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member (17)member
02/26/2018 11:54AM
First post and an avid reader on this site! Trying to get a firm understanding of what my group of 8 (mid 20's) is up against. This will be my 4th venture in the BWCA, all hitting different EPs. Last year we tried Horseshoe on the Gunflint Trail, but poor weather and close to zero fishing doomed the trip and experience for some of the first timers I brought along. The only bright spot about last years trip was the moose swimming across one of the lakes in front of our canoe! Luckily, they are giving me another chance planning this years trip.

We have our permit and are entering on a early Thursday morning and coming out midday Sunday in August. Basecamping is the name of the game. With only a few days I am trying to get a grip on what we should expect on overall timing to Boot, Fairy, Gun, or Gull lake from the Mudro EP... I think Beartrap or Moosecamp is out of the question. Really we have about 3-4 hours max of paddle/portage time at our disposal. We usually double portage and paddle at an average pace. Looking to see what you all might think our best lake is to target for basecamp? Would love to get to the peninsula site on Gull but I'm afraid that is too far. It seems like there are plenty of big, well maintained campsites on this route so that should not be an issue.

Any interesting, things we must see/do on this trip? What are your favorite lakes to visit/fish in this area?
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distinguished member (191)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/26/2018 01:13PM
Since nobody has responded yet, I'll give it a shot.

Knowing your priorities (fishing, exploring, etc.) would help but I'll give an overview. I don't fish so can't give input on that.

Most of the campsites south of gun or gull are heavily used and pretty worn. Go at least that far if you can.

My recommendation would be Moosecamp if you can push that far. I can easily make it there in a day but I single portage and move fast. Once into Fourtown the portages are pretty easy but it might be a push for your group. If you do make it there, aim for the east or center campsites. Lots of logging remnants in the woods behind the east campsite. Also, you could return or day trip down the moosecamp river as a nice alternate. Lots of logging remnants and nice terrain through there. Beaver dams change year to year but if water is high and beaver aren't over active it isn't bad. Summer of 2016 it was a breeze.

I haven't stayed at any of the northern Gun Lake campsites but have stopped at all three and was not impressed.

Check out the old resort remnants near campsite 1110 in the south east corner of Fourtown for some fun. If water is low look around at all the portages. During low water in the fall of 2012 I saw historic stuff in the shallows at almost all of them.

Good luck!
distinguished member(10290)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
02/26/2018 02:18PM
Assuming you're fairly organized about portaging and not fishing while traveling (in which case all bets are off), and that you average 2 - 2.5 mph traveling, you should travel about 8-10 miles in that time, which will put you between Boot and Gun.

Since you have a group of 8, I'd take the first good site you see that is open.
02/26/2018 05:36PM
You biggest challenge will be the 3 portages from Mudro to Fourtown. That's going to eat a big chunk of your time. It took me most of the Day to get from Niki to the Mudro EP. But there was a 300 r portage in my way. I double portage.
distinguished member(4298)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
02/26/2018 06:57PM
this trip report covered much of your proposed route. Maybe it'll give you some ideas???
distinguished member (263)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/26/2018 07:49PM
I like horse lake for a basecamp in that area.

Solid fishing lake and fun day trip opportunity to head down the river to lower basswood falls.

If by chance all sites are taken hopping over to fourtown is a viable backup and not hard to do.
distinguished member(1423)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/26/2018 09:41PM
Good choices of lakes there all the way from Fourtown to the NW. Find a good campsite at any of those lakes and I think you'll be happy. Gun has had the poorest fishing in my 2 trips through there so if that's your focus I'd stop before or after it. The farther from the EP the less traffic. It can get a fair number of people since it's a route to Crooked.
member (17)member
02/27/2018 07:17AM
Thanks for all the responses! It sounds like between 3 and 4 hours will get us to around Fairy Lake... just how much longer would it be to Gull Lake? This would be primarily fishing/seclusion and everything I've read says you see less people once you hit Gull from travelers heading to Crooked/Basswood Lakes. Obviously you go to the BWCA to get away from people so I am worried about staying on Boot, Fairy, or Gun. We reserved the EP with no camping on Horse so that is out of the question. If it's not much longer to Gull from Fairy, we could day trip to Gull and basecamp at the eastern site on Fairy... I heard that one is fantastic
distinguished member(1165)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/27/2018 11:35AM
In 2010 I did a trip to Boot and spent some time on Fairy. Was the worst trip I've ever had out of 18 trips. Granted we went in June during the mayfly hatch so the walleye were shut down, at least for me, and the weather was in the 50's and raining nearly the entire time. It was the only trip where we had to eat something other than fish for dinner one night. I did write a trip report if you want to read more about that nightmare of a trip.

I'd second tarnkt's vote for Horse if you can still get a permit that allows you to camp on Horse. Beautiful lake with some really good fishing. The only drawback is there aren't a lot of campsites on the lake so if you miss out on one, it's a lot of paddling to get back to Fourtown or Boot. Hope this helps.
member (17)member
02/27/2018 12:51PM
Interesting... our trip to Horseshoe last year was my worst trip by far even though everyone raves about the fishing in that area. Could have just been the coldfront for us, could have been the mayfly hatch like you said for your trip.

You all have my attention regarding Horse Lake... keeping the group entertained with fish is up there on the priority list, so numbers means more than size. Seems like Horse and Fourtown have all the numbers you want, just no size. We do want some seclusion; would we see that camping on the north end of Horse? How long of a trip is is up the river to Basswood Falls (lower and upper) from Horse lake (not the Mudro EP)?

Thanks again for bouncing off different ideas!
distinguished member(1884)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/27/2018 01:05PM
whiskey, I like the Mudro area a lot and think that you will find scenic lakes and nice campsites along the way. You should easily get to Boot and Fairy in the time you have allowed. Personally I think Fairy is a really cool lake and there are two nice sites on it. The eastern one is a gem and would be a great place to spend a couple days. I would be surprised if both sites fill up a lot but I could be wrong. You might see a few parties going through each day but at the key times of the day, early morning and evening, it will most likely be pretty quiet. Fishing is supposed to be pretty decent there as well, for walleyes and panfish.

Boot is a nice lake too and I think it is a good lake for walleye fishing, particularly good sized fish. My best ever came from shore at a site on Boot. I believe that Gun may be the toughest fishing lake in those parts because the water is unbelievably clear. Entering Gun from the south we were astonished at the difference in water clarity. If you could get to Gull, the peninsula site is worth the extra effort. I would say the easiest fishing is probably on Fairy and the most lunker potential would be Boot.

A few years ago we spent 6 days in the area and basecamped for a few days on Gun. We took a daytrip up to Beartrap and had lunch in the 5 star site there, and then slowly made our way back to Gun. It took 6 or so hours total and we were not in a hurry. Maybe we were just lucky but we did not see anyone else on that entire daytrip.

I have not been to Horse Lake and that sounds pretty darn nice. But if you get "stuck' in the Boot, Fairy or Gun area, i would consider yourself lucky.

distinguished member(1165)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/27/2018 01:27PM
If you can still get a permit for Horse and camp near the north end or west side, you'll be about as secluded in that area as you can imagine because there's no through traffic on that end of the lake. I've done Horse twice, once as a spring trip and once as an August trip with a friend and my kids in August. The fishing that time of year is a LOT slower, though we did produce fish. We didn't bother going up to Basswood Falls, though I know a lot of people who do a day trip from Horse up to that area, I just have no knowledge whatsoever about that adventure. Regardless, the Mudro EP can get you into some really beautiful areas and will be worth the effort.
distinguished member(10290)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
02/27/2018 03:43PM
It looks like about another 2 1/2 +/- miles from Fairy to Gull, about an hour although I don't really know how fast you travel (and you may not either). You can look at maps online at Voyageur Maps
distinguished member(1423)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/27/2018 10:05PM
I'd think you have plenty of options without Horse, I'd leave your permit how it is. If you get to Fairy and feel good, head for Gull it's not far. Or stay on Boot or anywhere and head for Gull/Beartrap on day 2.

If you want to see the falls, head thru Horse and camp on the Basswood R all week. Great fishing but some traffic and hard to avoid seeing others.
member (6)member
03/23/2018 09:08AM
I took a group of 4 through the loop you are discussing in June 2017. This was our first trip to the BWCA and we chose this loop for similar reasons that you, adventure, and sightseeing. We only made it to Boot the first day but that was more weather related than anything (Cold, Rainy, Muddy). We did double portage and the first three portages out of Mudro were pretty muddy and slow. The good news is that the fishing at Boot was excellent. I was hoping for good fishing to spark the interest of my son and nephews and they caught a great mix of Sunfish, Bass, Northern, and Walleye. After the weather cleared, the next morning we moved to Gull and stayed there a couple days. It was the crown jewel of the trip with nice walleye fishing, beautiful cliffs, and nice campsites. We passed through Gun on the way out and stayed one night on Moosecamp. Good fishing for Bass, Walleye, and Pike. The adventure continued down the River and into Fourtown where we stayed our last night. I have heard the River can be low in August which may impact your decision. We caught plenty of Walleye on Fourtown as well...mostly jigging in the rocks in 10-12 feet of water.

With a shorter trip I might opt to basecamp on trips could include Horse, Moosecamp River, the falls, and Boot Lake for fishing purposes.....Just a thought to consider.

Good luck with the planning and let me know if you have any questions.


member (10)member
03/26/2018 11:28AM
Whiskey Creek,

My group of 6 took this route last year in August and basecamped on Gun (site 1085). The site is huge and easily accommodated the 6 of us and all our gear. There is a nice area for hammocks and a better canoe landing on the western side of the site compared to the wide open grassy area and large rock leading to the water. However, we saw a lot of traffic in this area so if solitude is what you are after I would push on to bear trap or thunder. We did a few day trips, stopped at the peninsula site on Gull and that campsite was really cool, caught some smallmouth that were pigs on Gull. On Gun we managed only a few walleye and smallmouth on Gun. We tripped to Fairy for a day too and caught a ton of panfish (Perch and Bluegill) just jigging near the inlet. Also stopped at the campsite on the eastern side of fairy and it was great! If that is open I would recommend taking it, its off the main canoe route and blocked by an island. Fairy lake has a special feel to it, not sure how to describe it. As far as timing, we made it there quickly (considering we took a wrong turn right away on mudro and ended up on Horse) probably around 4 hours single portaging and kept the fishing gear packed up. The lakes in this area are really cool I am sure you will enjoy your trip!
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