bobber it for the evening. Brad and I trolled some shoreline structure and tapering off points and breaks. We picked up some eater walleyes but did not seem to find any sort of concentration of them. We worked our way back towards camp and paddled by Zack and Tyler. They shared that they caught a couple nice Smallmouth bass and Walleye on their piece of structure. We elected to slip bobber for the final hour at a pinch point/ neck down area that comes up to 15 feet with some scattered boulders. This turned out to be a good decision with us catching over 20 Walleyes with a couple in the low 20s. As the moon was starting to rise, I hook a big fish and was hoping for a big Walleye. However, it turned out to be the 4th 20+ Smallie of the trip so can’t complain about that. Tyler and Zack hear us catching fish (their spot had good quality but was not too much action) and join us for a bit before we all head into camp. They caught several as well. We did fish with light up slip bobbers for the last half hour or so. Gotta love that light disappearing into the dark water. We finished a great fishing day with hot drinks and some adult beverages around the fire. This was the fishing day we had anticipated and looked forward to so much and why we love the Boundary Waters so much. We looked forward to hopefully replicating it gain a couple times before we had to go home.
-Low 80s, with some building wind for brief periods. Mostly mid to upper 70s with mostly sunny skies.
-We decided to do a day trip to chase some lake trout. We had some intel that a small lake had a good amount of lake trout that we wanted to chase. It was a little longer paddle then we had anticipated but ended up being a pretty good day. We trolled some mid-lake structure with lindy rigs and picked up the biggest Walleye of the trip so far at 24” and a couple nice smallmouth. Zack and Tyler tried fishing out from Eddy Falls but did not have any luck. Brad and I focused on a couple mid-lake reefs and would pick up a Walleye or Smallie on each pass, but the wind made it a pain. Tyler and Zack headed down the main lake and started fishing a large reef down the lake that they stumbled upon. They caught a bunch of walleyes on slip bobbers in about an hour. We joined them for about a half hour and caught a few as well before we headed towards our trout lake.
We bushwhacked our way back to the lake. On the portage there we encountered the only really bad buggy stretch on the whole trip. It was a longer portage but nothing too bad. We fished for a couple hours and each managed to catch a couple lake trout but nothing too consistent. We marked a decent number of fish, but they did not seem to be actively feeding. It was fun to try something different and I have not caught too many lake trout. We took a break and had some lunch. The action was not too exciting, so we headed out to the main lake and tried some trolling spoons for lake trout there as well. It was pretty windy, so it was difficult to fish effective, but we gave it a couple hours but to no avail.
Back at camp we did some more relaxing in the hammocks with napping and other leisure activities. I did some more slip bobber fishing. I was finally able to catch the big Smallie that I had spotted from my ledge overlooking the water. I had spotted him a couple times the previous days and was hoping to catch him at some point. My bobber shot down and I was able to wrestle him into shore to land him. I was able to unhook and put the tape to our 5th smallmouth bass over 20”. I caught a couple others along our campsite shoreline over a couple hour span. We had an early dinner and headed out for an evening of fishing.
We headed out away from camp, down to the area we had fished the previous day. We fished and underwater point/ reef that stuck out into the deep water near the mouth of a bay. It was the area that we saw big smallmouth bass roaming all over the previous day. We decided to anchor on this 10-foot flat as there was deeper water nearby with a lot of boulders and structure for the push to push up onto and feed. We anchored up around 5:30pm and started catching bass right away. We did not keep track of the number of fish we caught but it was easily over 50 during the 4-hour span. We had several doubles and two more smallmouth that were over 20” putting our number at 7 for the trip. As the sun started to get lower in the sky the Walleye began to push up onto the flat and we caught many of them as well. By the end of the night, I would guess the split was pretty close to even. It was without a doubt one of the best 4 hour stretch of fishing I have ever had, especially in the Boundary Waters. We fished the slip bobbers with leeches the whole time. The flat was around 10 FOW and we had our leeches between 1 and 2 feet off the bottom. It was such an amazing night of fishing, one to remember for sure!
Zack and Tyler decided to fish their hump near camp and did pretty well again catching quite a few walleyes and smallmouth once again with some quality size Smallmouth (1 over 20” putting our total at 8 for the trip) as well as some low 20s Walleye. We paddled back to camp on a beautiful and calm lake as the moon rose. We had a nice campfire and some drinks around the fire and talked about our awesome evenings of fishing.
-Mid 60s, Sunny with mild wind throughout the day.
- We had a picture-perfect weather day with beautiful sunshine, mild wind, great temperatures for fishing. I was itching to have some topwater action and some more active presentations to catch fish. Up to this point we had mainly been slip bobber fishing, trolling lindy rigs, and dragging jigs to catch a majority of the fish to this point. I was hopping for some bass on topwater spooks or the whopper plopper, wacky worms, crank baits, ned rigs, and other more cast and retrieve style baits. So, that was the plan for this day.
We got some breakfast and relaxed around camp for little bit before heading out fishing most of the day. We got fishing mid-morning around camp. It was calm so I broke out the topwater for the first time. Had a few blow ups but was not really connecting on them. Managed to catch an upper teens Smallie on one of them but was not too consistent of action. (I have yet to get in or really good topwater action up in the Boundary Waters). So, I put the topwater away and broke out the ned rig. (I always thought this bait was stupid but after trying it last fall and this spring I have quickly became a believer in it). I would honestly say it is probably my go to Smallmouth bait now.
Safe to say that the ned rig did not disappoint. That is all I threw for the next few hours. My brother threw a combination of a wacky worm, fluke, and Texas rigged crayfish plastic. We fished some shoreline points and picked up a couple decent Smallmouth bass. About a half mile from camp we started fishing an underwater bar that come up within a couple feet of the surface. We fished the drop off/ ledge on the first pass with no luck. Then as the wind drifted us back towards the structure we started casting up on top of the bar (2-4 feet of water) and caught several very nice smallies, including a couple just shy of 20”. (a 19.5 or 19.75” bass is not a 20” but we caught 3 that were just short of the “trophy barrier” in my mind but did not stretch to tape out at 20).
We continued to fish boulders and other shoreline structure and pinch points having consistent action along most of the shoreline. Then we decided to fish a bay with good rock and timber structure that we had done well at in the past. Shortly after starting into the bay I hooked a nice smallmouth just off a down tree and several bigger bass were chasing him as I fought him into the next. He was an 18” and 2 of the bass that were in a frenzy chasing him as I reeled him in were much bigger. We spent quite a bit of time trying to catch them but to no avail. They likely got spooked by the boat. Just down the shoreline a little further we caught a couple other bass off a big deadfall and Brad looks down and spots a giant Smallie cruising around. We tried casting the ned rig and Texas rig at him but could not get the proper presentation to elicit a strike. That is when Brad switched to the Wacky work and cast it out and let it drift down to where he was at in the water column. First cast, Brad twitches in right past him and he pounces on the worm. Brad fought him for about a minute and after a big run at the surface the big bronzeback shook the lure leaving us marveled at how big the bass was but bummed we could not land him. We both estimated it to be the bigger than any Smallie we had caught on the trip so far. We fished a little more of the bay before heading back to camp for lunch. I would guess Brad and I each caught around 25 bass in the morning period of 3-4 hours. The other group did pretty well too but it sounded like they did not do quite as well as we did that morning.
We got some lunch and decided to hike to the top on the cliff behind our campsite. The view from the top was awesome and it was nice to get a little something else in other than fishing. After our workout we were dirty and sweaty, so we decided to canoe out to an island to do some swimming and rinse off. It wasn’t overly warm, but we knew it would be refreshing. It is amazing how clear the Knife Lake water is and we could see multiple smallmouth bass swimming around. After we were done swimming Zack said he wanted to show us his go to method for Smallies. He waded into the water and caught a crayfish. He hooked it on a 3/0 EWG hook and cast it out into the water. It twitched threw the water for no more than a couple second before a Smallie raced out from the rocks and inhaled it. I did not realize he had been doing this, but this got my interest peaked to this method. He caught several more in short order convincing me to give this a try for future trips. I suppose you can’t get more realistic/ natural than a crayfish twitching through the water column. I am curious if other fisherman have tried this as well?
We relaxed most of the afternoon around camp reading, napping in hammocks, and of course slip bobber fishing as well. It seemed I had caught most of the fish around the campsite as this was not near as productive as previous days and this method slowly declined throughout our stay. The bass might have been pushing out deeper as well naturally. However, it is still fun to cast out and I love catching fish on slip bobbers from camp.
We had dinner early and headed out fishing for the late afternoon/ evening. We caught a couple more Smallmouth as we made out way to our Walleye spot out from the nearby campsite that we had fished in the rain a couple days previously. We did well again but the average size was still on the smaller side (12-16”). There is quick access to deep water so feel that big ones should feed on that flat/ structure as well but the size was pretty consistent for us. The bite slowly tapered off, so we elected to move on down the lake to where we did so well the previous evening. I would be curious to try that first area for the evening slip bobber bite to see if some bigger Walleye would push up onto that structure.
We anchored near where we were the previous night but were not quite in the same spot. It was another good night but not near as good as the previous evening. I would say between the 2 of us we caught around 25 Walleye and Smallmouth bass. (a couple rock bass and perch too). We fished for a couple hours but were talking a lot about why we thought it was so different just one night a part. It was similar weather so that should not have impacted them too much. We were in a little different location, but I would say we were not more than 50feet from our previous nights spot. However, sometimes that can make all the difference I suppose with being right on the end of the structure versus being closer to the middle. It was still a good night of fishing. On the way back to camp we briefly fished a pinch point between islands and shore in 10 FOW and I caught my biggest walleye of the trip so far at 23”. Another good night of fishing and enjoyable fire back at camp. On this trip the bugs would come out for like 15 minutes and then disappear. It was unlike anything I had experienced before but it was very welcome.
_Mid 60s, Sunny 6-9mph wind. -Our last day of fishing on SAK was another beautiful one. We were very blessed on this trip for weather. One couple hour rain/ storm during the day and overnight once but that was it. The wind flared up a few times but nothing too crazy. Very enjoyable temperatures as it was mostly mid-60s to mid-70s for temperature. It got into the low 80s a couple times and was pleasant at night for sleeping.
We did not want to fish all the same water again so for our last day Brad and I decided to try some new water and see of we could find some new structure and good spots. For the morning bite we elected to troll lindy rigs around points and structure. We picked up a few walleyes here and there over several hours but nothing too productive.
We tidied up around camp and consolidated our gear and got things ready for our travel day out the following day towards the entry point. We had some lunch and did some relaxing around camp for a couple hours. Even as young men the time in the canoes was taking a toll on our backsides so we elected to wait to go back out until after an early dinner.
Brad and I were tempted to go down to our evening spot for a 3rd straight night but knew what we have in that spot and decided to try some new water and look at different spots for the future. We have always heard that people troll for big walleyes so figured we would try a few different things to cover water our last night. We have caught some fish trolling but have never done that well besides a couple occasions tolling shallow diving rapalas around islands in the evening for walleye. However, we decided to try to troll some for a chance at some big walleye or if we were lucky lake trout. After an hour of trolling rapalas and only catching one little Smallmouth we went to trolling lindy rigs and dragging jigs for the last couple hours. We Caught around 10 walleye total but sporadic and inconsistent again. Zack and Tyler fished their underwater hump again and caught a few walleyes and smallies once again.
-Low 80s with building wind throughout the day.
-Nothing too much to report over these last couple days. We wanted to get an early start on our long travel day out to Seagull. We would camp our last night somewhere on Seagull Lake. The group woke up early and broke camp and headed out early to beat the wind as much as we could. It was a beautiful morning with a light breeze as we paddled across SAK lake. I vowed to my brother that it would not be another 10 years until we returned, and he agreed and said we need to make it every few years to this awesome location.
The travel day was uneventful. The wind started to pick up fairly quickly but thankfully it was at our backs. We snacked some and talked as the wind blew us down Ogish. I stayed on that lake a couple years ago and did pretty well in early June for Walleye but that trip was very windy. I would not mind staying a night or two on this lake in the future as well. We covered the lakes and short portages fairly quick and were on Seagull by lunch time. We were not sure where we wanted to stay on Seagull but wanted to chase lake tout and big Walleye was our goal. We ended up staying in the Miles island area at a very nice site. The wind was blowing pretty good but not enough to keep us from chasing some lake trout. Both canoes gave it a token effort for several hours and we managed 5 lake trout that were from 15-25”. We marked a lot of fish but were not very successful in getting them to commit.
We relaxed more back at camp and explored our giant campsite area. We also went for another swim in the afternoon and lounged around camp. In the evening Zack and Tyler chased lake trout again and Brad and I decided to go for walleye. We were really hoping for an upper 20s or that elusive 30” fish. Both of us have caught several 28 and 29” walleyes but neither of us have cracked the 30” trophy barrier. We gave it a good effort both the depth maps on or phones were not accurate at all so the spots we had picked out beforehand were not the quality structure we were hoping for. We ended up fishing a pinch point with the wind blowing into that slowly rose out of the basin. We caught a couple bass in the first 15 minutes but then nothing else for about a half hour. Then my bobber shot down and I hooked into a better-quality fish. A couple minutes later I anticipated pulling in a big smallie but was surprised to see a good quality Walleye come into view. Once I landed her, I pulled out the tape and measured it at 26”, being the biggest one of the trip. The next half hour was slow, so we decided to call the trip and end it with that fish.
We had a great final campfire and reminisced about an awesome trip and already started planning future hunting and fishing endeavors. We had some victory cigars and the last of our drinks to celebrate another successful trip.
Friday, June 18th -Low 80s with strong wind.
-Got an early morning start to head out to the entry point to conclude the trip. If it was up to me, we would have stayed on Alpine our final night, but it was nice to not have to portage the last day. It was a good thing we did not have a long paddle and got an early start as the wind was building pretty good even early in the day. We covered the last couple miles quickly and got all our gear loaded up and packed away. We shared quality conversations as made our way back into civilization and our various lives.