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ppreston
member (32)member
 
02/10/2019 01:09PM
It has been three years since I've been able to make it back to Minnesota for the groups annual BWCA trip, so really looking forward to heading west later in June. I've been fortunate enough to have entered the BWCA approximately 10 times over the last 20 years or so, 3 times with the current group of friends, and looking to plan a 4 day fishing excursion. A quick breakdown of a number of the routes from prior trips:

EP 50 (Cross Bay Lake) - This was my first trip to the BWCA. A childhood friend and the dads did a three day trip with a basecamp on Ham Lake. We didn't do any fishing, but we did quite a bit of exploring. I remember being so amazed with the scenery and wildlife.

EP 38 (Sawbill Lake) - Same group as trip # 1. We entered on Sawbill and made our way to Phoebe Lake for another 3 day basecamp. Again, no fishing, but we increased the number of lakes and portages. I recall this trip being quite a bit more challenging yet equally as fulfilling.

EP 57 (Magnetic Lake) - Same group yet again. We entered on Gunflint Lake and slowly made our way to Saganaga Falls. This was a 4 day trip that included a few firsts. Water levels were just right so we were able to avoid some of the portages and test our luck with the rapids. Flirting with Canadian territory and seeing a couple boarder markers along the way. Catching a 20" smallmouth along the southern shore of Saganaga before we heading to an island campsite for our last night. Rain was never issue during the day, but clear skies turned into thunderstorms every night. The final night on Sag include hours of lightning, torrential rain and straight-line winds.

EP 58 (South Lake) - Back to the Gunfight with the same group. We caught a taxi to the island on the eastern half of Gunflint. From there our route took us to North, South, Rat, Rose, and Duncan. The most memorable part of this trip was making it to our campsite on Rose and quickly realizing we didn't have our main food pack. Long story short, we made our way back to Gunflint Lake. After a quick break on the island, we started our paddle back to the lodge. Before we knew it, we were battling 3-4ft waves in the dark. Thankfully a couple that lives on the lake overheard us yelling back and forth between the canoes and turned their lights on, which allowed us to navigate our way to their shoreline and out of the water. From their they assisted with loading up our gear and canoes and drove us to the lodge where we spent the night. After some rest and a warm shower, we kicked of again and made our way into Duncan for the last two night of our trip. To this day, the dads haven't stopped hearing about the food pack debacle and I can't tell you how grateful I am for the couple who saved us from having to spend a cold and wet night on the shore of Gunflint. I recall this being a very scenic route, I saw my first moose in the narrows the lead to the larger part of North, and who can ever forget the Stairway Portage.

EP 1 (Trout Lake) This was the last trip with the original group and for whatever reason, I don't have many memories of this trip. I remember mixing it up with motor boats on Vermilion and the long portage into Cummings.

EP 26 (Wood Lake) This was the first trip with a new group a friends and a first trip for at least 4 of the 8 members. It was July and the mosquitoes were awful the entire trip and marked the beginning and end of every day. We set up a basecamp on Good, and focused on fishing for the remainder of our stay. We had excellent success on Good and were able to catch a handful of pike in Hoist. While on Good, we were catching smallmouth, walleye, pike and bluegills. With our greatest success on the western half of the lake. In fact, it was extremely hard to keep those hammer handles off of our hooks at times. Looking back, I wish we would have ventured into Indiana. This trip marked the second time where I've had to deal with straight-line winds and massive amounts of lightning on the last night of the trip, which made for a rather soggy night of sleep and trek out.

EP 41 (Brule Lake) This group consisted of a couple from the last trip as well as one new addition from our college days. We spent the duration of the 4 days on Brule, more specifically, North Bay. As many have come to know, the winds typically dictate how far you venture any given day and even sometimes locking you down for days at a time. It was Memorial Weekend, and despite having below freezing temps every night, it was sunny and relatively warm each of the days. Though we battled a bug hatch, the fishing for both pike and smallmouth was quite good. There were a few areas with running water that were very productive and resulted in a handful of smallmouth that exceeded 18". We didn't land any pike over 36" and we may have caught two possibly three eater sized walleye the entire trip.

EP 23 (Mudro Lake) The group size grew to six with a number of familiar faces for our June trip that took us into Mudro, Fourtown, Boot, Fairy, Gun, Gull, Bullet, Moosecamp and back into Fourtown via "Moosecamp River". It had been a very wet spring prior to our trip, and every portage was either flooded out or dangerously slick. Fishing on Fourtown, Boot, Gun and Gull was quite spectacular. We had great luck catching walleye and plate sized bluegills sprinkled in with the numerous pike and smallmouth. On the second to last day we made our way from Moosecamp to Fourtown. Fortunately the water levels were high enough, so the beaver dams weren't too much of a hassle. Would love to make it back here sometime and try my luck at landing the trophy walleye that never made it to the tape measure. Long and painful story.

For this year's trip, I'd like for the group to try out a new route. By now, we all have some experience paddling and portaging, so a lengthy day one isn't a problem. I've been looking at routes for Knife, Basswood and Crooked, but I'm thinking these routes would benefit from 5-7 days and not the typical 4. I wouldn't mind even getting back to the Granite River route, but would prefer to be a bit more remote.

Would love to get some input on other EPs / Routes that I haven't been to or I'm overlooking. As noted, we always do 4 day trips and the focus is fishing with a bit of added adventure/scenery being a plus.

Thanks for reading and look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Thanks and regards,
Paul

 
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Northwoodsman
distinguished member(1209)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/10/2019 04:07PM
Recommendation #1 - Start at #38 Sawbill and go up through Ada and Skoop into Cherokee then down through the Sitka, N. Temperance. S. Temperance, Weird, Jack, Kelly, Burnt and Smoke. Use Sawbill Outfitters.

Recommendation #2 - Start at #37 Kawishiwi and go up through Polly and then back through Hazel, Knight, Phoebe, Grace, Beth, and Alton (Lady Lake Chain). Use Sawbill Outfitters.

Recommendation #3 - Start at #50 Cross Bay Lake and go through Ham, Cross Bay, Rib, Long Island, Muskeg, Kiskadinna, Omega, WInchell, Gaskin, Horseshoe, Caribou, Lizz, and Poplar. Use Rockwood or Tuscarora.
lindylair
distinguished member(2107)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/10/2019 04:14PM
Paul, curious which lake in the Mudro area you hooked the big walleye in - I have caught a few big ones in that area.

As far as routes...you will probably get lots of ideas around classic routes that include big water but great fishing. I tend towards the smaller lakes and quieter areas. One thought would be to enter at Baker Lake up through kelly and Jack Lakes to the Temperance Lakes. Go back the way you came in or make a loop by heading over to Cherokee and down ADA Creek to Sawbill. Have a car there(the two ep's are close) or go through the fire lakes back to Baker to extend the route. Good fishing most of the route. Cherokee is not known for fishing but has Lake Trout I believe. But the lakes up to and including the Temperance Lakes are very good as are the Fire Lakes. The route could just as easily be done in reverse.

Why this area? Smaller lakes, quiet area, long stretches of river like paddling, area known for moose sightings. South Temperance is, in my opinion, one of the prettier lakes in the BWCA. At the north end of the Kelly to Jack portage there is a trail to an old abandoned gold mine that you can check out. Kind of cool and lots of relics lying around. I have only done it out and back so can't speak to the second half of the trip other than to say it is more popular than the Baker side and Cherokee is often claimed as one of the prettiest bwca lakes too. On the Baker side, the portages are mostly very short and pretty easy. Up past the Temperance Lakes there are a couple more challenging ones.

I am sure you are going to hear about Basswood, Crooked and SAK and they would all be great trips too if bigger water isn't a concern. So many great routes, I totally understand the difficulty in settling on one. Good Luck.
Reke0402
member (37)member
 
02/10/2019 04:40PM
Northwoodsman: "Recommendation #1 - Start at #38 Sawbill and go up through Ada and Skoop into Cherokee then down through the Sitka, N. Temperance. S. Temperance, Weird, Jack, Kelly, Burnt and Smoke. Use Sawbill Outfitters.

"


My group did this last summer and had a blast stayed on Cherokee night one, N Temperance night 2 and weird the last night because everything South was full. Would do it again for sure.
02/10/2019 08:51PM
Paul, it sounds like you've had some really great trips. In the interest of seeing something completely new, I wouldn't suggest a trip around lakes you've already seen. Instead I will recommend a trip to Knife (and maybe beyond). I went through Knife twice last year (entering through Moose using a tow both times, invaluable for getting in deep and saving yourself time) and loved it both times. I will definitely go back some day, just not this year and maybe not next year either since there's so much to see. You can get into Knife in 4 hours, double portaging, from the Sucker-Birch portage (that the tow will take you to). If you get on the water early, like 6:30-7am, you can have camp set up by noon and be fishing by 1pm.

Here are the trip reports:

June 2018 report - Back Into The Outdoors: A Moose loop

September 2018 report - Cherry is a cherry!

You have many options for day trips around Knife, like Kekekabic, Eddy Falls, and Cherry Lake, and all offer spectacular fishing (except maybe in the later months when you'll have to really work for it). Knife is a grand slam lake and you could easily spend 4 days there fishing the NAK, SAK, and around Eddy Falls. I love the scenery on NAK. As you get close to Little Knife it pinches down into a really spectacular area. You could even head up to Ottertrack which I haven't seen, but it's a skinny lake that looks striking from the photos I've seen. You could easily fish your way there and back and have a blast doing it. Bring lunch! I will also of course recommend Cherry as maybe the most beautiful lake I've visited. If you can, push up to Lake of the Clouds and bring your rod. I am sad I missed it last year. It would be a sweet lunch spot for a day trip, for sure. The cliffs around Cherry and that entire area (check out a topo map) really separate it in my mind from the flatter areas.

I know I'm itching to get back to the BW and I was there twice last year! I can't imagine how you feel after 3 years of no trips. I'm sure no matter which route you take, it will be great.
mjmkjun
distinguished member(2425)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/11/2019 03:24AM
'canoe routes and campsites' tab at clearwater historic lodge.
a little bit of Northwoods style lodge with some scenic route suggestions.
airmorse
distinguished member(2537)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/11/2019 10:20AM
Escape from NY.
ppreston is really Snake Plissken.

Call me Snake
ppreston
member (32)member
 
02/11/2019 11:17AM
Northwoodsman: "Recommendation #1 - Start at #38 Sawbill and go up through Ada and Skoop into Cherokee then down through the Sitka, N. Temperance. S. Temperance, Weird, Jack, Kelly, Burnt and Smoke. Use Sawbill Outfitters.


Recommendation #2 - Start at #37 Kawishiwi and go up through Polly and then back through Hazel, Knight, Phoebe, Grace, Beth, and Alton (Lady Lake Chain). Use Sawbill Outfitters.


Recommendation #3 - Start at #50 Cross Bay Lake and go through Ham, Cross Bay, Rib, Long Island, Muskeg, Kiskadinna, Omega, WInchell, Gaskin, Horseshoe, Caribou, Lizz, and Poplar. Use Rockwood or Tuscarora.
"


Thank you very much for the detailed route recommendations. All three appear to be exactly what we are looking for at first glance, and will certainly push the group. I need to get access to more detailed maps online so I can get a better idea of the actual route (eg. Kawishiwi route with the added rivers and creeks). Unless I'm missing something, the online mapping feature on BWCA.com doesn't have the necessary detail.
ppreston
member (32)member
 
02/11/2019 11:29AM
lindylair: "Paul, curious which lake in the Mudro area you hooked the big walleye in - I have caught a few big ones in that area. "

lindylair -

Thanks for the response and route recommendation. I really like the route you mentioned as it gets us into some new territory and offers up some interesting adventures such as the abandoned gold mine. Not everybody enjoys throwing cranks or drowning bait all hours of the day, so this would be an added bonus for the group.

RE: The one that will never end up on the wall. This was mid-June, middle of the morning, and we had a weather front about to move in on us. The wind had been blowing pretty good from the west, which was perfect given that we were fishing the tip of the barrel on Gun. Fishing with slips and leeches set to 4ft or so, I was able to entice a really strong bite. 10 to 15 minutes later we had the walleye in the net. It was all of 30" and at least 10lbs. With the numerous reports of 28"+ walleye on that route, I'd love to make it back one of these years.
ppreston
member (32)member
 
02/11/2019 12:04PM
airmorse: "Escape from NY.
ppreston is really Snake Plissken.


Call me Snake "


"I guess I go in one way or the other...call me Snake"

Adding this to movies I need to watch. Look at that cast!?!?
airmorse
distinguished member(2537)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/11/2019 02:30PM
ppreston: "airmorse: "Escape from NY.
ppreston is really Snake Plissken.



Call me Snake "



"I guess I go in one way or the other...call me Snake"


Adding this to movies I need to watch. Look at that cast!?!?"


It's an awesome move.

Snake...Back to your original post. We did SAK (south arm of knife lake) a few years back left out of seagull. It was a very good trip. We took two days to get to SAK where we base camped. Then two days to return. Fishing was awesome for walleyes. We would limit out in a very short time. Everything about our route and trip was fantastic.

If you want additional info you can email me.
ppreston
member (32)member
 
02/18/2019 07:52PM
Thanks again for the input. It is always great to see others thoughts on potential route options. The group has decided on Knife Lake for our trip this year. Being limited to 3 nights and 4 days, we will be praying for favorable wind conditions on day one!

The plan will be to coordinate with one of the outfitters in the area for an early morning tow to Indian Portage. With the ultimate goal of getting to South Arm of Knife by mid afternoon. Group size is 6, with decent paddling experience across the board, and all are able bodied and can carry their own weight when portaging. So don't see timing to be an issue.

Fishing will be focused in and around larger island on SAK, southern shoreline, 30r portage to bay area north and west of larger island, and possibly Eddy Lake. Again, time is limited, but happy to hear on other options or areas to focus on.

As for outfitters in the area, it seems like you can't go wrong with LaTourells, Williams and Hall, and Canoe Country Outfitters. As a group, we've had nothing be great experiences with CCO, but wanted to see if there is a reason to go with a different outfitter. All seem to have fairly consistent pricing for tow and lodging. If we were to decide to lodge on site, the only item that raised some alarm was LaTourells requiring you to check in prior to closing. I could see that being an issue for our group.

Now we just need recreation.gov not to implode on itself once reservations are opened up again!

Cheers.

Paul
 
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