BWCA Decisions, Decisions - Wine or Ladies? Boundary Waters Trip Planning Forum
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CoffeeInTheWoods
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01/28/2022 09:59AM  
Yeah, yeah. Forgive the title. I couldn't help it.

Our group of six experienced adult men have a Sawbill permit for May 26. We'll be putting on the water at first light and spending 4 nights somewhere. While I'd be tempted to try the Frost or Louse River, a lot of these guys like the idea of multiple nights at a site for more R & R. Last year we made it to Little Sag in a day from Round Lake so we're able to push for some mileage no problem.

We've been through Cherokee and the Temperances and are looking NW / W to explore some new territory.

Option A: The Lady Chain, couple nights on Phoebe, couple on Polly.
Option B: Wine Lake for 3 nights. Back to Kelso/Afton/Sawbill for the final night.

What would you do? We'll definitely be doing some fishing, but are happy to target lakers in Wine or walleye and bass in Phoebe/Polly. What are the pros and cons of each option? Are there other alternatives that I should be considering.

The group basically wants me to make the call as the Trip Leader.
 
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Savage Voyageur
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01/28/2022 10:07AM  
Catchy Title.
I would suggest Option B with reserve. Be very fast on the last day to find a campsite early in the day, that area could be busy. I’ve seen Alton and Sawbill full on every site. Option B is a better route for those who want rest days, fishing.
papalambeau
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01/28/2022 10:12AM  
Early in the year and if you like to fish I would base camp on Polly. Where the Phoebe River comes into Polly is a hot spot that we have hit in late May twice in the past and the fishing is incredible. Time of the day is key for this spot but my grandkids couldn't stop bringing in walleye and smallies. I put my pole in the bottom of the canoe and just watched them having fun at this hotspot!
Speckled
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01/28/2022 10:13AM  
Wine's a push, but it's the option i'd take.
theshrewdloon
member (19)member
 
01/28/2022 11:22AM  
I've considered these two trips side-by-side as well. I don't have any suggestions, just a question: Have you come across a credible, recent fishing report for Wine Lake? It's not stocked and hasn't even been surveyed by the DNR since 1993. I've often wondered whether it's worth going there to target lakers because it's really not all that deep and there are no forage fish, so the conditions aren't great for lakers to thrive. Cherokee would be my bet for lakers. If fishing is a big part of the trip for you I would choose Option A.

Tongue in cheek, I would suggest Option C: Do everyone else a favor and stay home. I've never come across a group of six dudes in the BWCA who weren't ruining the lake for everyone else with their noise pollution.
CoffeeInTheWoods
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01/28/2022 11:34AM  
theshrewdloon: "I've considered these two trips side-by-side as well. I don't have any suggestions, just a question: Have you come across a credible, recent fishing report for Wine Lake? It's not stocked and hasn't even been surveyed by the DNR since 1993. I've often wondered whether it's worth going there to target lakers because it's really not all that deep and there are no forage fish, so the conditions aren't great for lakers to thrive. Cherokee would be my bet for lakers. If fishing is a big part of the trip for you I would choose Option A.


Tongue in cheek, I would suggest Option C: Do everyone else a favor and stay home. I've never come across a group of six dudes in the BWCA who weren't ruining the lake for everyone else with their noise pollution. "


Good question re: fishing Wine. I'll have to look into that. Only a couple of the party are really interested in fishing.

Re: your Option C -- no way! We've been doing this for years and as dudes well into their 40s now, we're very careful with all forms of pollution, including noise. What you should be really worried about is when a few buddies and I take our group of five teenage daughters out in August. You might want to stay away from Gaskin then because I make no promises about the noise pollution.
01/28/2022 11:48AM  
theshrewdloon: "
Tongue in cheek, I would suggest Option C: Do everyone else a favor and stay home. I've never come across a group of six dudes in the BWCA who weren't ruining the lake for everyone else with their noise pollution. "


Good thing our guy group will be eight this year!
01/28/2022 12:26PM  
I'm not sure you can go wrong either way. I'd do the lady chain though. Not too hard but still get to see more than just hanging on Wine all week.
01/28/2022 12:54PM  
Option B seems alright because you can do a loop as a daytrip. Or you could head to Mesaba for night one and take your time to explore before heading to Wine. Either way, skip Alton and Sawbill. They are crowded and don't expect a site.

Option A is one that I have wanted to do again for a while. My very first trip was to Phoebe. It was a disaster of a trip but I loved it. I want to go back and stay on both Grace and Phoebe. Polly, not so much. It's not worth it unless you are doing a loop or exiting on Kawishiwi.

Another option might be to do both. I have been planning a route that I won't get to this year. Sawbill - Wine - Trail - Malberg - Phoebe - Sawbill. It could be done in a 4 night trip but I would recommend an extra day or two so you can explore the Wine area and Malberg. Also, Trail to Malberg can easily be Trail to Polly instead. The distance works better, but I would much rather stay on Malberg than Polly if I get any chance to explore.
straighthairedcurly
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01/28/2022 02:02PM  
Tough choice. Wine was very quiet for me on my solo last year. I arrived on July 3rd and left it on July 5th. Never saw a soul. You could daytrip to explore Mug, Poe, and Louse. I exited from Wine to Sawbill landing in a single morning...only took me 4.5 hours (single portaging).

The lady chain is likely to be busier, but easier to move around to fish different lakes. If you want a quieter spot in the ladies, go to Ella. If you push to Koma instead, you could do a daytrip to the Fishdance pictos.
StLouisPaddler
member (30)member
 
01/28/2022 08:07PM  
I was at Wine last year. I really enjoyed the area and will definitely go back. We fished it up and down and it was the only lake of the trip where we struck out. We had a fish finder going most of the time and saw very few fish, and none at the northeast side where we went looking for lakers. I’m not saying there aren’t any fish in Wine. But if there are, we couldn’t find them. That said, it’s a nice area without much traffic and the island campsite is top notch.
theshrewdloon
member (19)member
 
01/28/2022 08:59PM  
Thanks for the intel StLouisPaddler!
StLouisPaddler
member (30)member
 
01/28/2022 09:51PM  
theshrewdloon: "Thanks for the intel StLouisPaddler!"

My pleasure.
yogi59weedr
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01/28/2022 10:01PM  
I'm a wine AND ladies man my self.
RMinMN
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01/29/2022 07:23AM  
Just a comment about Lake Polly. It's the only place that I have camped where bears were a problem and I have been going to BWCA for many years. Keep your campsite extremely clean and your food in a bearproof container or hung high.
01/29/2022 08:31AM  
Yeah like most entry points, you'll find more people closer to the EP. So the Sawbill and immediate area might have more people from that EP and same with from Kawishiwi to Polly.

Honestly if you don't mind a longer last day on the lady chain route, I'd stay your last night at one of the sites nearest Polly without going to Polly. Then travel through it in the morning instead of looking for a site on the lake. If you do need to stay on Polly, that eastern arm you get to first would be the least used as it's not on the main travel route
CoffeeInTheWoods
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01/31/2022 04:00PM  
Thanks for the suggestions. I think we'll do the Lady Chain, east to west, since we're putting in at Sawbill.

I definitely want to get to Wine (and do the Louse River) sometime, but that sounds like a good agenda for a more aggressive trip.
 
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