BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
January 27 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 3
Elevation: 1673 feet
Clearwater Lake - 62
EP 62 Clearwater to Caribou: Johnson Falls, Palisade, Fishing, Fallen Tree Almost Hits Our Tent
June 07, 2017
Number of Days:
Had been planning this trip since January. We wanted to find a lake that we could base camp, catch fish, and do fun day trips. After a bunch of research, we had settled on Caribou Lake, which is east of Entry Point 62 and Clearwater Lake. We reserved our canoes, tent, and packs ahead of time from Clearwater Lodge and Outfitters. First time using them and I highly recommend them.
We had made our permit entry date for Thursday June 8 but wanted to get there the night before so we could get an early start so we had a bunkhouse reserved for Wednesday night. We left the twin cities around 2:30 pm and arrived at Clearwater Lodge around 8:00. We were able to have our own bonfire in a fire pit right on the lake. It was a great way to start the trip.
Thursday morning we were up at 7am and packed all of our gear into the rented packs and got our canoes and tent. Before heading out, we got a large hot breakfast at the lodge.
Our travel to get to our campsite involved a short paddle, then a long portage, then a fairly long paddle. We were aiming to get one of the eastern campsites on Caribou Lake. The portage was over 200 rods, but the first 75 rods were terrible. It was rocky, muddy and there was constantly unavoidable standing water that was ankle deep.
After our portage, we canoed to the opposite side of Caribou to search for a campsite. We had 3 in mind that we were aiming for. Upon arriving at the first site, we loved it and found it was available. Good tent pad, fire grate right near the water, and a cool small island right across from it. We liked it so much that we didn't bother checking out the other 2 sites. That was our home for 4 days.
After unpacking and setting up the tarp and tent, we headed out into the lake to see what kind of fish we could catch. We were not disappointed. None of us are expert fisherman and most of our fishing consisted of a slip bobber, split shot, hook and live leech. That was all we needed. We focused our efforts on the shoreline opposite the campsite because that is where others on this great site said to fish. We quickly found out that the smallmouth were in abundance right on the shoreline in 4 to 8 feet of water. Then, even though it was 4pm on a calm day, we started catching walleyes. We didn't get a lot, but we got enough for a good walleye dinner. Because we had steaks ready to be eaten that night, we filleted the walleyes and put the fillets in water filled ziplocks and submerged it in the lake to keep cool. This worked well to keep the fillets good until dinner on Friday.
After cooking up our steaks back at camp, it was late evening and we decided to paddle to the small island in front of our site and fish from the island. Not only was the smallmouth bite hot and heavy, but the sizes were impressive. One of the guys in our group caught a couple that measured at 20 inches. Here is one that he caught.
While on the island we came across this loon egg. Loons had been hanging out close to the island the whole time we were there and now we knew why. Every other time we had passed by the island, the loon had been sitting on the egg protecting it, but this particular time it was left alone.
Friday morning we awoke to a dense fog over the lake. We got some great pictures.
Me and one other had woken up early and decided to head out fishing while the other two slept. We paddled through the fog to the opposite shoreline and were once again treated to great smallmouth fishing.
We caught approximately 30 smallmouth in about 2 hours.
After heading back to camp and hanging out and eating lunch, we went on our day trip back to Clearwater Lake to the palisade overlooking the lake.
We were told of a small trail that leads up to the top. After some searching of the shoreline, we were able to find the start of the trail. We parked the canoes on the shore and headed up the steep trail to the top. It took about 20 minutes to reach the very top. The views were amazing and it was one the highlights of our trip. These pictures just don't do it justice.
We spent some time enjoying the views and then climbed back down the trail and headed back to our camp on Caribou. We finished the day by eating the walleye from the day before and it was spectacular.
After sleeping in a little later on Saturday, we ate breakfast and hung out until late morning. Our day trip was to Johnson Falls. It took 2 short paddles and 2 portages to reach the hiking trail that led to the falls. The trail was very wet, muddy, and rocky. After about a 15 minute hike, we reached the falls and they were amazing. There were 2 levels to the falls, an upper and a lower. We swam in both. The upper falls were more rocky and you were able to sit in the lower part of the falls near the river bank and be blasted with cool refreshing jets of water. It really was like sitting in a hot tub except it was cool refreshing water, which was great because the temp was into the 80's. We were also able to stand under the falls, which was quite an experience.
The lower falls was deeper where the water came down and you were able to swim without touching bottom. After swimming down and not being able to touch the bottom, one guy in our group made the jump from the top of the falls and it was really cool to watch and I'm sure very thrilling for him.
After a lunch at the falls, we headed back to camp. The wind had started picking up and by the time we got back to the start of Caribou Lake, the wind got very strong. It made for a tough canoe ride back to camp, but thankfully we were paddling directly into the wind so we could hit the waves straight on.
Once we were back at camp, the wind picked up even more. Thankfully the campsite was pretty well protected by the trees but it was nothing but whitecaps on the lake. Then the scare of the trip happened. As we were sitting in our camp, we heard the very loud sound of a nearby tree snapping and falling. That is a very frightening sound. Thankfully it missed us and the tent, but it didn't miss by much. It ended up about 20 feet from our tent.
The rest of the day was spent at the camp just hanging out because it was too windy to go out onto the lake. It was a Saturday and I couldn't help but think of those poor souls trying to navigate bigger waters than ours in their canoes.
Sunday morning, we packed up and were out of the campsite by 8:30. We got back to the outfitter by 11:00 and headed back home without a hitch.
Overall, it was a great trip. The day trips to the palisade on Clearwater Lake and then to Johnson Falls were very fun and memorable. The fishing was great. I highly recommend this trip for anyone looking for a good base camp lake.