BWCA Little Isabella to Bald Eagle, Turtle and Clearwatwr Boundary Waters Trip Planning Forum
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smallmouthjunkie
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03/02/2021 07:08PM  
Putting in mid June at EP75 and headed up through Quadga, Bald Eagle, Turtle, Clearwater, Gull and Pietro and then out through Gabbro and Little Gabbro. Wondering if there will be a lot of beaver dam issues at that time of year on the Littlee Isabella River or if passage will be fairly easy. We plan on spending our first night at Qudga if any sites are open and then moving to BE for a few days before looping through the lakes to the north. Haven't seen much recent info on these lakes and wondering if anyone has recommendations for any of these lakes. Was last in BE in 2008 but didn't make the lakes to the north. Any updates info would be much appreciated.
 
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marsonite
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03/03/2021 06:32AM  
I paddled the Little Isabella last summer. I think no matter what time of year you go, you're going to have a few beaver dams to lift over but nothing that's going to present a major obstacle. I can't help you much with the lakes. You see the Pagami Creek fire just when the Little Isabella joins the Isabella river. I assume Quadga is pretty burned over.
billconner
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03/03/2021 06:48AM  
the loop out of and into BE is a favorite and have done it twice since Pagami Creek Fire. A few closed sites but not many. Both times I was there you could stand on high point between Camdre and Clearwater and see both lakes - a rare BWCA occurrence. The site on Isabella River just west of Qudaga is great for wildlife.
rdgbwca
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03/03/2021 08:18AM  
billconner: "the loop out of and into BE is a favorite and have done it twice since Pagami Creek Fire. "

Where does the loop start and end? Do you use a car shuttle?

Two guide books I have speak highly of the Isabella river but I think they were written before the fire. Most of the trips they describe involve a car shuttle.
billconner
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03/03/2021 06:12PM  
rdgbwca: "billconner: "the loop out of and into BE is a favorite and have done it twice since Pagami Creek Fire. "


Where does the loop start and end? Do you use a car shuttle?


Two guide books I have speak highly of the Isabella river but I think they were written before the fire. Most of the trips they describe involve a car shuttle."


starts and ends in Bald Eagle. I entered at Lake One once and Farm Lake the other time. A Little Gabbro entry would be quickest. Both times I went counterclockwise, into Gull and out through Turtle.
cyclones30
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03/03/2021 06:27PM  
marsonite: "I paddled the Little Isabella last summer. I think no matter what time of year you go, you're going to have a few beaver dams to lift over but nothing that's going to present a major obstacle. I can't help you much with the lakes. You see the Pagami Creek fire just when the Little Isabella joins the Isabella river. I assume Quadga is pretty burned over."

Looking @ google maps Quadga is very burned. As is the river either side of it for a ways. You get out of the burn pretty quickly after heading west from there though towards BE. It's burned enough you can see the portage from the river to Quadga plain as day from space and I doubt it gets used that much
tumblehome
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03/03/2021 06:52PM  
Going through the Pagami burn in Summer will show a vigorous new young forest. Quadga did indeed get burned out but the woods is coming back.
My last walk through the burn in the fall of 2020 had 15’ birch and aspen. Plenty of jack pine above my head.

The fire was intense and burned everything down to bedrock. But there is life again and it is worth a look. It’s been almost ten years now. In ten more it will be harder to even see the scars.

Tom
mgraber
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03/03/2021 09:26PM  
Yes, it is amazing how the forest recovers, and well worth a look. There is some very good fishing in that area as well.
billconner
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03/04/2021 10:27AM  
Plus great berries and wildlife. Or is that repeating myself? :)
03/04/2021 02:06PM  
You'll find good fishing in the all lakes you will visit including the Isabella River. Quadga has some decent walleye. There used to be several great sites on the lake, but I think they were burned in the Pagami Creek fire. I'd consider heading to Bald Eagle for a campsite. Pietro, Gull and Turtle don't have much to offer in terms of sites. Unfortunately this area will be quite busy. You could easily day trip to the other lakes in the area. Great northern fishing in Turtle and great walleye and bass fishing in Pietro.
smallmouthjunkie
member (13)member
 
03/04/2021 05:38PM  
I saw that there was a fire. Haven't been in this area since 2008. I am sure it will be quite different than what I remember. Hoping the river portion doesn't present too much trouble.
smallmouthjunkie
member (13)member
 
03/04/2021 05:41PM  
Wanted to go up into Turtle and Clearwater the last time I was there but the rest of my party wasn't up for it. I'm leading the trip this time so we are definitely making those lakes this time.
smallmouthjunkie
member (13)member
 
03/04/2021 05:42PM  
We paddled from Insula in 2008 and had hoped to stay in Quadga for a night but all sites were taken so we ended up staying the night at the campsite before the portage into BE. Hope we can find a spot in Quadga this year.
AlmostCanadian
member (42)member
 
03/05/2021 10:59AM  
I stayed on Clearwater two years ago at campsite 1693. It's an awesome site that was untouched by the fire. It was a weekend trip in late July so a little different time frame than you will be going. We didn't fish much, but we did pull a couple nice pike out of Clearwater. Bald Eagle was pretty busy, but not full. We only saw one other group through the rest of the loop. I'm hoping to get back into that area soon to spend more time on those lakes. Hope you have a great trip!
rdgbwca
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03/05/2021 11:32AM  
smallmouthjunkie: "We paddled from Insula in 2008 and had hoped to stay in Quadga for a night but all sites were taken so we ended up staying the night at the campsite before the portage into BE. Hope we can find a spot in Quadga this year."

Hi smallmouthjunkie,

I hope you take the time to write a trip report. It would be especially interesting to hear your comparison this year versus when you were there before the fire.

Also let us know how the fishing is in mid June. Do you stick to lures or use some live bait as well?

-rdg
smallmouthjunkie
member (13)member
 
03/06/2021 08:21AM  
I will put up a trip report on return with pictures. I love reading other trip reports and want to be able to share my experience so that it may help some in the future.
IndyCanoe
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03/11/2021 04:42PM  
Can't help much with the river travel but really loved the area. At the end of August last year we put in at little gabbro, camped 2 nights on Gull (Island site), 2 nights on Clearwater (Middle site in the North side of the lake) and then 2 nights on Gabbro (island site closest to Bald Eagle) before heading back out Little Gabbro. Campsites we stayed on were very nice but it did look like several others that we passed had still not fully recovered from the fire and were rarely used.

Caught a few walleye on Gull and several nice Pike on Clearwater. I have since learned that Pietro has a pretty good small mouth population but we just passed through. Only regret was not fishing for pike on Turtle when we moved through there. We were racing expected weather later that day if I remember correctly and wanted to get to camp site secured.

We did not see or hear a single other person from the time we left Bald Eagle lake until we returned to Bald Eagle 4 days later. Even with the busier than normal year those lakes were empty. By comparison, although we did find a site on Gabbro, every other site we passed on Gabbro and Bald Eagle were full.

The portages to get back there were among some of the tougher portages we have done. Lots of ups and downs and at least a few of them were very rocky with constant basket ball size rock to walk over and around. We also had very warm sunny days the first part of the week and with the burn those portages are very exposed making them feel even harder than they were.

I cannot remember which portage it was but one of them had a very narrow section that was very deep mud. My wife took a step off the "solid" mud and sunk almost to her hip, glad she went first that day!
billconner
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03/12/2021 09:45AM  
IIRC the Clearwater to Turtle portage was muddy, and maybe ended in a "dock" of questionable stability?

 
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