Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Ensign Lake - First time back in 12 years with my Father and Uncle.
by sectn8

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/28/2014
Entry & Exit Point: Moose Lake (EP 25)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 4
Trip Introduction:
As a kid I went to the BWCA with my father and my Uncle many times but as I started a family of my own time got away from me and we quit going like we used to. For fathers day my brother and I decided to take my father and my Uncle now in their 70's back to the place they loved. They made their first trip to Ensign back in the 60's before the no motor laws.
Day 1: We started out on Moose Lake with a tow from Canoe Country Outfitters.  Bruce our tow boat guy was an awesome help and wealth of local history on Moose Lake. The portage from Moose to Splash Lake was quite Easy and only about a block long. A short paddle across Splash Lake and we came to the tiny portage Ensign. Rather than unload for such a short portage we decided to just pull the canoes up the short rapid.

With some advice from some guys that just pulled camp we checked out the campsite they suggested right around the corner on Ensign. They said it was a beautiful campsite with plenty of room and they were right. I felt a little guilty that everything went so smoothly we were settled into camp by 1:00 p.m., I feel like we should have worked harder than that but I’m not complaining.  After camp was setup we tried fishing from the shore of the campsite but didn’t really get anything, a few nibbles but that was it. My brother and I decided to try the bay to the east after dinner and got some small to medium sized Northerns, no keepers but they were fun.


Day 2: The morning started out in true Minnesota fashion with fog and then rain. A cold wet cup of coffee and we decided to load up the canoes and start fishing.  By the time we got loaded up and headed out the real heavy stuff was starting. We only made it about a ½ mile when my rain gear started to fail the cold rush of Minnesota rain ran through my lap. We decided to head back and wait out the rain and not sink the canoes which were filling up fast. The rain quit about 12:30 so after drying out a bit it was time for our first night steak dinner (steaks were still frozen solid the first night so they became second night dinner). Our true camping skills came into play trying to get a hot fire going after the monsoon we just went through. With full stomachs we headed out to the bay north of the campsite and were greeted by a plethora different fish.  Northerns were most prominent in all sizes but we also managed small mouths, perch and blue gills. The Walleyes were still eluding us at this point.



Day 3: With what looked to be another trademark wet and gloomy Minnesota day we finished up breakfast and headed out. The rain stayed away but the clouds stuck around all day. Not long in my Uncle got a decent large mouth. Jigging with leeches seemed to give the most variety with nice blue gills and small perch but the surprise came when my father hooked into a monster 12” Perch with a white Mister Twister jig. We spent the rest of the day traveling to the river on the south side of the lake where we found and number of Northerns and where my brother hooked into a nice 15” Small Mouth on a Mepps #5 squirrel tail. Now starving (we forgot the snack bag on shore DUH) we headed back to fry up our bounty. On the way back we drifted along the south side of the north bay where I hooked into a monster Walleye only to have him spit the hook just shy of the boat. At the same time I got a call on the radio that my brother just lost a monster Northern not far from us. They may have gotten away but I did manage a souvenir from that Walleye, I must have hooked just under his tooth and when he spit the hook his tooth was stuck on the hook.


Day 4: The weather cleared a bit with some breaking clouds at sunrise and I managed to get what is probably one of the best pictures I ever took on an iPhone no less. The sunrise was breaking through the clouds and lighting up the island through the trees, that’s when you realize why you came here and you ask yourself what took so long to come back. The wind started to pick up and after a check of the weather radio we realized if we stayed to pull out in the morning like we planned we would be in a world of bad weather. So instead of sticking around only to sit out a storm all night and break camp in the mud we decided to head out a day early. 

The BWCA is a place that words and pictures cannot describe, try as we might to tell our stories to people that haven’t experienced it before our words will always lack the true beauty that is etched into our minds. My father and my Uncle have been bringing my brother and I here for 30 years and we cannot thank them enough for all the experiences and memories they have given us. Love You Pops, Love you Uncle Eddy.