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BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

May 26 2024

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

2016 Sag to Seagull

by fishonfishoff
Trip Report

Entry Date: September 02, 2016
Entry Point: Saganaga Lake
Exit Point: Seagull Lake (54)
Number of Days: 9
Group Size: 4

Trip Introduction:
We are a group of guys from Ohio who make a week long trip to BWCA every 2 years. It is a trip which is looked forward to by everyone involved. There is more time "planning" these trips than the trip itself! This year we have Deny "camping expert", Tom (Goose) "fishing expert, Brian "mister everything outdoors", and myself Tom "trip planner".

Day 1 of 9

Friday, September 02, 2016. Our group normally has been driving straight through to BWCA on the way up. This year it was decided to lay over somewhere north of Chicago. Everyone met at my house and after packing, we were on the road just before 4:00 pm. Goose drove his suburban and everything was going smooth until we hit Chicago. Traffic was bad and we also had to detour around an accident. Finally we were out of Chicago and ended up in Madison Wisc where we enjoyed a few brews before falling asleep in a Hampton hotel.


Day 2 of 9

Saturday, September 03, 2016 We had an early breakfast in the hotel then hit the road. Lunchtime found us in Duluth where we ate at the Northern Waters Smokehaus. On the road again with Goose still doing the driving, we made a pitstop at the Grand Marais Ranger Station to pick up our PMA permit. There we met Barb at the counter. Barb was very nice and efficient but one thing she said stuck with us the entire trip. When we asked her some questions about the PMA, she said "WE REALLY DON'T WANT YOU IN THERE"! This comment came up many times in the trip, LOL. Leeches were purchased at the Holiday Gas Station, and Brian bought many local brews from the store across the road. I took over driving the last hour up to Seagull Outfitters. After arranging everything with Brittany in the store and tying the leeches up to the dock, we checked out the Paddlers' lodge where we encountered our first portage. In the store was a nice gentleman who said he liked my shirt. During the short conversation I found out it was Kiporby who proceeded to give me some valuable tips on our trip. I wish we could have talked much longer as I felt his knowledge of this area was great. Feeling hungry we drove to the Trails End Cafe where we met EDDIE, the chef in the kitchen. Our crew hit it off with EDDIE who we thought would be a "Woodstock participant" if he was a lot older. By the way, he does make good pizza and Philly Cheese Steaks. Heading back to the lodge more brews were downed and we hit the bunks. Don't tell Seagull but I slept in the adjoining room for the peace and quiet. This was mostly a favor to the other 3 members.


Day 3 of 9

Sunday, September 04, 2016 Walked over to Seagull around 6:30 for our 7:00 tow to American Point. Coffee was served while the van was loaded up. In the office I met Deb and commented on my meeting with Kiporby. She said he was a very nice man and a great customer. The short drive to the Sag entry point was timed perfectly as the tow boat arrived as we were unloading. About 1/2 way out to American Point Goose turns to me and said, "Where are our leeches?" It didn't take long and we figured out they were still tied to Seagull Outfitter's dock! Our fishing may have suffered but on the bright side, it made portaging a little easier. We pushed off of American Point and our trip was finally on! Brian and Deny took one Souris River with Goose and I in the other. Sag was fairly calm with a slight wind in our face. On smallie caught by Deny and one slight map reading mis-step found us at Monument Portage. We met 2 groups on the portage which started a trend of seeing more people than we expected. Going through Ottertrack went quick but we found the winds picked up as we headed into Ester. Our sights were set on the island site to the north. It was taken along with the site to the east, so we paddled around the island and settled in the site to the east. It was fairly large and would work fine. Trolling the bay to the west found one laker in our canoe caught by Goose. Dinner that night was a special one never before seen by our group..................fresh food! Ribeyes and potatoes! They were well worth the extra weight on the portages.


Day 4 of 9

Monday, September 05, 2016 Everyone was sleeping when the rain began. It rained heavier as daylight approached. forecast was for no letup so it was decided to down some breakfast bars and head to our PMA. We were quickly into Hanson but had some issues finding the route to Link. This only adds to the entertainment value of these trips. Fishing Link and Gift saw both canoes catching and releasing smaller pike and smallies. Fish lake looked promising except for a campsite. Finally Deny and Brian spotted a previous site up on a huge route on the southern shore. Camp was set up with our tent right next to some fallen fruit. I was told they were "MOOSEPLUMS". Goose & I found a lily pad area that was full of pike. Brian cooked up 4 of them for supper which were as delicious as rest of our meals. Watching the evening fire we noticed a whole lot of lightning action to the south.


Day 5 of 9

Tuesday, September 06, 2016 As with the previous evening heavy rains started in the middle of the night. This time we were more exposed up on the rock area. As dawn approached the rain let up so our canoe paddled out to our pike area where we were met by one very large angry beaver.It reminded me of the Duluth TV ad beaver. The beaver swam closer and closer to our boat and slapped his tail over 20 times. We managed to catch and release some pike but not like last night due to our beaver friend. Our other partners came through once again as hot oatmeal awaited us on our return to camp. Since we had a long trek today we broke camp and headed out towards the South Arm of Knife. We single portage to save time so Fish, Gift, and Link Lakes were just a blur in time. Going through Hanson found us at the portage to Knife. This was very tricky starting out with a backpack and canoe on our shoulders as we aren't 18 years old anymore. LOL. There was a mandatory pause at the falls before finding our best landing of this trip in Knife. Campsite 1432 was next on our agenda. It was a pleasant paddle and we arrived to find the site open. It was just as good as others described so we decided to make this our layover site. Camp was set up so we pursed the lakers. Only one co-operated on Brian's pole. After dark it was noticed how well the glow in the dark strings worked on the used tarp I bought. It was beautiful and clear night so the star and satelitte show was spectacular! The adult beverages weren't so bad themselves although supplies were starting to dwindle. Most of thought there was a reserve of scotch in the bottom of our packs.


Day 6 of 9

Wednesday, September 07, 2016 This was a lazy day for us so we did some yoga? daydreaming and strategizing Needing some more firewood everyone paddled to a distant shoreline and we filled both canoes with dead birch. We had enough to leave some for the next visitors. I had a special moment in paying tribute to my brother-in-law, fishing partner, and great friend, Terry. He would have loved the BWCA but never really camped before. I told his family I was taking him along this year so I did. RIP Terry. Sitting around camp we were honored by the presence of a ruffled grouse and hare, both which had no fear of humans. Brian did his world famous calzones for supper then we tried our luck again fishing. Only smaller smallies and a couple pike were caught and released.


Day 7 of 9

Thursday, September 08, 2016 I was up before dawn and tried some shoreline fishing with some live craws which we caught last night. There wasn't even one bite even though I tried the TGO method from depths of 3-9 feet! Our goal today was (and I do mean was) Ogishkemuncie. Wind was at our back which made traveling fast. Our first lake was EDDIE which brought out a few hoops and hollers for our Trails End chef EDDIE. Onto Jenny and then Annie in which we found the entire shoreline lined with dying trees due to a beaver dam raising the lake level a few feet!. Ogish saw the winds picking up even more so we decided to try for a protected spot. No luck as people were almost everywhere! Traveling was fast so we decided onto Jasper after taking a short break for jerky and Gorp. Putting in Kingfisher, Deny was nice enough to let Goose & I try out his bent paddle. We both liked it at which point we finally figured out how those two could paddle as fast or faster than us. They both had bent paddles. Jasper was also full of people so we headed into Alpine. Both our chosen spots were occupied but we did find one on the west side of the lake which worked out fine. Camp was set up and drying out of everything was started. Dinner was chicken and black bean burritos which were good but the beans stayed with us for 1 1/2 days! Fishing was slow so we decided to go "ALL IN" on the alcohol. This Deny's reaction when he found out the reserve of Scotch was also empty! A "REAL GOOD" fire was enjoyed by all.


Day 8 of 9

Friday, September 09, 2016 In the morning we met the same group as yesterday. They tried to find a spot on Jasper with no luck so backtracked into Seagull! Wind was still at our backs in Seagull on our goal of finding one of our chosen spots proved fruitless. In fact all spots seemed to be taken! Finally an open site appeared on a island near 3 mile island. If was big but had a rough landing area. The (3) 5 gallon food buckets were getting very low but not empty. Mashed taters with hamburger for lunch and spaghetti with hamburger and pepperoni sauce for dinner. In between we did some relaxing and cutting up some more firewood. Clouds brought in a quick but heavy rains and a great sunset. No alcohol left, we hit the hay extra early. Deny found out there was a puddle in his tent and he spent the night under the big tarp. It had to be a long night for him.


Day 9 of 9

Saturday, September 10, 2016 Due to the 15 hour drive we left camp just before sunrise. The water was glass calm and nobody else seemed to be up yet. This made a very enjoyable but yet sad paddle as our trip was about over. We paddled into the outfitters at 7:00 to find out they don't open until 8:00. Deb was there and was nice enough to give us towels so we could take our mandatory showers. Brian found his leech locker still tied to the dock but the leeches weren't good enough to be given away. Goose started out the long journey back to Ohio stopping at 5 Guys, Burgers and Fries in Duluth. Deny took over north of Chicago and drove the rest of the way. Many conversations went on including planning the next trip to the BWCA. The suburban pulled into my driveway about 11:00 pm and each went his own way home after unloading. This was a fantastic trip with all 4 guys pulling equal weight. It rained about every day, fishing was somewhat slow, many more people than we expected, but no one complained at all. It was a extra special trip for me as I finally got my brother-in-law Terry up there and it made up for when I had to back out the night before (2) years ago due to my wife's breast cancer surgery. She is doing great now. I can't wait to go back. PS: Sorry about the bad grammar....I ain't no English scholar plus I'm drinking Margaritas and watching football.


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