I'm one of those Mudro permit holders waiting to hear my fate. Though the trip is two weeks away, it feels like the closure will be in effect for a while and we ought to explore our options.
Availability on our date had been limited to Little Vermilion and Trout Lakes, but I just noticed a #7-Big Lake show up. Can anyone tell me if this is a worthy option? Maybe I'm wrong, but I've always dismissed this EP as less than desirable... motors on Big Lake and all. Would the river between Big and Duck Lakes be navigable in this drought? And, is this destination worthy of the 600+ rods of effort? Trip reports here mention decent fishing on Big Moose, but they are usually groups coming down from the Moose River South EP.
"You can observe a lot just by watching." -- Yogi Berra
The Portage River should be navigable. I don’t recall it never not being. Big Lake does have motors, but it’s never busy like some of the larger lakes in the area. Big Moose has very good Walleye and Bass fishing and a few beaches. What scares most people from this entry point are the long portages. It’s not as good as other entry points, but if this were my only option I would take it.
I've been through there twice years ago and enjoyed the trip. I too think you can navigate the river and agree the fishing on Big Moose is decent. My solo trip I did a loop, down to Cummings, Buck, Western, Through Schlamn, over to Crab, Burntside, Slim, Rice, Big Rice , and back to car. The scenery wasn't overly spectacular, some of the lakes were weed choked and shallow, and many long portages.
If you haven't seen it already??? Check out my trip report starting at Big Lake.
Big is a nice 'big' lake and, having visited it a few other times as well, the motor traffic was limited and did not ruin the experiences there.
I agree with egknuti, the river should be navigable. And, to speak with a little more detail about the portages.... The portage into Duck shouldn't cause too many problems. However, I would rate the Duck - Big Moose portage in my top 3 of all time toughest maintained portages in the BWCA. The silver lining may be because of how dry it has been recently the initial bog walk out of Duck may contain much less moisture and, thus, be a dryer/easier ordeal until you reach the big hill climbing out of the bog.
Big Moose is somewhat of an under used gem, simply because of the grueling portages to Duck and/or Cummings negate easy travel options.
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