BWCA First solo trip, looking for input on which of my two options would best suit me Boundary Waters Trip Planning Forum
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93july
  
08/18/2023 05:13AM  
I'm considering to do my first-ever solo trip and would be spending 2-3 nights. I've narrowed it down to two locations I think would suit me and where I think I could get a permit. One idea is EP75 Little Isabella river to Quadga Lake, base camp there, and do some fishing. Has anyone heard how the water levels are currently on the river?

I may be open to moving to Bald Eagle Lake for a day if I do end up going to Quadga lake since its not too far off.

The other idea is going to Big Moose Lake from EP 8 - Moose River South. I've heard water levels are fine there currently. The same idea would be to base camp and do some fishing.

I'm primarily looking to catch bass, walleye, and northern pike.

My main questions are related to the differences between these lakes and what suits me best both in lake conditions that could be expected with the wind as well as the ability to locate fish with more ease. Big Moose Lake is much larger with 4x as much surface area to cover when it comes to finding fish than Quadga, though Quadga is twice as deep at its deepest points (30ft compared to 15ft on Big Moose). I suppose each of these lakes could pose an issue with wind depending on the direction and speeds of the winds. Although just seeing that Quadga is smaller makes me think that it may not be as intense potentially.
Additionally, if any campsites/ shorelines offer a decent place to fish from that you know on any of these lakes, that might be really convenient should the conditions be less than ideal.

I'm a novice fisherman and catch and release almost exclusively when I do find myself lucky enough to catch fish. Though I may keep one or two fish if they're modest size and would be a decent eater. Might be nice to add a fresh fish filet to my dinner one night, but I mostly just fish for the fun of catching them.

Any suggestions on what setups to use with different presentations, hooks, lures, artificial bait/ real baits, and techniques for these different species? As well as any spots/ areas specifically on either of these lakes to try? Or different lake features, depths of water, etc, to focus on.

Any advice to any of these topics would be most welcomed and appreciated.

Oh, and if anyone has any personal experience from your own solo experiences, how do you keep level-headed and mind relaxed when you hear the things that go bump in the dark while alone in the woods. Im not afraid, but I think its probably expected there will be some moments where It feels a little spooky - and of course the mind can have that tendency to start imagining what that noise was haha.

Thanks again!
 
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08/18/2023 07:04AM  
My brother and I went in Little Isabella to Quadga in Sept. 2010 and enjoyed it.You didn't say when you were planning to go, but I don't remember any difficulties with water levels. There were several beaver dams to negotiate. We stayed at the north site that is still open and hiked some of the Pow Wow Trail, which was nice.

I can't help with the fish, but I have done a lot of solos. When I did my first BW solo I had already done much solo camping so had no worries with night noises. Now I just take my hearing aids out . . . but some recommend ear plugs. Keep a journal, take something to read, enjoy the night sky.

If it's windy solo fishing can be a little awkward. You'll probably get the best fishing advise posting in that forum. Enjoy your trip.
93july
  
08/18/2023 07:32AM  
Thanks for the response:) I'd be looking to go in the next 2 weeks if I can secure a permit. I've had the desire to do a solo for many years, just hasn't happened yet so I need to make a deliberate effort. The hike would be cool, I ought to look into the route and some notable points of interest if there are any within a couple hours hiking the Pow Wow trail.

Hahaha, Im honestly not sure if I'll get spooked or not, I think its possible, I've heard of people with experience with trips, solo and otherwise who still have their moments so I'm not putting it past me. I figure, I'll have a fire each night and tend it for a while, look at the stars if its clear and then retire to the tent.
I typically do bring ear plugs just in case for when people got to step out to take a leak or hit the thunderbox or if Im with someone who snores a bit, but that won't be much of a problem being alone.

Journal is a great idea, I've never kept on in all the years and trips but its one of those things I wish I had. I do bring a book or 2 typically. Great suggestions.

Yeah, that's the thing too with solo fishing. Im actually planning to use a kayak, which I've never done before. So I was also looking at different routes that wouldn't require much portaging because Im not too thrilled at the idea of portaging a kayak too much. It could help with control though versus a 2 tandem canoe, but of course the wind still can cause the kayak to drift. Im not really worried if its under 10 mph. but sustained wind with some gusts of 15-20 could be a bit a hassle.

Good idea to post on the fishing forum as well. I will do that with fishing specific questions. I accidentally posted this exact post to the general discussion forum and realized I should have on the trip planning forum. I cant figure out how to delete that post over there though.

Thanks again for the reply!
jsmithxc
member (46)member
  
08/18/2023 08:25AM  
My two top issues when soloing, Always wear a life jacket on the water - always. I usually keep mine on when unloading at a campsite if there are drop offs near. Number two rule is don't lose your boat. Always tie up the boat at night. I always keep a bow line on the boat so if I need to clean a fish, take a bathroom break or just stretch my legs I can quickly clip the boat to my life jacket. As far as night noises that is part of the fun. Many things make noise at night but there is not much that will try to hurt you. I carry a bike light with me, small but bright and will often try to spot what is happening around me, not because I am worried but because I like to see wild animals. If you are taking a calculated risk like wind or fast water, have a plan B in place if it all goes wrong and if there is no safe option - simply get off the water. Extra paddle is also mandatory. If you have ever dropped your paddle while unhooking a fish and you blow away from the paddle its hard to catch it if you are paddling with your hand or a fish net. Love soloing. Wilderness is a very safe place to be if you recognize the risks - wind and water are serious risks, animals not so much. Have fun.
DMan5501
senior member (75)senior membersenior member
  
08/18/2023 08:52AM  
Hi 93july...

I did my first solo last year to Big Moose Lake.. had an awesome time.. The campsite on the north east corner is beautiful with excellent rock formations.. Lots of SM Bass caught..

Here is my video report..
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjjKrN6S7_Y&t=199s


RW
08/18/2023 09:38AM  
Congrats on the first solo, you’re going to love it. I would do the river route to Quadga if I were you, it’s perfect for a 2-3 day trip. Fishing, I would start by targeting windswept shorelines in 10-15 feet of water. Running a Rapala or tipped jig allows you to come some area and find the fish. Fake or live bait should work, if using artificial baits, paddle tails or anything with a swimming motion should coax a bite. Top water lures like Berkeley Choppos were great for pike and bass this time of year as well.

A few things to consider, pack as light as possible as you’re the only one carrying the gear. Use extra caution with foot placement when portaging as a turned ankle or worse injury could be way worse when you’re alone. As far as the noises in the night, that’s something you’re just going to have to get past yourself, not much can be done there. Maybe turning on a weather radio would work for some ambient noise/ critter deterrent as you fall asleep?

Best of luck!

Tony
08/18/2023 12:57PM  
A lot of good advice above which I'll second - spare paddle, tie-up, you carry everything/do everything, PFD, safety, etc. If you don't have an SOS sat communicator you may want to rent one.

There's also a special interest solo tripping forum if you scroll down to the bottom of the main page.

I don't know if the kayak would be a better idea or not since I have no experience with them. If you go to the bigger lakes, wind will be more problematic. There is also a special interest kayak forum. You could rent a solo canoe.
08/20/2023 11:26AM  
Here's a solo I did heading to Bald Eagle in 2021...

solo on the rivers

And welcome to the solo world....you'll never look back!
08/20/2023 01:39PM  
I’ve fished and camped at both of these lakes. Both will provide you will good fishing opportunities for walleye, northern, and bass. Quadga will have larger walleye, but may be a little more challenging to catch. You might have better opportunities to fish for walleye in the river. Catching northerns and bass should be easy.

Big Moose offers somewhat the same opportunities, though catching walleye should be a tad easier. Catching bass should not be a problem either. If you’re looking for more solitude, Big Moose would be a better option. Either way, both are good choices.
ledhead
member (33)member
  
08/20/2023 03:32PM  
Great advice above. The only thing I’ll add, especially since you’ll be alone, is pinch down your barbs. Esp on the multi treble crank baits. Crazy stuff happens in the out of doors, and depending only on yourself if you buried a treble deep in your hand or elsewhere would dampen things for sure. Fwiw, I always pinch down the barbs on all my canoe trips, group or solo… it’s just easier to get lure out of shirt, net, bush, and safer…
 
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