Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Lake Trout & Solitude - John & Lynn's September 2009 Trip
by VoyageurNorth

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 09/09/2009
Entry & Exit Point: Little Vermilion Lake (Crane Lake) (EP 12)
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
Lake Trout & Solitude – John & Lynn’s September 2009 Trip (story by John, typing by Lynn) Each year Lynn & I take a September trip after Labor Day weekend when business slows down a little bit. Lynn wanted to fish lake trout this year so I thought about checking out an area that I hadn’t been in for a long time which is located just south of Lac La Croix. Three of the lakes have lake trout and one has rainbow trout, and this side of the BWCAW receives little use. We would drop down from La Croix, and end up at Fat Lake, known for good lake trout fishing. I also wanted to check out a portage that was between Slim Lake and Fat Lake. This is one that not many people know about. I like to be able to tell customers exactly what it is like when I help them with routing their trip, so it was a good route to do this year.
Day 1 of 5
Day One -

We left for Crane Lake around 11:00 a.m. so we could catch Zup’s last jet boat tow to La Croix. We stayed overnight at Zup’s Resort so we could get an early start the next morning. After a nice breakfast, we left the resort in a towboat around 8:00 a.m. In less than 30 minutes we were at our drop off point on the Canadian side, at Island 45 (on LLC they number the islands). Checking the map and my compass, we figured out the right direction & followed the shoreline south around Island 41 and to the 80 rod portage into Gun Lake.

Gun is a very scenic lake with large peninsulas with high cliffs. It is also 140 feet deep, has lake trout & smallmouth bass and has a nice campsite on the east side (about 10 years ago we camped here with Lynn’s brother & a friend of his). During that trip I was able to take a very nice sunset picture and it is the one we use for the backdrop for our booth at sport shows.
We paddled through Gun to the 85 rods portage into Eugene Lake. This trail starts up hill out of Gun and then levels off to a good trail. I started to feel my back aching on this portage, most likely because I had thrown my back out in August & it was still healing. I also realized that when I carried a pack & the canoe, it didn’t hurt but when I just took a heavy pack, it did. What actually made the difference was that when carrying a canoe I stood up straighter. Once figuring that out & changing my posture the rest of the time, it was just fine.

Eugene is divided into three parts. There is a small channel connecting the first part of the lake with the rest. There are 2 campsites on Eugene and you can fish for northern pike & smallmouth bass. On the southwest side of the lake is a 60 rod portage to Fat Lake, which is your typical portage trail. Fat Lake is a small lake, just about 100 acres and 100 feet deep, full of lake trout. I hoped to be able to see the campsite from the end of the portage to see if the one & only campsite had been taken, but couldn’t spot it from there. After we paddled around the first point we could see the site was open & we were the only ones on the lake. In fact, we hadn’t seen anyone all day once we got off the towboat. The campsite is small but quite comfortable. It had a smooth granite hill which was a good spot for setting the pots & pans and other cooking stuff as well as being a good wind break for the fire pit and a great place to relax.

After setting up camp, we got the fishing rods set with ciscoes (frozen dead bait, much like smelt). Unfortunately, during this project I got my hook snagged and then broke the tip off of my heavy fishing rod while trying to get it loose. What a bummer! Lynn had built a fire and we cooked our steaks up for dinner. We still had ice in our Nalgene bottles (we freeze water in them before we go out), so we made up a lemonade & vodka cocktail afterwards.