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September 23 2023

Entry Point 55 - Saganaga Lake

Saganaga Lake entry point allows overnight paddle or motor (25 HP max). This entry point is supported by Gunflint Ranger Station near the city of Grand Marais, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 55 miles. No motors (use or possession) west of American Point. Access to Canada (the Crown land and Quetico Park). Large lake with many campsites and easy access. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 15
Elevation: 1184 feet
Latitude: 48.1716
Longitude: -90.8868
Saganaga Lake - 55

Gunflint Trail Memorial Day Trip

by Mad_Angler
Trip Report

Entry Date: May 27, 2010
Entry Point: Saganaga Lake
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
Last year, I took my dad for his first BW trip. We base camped on Red Rock Lake. This year, we added another few days and went one lake further to Alpine Lake.

Day 1 of 5

Thursday, May 27, 2010:

On Wednesday, I drove from my house in southern Wisconsin to my dad's house in northern Wisconsin.

Our plan for Thursday was to drive to Grand Marais, hang out, and catch a tow on Friday morning. Our plans changed...

We left about 8am and made good time. Using the GPS, we realized that we would get to Seagull Outfitters around 3pm. It was a very pretty day. So we figured that we would try to go in a day early. I called Deb and she agreed that it was a good idea. Deb had Katelyn reserve us a new permit and we were all set.

We bought fishing licenses at Bucks and we bought a few other things around GM but otherwise just kept making good time.

We arrived at Seagull outfitters around 2:20. Deb's staff quickly processed us, got us some leeches, and put us on the tow boat.

The tow was nice. Our driver was Danielle, Seagull's first female tow boat drive. She was fast, efficient, and friendly. At 4:00, we were dropped off at Red Rock and we were officially in the BW...

We paddled through Red Rock. I was surpised that nearly all the camp sites were full. We wanted a fairly popular site on Alpine. I didn't hold much hope that the site would be empty...

We made fairly quick work of our one portage (from Red Rock to Alpine). It wa a short portage and I tried to carry nearly all the gear. I think I triple portaged it. But I had actually worked out a bit this spring. So, the portage seemed especially easy.

Once on Alpine, we were very pleasantly surprised to find the site we wanted open. So we took it and set up camp.

We relaxed, had steaks and crashed about 10pm. Sea Gull Lake, Saganaga Lake, Red Rock Lake, Alpine Lake


Day 2 of 5

Friday, May 28, 2010:

We got up around 6am. It was beautiful, cool morning. We had coffe, pancakes and thick sliced bacon for breakfast. Tt was great.

We wanted to fish. We headed about 200 yards away from the site to a fairly large island. We found a spot with good action. We quickly caught about 10 nice smallies and 2 small pike.

Last winter, I had become excited about Zulu baits. There was an article in the BWJ that explained how good they are for the BW. I could hardly wait to try them. Nearly all the fish so far were caught on the Zulu's. It is hard to match the excitement of topwater smallies...

We went back to camp for lunch. We had an "All American Burger Wrap" from packitgourmet. It had potential to be great. But I added about 1/2 of the water called for on the package. It was pretty dry... I will try it again though...

We went back out fishing and caught a few more on the Zulus. The wind started picking up so we headed back to camp.

I wanted to fish off of a point at the campsite. But my dad was already relaxing in another spot. So I didn't want to be antisocial. I tried fishing with leeches and slip bobbers from his spot...

Immediately, I caught a 27" pike that we invited to dinner. On the next cast, we got a 33" pike. For the next 15 minutes, we couldn't get the leeches back in the water fast enough. We wound up catching 3 pike and at least 4 walleye. The largest walleye was 24'.

Then the fish shut off and we relaxed.

We had fried fish and Cache Lake bread for dinner.

We relaxed with a nice cigar and a little port after dinner.    


Day 3 of 5

Saturday, May 29, 2010:

We got up around 7am. We had Garlic bread and the rest of the bacon for breakfast.

One of my goals for this trip was to troll Alpine and Jasper for lake trout. I caught 1 last year and wanted to catch more this year.

We paddled and trolled all the way from the north end of Alpine to the Jasper portage at the south end. It was pretty hot and sunny. We didn't feel like doing the portage. So, we fished a bit around the incomign water. We didn't get a single hit.

We found the closest campsite and relaxed in the shade. We had summer sausage, cheeze, and gorp for lunch.

After the break, we decided to troll back to camp.

I brought my portable depth finder with us. I wanted to troll in about 20-30 feet of water. We were trolling a blue taildancer (about 10-15 feet down) and a purple deep taildancer (about 15-20 feet down). There are three deep holes on Alpine that get about 60-65 feet deep. As we trolled near the south hole, I got a strike on the purple deep taildancer. The fish put up a good fight. It was a 24 lake trout. We took some pictures and invited the fish to join us for dinner.

We trolled the rest of the way home without catching anything.

We cooked the fish over an open fire. We left the skin on and just cooked it skin-side-down. We call this "Fish on the half shell". The trout had orange flesh like a salmon. It was absolutely the best fish I have ever had!

We relax with another cigar and some more port.


Day 4 of 5

Sunday, May 30, 2010:

We had Cache Lake biscuits and gravy for breakfast. I think I had had it for several years. Normally, this is my favorite breakfast. This year, it didn't seem quite right. It was still good but...

Today, we had a pretty stiff wind. I was also pretty tired due to trolling the entire lake yesterday. So we decided to fish near camp. We went out to our island again. This time, we caught a few smallies on Zulus but the action was slow.

I decided to try leeches and slip bobbers. Quickly, I started getting hits. But I would get my line cut equally quickly. I figured pike were biting me off. I added a steel leader to my setup. I quickly caught a nice pike. I added a steel leader to my dad's setup. He also started catching fish. We wound up with about 8 fish including 3 or 4 nice walleye. The walleye didn't seem to care that we had big steel leaders.

The fish shut off and the wind really kicked up. The weather radio told us to expect a thunderstorm. So we paddled back against the wind and got ready for the storm.

I hung my CCS tarp and tied it down good. The wind was so strong that we were getting dust blown in our faces.

For a tent, we were using a CCS Lean 3+. The shelter was setup with the open end facing into the wind. I was concerned about getting rain into the shelter. I closed the awning/flap to keep the rain out. The rain finally came. It came pretty hard with strong winds. I was pleased that very little rain came into the shelter.


Day 5 of 5

Monday, May 31, 2010:

We woke to a very nice, clear morning. We had a fruit smoothie for a quick breakfast.

We packed up quickly and headed out to the tow boat.

The portage to Red Rock was even easier now that we eliminated some of our stuff. We fished a bit in Red Rock and checked out our campsite from last year.

We got to the portage to Saganaga around 10:45. Danielle arrived about the same time. She made quick work loading our stuff and we were on our way back out.

We took a quick shower at Seagull and thanked Deb for her very professional outfit. We had a nice burger at the Trail Center Lodge. The budger was char broiled and especially good.

Then, we started driving. I dropped my dad off and got home around midnight. It was a long day but worth it for another day on the water...


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