BWCA Aspen cotton on Basswood Boundary Waters Fishing Forum
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RunningFox
distinguished member (170)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/12/2022 05:38AM  
My son and I were fishing Basswood last week ( June 6 thru 11). Did okay but the aspen cotton was worse than ever.

 
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Caboose
member (9)member
 
06/12/2022 09:42AM  
Yep, we did a loop from Snowbank to Lake One from 5/30 - 6/8 and that stuff made fishing difficult. I used more line than ever before. It just gums everything up. We didn't know what it was until after we got out, it looked similar to dandelion seeds but we knew it wasn't that. Sometimes it was so thick in the air that it looked like it was snowing. It was cool to see once, but I hope to not run into it again.
 
Aries
member (36)member
 
06/12/2022 12:09PM  
I'm having nightmares from all the cotton!
 
thegildedgopher
distinguished member(1377)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/12/2022 12:26PM  
I saw a similar photo taken on Clearwater last week. We are coming up tomorrow and not looking forward to fighting this junk, but what can you do?
 
thegildedgopher
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06/12/2022 02:19PM  
RunningFox: "My son and I were fishing Basswood last week ( June 6 thru 11). Did okay but the aspen cotton was worse than ever.

"


Runningfox -- Do you have any pointers for fighting this stuff off? Sounds like you still managed some productive fishing on Basswood, which is where we'll be fishing as well.
 
Aries
member (36)member
 
06/12/2022 02:25PM  
My pointer would be to fish on the upwind side of the lake. For example If the wind is coming out of the west most of the cotton will be on the east side of the lake. It sucks because you normally want to fish the shoreline getting pounded by the wind but it will be loaded with the cotton. The mid lake structures will have less cotton also because the breeze will keep it from stacking up thick. If it's calm out it's pretty much every where.
 
RunningFox
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06/12/2022 10:38PM  
To be clear, my son and I were towed to Lincoln Island and camped about half way up towards U.S. Point. We couldn’t fish the East shoreline because we couldn’t cross into Canada (my son won’t take the jab).

The photo of thick cotton (above) was taken last Tuesday ( 6/7)as I recall, when the wind was out of the SE. It wasn’t nearly as bad the other days when the wind was from the NW, but it was still unpleasant. Very unpleasant.

I don’t have much advise other than to take two poles set up to fish in the boat with you. Don’t cast into any areas where it’s thick. It’s really tough to pick it off; it’s easier to remove your lure in camp, strip off the affect line, and slide the cotton off line. Trolling seemed to really load the line with cotton to the point where it wouldn’t go thru the first guide on the pole.

We had our best luck with dressed spinner baits for smallmouth and northern. Also Zmann sendted jerk shads for bass.



 
Scoobs
distinguished member (130)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/13/2022 08:12AM  
I gave up casting into the cotton-infused waters. It’s not just sitting on the surface. It’s floating a good 3-4 ft under the surface.

I gave up casting into this stuff. Just chokes up our lines so fast.

 
BassmasterP
senior member (99)senior membersenior member
 
06/13/2022 10:21AM  
We did a loop from Beaverhouse June 2 to 11 (Quetico, Jean, Burntside, Bentpine, Fair, Badwater) and the stuff was THICK everywhere we went. We learned to deal with it by getting your rod tip under water ASAP when fishing crankbaits and that helped. Luckily we brought a handful of soft plastic frogs that would ride on top and that was what we fished for SMB most of the time - and we absolutely killed them! Flukes were a big producer, too, when we could find good areas without a lot of cotton - walleye were stacked up on shallow rocky windblown banks so the cotton wasn't a problem there.
 
paulchap
 
06/13/2022 04:49PM  
Just spent a couple days on East Bearskin. I found that early in the morning was best to beat this stuff, probably because the wind died overnight and spots that had been cleared overnight by drift hadn't had a chance to fill up again. (But once a section started filling up it happened quick.)
On the first day, probably because of wind direction, there was one section that had hardly any all day long.
Didn't fish real hard, managed a few smallmouth and lost a nice northern at the kayak through general stupidity.
 
cyclones30
distinguished member(3913)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/16/2022 09:47PM  
RunningFox: "To be clear, my son and I were towed to Lincoln Island and camped about half way up towards U.S. Point. We couldn’t fish the East shoreline because we couldn’t cross into Canada (my son won’t take the jab).


The photo of thick cotton (above) was taken last Tuesday ( 6/7)as I recall, when the wind was out of the SE. It wasn’t nearly as bad the other days when the wind was from the NW, but it was still unpleasant. Very unpleasant.


I don’t have much advise other than to take two poles set up to fish in the boat with you. Don’t cast into any areas where it’s thick. It’s really tough to pick it off; it’s easier to remove your lure in camp, strip off the affect line, and slide the cotton off line. Trolling seemed to really load the line with cotton to the point where it wouldn’t go thru the first guide on the pole.


We had our best luck with dressed spinner baits for smallmouth and northern. Also Zmann sendted jerk shads for bass.





"


You can't enter Quetico from the south currently can you? Vaccine or not, I don't think anyone is getting into the Q with an RABC yet.


And yes, we had the same issues on a lake near Walker MN this past week. It was bad in some bays and on some days. Worst we've ever seen it in 25+ years of going to the same lake at the same time of year.
 
Heyfritty
distinguished member (117)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/20/2022 10:01AM  
I went in at Lake One on the 7th and the lake was glass all morning. I thought it was fascinating, it looked like soap bubbles on the water in some places. It was so calm that as far as I could see, the lake was white. I really wish I had stopped at some high rock formation to take photos.

I had never seen it before and had no idea(or nightmares) what it was until later. It must have been at the very end of dispersal because I didn’t see any the rest of the trip. It did provide some interesting sights. There was a clear light yellow line on the rock faces as if that was the required water level(the lake dropped about 4” while I was there). At one campsite, the remnants were so thick and slimy that the stink was unbearable.

I was near the Pagami creek fire area and thought it must have been a result of the explosion of growth from all the young aspen, but obviously not.

Fritty
 
technically_rugged
distinguished member (386)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/22/2022 04:08PM  
I was in from June 4th to the 12th and we hit the cotton at the worst time. I think my friends and I complained about the cotton on our line more than we complained about the bugs, and there was no shortage of expletives for the bugs. I remember being on Oyster in June 2019 and it was almost as bad. This year it was THICK.

Mitigations for cotton is like WarGames... "the only way to win is not to play." Don't cast into thick areas, and try to prevent all of your slack from touching the water so it doesn't get cotton on it. Hard/impossible to do when you're fishing topwater or a Zulu rig, but that's about it. To get it off, I'd use my nails to pull the big chunks apart, separate them into smaller chunks up and down the line, and then pluck them almost like a guitar string, and they'd fluff up and come off in pieces.

Take 5 casts, spend 5 minutes cleaning off your line.... baitcaster users beware. :) Such a buzzkill when it comes to otherwise awesome spring fishing!!
 
PeaceFrog
distinguished member (325)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/22/2022 09:48PM  
We just got back from a trip to EP19. Had lots of it on all the lakes. Worst was on Iron but two windy days and it cleared pretty good. Last portage from Stuart into Iron looked like snow on the ground. Crazy but kinda cool looking on the portage.
 
technically_rugged
distinguished member (386)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/22/2022 10:10PM  
PeaceFrog: "We just got back from a trip to EP19. Had lots of it on all the lakes. Worst was on Iron but two windy days and it cleared pretty good. Last portage from Stuart into Iron looked like snow on the ground. Crazy but kinda cool looking on the portage."

Yes! We had several portages too with areas that looked snowy with all the cotton! That much cotton was a first for me.
 
BassmasterP
senior member (99)senior membersenior member
 
06/22/2022 10:17PM  
A tip If you're going soon...

If it rains overnight and you feel like sleeping in, don't. The rain knocks the cotton down into the water and it doesn't start falling again until the sun and wind are out long enough to dry up. We had some of our best fishing one morning after about a 2-hour rain. Clear lakes for almost 3 hours!
 
thegildedgopher
distinguished member(1377)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/23/2022 08:09AM  
We fished lakes on the Ely side and 2 on the Gunflint side last week and never had a single issue with it. Little Long, Basswood, Shagawa, Saganaga, Gunflint, Magnetic.
 
OgimaaBines
distinguished member (351)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/23/2022 12:02PM  
Did a loop through Little Sag, Gabi, and Gillis a few weeks back. It wasn't as bad as some of the photos but trolling for lakers had a lot of this stuff on my lines. Still picking it off this week! Such a pain and man, that stuff is relatively strong fiber. I was thinking about how it might be used for fabric production, maybe the fibers are too short and collection of the material would likely be prohibitively expensive.
 
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