Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Fishguts 2008 Quetico Chronicles
by fishguts

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/18/2008
Entry Point: Quetico
Exit Point: Quetico  
Number of Days: 10
Group Size: 2
Part 2 of 3
21st. I woke up to a little wind, sun and clouds..a nice day…cool in the morning. I had a couple of cups of coffee and then cooked breakfast, a strip of bacon each, Cache Lake Biscuits and Gravy, and Walleye Fillets. We had 2 fillets left for our lunch. We did the dishes and then Thomas went back to bed for an hour or so. We decided to spend the day here on William and fish the western end of the lake and around the islands. We had a successful fishing trip and caught lots of fish…”a Bunch” first Smallmouth and some big 4 Lbs and 5 Lbs ones. I caught a big Bass that had bite marks on both sides….it must have taken one huge Northern to do that. Then we started to catch all kinds of fish, Bass, Northerns and Walleye….it was a lot of fun. We fished all the way around the lake to the portage to Brent Lake. Then we paddled back to camp for lunch. The wind had picked up and we fought a stiff breeze. We made lunch, some kind of saucy noodles and crackers with cheese snacks and lemon drink. We took a nap and lazed around camp waiting for the wind to let up but when we got up it was raining. It rained most of the afternoon and we gathered firewood and hung our second tarp and stayed by the fire. We cooked dinner “Turkey Tetrazini” by Natural High. The label said “ A truly unique dining experience” It was good! It had asparagus in it and there were no leftovers. We had “Spicy Apples” for dessert and did the dishes, warmed ourselves by the fire and went to bed.
22nd. It rained in the night and when we got up everything not covered was wet. We had pancakes and bacon for breakfast then packed up camp and headed east on William towards the 150-rod portage into Conmee Lake. On our way we decided to fish along the south shore of William because it was the only part of the lake we hadn’t fished. On the way across the lake we saw something floating on the lake. It was a float on a nylon cord, marking the mid-lake reef. We fished and jigged around the reef but had no success. We fished our way to the campsite on the south side of William, then it started raining and we put on our rain gear and continued to paddle down to the east end of the lake. When we got down to the portage into Conmee there was a rock garden of slippery boulders you had to cross to get from the lake to the portage it self. And guess who was waiting for us when we made it to flat ground?..A host of mosquitoes. We had heard that this portage wasn’t hard, just 150 rods, so we single portaged. The people with that information about this portage neglected to mention the Moose Swamps and wet brush. We made it OK but it was one long, wet, muddy portage. We fished along on Conmee and caught a Bass and a Northern and that’s all. The wind started to come up and we headed for the 5 star campsite on Conmee. We stopped and had lunch. We considered staying the night but we broke out the maps….the wind wasn’t terrible so we decided to push on to Suzanette. We ducked behind islands and snuck around windy points and fished as much as we could. The last 2 miles down one of the long bays of Conmee we had the wind behind us and fished the whole way. The bite was off, we didn’t catch a thing. At the end of this bay is a 44-rod portage into Suzanette Lake that isn’t marked on the Fisher Maps. It was fairly brushy but not too bad for a “Way-out in the Boonies Quetico Portage”. This brought us to beautiful Suzanette. At the end of the portage was a large rock cairn and we took pictures and picked up beaver wood for our evening fire. We also found a tiny turtle as big as a nickel; also a small frog and Thomas had caught a big Bullfrog on the portage, quite a trick while carrying the canoe. We were now looking for a nice campsite to stay 2 nights. First we stopped by a site that Tim on the web site had recommended. This site is on top of a cliff and has a message jar and a beautiful view. It was nice but a little too austere for our liking and kinda exposed…especially to wind and rain…so we continued the search. We found our campsite on the second island we came to. It is on a point, at lake level, with a nice rock fireplace and trees for hanging the rain fly. We settled in and set up camp. We aired out the tent and some clothes because it had been wet when we packed up on William. Thomas lay down for a while and later fished from shore and caught a few Smallmouth Bass. You can see their nesting areas all along the shorelines. A couple of rain showers came through in the afternoon and we hunkered under the tarp and had a small fire.
Later in the afternoon it cleared up and the sun came out and we decided to go troll for Lake Trout. We trolled back and forth on the other side of our island but had no luck. On the way back we switched gear and Thomas caught a nice walleye that we invited to dinner. We had Chicken Fajitas, corn, Walleye fillets and blue berry cobbler. It was a great dinner! We washed up and hit the tent. The late evening calling of the loons, echoing off the cliffs of Suzanette was eerie and melodious and will not be forgotten soon. Another wonderful day in Quetico!

23rd. On this morning I sat by the fire drinking my wife Elizabeth’s favorite ”Foffee” hot chocolate and coffee. The lake was still and like a mirror. I know I may have jinxed us but we have started to notice that we haven’t seen anyone since we left McAree. It’s like Quetico is empty….just us…deserted! Day after day lake after lake, not a soul, just us. The solitude is wonderful! Yesterday on our fishing trip we visited another campsite. It is down across from the lower tip of our island. It is a big open site with pines and a nice fireplace but it is remarkable for the big Moose Skull and antlers that are there. We took our pictures holding the antlers we hope they come out! As I fixed breakfast there was not a cloud in the sky and not a breeze. We think we will stay here a second night. We took off after breakfast and fished down the arm of Suzanette that goes towards the Brent portages but we had little luck. So we paddled back to the Moose Skull Camp and went down the arm of Suzanette that goes to the Darky River and Burt Lake. We caught a few Smallmouth Bass and then came to the first rapids, here Thomas caught a giant Smallmouth in the 5 Lbs. range. Then a big Northern followed Thomas’ lure right up to the canoe but didn’t bite. I was fishing in the same spot with a Zulu and another big Northern jumped out of the water and snapped off my Zulu. This was really exciting fishing! Later the wind picked up and we paddled back to Moose Skull Camp and had lunch, Peanut butter and jelly on tortillas and rye crisp and lemon drink. Then we headed back to our camp to bathe and read and nap. Thomas has been going through the snack bag and says we have to increase our consumption of candy bars and gorp. He says we can’t take any home. Ah! The bath and shampoo was wonderful! It was a warm afternoon with warm breezes and we some laundry that we dried on the rain tarp line.

We had a dinner of chicken gravy and mashed potatoes..lots of mashed potatoes. There was also apple sauce that was weird….ground too fine, like apple flour paste or wallpaper paste. Ugh! And a dessert of strawberry cheesecake. After dinner we went fishing, we caught lots of little bas. Then we saw fish rising out in the middle of Suzanette. The wind had stopped and the lake was smooth as glass and there was a strange overcast sky. We trolled out in the middle of the lake with the only ripples being ours. Thomas hooked something, he reeled it in and right next to the canoe it jumped and thrashed and out came the barb less hooks… it was a nice Lake Trout. We fished some more but didn’t get another bite. We trolled around on the glassy lake and then went back to camp and had our strawberry cheesecake.

24th. I got up and had coffee by the campfire, Thomas got up and had hot chocolate and then went back to bed. I made breakfast and then we packed up and headed up the Darky River toward Burt and Paulene. As we were packing up a black cloud came rolling over our camp with thunder then rain. Thomas was back in the tent where he had taken both sleeping mattresses and both pillows and was taking it easy. The thunder roused him from his lethargy. We did get the tent packed before the rain hit and we stood under the rain fly and watched the storm roll through. When the rain stopped we loaded the canoe and headed out for the Darky River. We paddled down to the first rapids and tried fishing again. Thomas caught another big Smallmouth Bass and Northern and I caught a bunch of fish too and took pictures. Then we made the short 40-rod portage into the next section of the Darky River and paddled up to the next rapids. We had great luck fishing here too fish after fish, mostly Smallmouth but with a few Northern Pike thrown in for fun. I lost a couple of Zulus because my line was getting funky. So while I messed around with re tying, Thomas crossed the 24-rod portage and fished the pool above the rapids and caught a beautiful 21-inch Walleye…We would have a fish dinner tonight!

We then paddled up the Darky River to where it Ys with one are going into Burt Lake and the other going to the portage to Paulene. We found a nice campsite here and stopped for lunch. Peanut butter and jelly on tortillas & rye crisp. Thomas changed out my fishing line and put on some new tri-lean. He also adjusted my reel that had gotten sloppy with all the fish we had caught. After lunch we headed into Burt Lake fishing along the way and looking for the Indian Pictographs on the cliff entering Burt. We found the cliff; it had a big bird nest towards the top…an Eagle or vulture maybe. We looked all over and only found some red smudges that could have been pictographs. Maybe we were looking in the wrong area??? We gave up and paddled into Burt to check out a campsite. The wind was blowing and Burt is a huge lake. We didn’t find that campsite but we did get a good view of Burt and saw the area where Gamble Mater is located. We decided to go check out Paulene. So back we paddled to the Y in the Darky River and down to the portage to Paulene. This portage is marked 39 rods but seemed much longer and had some nasty rock gardens to negotiate and moose mud too. We were looking for a campsite and found one marginal one but the map had one marked at the other end of the lake so we went down there to check it out. We didn’t find a site so we decided to keep going. This meant we had to cross the 112-rod portage into McIntyre Lake. We single portaged this one and it was no problem, it was quite a nice portage, only a little moose mud at the very end of the portage. We were still on the hunt for a good campsite so we continued into the narrows of McIntyre. This is where we saw a canoe. This was the first person we had seen since leaving McAree. We had 6 full days in Quetico without seeing another human. Talk about solitude! It has been wonderful; the lakes have been all ours!

Since that site was taken we decided to head down toward Cedar Point Camp where we had stayed in 05. It was a long paddle with some wind to contend with but we finally rounded the last point and there it was, Cedar Point Camp, un-occupied. This is a beautiful campsite and has a message jar back in the woods behind camp. We set up camp and retrieved the message jar, it is good to see some of my acquaintances from the have made it here and left messages. We had a great dinner of Darky River Walleye with macaroni and cheese and peas with lemon pie for dessert. We did the dishes and hung the food pack and went to bed. We were pooped!