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distinguished member (101)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
09/16/2020 02:09PM
Doing some early prep for a 2021 trip with a group of 4 and I am leaning towards heading up to the South Arm of Knife. I have led several trips now but this will be all new territory for me. With a big emphasis on fishing, my biggest question is WHEN?

What is that magical time when the lake trout and walleyes are both hot? I am very inexperienced when it comes to lake trout fishing, but I keep hearing the earlier, the better. I definitely want to go when the lake trout are easier to catch, before they go into the really deep water. However, I have had crummy luck with walleye fishing (probably my own fishing ineptitude) until the water temps warm up in June. So here is my understanding... May is best for lake trout. June is best for walleyes.

If you were planning a trip to SAK and could pick any time to go for lake trout walleyes, would you pick-

A) Mid May
B) End of May
C) Early June

I know that each year things change, depending on weather. But looking for advice on an average year. Thanks so much. Never too early to plan!
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distinguished member(2248)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
09/16/2020 02:25PM
A for me
09/16/2020 03:57PM
If the goal is lakers then mid May would be the time to go.

If looking for more of a mixed bag, then I would say End of May or June.

distinguished member(3885)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
09/17/2020 06:38AM
Jon, I'm from Coon Rapids and have done about fifteen openers in the SAK. For lakers , go opener. You should have your pick of campsites. Two trips out of the fifteen, we caught walleyes everywhere, but the other thirteen trips they can be in a post spawn funk and hard to find. It all depends when ice out is and how fast the temps warm up. We always took one of those two campsites east of Eddy Falls, both a great spot for shore fishing. Email me and I'll send you a map of hot spots where we've had success. You going in through Moose or Seagull ?

Because we fish that bottleneck bay by Eddy Falls, we enter Seagull Lake. Once Seagull is behind you, the paddles and portages are relatively short, about 8.5 hours double portaging.
member (5)member
09/17/2020 03:03PM
I would echo what others have said about SAK in May. You have a very legitimate chance at a grand slam for Smallies, Pike, Lakers and Walleye. I would recommend staying on the east side of the lake if you want species variety though. We came in mid May from Moose this past year and we cleaned up on Lakers but were hard pressed to catch anything else on Knife. The year before we went in from Seagull and found all four species with relative ease. We normally troll some variation of a purple and white crankbait, but have had luck on pink and chrome as well. The only walleye on the last trip was taken on a leach on a slip bobber from our campsite midday. If you are looking to get into walleye and smallmouth on SAK I would recommend trolling the bays as opposed to the big water. Persistence was key. My whole group caught nice lake trout and I was the only fishless angler until day 3 this year. Don't be afraid to fish during the day too! I would consider our group to be somewhat serious anglers but not getting up at 4:30 am to chase the morning bite. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.


@ Shock, I'm moving from NE Minneapolis up to Maple Grove at the end of the month. Drop me a line if you want to get out on the ice at all this winter. I fish around the dam up in CR a few times a year too.

distinguished member(3885)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
09/18/2020 12:02PM
I don't stray too far from Waconia in the winter. You're welcome to join us anytime. Just have to stay tight lipped on my spot. ;)

The Gildedgopher said he was coming out this winter with a tasty bottle of whiskey. ;) Maybe even BP might show up and give a seminar on crappie fishing. ;) Bradddd
member (5)member
09/19/2020 12:11PM
Your secret would be safe with me Shock. I've only fished Waconia a couple times on the hardwater. Normally fish the bays on Tonka for Crappies. Maybe we'll see you out there this winter!
distinguished member(3885)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
09/19/2020 12:36PM
absolutely , if you come out to Waconia , i'll meet you at the marina and follow me out to the shack , just have 4wheel DR , we are off the beaten path.
i use to fish off Arcola bridge , very good pike fishing , and crappie after sundown.
member (8)member
09/19/2020 03:21PM
SAK's been one place I've gone back to consistently, been there 6 times all in all so far. We always take a lift from La Tourells to the first portage, then shoot there that way. Almost always on a site in the open area of SAK where all the islands are, in the area of eddy falls by about 1pm. Last year we had the site with the sandy beaches and it's by far and wide the only 5 star site out there if you ask me. There's so much shore fishing on that site it'll blow your mind, there's a trail that goes out past the thunderbox, you follow it for a bit then it comes out on your own giant rock to fish from. I've gone in May, it's OK but in my experience finding trout can be a bit more work than other species, and if you're only fishing trout I'd imagine that'd be a long day of fishing. There's something nice about just drifting around and catching fish towards the shore. This last year we went 6/1 and it was perfect, we day tripped to nearby Sema lake and destroyed some very respectable sized Lake Trout, some of them were really fat. Just trolling in a circle around the lake until we started slamming them every 50 yards. Then we destroyed everything else on Knife where we camped.

In my opinion go to Knife in June, Knife is the best multi species lake in the BWCA I think. This past year it was the first year my brother and his son visited Minnesota (ever) and we went to the BWCA for a week (it was amazing), everyone caught their Grand Slams, it was special. Once we got those Lakers out of the way it was a relief, and the small mouth fishing was incredible. Pike was surprisingly so-so. But there were some absolute hogs caught in the Smallmouth category, and Walleye were very easy to locate and catch enough of. Usually I can get onto Walleye all day long in the BWCA but that trip they were strictly evening fish, we'd fish the same spot in the sun, no walleye. Go back at the first sign of a setting sun and the walleye were on like a light switch.

Those smallmouth though, I never thought I'd get excited about Smallmouth but damnnnnnnnn there are some HOGS in Knife and they'll bite a hook 3 feet from shore alllllllllllllllll day long. It became a constant joke on the trip, we'd all be doing OK shore fishing, my 11 y/o nephew wanted to fish ALLLL DAY long, so we'd go fishing with him, we'd all take turns, he would take us out to the Rock I mentioned about the sandy beach campsite, I would cast out 10+ feet cause yea, big fish are further out.....My nephew would plant his bobber no more than 4 to 5 feet from where he's standing, I would start saying "Buddy I think you gotta cast further than tha...." and before I could finish my sentence, his bobber would go down and he'd proceed to reel in a hog of a smallmouth. Throw it back....and then catch (probably) the same damn fish lol. One of the guys got kinda frustrated because all he needed was a smallmouth, and my nephew would be raking them in right next to him all day long!!!
distinguished member (101)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
09/21/2020 08:06AM
Those are fun stories, Fizzle. So it is worth going to Sema Lake for the trout? One of the main reasons I want to go to SAK early season is I have never caught even one lake trout in the BWCA. I haven't targeted them. So I would like to target them, and if Sema Lake makes it easier, I might be convinced to portage over there.
member (8)member
09/21/2020 02:51PM
tcoeguy: "Those are fun stories, Fizzle. So it is worth going to Sema Lake for the trout? One of the main reasons I want to go to SAK early season is I have never caught even one lake trout in the BWCA. I haven't targeted them. So I would like to target them, and if Sema Lake makes it easier, I might be convinced to portage over there. "

Yea I had read on here that Sema was a laker factory and that they were eager and willing to bite even on the least ideal days....and it was true. We went there on a REALLY sunny afternoon, probably got to Sema around 11am so totally high noon, least ideal trout fishing conditions if you ask me, and we got em on the west/north side of Sema all morning long until we left. At first we trolled a full circle without a single hit, then after the 1.5x loop mark we found em deeper than expected. We were hitting them on just about everything as long as you had it down about 25 feet. Halfway through the afternoon we just started casting for them, cast out, let it sink for seemingly forever then reel in slowww and they'd hit it. My buddy was killing them on his rippin raps, typically an ice fishing setup. The other two boats had fish finders and they both commented how the lakers would follow stuff right to their boat, and that as soon as he started using that really aggressive rippin rap (it makes a ton of noise) it was like he was calling them into his boat, and his paddle partner using a more subtle silver spoon was getting all the love when they'd come towards the boat. We actually kept way too many trout we were so excited about catching them (also first time). Some of them had really red meat, was really cool. And they had some decent size to them, we went into it thinking they'd be "small" but yea some were up to 22 inches and in the 3-4 lb range. Mostly in the 17 inch range. All 7 of us caught a few, we tossed a bunch back. Was cool that our whole group got our Grand Slams. We did Sema as a day trip the first morning we were there, checked em off our list real quick.

The one thing I will say for sure is that the portage from Knife to Sema absolutely sucks. It's not "Difficult" per say, it's just a damn creek bed lol. Half the portage seems like there's a little brook that dribbles along the portage, so there's pretty much no way to effectively dry shoe it. Take your wet shoes, you'll be ankle deep in mud half the portage. Those lakers were worth it though. We came to the conclusion we could have caught lakers in Knife with the exact same methods, just that we'd have had to work a lot more to find them vs Sema being a very simple and small bowl shape you pretty much just troll in a circle till you find them.
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