Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Too many motorboats
by oceansdad

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/12/2009
Entry & Exit Point: Little Indian Sioux River (north) (EP 14)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 4
Trip Introduction:
Myself and two buddies took my brother in for a birthday trip. He hadn't been to the BWCA in twenty years. I decided on a trip into loon via the Little Indian Sioux (north) as I had been that way a few times and knew it to be easy an good fishing with a chance to check out some pictographs (on Lac La Croix). Loon also has some great campsites. We would paddle in easily in half a day and base camp on Loon with day trips to Lac La Croix and Heritage.
After a wet buggy night in a campground off the Echo trail we rose early and anxiously headed up the trail to the Little Indian Sioux. Our plan was an easy leisurely paddle up the river through Upper and Lower Pauness lakes into Loon where we would base camp for a few days of relaxing and fishing for Smallies. I had been into Loon a few times and found it to be stellar fishing and of course beautiful scenery. After a brief stop to check out Devils Cascade and grab a snack we continued on to our destination. The day was gorgeous and my brother, who hadn’t been to the BWCA in two decades, was loving it despite his cold and allergies. Myself and friend Will were ahead of Luke and brother Dan chatting quietly and pointing out all the ‘nice boulders’. As we rounded the last bend before the final stretch off river into Loon we were shocked to see about an eighteen foot fishing boat with a huge motor complimented by a kicker and all the buzzing gadgets of civilization to go with ‘em. The river is pretty rocky at that point and the captain and mate seemed to be struggling a bit as they navigated the shiny prop-killers. We were completely flabbergasted! I had no idea that the area was open to motors and was convinced these guys were somewhere where they weren’t supposed to be. The boaters re-enforced my suspicion as they seemed to keep ahead of us about three or four hundred yards, fishing, then firing up the motor, zooming away as we got close. The following days on Loon were like being in a Bass/ Walleye tournament. There were motor boats everywhere! We would paddle, fishing the shoreline and over and over boats would fly in, cut us off, make a few casts, then fire up their motor and fly away. It was ridiculous. More than once we decided to turn back as our course was cut off by the ‘fly-by-ers’. One boat motored so close to my brothers canoe that they had to brace for the waves.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the convenience of fishing out of a motor boat and the ease of moving from spot to spot, but I believe there’s a time and place, not to mention a respect for others on the lake, especially canoes. The whole trip was plagued with noise of motors, and breaking waves on otherwise calm quiet days. I can only assume that Loon Lake is open to motors and there doesn’t seem to be HP restrictions. Unfortunately, the boats became the most memorable aspect of the trip, other than pulling off baking a chocolate cake over a fire for my brother’s birthday. Had we known about the boats we would have went elsewhere…or motored in, albeit more respectfully to others on the lake. On a final note, when we checked out their camp after their departure, we found trash (in a few other sites too) and definite oil and gas spills. Ouch. I've made multiple trips anually(all amazing)into the BWCA for over twenty years but this is my first trip report and I am sorry it's not a shining, positive re-cap of our adventure. I have no doubt this year and the years to come will be awesome.