Thank you for the suggestions! We're going to look at all those and decide which is right for us. Thank you!
I would recommend EP 48. The portage is long, but subsequent portages are not bad if your group is up for it or you are forced to move on. All 3 slots are still open as of now!
Second half of August has openings at Moose, Fall, Little Vermillion-in at Crane, Hog Creek, Sag, and Seagull. All these have possibilities for decent portages and fishing.
MN_Lindsey: "You won't have a TON of portages... but will have ONE big portage, but its really not that bad... I'd vote Crab and get a tow across Burntside. Great basecamping, and amazing fishing if you like SMB.
I debated about including that one too, it had an open slot or two. One long portage to start but then pretty easy.
You won't have a TON of portages... but will have ONE big portage, but its really not that bad... I'd vote Crab and get a tow across Burntside. Great basecamping, and amazing fishing if you like SMB.
Hog creek could also be interesting from what I've read on others trip reports.
I would go in on Brule. It has no portages to get in and great fishing. Can be wavy when windy though.
As lindy mentioned, Crocodile is a super short trip but it's available. Larch Creek is open which would put you in on a couple nice lakes w/ decent fishing, Magnetic would be the other way to get to that route and it's available. Then you could head north on the Granite River and end your trip at the end of the Gunflint trail if you lined up a ride ahead of time. (or shuttle at the beginning)
Slim Lake on the Ely side is open, out of the way not as popular (normally). A few lakes connected by short portages. Hog creek also has 2 open spots left, which would put you on good sized Perent with VERY little portaging.
Otherwise the big motor lakes w/ lots of permits still have some (Moose, Sag, etc) but you'd want to get off those and find your little dead end lakes or ones that are harder to get to. (which takes portages or harder ones to do)
Without knowing availability, a few that come to mind are Homer lake, Crocodile Lake and Hog Creek. All somewhat less popular than most entries. All entries where you can be in camp within 2-4 hours with minimal portaging. All with pretty good fishing.
Looking at August 9, I understand most of the really good ones fill up fast, kind of hoping for maybe some hidden gems someone might have.
What's your entry date? Hard to suggest stuff if a lot are sold out already. A lot of the good options of limited portaging and no motors are the reason why they fill up the fastest. (LIS North, Mudro, Sawbill, etc)
I will be taking a first timer in August. He's very capable and I'm not worried about that, but with limited permit availability left I'm having a hard time figuring out a good place to go in a ways and base camp with good fishing and not a ton of portages. Also want to stay away from motorized areas. Suggestions are welcome.