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treehorn
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11/15/2019 10:08AM
Do any of you do this?

Do you do it to scout for fish, and have you been successful finding them and then later catching them? Or just for relaxation/fun? I know it might vary quite a bit, but what kind of depths can you typically see down to?

I've never snorkeled on a freshwater lake. Seems like it might be interesting, since I'm usually up there when water temps allow it.

But, in all the trip reports I've read and various threads I read right here, I don't think I've ever heard anyone talk about spending time snorkeling...maybe visibility is just not good enough anywhere.

Thoughts?
 
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andym
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11/15/2019 10:56AM
We love snorkeling but have never done it in the BW. Have you done a search on the forum? I think it has come up a few times with some luck seeing things at the base of rapids.
 
nofish
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11/15/2019 10:58AM
We brought a snorkel on our last trip. My wife and daughter messed around with it and said it was kinda cool. I've also swam on past trips where we'd dive down with no snorkel or mask but could still open our eyes and see fish easy enough. A pair of swim goggles would have helped with this and not been much of an issue to bring, much smaller than the full snorkel.

Water clarity is going to vary widely by lake. There will be some lakes you probably can't see more than a few feet at most and there will be other lakes where you have good visibility out a long ways. It can also vary depending on the weather as wind can get a lake churned up a bit and would hurt visibility.

 
11/15/2019 12:02PM
I had a tripping partner who brought snorkeling gear to the BW. He was amazed at how many fish he saw. He eventually mixed fishing with snorkeling. I called him the Aqua-man angler.
 
Savage Voyageur
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11/15/2019 12:37PM
I’ve taken a pair of swim goggles on a few trips. It’s kind of fun to see all the fish and rocks underwater. Sad part is you will also find lots of old beer cans and other trash. Last trip I found a Hamm’s beer can, the kind with the pop top. You could still read the label on the can after at least 45 years underwater.
 
HowardSprague
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11/15/2019 01:31PM
Some time ago, I snorkeled on one of the lakes just outside the BW, while staying at a resort. First thing I noticed was how different the temperature was in various spots - swim just a few feet in one direction, and it's much warmer. So I generally don't pay that much attention to water temps, though I know many monitor that, because some thermometer will only show temp in whatever spot. The next thing I noticed was a lot of boulders - I was only in 4-10' of water - and quite a few crayfish. Didn't see many fish, but I could tell it was good smallie water. Next day, within 50 yards of there and within sight of the resort, I caught my first decent smallmouth - a 19"er. Also found several jigs/lures, some corroded beyond use some still useful.
I bought a shorter pair of fins as well as an inflatable snorkeling vest, to bring on summer trips with my mask and snorkel if I have the space in my pack. If I go in spring or fall,...brr! - forget it!

These aren't the fins I have - mine are grey & black - but very similar:

compact fins

I also like to take them with me in my carry-on or suitcase if I'm going someplace tropical (USVI last March). They do the job.
 
Banksiana
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11/15/2019 04:46PM
I've taken mask and snorkel a few times, a couple of times I included fins. Really fun on the ultra clear lakes (oligotrophic). Sometimes I'd get groups of smallmouth that would follow along to see what was up.

Visibility is plenty good if you choose the right lake.
 
11/15/2019 05:14PM
One of the funniest things we've seen in Quetico involved a snorkel (but not snorkeling). If you've done Yum Yum portage you know that in either direction it's a grunt with a bog in the middle. When traversing that portage in the early '80s, we found a snorkel protruding from the middle of the bog!
TZ
 
GopherAdventure
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11/15/2019 05:17PM
Banksiana: "I've taken mask and snorkel a few times, a couple of times I included fins. Really fun on the ultra clear lakes (oligotrophic). Sometimes I'd get groups of smallmouth that would follow along to see what was up.

Visibility is plenty good if you choose the right lake. "


Wenonah makes hover canoes? Awesome! Cool pic, thanks for sharing.

Tony
 
Bearpath9
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11/15/2019 05:37PM
Never snorkeled in the BW, I have snorkeled in freshwater lakes though. For visibility, a lot depends on the lake. Some are clear, and visibility is 15-20 feet or so. Others have stained water, or greenish water, and its only about 10 foot or so. You see fish, but I never thought of scouting for them.
 
andym
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11/15/2019 06:35PM
This is probably quite obvious to people who have done it but for the sake of people who might be thinking about trying: if you use swim googles that do not include your nose in with your eyes then you need to stay at the surface or limit how far down you go. Otherwise you can get pain in your eyes due to the increased pressure with depth and no ability to compensate using your nose.

My wife does use goggles in the BW because hers are prescription and help her see. She just doesn't dive with them. With a mask, snorkel, and fins she's gone pretty deep.
 
brp
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11/15/2019 09:51PM
I just learned about Dive Portable Lungs. It is basically a small scuba tank you fill with a glorified bike pump. It gives about 15 mins of dive time and goes to 30ft. The whole thing would be totally packable. Not small, but doable.

My first thought was that I could scuba the BW!

I'm not sure if this would be considered a "mechanical device" or whatever.

If I do end up getting it, I will probably take it along and see what I can see.




 
dicecupmaker
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11/15/2019 10:42PM
Bring a needle nose and fill up your tackle box! Have enjoyed snorkeling for a few years now!
 
missmolly
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11/16/2019 09:09AM
I wanna do this in the worst way.
 
Duff
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11/16/2019 03:37PM
 
Jaywalker
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11/16/2019 04:59PM
missmolly: "I wanna do this in the worst way. "
Me too. I've looked for gear and thought maybe some nice July/August trip when the water is nice and warm it would be great fun.
 
Bearpath9
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11/16/2019 05:18PM
Jaywalker: "missmolly: "I wanna do this in the worst way. "
Me too. I've looked for gear and thought maybe some nice July/August trip when the water is nice and warm it would be great fun. "


A friend of mine bought a Wildhorn full faced snorkel mask last fall before a trip, and he says its the best thing out there. I was going to get one, but could never find one in the stores I looked in. Made by Wildhorn Outfitters.
 
arctic
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11/16/2019 05:55PM
I regularly bring a mask on canoe trips. On really dark lakes it's nice to check out anyplace you plan on swimming and to find any hidden dangers (stumps, trees, boulders, sharp rocks, etc).

On clear lakes it's just plain all-around fun to watch fish, recover lost fishing lures, check-out drop-offs and other bottom formations, etc.
 
andym
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11/17/2019 04:13AM
The Wildhorn looks like it may be a good variant on the all-in-one. But note that they say it is only for surface swimming. It looks like it may separate the eye part from the nose and mouth. That may prevent co2 buildup that may be a problem with some all face masks but means they are essentially goggles with respect to your eyes.

The portable dive lungs look interesting but I suggest getting scuba certified before using one. There are mistakes you could make that could seriously injure your lungs. Also, you should practice how to make emergency ascents under supervision before using something like that.

Finally, good analysis of the device points out that the 15 minute estimate for a dive seems like it is valid if you are not active and very close to the surface. Expect much shorter times if you dive down. This is both because you breathe faster and due to th pressure at depth. It takes about 30 minutes to pump up. So much more time pumping than diving. I think I get more bottom time just snorkeling.

But if you really want 5 minutes at 15 or 20 feet it might do the trick. Just take a course first.
 
Bearpath9
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11/17/2019 08:01AM
I was only referring to the mask. According to my friend, you can go down about 10 foot or so with no problems. I guess that since the majority of my snorkeling is done in the coral reefs and shallow waters in the Caribbean, I was only considering that aspect. Nevertheless, I plan on getting one. It may be a couple of months, since we go down there in March, but I will report on how it worked for me in various settings.
 
andym
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11/17/2019 01:03PM
I just combined replying about two things in one post.

I suspect 10’ is pretty safe with most things. Apparently it is the depth limit the portable dive lung company gives for uncertified divers.

And 10’ on tropical reefs gives amazing great stuff to see.
 
andym
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11/17/2019 01:16PM
Randomly, one of my relatives just sent me snorkeling pics that included a full face mask but likely a different brand. He liked it but his father didn’t. Use was in Eilat with only shallow diving. He’s an experienced scuba diver so he knows gear well to compare.
 
MikeinMpls
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11/18/2019 02:59PM
I've thought about it but never done it. I've snorkeled in Hawaii, Africa, and the Galapagos, each different in their own way. I'd like to try a clear BWCA lake.

Mike
 
andym
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11/18/2019 03:28PM
Any suggestions of clear EP lakes or within a day trip distance. I'm not sure I want to carry full snorkeling gear on a camping trip (our good fins are big) but it could be fun to do a day canoe/snorkeling trip.
 
Banksiana
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11/19/2019 07:36PM
andym: "Any suggestions of clear EP lakes or within a day trip distance. I'm not sure I want to carry full snorkeling gear on a camping trip (our good fins are big) but it could be fun to do a day canoe/snorkeling trip."

For tripping consider Travel Fins ==

Louisa is within relatively easy reach with a tow to Prairie Portage.
 
WHendrix
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11/19/2019 07:54PM
andym: "Any suggestions of clear EP lakes or within a day trip distance. I'm not sure I want to carry full snorkeling gear on a camping trip (our good fins are big) but it could be fun to do a day canoe/snorkeling trip."

Alton is very clear and is one easy portage from Sawbill.
 
11/19/2019 08:08PM
Hopefully all the fun things like old car batteries and tires along with the rest of the stuff they had to get rid of to make the BW a pristine wilderness is buried now in the muck and all. You’d find that more twenty years ago or more. Just don’t be too surprised. They took a lot of stuff out on the ice and let er go.
I’ll bet you could fill a tackle box pretty fast if you knew where to look.
 
andym
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11/20/2019 06:53AM
Thanks for the lake suggestions. This is an intriguing idea for when we are staying in our cabin.

Small fins could be the right balance. For most of the areas we usually snorkel I like the power of our large fins. But for a calm lake small might be enough. I actually have a couple of small pairs. One designed for body surfing and boogie boards. The other are for swim training. Those are particularly light. I should try underwater swimming with them.
 
HowardSprague
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11/20/2019 11:56AM
andym: "Any suggestions of clear EP lakes or within a day trip distance. I'm not sure I want to carry full snorkeling gear on a camping trip (our good fins are big) but it could be fun to do a day canoe/snorkeling trip."

Snowbank is clear.
 
HowardSprague
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11/20/2019 12:06PM
nctry: "Hopefully all the fun things like old car batteries and tires along with the rest of the stuff they had to get rid of to make the BW a pristine wilderness is buried now in the muck and all. You’d find that more twenty years ago or more. Just don’t be too surprised. They took a lot of stuff out on the ice and let er go.
I’ll bet you could fill a tackle box pretty fast if you knew where to look."


Wow - if I came across a submerged car battery, that's one thing I'd be inclined to get out of the water.
 
WhiteWolf
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11/20/2019 03:28PM
On Knife- after the 1999 blowdown (I remember this vividly) it was so hot without any shade that my buddy and I spent most of our time, if not in the canoe, in the drink staying cool. I had brought my swimming goggles and would swim under the water outside our site and see SMB, ask my buddy to cast his lure in that direction , and then see them be hooked. It was like the Capra boys fishing tourney's but this was real!!!
 
andym
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11/20/2019 07:27PM
Thanks, Howard. Snowbank is an easy drive from our cabin.
 
Bushpilot
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11/20/2019 08:51PM
Ella Hall, Indiana and Knife are all very clear on pretty easy to get to. There is an old pier on Ella Hall, I have found "stuff" in areas like this. Don't over look Burntside in areas like the sunken barge in Hoist bay. Indian island area, I remember a house being on the North side of the island and found "stuff" scuba diving. Indian Island is private property and has graves on it, so don't go ashore. Also school section bay has a nice sand beach and is shallow. Also Kaleva bay there is a buoy you could snorkel off of.

My grand father bought scuba gear in the late 60s and we had a place on Burntside. I have scuba dove in many of the lakes Burntside, Basswood, Fenske, etc… also I dove in a few of the quarries like the "Rock crusher" and 13 corners. Never snorkeled in the lakes but many times I have free dove with a mask and fins. I have seen all kind of trash from cars to refrigerators, old logging stuff and 55 gallon drums. I haven't dove in any bwca lakes in more than 20 years. I am not even sure if it is legal to scuba and never thought about it until now. I know your not supposed to remove anything other than "new garbage".There used to be a dive shop in Ely 20-25 years ago. It was called A&W dive shop. It was also the A&W restaurant.
 
andym
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11/21/2019 12:00AM
Thanks, Bushpilot. I really think this could make for some fun day trips. And I hadn't thought about Burntside. We've never done anything on there.

Don't see why it would be against the rules to snorkel in the BW. There is nothing mechanical about it and I have no urge to take anything out. Just happy to take a look around.

We haven't been scuba diving lately but when I say snorkel I really mean free dive to depths up to 20' or so. At least if I have my big fins around.
 
scotttimm
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11/21/2019 10:11AM
Banksiana: "I've taken mask and snorkel a few times, a couple of times I included fins. Really fun on the ultra clear lakes (oligotrophic). Sometimes I'd get groups of smallmouth that would follow along to see what was up.

Visibility is plenty good if you choose the right lake. "


Curious, would be fun to put some on our list...which lakes are the oligotrophic lakes? What is an oligotrophic lake?
 
GopherAdventure
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11/21/2019 07:49PM
Oligotrophic lakes are generally very low in nutrients and higher elevation so they stay clear because no other basins drain into them. Most oligotrophic lakes are good trout lakes because trout are one of the only species that can survive in them. Plant life is very minimal in these lakes too, so they are dynamite for scuba/snorkeling. Takucmich, Fat, Ahmakose, Sema, amongst several others. There’s probably 100 or so in the BW. The ones I listed are just the ones I’ve been to.

Tony

Tony
 
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