BWCA Route help...Beaverhouse Entry in early June Boundary Waters Quetico Forum
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senior member (99)senior membersenior member
02/21/2022 11:54AM  
Looking for route advice. We are headed to Quetico the first week of June on a 10-day trip. We will be entering at Beaverhouse on Wednesday June 1, doing a loop, and exiting at Beaverhouse on Friday June 10. While we have been to Quetico several times, we are always a bit further South - Wicksteed, Brent, Earl, & Ted are a few of our favorite destinations and, regardless of the time of year, we rarely see another canoe once we've made it away from the general Crooked Lake area. We fish hard and target bass, mostly. Not interested in walleye except for an occasional dinner. I understand that Quetico, Jean, and Sturgeon are great fishing lakes and we plan to hit all 3 on our trip but, since solitude and adventure are a high priority for us, we want to make our way through some smaller lakes for sure. All that being said, here's what I need help with...

1) I can't get a feel for just how busy some of these big popular lakes are the first week in June. If we spend a few nights on Jean, for example, might we be searching for an available site? We opted for a BWCA trip last year and finding sites was a nightmare - NOTHING like our trips to Quetico, and the reason we will never go back.

2) I'd like some general information on which of the smaller lakes might have good smallmouth fishing. I don't expect anyone to divulge a honey hole...but maybe some "this lake is better than that" information - or..."that's really more of a walleye lake" would be very helpful.

3) My research indicates than a good number of the portages we are considering are described as "deep bogs" or "knee deep mud holes". We shy away from no portage in the pursuit of big bass and a lake to ourselves, but I really don't feel like hauling waders on this trip! One portage in particular is between non-name and Bentpine on the way from/to Burntside. How bad is it?

4) Here's our preliminary route. I'd love some thoughts and/or route suggestions that get us the solitude, adventure, and big bass we are looking for.

One more note...we are and experienced party of 4 that need not a single tent pad as we all hang (hammocks, that is).

DAY 1: Beaverhouse to East side of Quetico
DAY 2: Quetico to West side of Jean (short travel day, lots of time to fish Jean)
DAY 3: Jean to Your through Boulder
DAY 4: Hang on Your and daytrip into Wildgoose
DAY 5: Your to Bentpine via Snow, Little Pine, Trail, & March
DAY 6: Hang on Bentpine
DAY 7: Bentpine to Sturgeon via Bentpine Creek
DAY 8: Sturgeon to Burntside (or Little Jean)
DAY 9: Burntside (or Little Jean) to Quetico
DAY 10: Quetico to Beaverhouse

And... if the bigger lakes aren't as busy as I imagine, we'll nix the amount of time spent traveling to smaller lakes:
(I also kind of fear the route above is too much travel, not enough fishing)

DAY 1: Beaverhouse to East side of Quetico
DAY 2: Quetico to West side of Jean (or Burntside)
DAY 3: West side of Jean (or Burntside) to Bentpine (through Clair)
DAY 4: Hang on Bentpine
Day 5: Hang on Bentpine
DAY 6: Bentpine to Sturgeon via Bentpine Creek
DAY 7: Sturgeon to Burntside (or Little Jean)
DAY 8: Hang Burntside (or Little Jean)
DAY 9: Burntside (or Little Jean) to Quetico
DAY 10: Quetico to Beaverhouse

Thanks in advance for your help!
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distinguished member(7695)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
02/21/2022 11:57AM  
i like your first itinerary. from the little fishing i do on Q trips, bass is what i've only caught.
i'd check on the fire maps from 2021 cuz i think Your was involved or on the edge of one of the fires. it's such lovely country in those small lakes, esp with all the logging relics along the portages.
distinguished member (464)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/21/2022 03:45PM  
No-one can predict the weather conditions in advance but you will be paddling due west on your final days on Quetico and it can be a wind-tunnel.

Jean Creek, as of last July, was an interesting slog. Water levels were very low. Some very shallow areas, reeds and beaver dams to negotiate. But it's by no means an impediment to your journey. Burntside is such a lovely lake and I regret not having a lot of time for it.

I've heard great things about Bentpine but have never been there.

I am considering doing Jean to Your via Boulder this year and would be very interested to hear how it went for you if you choose Option A. It doesn't appear to be a popular route.

I am still trying to determine how the massive fire damage to the SW quadrant of the park and the closure of southern entry points (if they continue to exist) will impact reservation numbers in the northern access points. It may be a banner year from pent-up demand from the USA. I've been in Quetico the last two summers and it was empty. I've been many years ago and, although it was completely open for business, there was still plenty of solitude and available campsites.

While I have never done a route from Your to Sturgeon, my research indicates there may be a fair amount of the kind of hip-wader experience on that route and I believe last year's fires swept through that area.

I can't speak to smallmouth fishing as my preferences are lake trout and walleye. All I can say is that when I target walleye I still catch tonnes of bass and pike. I don't believe there's a bad fishing lake in Quetico. The only thing you'll want to do is avoid lakes without bass. Your Lake may be one of those. I know Jesse lake further east has no bass.

Enjoy your trip. Either route sounds great. I'd probably go with Option B. Would love to hear a report when you return.
member (28)member
02/22/2022 10:44AM  
I went a little later in summer a few years back, and turned East and headed up into Cirrus lake. We did not have a lot of luck on the western end of the lake ( a few walleye ), but we hammered a lot of bass on the Eastern end. We also hooked several very large Northerns there as well. We were camped on a point/narrows close to Sue Falls.

Saw only two groups in 5 days. One was a canoe about a mile away, and never saw them again. The other was camped out, and we only saw them "in passing."

Consider Cirrus for some good bass. But then, that has been my only trip to the Q so far, and I can not compare it to other lakes personally.

senior member (99)senior membersenior member
02/22/2022 02:40PM  
Thank you so much for all the input. I have been concerned about the wind out of the West when paddling across Quetico Lake on our last day so I'm strongly leaning toward a loop that takes us out through the muddy Badwater Lake trek. Also, thanks to your thoughtful comments, I'm leaning toward a route that will allow for more hardcore fishing in lieu of travel. Sadly, that means giving up seeing mighty Sturgeon Lake and the much anticipated Badwater Creek - but...I shall not let FOMO cloud my vision! Here is the new preliminary route:

Day 1) Beaverhouse to Eastern Quetico
Day 2) Quetico to Jean
Day 3) Hang on Jean
Day 4) Jean to Little Jean (or Burntside)
Day 5) Little Jean (or Burntside) to Bentpine
Day 6) Hang on Bentpine
Day 7) Bentpine to Your
Day 8) Hang on Your & daytrip in to Wildgoose
Day 8) Hang on Your
Day 9) Your to Badwater
Day 10) Badwater to Beaverhouse

Any thoughts? Little Jean vs. Burtside?

Thanks again everyone. I'll be sure to fill out a trip report when I get back. If you're interested, here are videos of 2 of our previous trips to Quetico.

Q 2017
Q 2019

senior member (78)senior membersenior member
02/22/2022 07:05PM  
FYI, if bass fishing is your thing, the Bentpine-Your-Badwater-Wildgoose lakes are walleye and pike lakes. It's a nice route, but for bass fishing, stay over in Jean-Little Jean-Albert-Burntside-Rouge-Sturgeon-Lonely.

You could go in at Batch down through Maria-Jesse-Lonely-Sturgeon-Rouge-Burntside-Jean-Little Jean- Quetico-Oriana-Maria and out. Better bass fishing in my opinion. Allows for side trips to Draper and Antoine and Fred Bay.

Just one person's opinion if you are there for the bass fishing. :)

senior member (99)senior membersenior member
02/22/2022 07:35PM  
Thanks - great advice. I would entertain your suggested route, but we're already adding almost 9 hours to our drive (from St. Louis, MO) because we need to head in to Canada by land in lieu of our usual tow from Crane Lake. I doubt I could convince our group its worth more time in the car. I will definitely make a point of staying around the better SMB lakes you mention along our route though.

What are crowds like on Jean, Burntside, and Sturgeon the first week of June? Feels silly saying "crowd" as surely it won't be downright congested, but we do like the feeling of having the water to ourselves as we do a bit further south.

Really hope the customs station at Sand Point opens in May, but from what I understand, staffing issues are expected to persist into the Spring.

senior member (78)senior membersenior member
02/22/2022 08:26PM  
I hear ya, since we drive from Wyoming, we always enter on the north given that it is cheaper, traditionally less crowded than the south, and closer to us. I can't really weigh into the "crowds in June." The "new normal, " well, is just hard to predict.

I never find the Quetico "congested" but, like you, we enjoy solitude and bass fishing and somebody beating us to our favorite spots is a bummer, but not irreparable. There are only two of us and we know the northern areas well so we always find places to hide. The entry lakes are always "busier" and we're willing to paddle on. :)

Regardless, I'm sure you'll have a great trip. I mean, how could you not?

I agree, Sand Point opening would thin things out for those willing to pay for the shuttle from Crane Lake. Dare to dream ?

We're going in in the second half of June so we won't be in your way.

senior member (99)senior membersenior member
02/22/2022 09:38PM  
Thanks for all the information. Very helpful.

We, too, have found quite a few lakes off the beaten path a bit further South. Quite a bit of it deemed walleye water by the masses, so... I take everything I hear here with a grain of salt. Our most treasured smallmouth bay is on Brent, actually considered a walleye lake. Before heading to the BWCA last year for the first (and last) time we spent 2 days on Eugene. Everyone said it was shallow and full of good bass fishing. Holy crap did we catch some monster smallies in that lake!
But you're right, the trip will be great no matter what route we choose and we'll have fun catching everything under the sun, I'm sure.

Tight lines my friend.
distinguished member (258)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/27/2022 10:40PM  
I can make the following comments on your last route:

1/ Even though Quetico and Jean are heavily travelled there are plenty of campsites. Just make sure you have some alternatives.

2/ There are two good campsites on Little Jean and since you are there, check out Yeh.

3/ The creek to Clair can be a challenge if water evels remain low. The portage from Clair to Bentpine has one hugh cliff going against you. The rest of the portage is reasonable after it was moved about 7 years ago.

4/ Apparently Trail creek has become an issue in the last several years and requires getting wet.

5/ Your lake has to be one of the worst swampy looking lakes and has two island campsites.

5/ There is one marked portage into Wildgoose and then it is up to water levels. I have tried about 7 times over the years and made it twice, once staying on the creek and once bushwacking the last 50 yards. Some years the creek has been a sand bar. The last time I was there the beaver had changed the direction of the creek. Great walleye fishing there and in Eyelet.

6/ I got lost once on the portage from Fair to Beaverhouse as the beavers had made the portage into a pond.

It is a good route and you will get a diversity of landcapes.

member (47)member
04/29/2022 09:59PM  
Spend more time fishing Jean. That lake is a smallmouth gem
senior member (99)senior membersenior member
04/30/2022 07:37AM  
Well thank you all for the wonderful advice. We've narrowed our route down to two options which vary only in our exit strategy. If anyone has thoughts on our last few days I'd love to hear it. Here's what we've decided...

DAY 1: Beaverhouse to East side of Quetico
DAY 2: Quetico to Jean (little travel = much fishing)
DAY 3: Hang on Jean
DAY 4: Jean to Burntside (another short travel day)
DAY 5: Hang on Burntside
DAY 6: Burntside to Bentpine
DAY 7: Hang on Bentpine
DAY 8: Bentpine to Maligne River
DAY 9: Leisurely paddle down Maligne
DAY 10: Out at LLC
8: Bentpine to Your (Badwater if we can make it)
9: Your to Badwater
10: Badwater to Beaverhouse

Thanks. Only 5 weeks away!
04/30/2022 10:23AM  
I think the route is a good call. I've always wanted to do your second option through Bentpine, Fair, Your, Badwater, etc. and out. Not sure if that's in the cards for me anymore.

Question: If you put-in at BH and take out at LLC, what is your plan for transportation back to your vehicle?
senior member (99)senior membersenior member
04/30/2022 02:35PM  
We are bringing one canoe and renting another from Branch's Seine River Outfitters. Our plan was to have them shuttle us to Beaver House and pick us up there, as well. I have yet to talk to them about pick up at LLC, but I was really hoping they would shuttle my truck there so we don't have to make the drive back to their place and then get on the road back to St Louis. A little unclear what my options are.

Your comment raises the question... Can you park your car at Beaver House for an extended period of time? As in, the entire 10 days? If so then I would much prefer to drive straight to the access point and have the outfitter meet us there with the additional canoe as opposed to making the drive to the outfitter then turning around and going back to the access point we passed on the way to the outfitter!

The Outfitters here in the Ozarks are pretty flexible when it comes to shuttling your vehicle to and from river accesses and the like but I'm not accustomed to dealing with outfitters in Canada. Any input or advice would be much appreciated in this regard.


distinguished member (258)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/01/2022 12:54PM  
I don’t know if you have been following the weather but the north part of Quetico is at a flood state (see articles on Fort Francis). This is the year to explore creeks. Much more rain is expected in mid May.

1/ if you go out Badwater to Beaverhouse the long portage is going to be really wet and muddy.
2/ the trip down the Maligne would be a raging torrent.
3/leave enough time to wait for LLC to calm down if you get a strong southerly or westerly wind.

It is really going to fun exploring the creeks but the portages will be wet and slippery albeit a lot shorter. I am going in on the 25th and I can’t wait as it has nearly been two years.

Have fun.
senior member (99)senior membersenior member
05/01/2022 02:47PM  
Thanks John, that is great to know. We will definitely look in to the creeks in and around our route as I know there are many.

05/01/2022 03:03PM  
Pat, no issues leaving your vehicle at the BH parking lot for ten days.

Your plan to have Seine River deliver your extra canoe to the BH landing is a good one. Is your plan to stop at the resort on your way down Hwy 11 so they can follow you into BH? What about when you come out?
senior member (99)senior membersenior member
05/01/2022 03:12PM  
We will be coming from the west so my hope was to not have to go to the resort at all.

According to a previous post the river option might be out due to flood levels. So, if we are going to put in and take out at BH then I'm hoping the outfitter will just deliver a canoe and pick up a canoe.

I will be calling them soon. Thanks for the information
Guest Paddler
05/30/2022 05:48PM  
Been fishing those lakes for over 40 years. Lots of bass in Quetico lake but the biggest we’ve ever caught were in Jean. A couple were just shy of 22”. We always go the end of August though.
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