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distinguished member (163)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/30/2022 05:50PM  
I am planning a trip out of Sawbill mid June. Plan is to head west to Lake Polly then head north to Little Saganaga via Malburg. Then head back south through Mesaba and Kelso. I've given myself 8 days. I figured a layover day or two for exploring. What are some places that are worth checking out along the way and some good fishing tips.

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distinguished member(1439)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/30/2022 06:50PM  
I don't fish, so no advice there. However, plan a side trip down to Fishdance Lake to see the pictographs. Makwa Lake is beautiful.

If you exit Malberg on the west end and it is low water, don't put in at the normal landing on the river. Instead walk through the grass on the right side in order to avoid the crazy deep mud.
distinguished member(1265)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/30/2022 07:05PM  
Grace Lake is a pretty lake. I've only ever stayed on the south shore campsites, but the peninsula site is nice and the southern most on the west shore is also nice.

No many people stay on Hazel, but I think both campsites there are nice spots. Polly can be busy so grab the first site you think will work for you or you could paddle a long time looking. Watch the bay leading to the portage north. There are lots of barely submerged boulders in there.

Malberg Lake is deceptive. There is a lot of paddling there. Since you are looking to go west first, I would try to stay central or western end so you don't have to add a couple of miles of paddling just to get to the portage on the west end. The site where the Louse River enters is a nice 4 star. The ones up on the hills overlooking the central narrows are overused. The one at the end of the west narrows is small, but may be just what you are looking for. There is a sand beach site in the western bay as well I think. The portage out the northeastern bay of Malberg follows a canyon down to the river. There is a lot of in and out of the boat, Some portage ends are further in the corner of the lake than you might think.

You mentioned Fishdance. You might also paddle into Amber Lake to see or take a swim on the golden sand beach.

You mentioned Makwa. The cliffs are impressive, but we got blown off the campsite at the base one afternoon. Not enough soil over the rock to stake the tent down. We finally gave up and moved on to Elton. We have used the two portages at the north end of Elton. There is a huge beaver dam there.

There is a campsite on a peninsula on the south shore of Little Sag that is elevated and will give you a great view of the lake. Any chance I get to be on Little Sag is a treat. One of my favorites.

The portage to Mora Lake follows a beautiful stream.

Whipped Lake has a narrows that used to have a windfall blocking a portion and it was tricky to get through there with a longer canoe. If it is still there, stick close to the tree trunk and then go right.

The portage from Fente to Hub goes glute-burning up for a quarter mile. The rest goes gently down to Hub Lake. The portage from Hub to Mesaba starts further east than you will think looking at the shore.

The campsite at the narrows is the best on the lake. The site on the north shore of the east-west bay is next. Spend an extra day here in wonderful solitude. Take a walk back through the narrow piece of land to look upon Leah Lake. We found a 2-3 acre bed of rhododendrons back there.

I always forget that you are going uphill from Mesaba to Zenith Lake. Just enough to make you breath hard (er).

The long portage from Zenith to Lujenida has some ups and downs. There is also a central portion that you will probably wade through knee deep water on a wooden bridge.

Find the pitcher plants on the Kelson River. Stop and see the Viking Dolman also on the Kelso River. Unless you really want to revisit Alton Lake, take the short portage from the southern terminus of the Kelso River into Sawbill Lake.

Hope you have a great trip!
distinguished member(3899)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/30/2022 08:52PM  
Send me an email if you're looking for fishing specifics.

But I agree w/ the comment on heading from Malberg to Fishdance to see the pictos if you can swing it. You can stay on the "river lake" or whatever it's called to head back east and into the chain of lakes up to Makwa and miss Malberg completely. But you'd also miss the rapids/canyon out of the NE arm of Malberg and portage which is a cool spot.
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