4 Guys Fishing.
Friday morning; Woke up to rain this morning. Not just rain-thunderstorms. It’s about 50 degrees and not supposed to warm up or stop raining today. It’s windy, foggy, and cold. We’re all very excited-who cares about the clouds when we’re together (and going fishing) right? After leaving Ashland about 8 am, we make a quick stop at Gander Mountain for licenses and last-last minute items, back on the road. Got our permit from the ranger station in Grand Marais, now we’re really ready. Still hoping the rain will stop. Almost to the entry point, we realize we don’t have any aluminum foil. One more town (sort of) to go. Hovland. It’s not really a town, so much as a collection of houses-some of which you can sort of see from the highway. After driving through and not seeing a store, we decide to go back to the bar we passed. Maybe they’ll let us buy some foil. Turns out, the bar happens to be a general store too, so after buying our last-last-last minute foil we decide we better have a beer (it’s seems right, and yum!). Back on the road and to the lake! We arrive at the McFarland lake entry about 4 pm. It’s still raining hard, so we unload the canoes and packs, put on our rain gear and start paddling. With the wind pushing us, we make it through McFarland lake quickly. Luke and I pull the canoe through the channel to Pine, then guide James and Will through. This lake is beautiful, even in a monsoon, with very high hills on the south side and lots of points and bays north and south. As we start moving again the rain seems to let up a bit, and the waves are “only a couple footers” according to Will. Water is coming in the sides of the boats fairly often, unavoidable since the waves are coming from seven directions at once. We’ve all paddled in worse, so no biggie. After passing a couple of campsites we eventually settle on the site halfway down the lake on the north side. There’s a nice big rock sloping into the water, so it’s a nice easy landing. The rain seems to be mostly gone for now as we set up camp. James and Luke go out fishing while Will and I make a fire and start dinner. Dry wood is scarce, but the fire is decent. James and Luke caught a few smallies west of camp. We have venison steak and fried potatoes with onions and peppers. Yum. All of us are tired so bedtime around midnight.
Saturday-7:30 am; I’ve been awake since about 5am so finally decide to check out the day. Everyone else is still sleeping, of course. No rain since we got in last night, but everything is very wet. Got the fire started for breakfast- hashbrowns with cheese and sausage, and coffee. Food tastes amazing in the BWCA. Going fishing mid-morning, James and Will go west-Luke and I go east. Luke is catching lots of smallies on plastics, just drifting along the shore. I am missing a lot on (apparently different) plastics, but end up catching a few on a rapala. On the way back to camp we find some not-quite-waterlogged firewood. We are dry though and it feels nice. Bagel sandwiches for lunch, amazingly tasty. I try to fillet a couple smallies. Dull knife+bad skills+sore knees makes for some pretty sad little fillets, luckily I don’t need to survive on my filleting skills. Back out fishing mid-afternoon. This time we head to the south side of the lake. James and Will go east, Luke and I go west. Luke catches a few more smallies, the we round a point and I come across “the bait”. In about 100 yards of shoreline, in about 30 minutes I catch 13 smallies on 1 plastic worm. Nice. We meet up with James and Will. They climbed the trail to Vale lake-a 51 rod portage. James recalls “It’s not that steep until you get to the hill!” They don’t want to go back with a canoe, so the fish in Vale are safe from our group. I try cleaning another fish, my skills haven’t improved since lunchtime. James also brings one back for dinner. His fillet is a little better than mine, but they both taste great with mac-n-cheese. Meanwhile, a squirrel has gotten into the tortillas in our food pack and Luke decides to get revenge. He builds a squirrel trap using a heavy rock, a stick, and a piece of rope. He baits it with a piece of tortilla, and even covers his rope with leaves-in case the squirrel is super smart and thinks “Uh oh, that rope could be part of a trap!” Luke really wants to get that squirrel. He sits there for an hour waiting for that squirrel to walk into the trap, with no success. As soon as he gets up for 30 seconds to get something out of his pack, the squirrel runs in, steals the tortilla, and hightails it outta there!
Sunday; I am the first one up, imagine that. Forced myself to “sleep” until 8ish (Was awake by 6). While the other guys are sleeping, I catch three smallies right off the campsite, how awesome is that? When they finally do get around to it, James makes us plate size-3/4 inch thick pancakes for breakfast. Super-yum! It’s starting to rain again so we all sit around under the tarp and start carving lures out of driftwood. I finish mine first, a walk-the-dog type lure with a treble hook from a jitterbug. After a couple test casts and minor adjustments it is working pretty well so I decide to try catching something. I had two hits and then caught a 14 inch smallie. On a camp-carved lure!
Monday; Happy birthday to me! Guess who’s up long before everyone else? Oh well, it’s nice and (mostly, there’s some snoring) quiet. No rain today, so far. After a huge pancake breakfast, we decide to make the trip to Johnson falls. We fish our way to the west end of the lake. It’s an easy hike to the first set of falls, then up a little hill to the second set, where the sun comes out for the first time on the trip. The falls are amazing and beautiful.
Tuesday; Up early again today, Will actually got up about the same time though. I catch a couple more nice smallies off the campsite while Will suns himself on the rock. James and Luke sleep until mid-morning. The wind blows the sun away, and we decide to call it camp day. Will, James, and Luke make me a (belated) birthday treat, chocolate cake-pancakes in the frying pan. They stack up 5 layers with alternating peanut butter and chocolate frosting in between.
Wednesday; Home today. We are all up by 8 this morning, packed up and paddling out by mid-morning. DQ grill and chill for lunch, it tastes ok. Yet another awesome trip to the BWCA, and already looking forward to the next!