BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
January 19 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 1
Elevation: 1214 feet
Pine Lake - 68
4 Guys Fishing.
June 11, 2010
Number of Days:
Friday morning; Woke up to rain this morning. Not just rain-thunderstorms. It’s about 50 degrees and not supposed to warm up or stop raining today. It’s windy, foggy, and cold. We’re all very excited-who cares about the clouds when we’re together (and going fishing) right? After leaving Ashland about 8 am, we make a quick stop at Gander Mountain for licenses and last-last minute items, back on the road. Got our permit from the ranger station in Grand Marais, now we’re really ready. Still hoping the rain will stop. Almost to the entry point, we realize we don’t have any aluminum foil. One more town (sort of) to go. Hovland. It’s not really a town, so much as a collection of houses-some of which you can sort of see from the highway. After driving through and not seeing a store, we decide to go back to the bar we passed. Maybe they’ll let us buy some foil. Turns out, the bar happens to be a general store too, so after buying our last-last-last minute foil we decide we better have a beer (it’s seems right, and yum!). Back on the road and to the lake! We arrive at the McFarland lake entry about 4 pm. It’s still raining hard, so we unload the canoes and packs, put on our rain gear and start paddling. With the wind pushing us, we make it through McFarland lake quickly. Luke and I pull the canoe through the channel to Pine, then guide James and Will through. This lake is beautiful, even in a monsoon, with very high hills on the south side and lots of points and bays north and south. As we start moving again the rain seems to let up a bit, and the waves are “only a couple footers” according to Will. Water is coming in the sides of the boats fairly often, unavoidable since the waves are coming from seven directions at once. We’ve all paddled in worse, so no biggie. After passing a couple of campsites we eventually settle on the site halfway down the lake on the north side. There’s a nice big rock sloping into the water, so it’s a nice easy landing. The rain seems to be mostly gone for now as we set up camp. James and Luke go out fishing while Will and I make a fire and start dinner. Dry wood is scarce, but the fire is decent. James and Luke caught a few smallies west of camp. We have venison steak and fried potatoes with onions and peppers. Yum. All of us are tired so bedtime around midnight.
Saturday-7:30 am; I’ve been awake since about 5am so finally decide to check out the day. Everyone else is still sleeping, of course. No rain since we got in last night, but everything is very wet. Got the fire started for breakfast- hashbrowns with cheese and sausage, and coffee. Food tastes amazing in the BWCA. Going fishing mid-morning, James and Will go west-Luke and I go east. Luke is catching lots of smallies on plastics, just drifting along the shore. I am missing a lot on (apparently different) plastics, but end up catching a few on a rapala. On the way back to camp we find some not-quite-waterlogged firewood. We are dry though and it feels nice. Bagel sandwiches for lunch, amazingly tasty. I try to fillet a couple smallies. Dull knife+bad skills+sore knees makes for some pretty sad little fillets, luckily I don’t need to survive on my filleting skills. Back out fishing mid-afternoon. This time we head to the south side of the lake. James and Will go east, Luke and I go west. Luke catches a few more smallies, the we round a point and I come across “the bait”. In about 100 yards of shoreline, in about 30 minutes I catch 13 smallies on 1 plastic worm. Nice. We meet up with James and Will. They climbed the trail to Vale lake-a 51 rod portage. James recalls “It’s not that steep until you get to the hill!” They don’t want to go back with a canoe, so the fish in Vale are safe from our group. I try cleaning another fish, my skills haven’t improved since lunchtime. James also brings one back for dinner. His fillet is a little better than mine, but they both taste great with mac-n-cheese. Meanwhile, a squirrel has gotten into the tortillas in our food pack and Luke decides to get revenge. He builds a squirrel trap using a heavy rock, a stick, and a piece of rope. He baits it with a piece of tortilla, and even covers his rope with leaves-in case the squirrel is super smart and thinks “Uh oh, that rope could be part of a trap!” Luke really wants to get that squirrel. He sits there for an hour waiting for that squirrel to walk into the trap, with no success. As soon as he gets up for 30 seconds to get something out of his pack, the squirrel runs in, steals the tortilla, and hightails it outta there! We all love this, except Luke, he is an angry young man. After an awesome day, and some fire-watching and storytelling, it’s bedtime at 1 am.
Sunday; I am the first one up, imagine that. Forced myself to “sleep” until 8ish (Was awake by 6). While the other guys are sleeping, I catch three smallies right off the campsite, how awesome is that? When they finally do get around to it, James makes us plate size-3/4 inch thick pancakes for breakfast. Super-yum! It’s starting to rain again so we all sit around under the tarp and start carving lures out of driftwood. I finish mine first, a walk-the-dog type lure with a treble hook from a jitterbug. After a couple test casts and minor adjustments it is working pretty well so I decide to try catching something. I had two hits and then caught a 14 inch smallie. On a camp-carved lure! I am very excited by this. James finished his lure and tried it for a while with no luck. Will is probably still carving his as I write this (in January), he wants it to be perfect. And Luke gave up and threw his on the ground after carving for about 5 minutes. He is an angry young man. I pick it up later and make a lazy-ike type lure out of it, it actually has pretty good action but I don’t catch anything and give it back to Luke. James goes out fishing in the rain, even as it gets harder, and catches a nice 22 inch walleye trolling to the west of camp. The rain stops early evening so Will and I decide to go troll some deeper water for walleyes. We follow the shore to the east, then cut across and come back along the south shore. I catch a 28 ½ inch walleye on a deep-diving rapala, totally awesome huge fish. This may be the best fishing day of my life! Minutes later Will catches one almost as big on his “wonderbread” rapala. Very cool. We get some rain on the way back to camp but who cares after an outing like that! Walleye for dinner, so yummy. Bedtime at 1:30 after a long but awesome day.
Monday; Happy birthday to me! Guess who’s up long before everyone else? Oh well, it’s nice and (mostly, there’s some snoring) quiet. No rain today, so far. After a huge pancake breakfast, we decide to make the trip to Johnson falls. We fish our way to the west end of the lake. It’s an easy hike to the first set of falls, then up a little hill to the second set, where the sun comes out for the first time on the trip. The falls are amazing and beautiful. A few pictures, and some enjoyment of the beauty of the falls and the sunshine, and back to the lake. Lunch at the landing, then more fishing on the way back to camp. Luke and I catch fish after fish, until James and Will tell us to catch dinner. Only little ones after that. The wind picks up and after a tiring paddle back to camp, we all decide fish dinner is overrated. Potatoes, onions, peppers, sausage, cheese, and pasta on the side, delicious. Bedtime at 1 am after another fantastic day.
Tuesday; Up early again today, Will actually got up about the same time though. I catch a couple more nice smallies off the campsite while Will suns himself on the rock. James and Luke sleep until mid-morning. The wind blows the sun away, and we decide to call it camp day. Will, James, and Luke make me a (belated) birthday treat, chocolate cake-pancakes in the frying pan. They stack up 5 layers with alternating peanut butter and chocolate frosting in between. It may be the best birthday cake ever! It takes some doing, but the four of us finish it off and wish we had some milk. It’s still extremely windy mid-afternoon, so James decides to walk down the shore to try his fishing luck. The rest of us sit by the fire and relax. After a while Luke decides (with a little pushing from Will and I) to ambush James on his way back to camp. Unfortunately for Luke, he takes the trail while James walks through the water to get back. Will and I convince James to double back and ambush Luke now instead. This is fun! It works and James scares the crap out of Luke. Luke screams. He is an angry young man. Ahh, the fun that we have. The wind slows down a bit in the evening so Will and I decide to do some more trolling for walleyes. James goes out to try some jigging off the campsite, and Luke reads by the fire. We don’t catch any walleyes, but we do get rained on-again. One smallie and some mac-n-cheese with sausage for dinner-yummy. Early to bed at midnight tonight, another great day.
Wednesday; Home today. We are all up by 8 this morning, packed up and paddling out by mid-morning. DQ grill and chill for lunch, it tastes ok. Yet another awesome trip to the BWCA, and already looking forward to the next!