BWCA Questions on Argo, Ted, Robinson, Kett Route Boundary Waters Quetico Forum
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04/24/2017 03:29PM   (Thread Older Than 3 Years)
It didn't look like I was going to make my annual trip up to Quetico this year, but the skies parted and it looks like I'll be able to sneak in four days on the water. I have a few questions to ask about the route, camping recommendations, and fishing tips if you guys wouldn't mind sharing some of the awesome wealth of knowledge floating around here. Thanks a ton in advance!

It's just going to be me and one buddy this year in a tandem canoe. We keep things pretty light and travel reasonably quickly. We're comfortable covering 12-15 miles in a day, and we've done several days together in the 20-25 mile range, although they're not our preference. We're mostly into fishing, and solitude and natural beauty are a nice plus.

I booked a permit for McAree lake entry June 15th for the beginning of our trip. I'd like to camp in or around Argo, Ted and Robinson or Kett. We're getting the tow out through LLC to our starting point.

Day 1, should we take the border route through Bottle Portage and by Rebecca and Curtain Falls to fish, or should we go the McAree/Wicksteed/Darky route? I've wanted to see Curtain Falls since I started going up there almost a decade ago, and it's hard to beat the fishing below falls. We also like paddling and fishing small to medium sized lakes best, so we were planning on paddling up the Roland chain into Argo, stopping to catch some walleye in Middle Roland hopefully.

Day 2, we'll pass through Cone, Elk and Hurn on our way to camp on Ted. I've heard too many good things about Ted to not spend a night there. We'll fish for trout and smallies on the way and at Ted.

Day 3, we'll head through the small unnamed lakes to McIntyre and then down to Robinson. We'll fish for Lakers on Robinson, and then either camp on Robinson or Kett.

Day 4, we're getting the Basswood tow (from Washington Island, I believe). We'd like to squeeze out the most of our short trip, so hopefully we can schedule it for 4 or 5 pm. Is it doable to paddle from Robinson to Washington Island in this time frame? We usually leave camp around 9 am or so, but could leave sooner if Robinson is a better camping/fishing lake than Kett.

Any pointers? Fishing tips? I've read some great reports on this area, so I'm excited for the trip!
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04/24/2017 06:18PM  
I haven't really fished all that much in that part of the Quetico, so I can't help you there.

Robinson is a nicer lake than Kett IMO. In fact I think the northern part of Robinson is one of the prettier lakes in the whole of the Q. Kett is nice in it's own way, but it's smaller and i think the camping options are fairly limited. There is one site that I know of on a point just when you enter the main lake from the portage leading to Basswood. This was once a really nice site, but it's pretty heavily used now and beaten down to bare gravel. Robinson has some dandy sites.

You have two choices of routes to go from Mac to Robinson. There is a creek paddle on Macintyre creek that is interesting. Very scenic little creek with a hard sand bottom and crystal clear water. It is a bit on the adventurous side but I would go that way in a heartbeat if I ever get back there.

As far as timing, I have made it from Robinson to the Lincoln Island area in one day, leaving Robinson at about 9 and single portaging. I also made it solo from Kett to Moose Lake Parking lot via Wind in about 8 hours, though Basswood was like glass that day. You have some big water to deal with on Basswood. You can hug the west shore if the wind is from the west, but if there is a strong south wind, you will be screwed. I have gotten cell service near Basswood Falls before, so you can likely call your outfitter if you get wind bound.

You probably know this, but make sure you have current portage information (Chistmar Map is best). Fisher maps show non existent portages on some of the little lakes between Robinson and Kett...I spent an hour or two thrashing in the brush looking for one once.

distinguished member(532)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/24/2017 08:37PM  

Thanks for the tips!

We're planning on taking McIntyre Creek. That little route looks like a nice way to spice things up.

And thanks on the recommendation for staying on Robinson. I've heard good things about Robinson, so I'm glad to hear it should be possible to stay there and still make it to our tow in time. We single portage as well, so hopefully we'll make similar time to you.

And I'm with you on checking the Chrismar map for portages. Last year we took an unmaintained portage north out of Point lake because I was looking at my Fisher map, and we sunk over waist deep into a bog with no warning with packs and canoes on our shoulders. While that was quite memorable, I'm fine not repeating it because it really whipped us!
04/24/2017 08:59PM  
What's not to like about a trip camping on Argo, Ted, and Robinson (or Kett)?

For Day 1, given your long-time desire to go via the falls, you should just do that. It's busier than most of the Q because it's on the border, but if you're planning on heading up the Roland chain to Argo to camp, you will get away from the crowds once you leave the border. I think the Roland route is a good choice. Argo can be busy but maybe not that early in the season - at the end of the season last year we saw no one else there - and there are ton of great campsites to choose from.

Day 2 - You'll like the route you have planned this day. Almost everyone targets the message cache site on Ted as the place to camp. But it is possible (not all that likely) another group will be on Ted (it's gotten more popular with the adventurous types). If you want an alternative campsite option on Ted, you can email me.

Day 3 - In addition to the routes via McIntyre, you can also get from Ted to Robinson by heading south out of Ted via the unnamed lake with a real portage near the pictographs (aka "Little Ted") and then taking an unofficial but semi-established half-mile bushwhack portage from Little Ted into Robinson (basically - stay near the creek). Just an alternative to think about.

Day 4 - Given what you said about the distances you cover, it seems like Robinson to Washington Island in the time frame you are talking about is doable - assuming reasonable paddling conditions on Basswood. You definitely could jumpstart the route by camping the previous night on Kett instead of Robinson, thereby eliminating four shortish but rough portages between Robinson and Kett on your last day. We stayed at the site on Kett that Marsonite mentions on our trip at the end of the season last year and I liked it. I also love Robinson. You really can't go wrong camping either place.

Sorry I can't help with the fishing part . . .
member (5)member
04/25/2017 12:06PM  
You may want to consider getting picked up at Back Bay in Basswood. The year I went up to Robinson we got dropped off and picked up there. We were able to get from back bay to Robinson on Day 1 although I remember it being a long day. We went up to Robinson through Kett, Nub, no-name and I remember the portages being tougher than they looked on the map. We allowed two days to get back to play it safe. If the wind doesn't cooperate you will have a rough paddle out trying to get from Robinson to Wash Island on day 4.

Re: your question on Robinson vs. Kett, I have only fished Robinson, but from what I've heard and read, Robinson is the better fishing lake. We stayed at an island site in the north central area of Robinson and I remember it being a good site. We caught lakers trolling around the island and smallies on the shorelines of the island.
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04/26/2017 09:01PM  
HoHo - Thanks for the advice and the email response! I'm really looking forward to seeing this whole area big time.

Chardog - Thanks for the recommendations. I'll chat with my outfitter about the tow to see which option he thinks might work out easier. And I think we'll likely stay on Robinson. Sounds to nice to not spend a night there!
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