Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Bower trout 5/31/04
by aacjac

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 05/27/2004
Entry & Exit Point: Bower Trout Lake (EP 43)
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 4
Trip Introduction:
This is my attempt at my first trip report:

Day 1 Thurs 5/27; left from family cabin north of two harbors to gunflint ranger station. Trip was with my 9 year old son, a friend new to the BWCA and his 8 ( turning 9 on the trip ) year son.
Picked up permit by 8:15am, picked up boats from outfitter by 10:00 and a final stop at the bait shop in Grand Marais. Cruised up the Gunflint in partly cloudy skies and alot of anticipation for the trip. The boys continued with 'when are we going to get there' question. Pulled in the Bower Trout entry point around 11:15 and began to unpack the car with 9 year olds running around with uncontrolled excitement. Dipped the canoes in at high noon and off we traveled across a very tranquil Bower Trout Lake. The skies partly to mostly cloudy and 55deg. with an occasional sun shower. We encounter a very large mature Bald Eagle as we approached portage leaving Bower Trout. My son explained to me as we crossed the lake that the was an entirely new experience and he was anxiously enjoying it. I sensed he was taking this first time experience very serious. We pulled out on our first portage ( the dock at the end of Bower is very helpful ) into Marshall. The 3 others had never portaged before and this fairly easy 90 rod portage was a great introduction. The dads completed the second trip back ( one thing became very clear was the kids had limited carrying capacity ) and we all shared our excitement of the first lake/portage and wildlife. The journey continued over short paddles and short portages until finally we arrived on Swan lake. The lake was much bigger than what we had been on and the boys were impressed. We began investigating the sites and quickly discovered we had the lake to ourselves! We had a pair of loons up close to our boats when they both dove allowing us to watch them 'fly' under water. That was very exciting for us all and a great welcoming to the lake. We settled into our site ( pick of the lake and it was great ) as the sun continued to break up the clouds. The ran and explored while dads set up camp and put together a great fire. The chores needed to get done and the boys needed to everything right now; 'dad can fish, dad when will set up the hammock, dad I am hungry, dad can we go explore the lake, dad where are you hanging the BEAR bag, etc, etc'. We settled into a big steak and wild rice diner and evening fishing. The evening ended with some journal entries and reading in the tent. Loons serenade us as we drift to sleep.

Day 2 5/28; Lake was glass as the sun rose and water was put on for coffee. Boys eventually rolled out of the tents and brought the peace of camp to stand still. We had big breakfast of fresh eggs ( always on first morning ) and bacon. The boys widdled on their stick projects and chased the camp red squirrel around. Once dishes were done Dads laid in the hammocks and began planning the day of fishing. After laughing and the Canadian jays as the squawked around camp we pulled our fishing gear together and pushed off. My son and I headed to one end of the lake while the others explored the waters close to camp. The sky was without a cloud and the wind was light ( however even a light wind with no packs and skinny nine year old pushes the boat around ). We fished for 3 hours with only one bite, however we did see a big bull moose in the S. Brule as you head upstream to the Vernon portage. We felt pretty lucky to have seen him and slowly drifted back to camp. Once back at camp, chores needed to be worked on ( fire wood, water, food, etc. ) while the boys played and whittled. Fished a little more off camp and watched and Osprey glide over the lake, great evening. We had a b-day party for my friends boy, however no fish to eat so we broke out the Johnsonville brats and coleslaw - dam was it good diner. I baked a cake after dinner which turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip, all four of us hovering around the pan scooping out big warm bites of apple cake!! We did go out for a sunset fishing trip, but had no luck except a beautiful evening with no wind and a red sky. I did notice some fish rising, I believe they were Lake Whitefish rising to mayflies - I did bring my fly rod on this trip, my bad. Returned to shore and tucked the kids into their beds. Stay up late and had a few sips and discussed the upcoming days. We decided after listening to the weather radio ( wife insisted I bring this ) that we would be better off closer to the car. The forecast was for potentially strong storms and lots of rain. Decision was made we will head back to Bower Trout in the morning. Loons again sang a night time song.

Day 3 5/29; Lake was calm and the sky was clear as the sun rose, water on for coffee and hot chocolate. Big breakfast of krustaez and bacon. Discussed heading back closer to entry point with boys and the resisted. We explained that the fishing is reported to be very good on Bower Trout and that the rain would make our departure very long, wet and cold if we stayed on swan. They agreed and we began the long process of breaking down camp. We enjoyed a warm sunny day as we pushed back to Bower Trout. Eventually we set up camp on the north site on Bower Trout and began working on chores and fishing from shore. Bugs were making themselves present at camp and the boys hung out on shore fishing. We had a quick dinner of cheese filled tortellini and off to bed to read and write after a long day of moving.

Day 4 5/30; Wind was strong out of the east and lake was fairly rough. Coffee, hot chocolate, oatmeal and bacon for breakfast. Today was going to be all about fishing, the need to catch fish was beginning way on me. We headed out with the boys sitting side by side in the boat and the dads paddling ( way to much wind to take both boats ). We trolled down the lake to the mouth of the river and had no luck and then a long hard paddle back up wind. Boys were not impressed and with this experience. We dropped the boys at camp and the dads went out and began to fish the drift hard. I finally figured out the setup, a little joe spinner with a leech or crawler and drift with the wind. Every drift we hooked 2-3 fish and we caught some dandies, including 3.5-4lbs walleye and 30+ inch pike. We also caught some perch, I through back the pike and we kept all the walleyes and perch. The rain was now coming down in sheets at times and we were getting cold and wet. Went in for lunch and check in with the boys who were playing. After lunch went back out with the boys and they hooked a few fish ( very exciting ). Rain continued and we decided it was time to focus on a fire and dinner. The fire was a challenge to get started but we did and spent the evening under the rain tarp enjoying walleye and rice!! Rain rain and more rain came down the rest of the night.

Day 5 5/31; Wet night, little sleep and the rain continued to fall. Rolled out of the tent did a quick boil of water had cup of tea and hot cocoa for the kids. Broke down camp fast and wet and headed for the car. The lake was very ghost like with wisps of clouds and fog along with the mournful call of a loon. I really enjoyed this last paddle out regardless of how wet and cold we were. The experience of begin uncomfortable in woods is part of the fun, I thought is was good the boys realized that not everyday camping will be sunny and warm. Changed into our dry clothes in car, loaded up and heading to Grand Marais. Dropped of the boats and then gorged on a huge lunch at My Sister Place in Grand Marais and headed back down to the cities.

What a journey, it was everything I hoped it would be and more. My son has not stopped talking about the trip and when we will go on our next, my daughters also want to share in the experience. I tell him soon we will head back up and enjoy this wonderful treasure!!

//"Everyone must believe in something. I believe I'll go canoeing" ~ Henry David Thoreau