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ScottL
senior member (69)senior membersenior member
 
05/25/2021 08:56AM  
I'm heading up to Crooked Lake in about 2 weeks going in via Mudro and down the Horse River and I'm interested in any reports regarding water levels. I recall a lot of comments last year as to Pickett Creek being very low at the entry point. What are the water levels like this year? Any intel on the water levels on Horse River as well?
 
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butcher steve
Guest Paddler
 
05/25/2021 11:37AM  
went down horse river fishing opener weekend and the water was the lowest I had ever seen... we paddled up the last rapids into horse lake .. that is how low the current was..... we stayed on Wednesday and the black flies killed us
05/26/2021 01:58PM  
I entered Pickett Creek during fishing opener and while I could paddle all the way to Mudro, the water levels were quit low for that time of year. I might be going through there this weekend again, so I'll give you another report if I go.
pastorjsackett
distinguished member(1117)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/26/2021 03:13PM  
I'm headed there on Sunday this week! Thanks for the intel!

kbomb
member (11)member
 
05/29/2021 10:02AM  
I have a permit for Mudro in September and I'm wondering the same thing about paddling the Horse River up to lower basswood falls. How bad might it be that time of year for water levels?
bretthexum
senior member (59)senior membersenior member
 
05/29/2021 04:52PM  
Just got back from Mudro to Crooked.

It's really low and will get even worse soon. You can almost make it from the regular landing at Mudro down. We bottomed out and just walked the canoe.

Horse river is a huge pain. 3 extra non-official portages or rock-hopping depending on your skill. It's tough and getting worse
Saberboys
distinguished member(809)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/03/2021 10:30AM  
pastorjsackett: "I'm headed there on Sunday this week! Thanks for the intel!


"


I'll be curious about your experience on the Horse River when you get back pastorjsackett. We are heading in 6/14.
Lawnchair107
distinguished member (200)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/03/2021 12:10PM  
I’ll be curious, too. I think Jdoutdoors will be on those waters soon. I’m hoping he can give us some feedback. Heading there in early July.

Voyageurs maps calls out those “unofficial” horse river portages. I’m all but certain those will be exposed come July.
LetsGoFishing
distinguished member (122)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/03/2021 12:28PM  
I put in on Wednesday of next week. First time through this area. Of course there will be low water.
technically_rugged
distinguished member (384)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/03/2021 04:49PM  
Lawnchair107: "I’ll be curious, too. I think Jdoutdoors will be on those waters soon. I’m hoping he can give us some feedback. Heading there in early July.


Voyageurs maps calls out those “unofficial” horse river portages. I’m all but certain those will be exposed come July."


Why yes, I will be! I've informed my party that we will be dealing with what seems like even lower water than what was reported last year, so we'll have the bow rope handy and prepare to get out of the canoe a lot more than planned. Still planning on hitting LBF from Mudro in about 8 hours, hopefully it doesn't take that long. We'll be up as early as we can be :) hope to see some of you on the water.
bretthexum
senior member (59)senior membersenior member
 
06/04/2021 11:06AM  
jdoutdoors: "Lawnchair107: "I’ll be curious, too. I think Jdoutdoors will be on those waters soon. I’m hoping he can give us some feedback. Heading there in early July.



Voyageurs maps calls out those “unofficial” horse river portages. I’m all but certain those will be exposed come July."



Why yes, I will be! I've informed my party that we will be dealing with what seems like even lower water than what was reported last year, so we'll have the bow rope handy and prepare to get out of the canoe a lot more than planned. Still planning on hitting LBF from Mudro in about 8 hours, hopefully it doesn't take that long. We'll be up as early as we can be :) hope to see some of you on the water."


It took us about 8.5 with double portage and the Horse River mess. We were not pushing the pace though since I had a rookie with me.
06/04/2021 05:23PM  
If water is low...and it certainly is, your trip out of Mudro will be much tougher. Not to mention the Billygoat. Avoid Horse river with low water--trust me.
06/04/2021 05:23PM  
If water is low...and it certainly is, your trip out of Mudro will be much tougher. Not to mention the Billygoat. Avoid Horse river with low water--trust me.
landoftheskytintedwater
distinguished member(928)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/06/2021 03:16PM  
Bump. Headed this way later this week.
pastorjsackett
distinguished member(1117)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/07/2021 07:43AM  
Just did this trip. It took us 6.5 hours single portaging from Mudro to the top of Wednesday Bay. Flies were not bad. Mosquitoes just so-so. Horse River was low but it was my first trip there so nothing to which I can compare. We got a bit confused as to which portage we were on though, because there are some extras due to low water.

All said, it was a great trip. I think I'm hooked on Crooked.

Best of luck to everyone on their trips!
Lawnchair107
distinguished member (200)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/07/2021 10:28AM  
pastorjsackett: "Just did this trip. It took us 6.5 hours single portaging from Mudro to the top of Wednesday Bay. Flies were not bad. Mosquitoes just so-so. Horse River was low but it was my first trip there so nothing to which I can compare. We got a bit confused as to which portage we were on though, because there are some extras due to low water.


All said, it was a great trip. I think I'm hooked on Crooked.


Best of luck to everyone on their trips!"


How was the fishing? Which site did you end up staying at near Wed Bay?
landoftheskytintedwater
distinguished member(928)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/07/2021 09:34PM  
Thanks for the update! pastorjsackett: "Just did this trip. It took us 6.5 hours single portaging from Mudro to the top of Wednesday Bay. Flies were not bad. Mosquitoes just so-so. Horse River was low but it was my first trip there so nothing to which I can compare. We got a bit confused as to which portage we were on though, because there are some extras due to low water.


All said, it was a great trip. I think I'm hooked on Crooked.


Best of luck to everyone on their trips!"
Saberboys
distinguished member(809)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/08/2021 09:37AM  
pastorjsackett: "Just did this trip. It took us 6.5 hours single portaging from Mudro to the top of Wednesday Bay. Flies were not bad. Mosquitoes just so-so. Horse River was low but it was my first trip there so nothing to which I can compare. We got a bit confused as to which portage we were on though, because there are some extras due to low water.


All said, it was a great trip. I think I'm hooked on Crooked.


Best of luck to everyone on their trips!"


6 1/2 hours from Mudro to Wednesday is making pretty good time! Thanks for the update!
Abbey
distinguished member (278)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/10/2021 11:24AM  
Anyone else been on the Horse River recently? We will be entering June 13 and want to know what to expect.....really didn’t anticipate water levels being this low in mid June back when this permit was booked in January.
TuscaroraBorealis
distinguished member(5060)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
06/10/2021 11:50AM  
Abbey: "Anyone else been on the Horse River recently? We will be entering June 13 and want to know what to expect.....really didn’t anticipate water levels being this low in mid June back when this permit was booked in January. "

I haven't been in that area this year but, we did do a trip through Mudro/Horse River last summer during a very dry stretch. I would imagine things are very similar now to what we experienced. Here's a link to that trip report.

Paddling with Padres - A spiritual Exodus adventure
IowaFishinGuy
senior member (78)senior membersenior member
 
06/11/2021 07:35AM  
Abbey: "Anyone else been on the Horse River recently? We will be entering June 13 and want to know what to expect.....really didn’t anticipate water levels being this low in mid June back when this permit was booked in January. "

I am going in on June 14. I talked to Lynn at VNO and she said the Horse River is navigable, but low water levels are leading to a few extra pull overs. So I’m guessing that adding an extra hour or 2 to get to LBF is a good idea. I know Ely was forecasted to get rain a couple times mid week, but I’m not sure how much they actually got
pastorjsackett
distinguished member(1117)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/13/2021 09:45PM  
Fishing was excellent! We stayed in 1858. About a 20 minute paddle to the currents (although there is really good current right near that campsite as well).

We liked 1858. Expansive for our group.
technically_rugged
distinguished member (384)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/14/2021 05:52PM  
Just got out yesterday. The portage into Mudro is closer to 70 rods now (.2mi according to my Garmin track) due to the low water. There are good paths to carry but it is soft and quite muddy in some spots. The low water does require a simple pullover one barely-submerged rock in a rocky shallows spot, but everything else we squeezed through.

The Horse was not as much of a slog as we were led to believe. There were some shallow sections that we were able to slide through, with a little scraping, but nothing really bad. In the spots where we weren't able to easily scooch over some rocks, we just got out and lined the canoe 10-15 feet until we could get back in. We avoided 1 portage doing this. We had a pretty fun time running the rocky sections actually. Yeah, we put a few scratches on the canoe, but everyone does- they're working vessels! My buddy with his 6 month old Swift Keewaydin didn't even flinch. He knew what he was getting into.

At worst, the low water will add an hour. We hit LBF from the moment we started walking the Mudro portage with our first load, to the moment we touched the campsite landing, in 7h45m, double carrying. That includes a 15 minute lunch break on one of the Horse portages. The Horse section took us 3h30m with that lunch break included, from the moment we entered the river (right after you get past the islands) to the moment we touched the campsite landing at LBF.

Overall, the low water did slow us down a bit, and maybe some of the Fourtown-Mudro portage landings would have been better if water was a foot higher, but it could have been a lot worse. I thought the Horse River was a very scenic area and even though the Boot/Fairy/Gun/Wagosh route up to Friday Bay is faster and maybe easier, I would highly recommend going up the Horse and enjoying the awesome paddle up Crooked/Weds Bay as well.
Lawnchair107
distinguished member (200)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/14/2021 06:14PM  
jdoutdoors: "Just got out yesterday. The portage into Mudro is closer to 70 rods now (.2mi according to my Garmin track) due to the low water. There are good paths to carry but it is soft and quite muddy in some spots. The low water does require a simple pullover one barely-submerged rock in a rocky shallows spot, but everything else we squeezed through.


The Horse was not as much of a slog as we were led to believe. There were some shallow sections that we were able to slide through, with a little scraping, but nothing really bad. In the spots where we weren't able to easily scooch over some rocks, we just got out and lined the canoe 10-15 feet until we could get back in. We avoided 1 portage doing this. We had a pretty fun time running the rocky sections actually. Yeah, we put a few scratches on the canoe, but everyone does- they're working vessels! My buddy with his 6 month old Swift Keewaydin didn't even flinch. He knew what he was getting into.


At worst, the low water will add an hour. We hit LBF from the moment we started walking the Mudro portage with our first load, to the moment we touched the campsite landing, in 7h45m, double carrying. That includes a 15 minute lunch break on one of the Horse portages. The Horse section took us 3h30m with that lunch break included, from the moment we entered the river (right after you get past the islands) to the moment we touched the campsite landing at LBF.


Overall, the low water did slow us down a bit, and maybe some of the Fourtown-Mudro portage landings would have been better if water was a foot higher, but it could have been a lot worse. I thought the Horse River was a very scenic area and even though the Boot/Fairy/Gun/Wagosh route up to Friday Bay is faster and maybe easier, I would highly recommend going up the Horse and enjoying the awesome paddle up Crooked/Weds Bay as well."


How was the fishing? Which sites did you stay at after LBF? Any recommended sites?
landoftheskytintedwater
distinguished member(928)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/14/2021 08:13PM  
Ditto on the report. Three of us went down on Thursday 6/10. Took 5.5 hours single portaging from Mudro to LBF. I had done the Horse River once before in September and it found it to be about the same as then. Upper stretch is slowest. We probably got out of the canoe four times and we did the optional portage that comes before any of the marked portages. Smooth sailing after the first marked portage if I remember correctly. We stayed at the site on the west shore of Crooked that has a view of both falls. Not one of the two right next to it. 3 star site with a 5 star view in a great location.
technically_rugged
distinguished member (384)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/15/2021 10:15AM  
Lawnchair107: "How was the fishing? Which sites did you stay at after LBF? Any recommended sites?"

We stayed at 2096. Not a good landing, kind of far from the site and requires you to haul gear up a small hill. View from the fire grate is limited, but there is a path to a nice spot to sit by a pool in the falls. We didn't explore much. Otherwise a pretty nice site; fairly flat ground, good hammock options too. I have read that the site below the falls (2205) is the one to get, if you can. We were just grateful to have an open site that was decent so we didn't even check it. It ended up being taken when we passed by the next day.

We didn't fish the falls (sacrilege, I know) but the fishing on Crooked was pretty good for the amount of effort we put into it. Trolling silver minnow color shad raps around 10-12ft down near dropoffs and humps yielded some really nice walleye. I don't think we caught any walleye under 18 inches the entire trip. I caught a 27 incher on that setup. Funny enough, I don't think I caught a single walleye on my leeches, just smallmouth. We just didn't locate any pods of walleye. A 4 inch swimbait also got me a few nice 20-21 inch walleye with a slow steady retrieve near/over deeper weeds (with the occasional twitch).

I think I caught more walleye on this trip than I've caught over my entire life (haven't fished for them much) and the average size was excellent. I was surprised, having heard that Crooked is known more for numbers than size.
Lawnchair107
distinguished member (200)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/15/2021 10:35AM  
jdoutdoors: "Lawnchair107: "How was the fishing? Which sites did you stay at after LBF? Any recommended sites?"


We stayed at 2096. Not a good landing, kind of far from the site and requires you to haul gear up a small hill. View from the fire grate is limited, but there is a path to a nice spot to sit by a pool in the falls. We didn't explore much. Otherwise a pretty nice site; fairly flat ground, good hammock options too. I have read that the site below the falls (2205) is the one to get, if you can. We were just grateful to have an open site that was decent so we didn't even check it. It ended up being taken when we passed by the next day.


We didn't fish the falls (sacrilege, I know) but the fishing on Crooked was pretty good for the amount of effort we put into it. Trolling silver minnow color shad raps around 10-12ft down near dropoffs and humps yielded some really nice walleye. I don't think we caught any walleye under 18 inches the entire trip. I caught a 27 incher on that setup. Funny enough, I don't think I caught a single walleye on my leeches, just smallmouth. We just didn't locate any pods of walleye. A 4 inch swimbait also got me a few nice 20-21 inch walleye with a slow steady retrieve near/over deeper weeds (with the occasional twitch).


I think I caught more walleye on this trip than I've caught over my entire life (haven't fished for them much) and the average size was excellent. I was surprised, having heard that Crooked is known more for numbers than size."


Cool beans, man. Thanks for the info. Pretty busy route? Did you guys head north or head back via Horse River? Look forward to seeing the vids on the web.
technically_rugged
distinguished member (384)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/15/2021 11:09AM  
Lawnchair107: "Cool beans, man. Thanks for the info. Pretty busy route? Did you guys head north or head back via Horse River? Look forward to seeing the vids on the web.
"


You're very welcome! On Sat the 5th when we went in, we only had one group ahead of us that we ran into several times, and a few groups going out. Saw a few people on Horse, a solo guy fishing Mudro. Saw a few groups pass by at LBF in the late afternoon. Leaving LBF we saw a few campsites taken and one group heading out on the portage. On Crooked we saw two groups heading out in the Weds Bay area, one group at the Table Rock site, one canoe on Thurs Bay heading south (not sure if fishing but it was very windy). Saw two groups camped in Sat Bay where we intended to stay (only the crappy site available) so we pushed to Sun Bay and got the lovely site in the SE corner of Sun Bay. We saw nary a soul for 5 days other than a group from Sat Bay inside Sat Bay and they fished in Sun Bay one day, a single 3 person canoe seemingly checking site in Sun Bay, and a group at Curtain Falls.

Overall it seemed very isolated up on Crooked with many sites seeming open. We basically had Sun Bay to ourselves for our entire stay, which was awesome.

We headed south through Fri Bay and stayed on Fairy for our final night as Gun was full. It was nice honestly as we were able to move up our pickup time and get home at a decent hour- could have even pushed to Boot which had some free sites on our way out. It definitely seemed like a faster route up to Fri Bay even with the mile portage from Wagosh to Gun, which was about as easy as it could be, mostly flat. Walked it in 25 mins with the canoe and 21 mins with the second load if that gives you any idea - it was actually quite scenic and almost enjoyable, with no mud, good shade, and a breeze coming through.

The videos may take me a bit to get up, but I'm planning on making a trailer for this trip with some highlights and that'll be up first. Thanks for watching :)
tbro16
member (26)member
 
06/17/2021 01:35AM  
It doesn't sound like the water levels have changed too much since Memorial day weekend when I was there. I was in a solo and actually coming back from Crooked to EP 23 through Horse I was able to drag my canoe through the current and avoided one portage all together, didn't have to add any although I would assume tandems would have to. It wasn't as bad as I expected it to be.

Congrats on such great luck fishing! I did pretty good in the river channels a few weeks ago. Much more luck on minnows than I did with leeches. Fishing was good enough for me to come back again so I'll be up over the weekend of the 4th. Sounds like you camped and did most of your fishing on Sunday bay? I've never been that far but it may be our best shot at an open campsite on a busy weekend so we may have to give it a shot. Good fishing would help!
technically_rugged
distinguished member (384)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/17/2021 12:55PM  
tbro16: "It doesn't sound like the water levels have changed too much since Memorial day weekend when I was there. I was in a solo and actually coming back from Crooked to EP 23 through Horse I was able to drag my canoe through the current and avoided one portage all together, didn't have to add any although I would assume tandems would have to. It wasn't as bad as I expected it to be.


Congrats on such great luck fishing! I did pretty good in the river channels a few weeks ago. Much more luck on minnows than I did with leeches. Fishing was good enough for me to come back again so I'll be up over the weekend of the 4th. Sounds like you camped and did most of your fishing on Sunday bay? I've never been that far but it may be our best shot at an open campsite on a busy weekend so we may have to give it a shot. Good fishing would help!"


Fishing wasn't what I would call "lights out" or "world class" - bass were not absolutely stacked on the shoreline like I would have expected with how much good cover there was - but overall we did pretty decent for the amount of effort we put in. It was good. We did base camp on Sun Bay and loved the campsite so I may have to go back - it's honestly a super beautiful area, moreso than it looks on maps. We spent most of our time fishing the shoreline and trolling around there. We actually had better fishing there than in Sat Bay which was my destination for the trip, so it ended up being a happy accident that the 2 nice sites by Sat Bay were taken.
Lawnchair107
distinguished member (200)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/17/2021 01:54PM  
jdoutdoors: "tbro16: "It doesn't sound like the water levels have changed too much since Memorial day weekend when I was there. I was in a solo and actually coming back from Crooked to EP 23 through Horse I was able to drag my canoe through the current and avoided one portage all together, didn't have to add any although I would assume tandems would have to. It wasn't as bad as I expected it to be.



Congrats on such great luck fishing! I did pretty good in the river channels a few weeks ago. Much more luck on minnows than I did with leeches. Fishing was good enough for me to come back again so I'll be up over the weekend of the 4th. Sounds like you camped and did most of your fishing on Sunday bay? I've never been that far but it may be our best shot at an open campsite on a busy weekend so we may have to give it a shot. Good fishing would help!"



Fishing wasn't what I would call "lights out" or "world class" - bass were not absolutely stacked on the shoreline like I would have expected with how much good cover there was - but overall we did pretty decent for the amount of effort we put in. It was good. We did base camp on Sun Bay and loved the campsite so I may have to go back - it's honestly a super beautiful area, moreso than it looks on maps. We spent most of our time fishing the shoreline and trolling around there. We actually had better fishing there than in Sat Bay which was my destination for the trip, so it ended up being a happy accident that the 2 nice sites by Sat Bay were taken."


You must be referring to site 1877?
technically_rugged
distinguished member (384)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/17/2021 02:28PM  
Lawnchair107: "You must be referring to site 1877? "

That's the one. :)
Abbey
distinguished member (278)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/18/2021 08:59AM  
We just got back. Stayed on Horse Lake, but day tripped part way down the Horse River on 6/16. Water levels were similar, but even some of the sections to line the canoe through were getting dicey for a loaded Kevlar just because some of the chutes were getting so narrow. Could keel it over to avoid lifting a loaded Kevlar though.

On the way in, we did that longer muddy portage from the parking lot to the deeper part of the entry creek. On the way out, we decided to line the canoes as far up as possible, and we made it to the normal launch point. The shallow parts of the creek have a nice sand bottom, so it’s actually an enjoyable walk up the creek. In retrospect, we should have done that when entering, but we followed the groups that were launching ahead of us that morning.

Our low water surprise of the trips was Horse to Fourtown. I hadn’t been through there before, so I didn’t realize that there are some bonus portages in both narrows through there.
JeremySpartz
member (10)member
 
06/22/2021 04:30PM  
Abbey: "We just got back. Stayed on Horse Lake, but day tripped part way down the Horse River on 6/16. Water levels were similar, but even some of the sections to line the canoe through were getting dicey for a loaded Kevlar just because some of the chutes were getting so narrow. Could keel it over to avoid lifting a loaded Kevlar though.


On the way in, we did that longer muddy portage from the parking lot to the deeper part of the entry creek. On the way out, we decided to line the canoes as far up as possible, and we made it to the normal launch point. The shallow parts of the creek have a nice sand bottom, so it’s actually an enjoyable walk up the creek. In retrospect, we should have done that when entering, but we followed the groups that were launching ahead of us that morning.


Our low water surprise of the trips was Horse to Fourtown. I hadn’t been through there before, so I didn’t realize that there are some bonus portages in both narrows through there. "


Hey Abbey,

We're launching from Mudro in a few weeks and heading up to Horse. I've never been to this portion of BW and bringing my 16 yr. old son for his first trip.

I'd be grateful for any info you'd be willing to share. We're launching on a Sunday morning and coming back on Wed. We're avid campers and fishermen but not in BWCA. Any thoughts on:
-Best route
-Good sites on Horse
-Day trips to fish or viewing pleasure (Crooked?)
-Anything else a BWCA rookie might benefit from...
JohnMoore
Guest Paddler
 
06/22/2021 09:14PM  



Hey Abbey,


We're launching from Mudro in a few weeks and heading up to Horse. I've never been to this portion of BW and bringing my 16 yr. old son for his first trip.

I'd be grateful for any info you'd be willing to share. We're launching on a Sunday morning and coming back on Wed. We're avid campers and fishermen but not in BWCA. Any thoughts on:
-Best route
-Good sites on Horse
-Day trips to fish or viewing pleasure (Crooked?)
-Anything else a BWCA rookie might benefit from..."

JeremySpartz

There are two relatively direct routes from Mudro to Horse. The portages from Mudro to Fourtown to Horse are more rugged then the portages from Mudro to Sandpit to Tin Can Mike to Horse. You can also make a loop to Horse in either direction exiting and entering Mudro from Fourtown and Sandpit.

Fourtown and Horse are near the entry point and popular stopping points for groups entering and exiting. I have seen all camp sites occupied so arrive early and be prepared. I would not pass up a suitable camp site in search of a better one with out a plan.

I recommend day tripping to Lower Basswood Fall and the pictographs on Crooked.




JeremySpartz
member (10)member
 
06/22/2021 10:34PM  
Thank you, appreciate the insight.
Lawnchair107
distinguished member (200)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
07/10/2021 10:53PM  
Just got out today. Extremely, extremely low water levels the entire picket creek. The horse river itself has 3-4 pull-overs plus its normal marked 3 portages.
 
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