Quetico MVP Allstar Grand Slam Ultra Pro Plus
Day 1 August 23, 2012: Woke up at 5:40 and brought the gear down to the docks, went in to breakfast at Williams and Hall Outfitters at 6:45. Blueberry pancakes, bacon, fresh fruit and coffee fuel us up for a big first day. Take a tow to Prarie Portage and arrive at 7:30. There is one group ahead of us who aren’t going in through Basswood. We are on the water by 8am. We troll across Bayley Bay and I hook and lose a fish, I believe it was a smallmouth. We single portage ‘The Beach’ aka ‘The Yellow Brick Road’ aka the portage into Burke Lake. We quickly paddle up Burke towards North Bay portage and met a father and son who were also just starting their trip. We single portage here as well and are soon on North Bay and amazingly the wind is at our backs. I caught a 10” small mouth as we hugged the northwest shoreline to go the creek that leads to Isabella lake. Several small portages are necessary on the creek and it begins to sprinkle with rain as we eat our lunch of granola bars while paddling. Somehow the predicted storms don’t hit and all we get is a light misting and it stops, but remains cloudy. We fish Isabella and Nick loses a lure after several other hang ups, but before doing so caught a 12” small mouth and hammer handle northern. A long and hard portage into Side Lake meant that our hopes of single portaging came to an end and we double portaged this one. The portage into Sarah was very steep, or maybe we just out of gas. We get to Sarah lake at 6:30, rig for trout and paddle up the lake. Nothing, no fish. That’s ok, because we brought venison steaks and instant mashed potatoes for dinner with a few fingers of scotch (Dewars for Nick, Chivas for me). We cooked in the dark after setting up camp and I found that the batteries in my headlamp are dead! Nick had a spare set and lent me them, hope they last! We watched a thunder storm to the north, and the night was a bit warm, more so after the breeze died. It was hard, but rewarding first day. A mouse jumped into the cleaned pot from the potatoes and scared the bejeezus out of me when I went to put it away. We had a laugh about it and then headed to bed. Slept with the rainfly half off my tent. Travelled 19.6 miles, 14.5 of which were paddling. (this isn’t 100% accurate as the first two portages we did were singles, but close enough). Lakes: Basswood, Burke, Isabella, Side, Sarah.
Day 2 August 24, 2012: Awake at 5:00, saw stars and lightening from my tent last night which was pretty cool. Went fly fishing as soon as I was out of the tent and got one smallmouth, but not much size to it. Nick woke up at 5:45 and fished for a bit, and got nothing. Hot carnation breakfast shake was our breakfast. We were going to stay on Sarah for a day to recover from our rough first day, but our schedule dictated we move today and with the poor fishing so far on Sarah we decide to pack up and head for Kahshahpiwi lake. We left camp at 9:30 and it was the start of a LONG hard day. We trolled up Sarah and Nick caught a lake trout just past the choke point. We decided to keep the fish. We did a hard uphill portage that was very hot, then did an unmarked portage that took us every bit of an hour as it was all uphill and the day was really starting to get warm. It was on this portage that the trout wasn’t looking so hot so it got an impromptu burial in the woods. Part of this day was spent crossing a swamp/bog lake that had floating bogs on either side for the landings for portages. Didn’t fish here and getting thirsty. Next lake we were able to get fresh water on and had lunch. The food really helped our spirits, never mind our bodies recover from the morning and we were pushing on for Kahshahpiwi. A rather longish portage that was downhill brought us to Kahsh at 5:00. Nick slipped while setting down the canoe and soaked his legs and part of his torso. He was so hot I don’t think he cared one bit. I was worried about a twisted ankle. All is well! We fire up the depth finder (new this year on my boat) and mark lots of fish, but nothing is biting. We think they are schools of trout. As we paddled around the southern peninsula, Nick caught a smallmouth, I got nothing. Set up tarp in center of camp, put my tent near the water in some cedars. While setting up our tents we heard a noise, TURTLE! It was trying to take the smallmouth Nick caught earlier! We let it play with it on the stringer and took some pictures. No fish for dinner :/ We had Cajun chicken and it was pretty freakin good, or maybe we would have eaten just about anything. It even had a few flavor crystals that didn’t get stirred in and it was still good. Had cliff bars for lunch with some Gatorade. My right knee hurts and is kind of sore, but I’m not sure why. Took advil. Nick’s rodtip on one of his rods broke this morning mysteriously. He was just casting and looked up and it was broke. We managed a field repair with some tape that seemed to hold it pretty well. It was a brand new rod so Cabelas will be getting a call when we return. Nick’s GPS and fish grips were lost on a portage as they were in the pocket of his canoe seat and must have fallen out while the canoe was carried across. (several months later I recovered these items after posting on the lost and found forum of BWCA.com, thanks again!!) It is 10pm and time for bed. We get to have a layover day tomorrow! Total distance travelled today: 10.9 miles, paddling distance 7.5 miles. Sarah,Irene, several no name lakes, and Kahshahpiwi
Day 3 August 25, 2012: Woo hoo, Layover day! I woke up at 6 and cast from shore with jigs. No fish. The island across/ slightly North of us was burned over a while ago. It doesn’t look like the campsite that was there is usable anymore. Nick got up at 7 and we lindy rigged around the islands, but got no fish. Had a breakfast of 2 oatmeal packets and then went trout fishing with deeper divers and spoons/spinners around 9:30. I caught my first trout of the trip at 10:30 on a blue and silver spoon. Caught another 20 minutes later in the same spot! First fish was 3-4 lbs and fought a lot. Kept this fish. It was getting very windy and made for a hard paddle back to camp. We made fish chowder that was so good and so filling. After lunch we went in the lake and rinsed our clothes and then filled the shower bag up to rinse off our bodies. It felt really good, but the wind made it a little chilly! Wind was out of the south all day with variable speeds, topping out around 20mph was our guess. Nick took a nap and I went fishing and caught a smallmouth on a spinner jig. At 3:45 went fishing again, targeting walleye. We caught smallmouth and another trout and kept the trout. The trout was caught on a silver flatfish. Made fish tacos for dinner and they were very good but there was too much to each after adding the rice and beans. We left the entrails to the fish on a rock we could see from camp and watched an eagle come and have its own trout dinner. We packed up camp to get ready for tomorrow. I had a cigar while Nick was busy fertilizing the woods. A light rain started at 8pm and we went in our tents. We head for Kawnipi tomorrow. I noticed lots of sore muscles today, and we need to catch more fish! 8:40 and going to bed. Kept awake for a while by what sounds like 20 frogs continuously jumping into the side of my tent.
Day 4 August 26, 2012: Woke at 5am, Nick requested a 30 minute snooze. Had tent, and gear packed in 20 minutes. Breakfast was carnation again. We were on the water at 7. Tired from last night, very hot. Had rain fly on due to early showers, but after they stopped it was stifling. LOTS of paddling today, but miraculously the wind was at our backs the whole time, even when we changed directions. We couldn’t find the portage from Heronshaw into Kawnipi, but it turned out to be a little bad navigation. We were quickly back on track and had easy portages all day, even the two longer portages at around 80 rods a piece. We saw the rapids that flow out of Kawnipi and it was powerful, a LOT of water coming over it. Nick caught a 32” northern below the flow and I got a 32” northern on the creek on a shad rap. Nick got another northern on the creek. We let all the fish go and lost a few at the boat. We’re STILL paddling. Once by Kasie island we started catching small mouth, lots of them all 3-4 lbs. We got more northern and small mouth as we paddled and it was starting to get very late. I caught a walleye off a reef by Rose Island, 20” on a jointed shad rap. I completed my grand slam with this one! We kept this fish. Got to our campsite after dark (8:30) and saw we had been on the water for over 13 hours. What a day! We were tired and hungry. Nick went right to bed after dinner. I stayed up for a bit and smoked a cigar and sipped some scotch and looked at the stars. LOTS of stars. In bed at 11pm. We had Asian stir fry for dinner, which was really good. Paddled 25 miles, total distance today was 28 miles. Lakes were Kahshahpiwi, Keefer, Sark, Cairn, Heronshaw, and Kawnipi.
Day 5 August 27, 2012: Woke at 7am after a cool night finally! I slept with the rain fly off my tent which was great for sleeping, but not so much fun when the sun came out and imeddiately woke me up. Fished from shore and Nick caught a small mouth on a jig. We had hot Carnation for breakfast again. We went out fishing and I caught a small mouth and we kept it. Got nothing else. Went in for lunch at 1pm and had tuna melts which were awesome. After breakfast earlier we gathered fire wood and chopped and split it. As well as rebuilt the firepit slightly. It was big improvement as it blocked the wind more and allowed for more cooking space. After lunch we went for a swim and Nick took a shower. I went fishing from shore with a jig and caught 2 small mouth which were added to the one from the morning. We went out in the canoe fishing but had no luck until we started lindy rigging with artificial leeches. Nick caught 2 walleye and I got one. Nick’s walleye completed his grand slam. We kept the walleye for dinner. Had fried fish with dill fish breading. Really like the taste. Made a fire and watched the stars and then did some evening fly fishing, but got no bites. Laura gave me little quotes and notes to read occasionally and they are great! Nice little pick me ups or motivators that always put a smile on my face. Leaving the fly off again tonight as it is more comfortable to sleep in. Kawnipi Lake is awesome. GREAT fishing and very scenic and feels secluded, we’ve actually seen no people in 2 days. The fish here have all been big too. No records or monsters, but all solid fish and a very big welcome change. 10:50 and going to bed. My lips are chapped and my right arm is sunburned.
Day 6 August 28, 2012: Woke up late, well I woke up early and made myself go back to sleep. 9:30! Nick was having a pine squirrel dropping pine cones on his tent all morning. Had hot carnation for breakfast again and saw a solo canoe go by. We went to see if we could find the pictographs on the main lake and trolled our way down. Hooked and lost a few fish on the way and then did not find the pictos. Nick caught a 19” walleye as we paddled back. We saw 2 groups while we were out site seeing. Neither of them saw the pictographs either. Went back to camp and had fish chowder with Nick’s walleye. I found a rapala stuck underwater on a rock and Nick dove for it. It replaced his lost similar rapala that he lost the day before while fishing in the morning. We swam around jumped off a rock in camp for a while to burn off some energy, get cleaned off, and get cooled off with the warm weather we had been having. We went back out fishing at 4 and fished for one hour. We caught 4 walleye for dinner and paddle back . We saw that the campsite on the big island was not occupied and offered a small walleye to them that we knew would be too much food for us, but had been gill hooked and was dead. We made fish tacos for dinner and they went well with scotch and a cigar after dinner. We had some scotch while we were out fishing in the afternoon as well. We made a fire and were in bed at 10:45.
Day 7 August 29, 2012: Slept in again until 9am. Had a mouse run onto me while I was smoking my cigar last night! Hot carnation for breakfast. We went for a swim at 9:30 and then went out fishing. Caught a 22” walleye on a slimmer on a floating lindy rig and kept it for dinner, caught the fish around 11am. Swam again before lunch and had tuna melts to eat. Then went swimming again. Its very hot today, no clouds at all. We made sun tea and then added some lemon squeezer and Splenda, which was pretty good. We also had the last of our scotch and fired a 3 man sling shot, launching softball sized rocks 100m or so into the lake. Even later the day its still hot, but we haven’t gone swimming again. We started organizing camp and getting ready for our big travel day tomorrow. Caught a 1lb small mouth with a chartreuse jig and pumpkinseed jig off of campsite. Dinner was Asian fish again, and very filling. We noticed we packed too much food. Its still really hot out. We sat around camp and watched dragonflies flight the good fight and attack mosquitos. It was really cool to see how many there were. We were in bed by 9, but it would be a long restless night with how hot it was without a breeze.
Day 8 August 30, 2012: Woke up at 4:40, way too hot last night and didn’t sleep a lot. We quickly packed up and were on the water in about an hour with breakfast. It was still quite dark when we hit the water and needed a headlamp when we packed up and to read a map as we paddled. This was the first time I’ve paddled that early in the morning and it was definitely different. We got to watch the sun rise from the water and noticed a very big storm to the south (the very direction we would be travelling ALL day!). The wind was already up, but we had smooth paddling to Murdoch lake where we had to portage along a creek. Decent winds on the water on Murdoch. Somehow the storm slid by us, menacing the whole time, but never made us wet, just a little wind blown. We had a few little portages into the Agnes river, but they slowed us down and we found an extra portage, no fair! The wind on Agnes was present for us, but didn’t make things difficult. We went to see some pictographs that were listed on the map. Success! The first time I’ve ever seen them, and there were quite a few. We stopped and took some pictures, and wondered what the drawings meant, especially the little hand prints. We hypothesized that it was just little kids doodling while their parents fished the cliffs a long time ago. We set our sights on Silence lake portage and keep on paddling. Before we get to the portage we check out another pictograph site, but its actually petroglyphs, one of the few in the park. We get onto Silence lake and the weather is starting to change. The wind is blowing hard in our faces and large clouds are rolling in. We claw our way down the lake, gaining inches at time. We pass a campsite and see some guys watching us fight the wind as we make our way south. Soon it starts to rain, but the wind is too strong to stop to get our rain gear out. We make a bee line for a lee shore and get the goretex on. Its pouring now and we keep pushing, but thankfully the wind is letting up. We get to the portage into Sultry and find it longer than we remembered. After we’re done it’s a quick paddle to Summer lake, and the sun comes out again. After a mile paddle across noon lake we do a quick portage into Shade. More wind! You’ve got to be kidding me! Again we see people watching us battle mother nature as we make our way down the lake. We see another canoe out fishing, speed trolling with the wind. With all the people we’re seeing we are getting nervous our destination campsite will be taken, afterall it’s a 4 star treat on this lake. We pull up to the campsite at 4pm, its empty! We made really good speed all day, despite the wind and weather. We quickly set up camp and then relaxed. Soon, the urge to fish comes again and Nick caught several smallmouth and we kept 1 for dinner. We fried the fish with Cajun seasoning and had mashed potatoes with it. We repacked the bags in preparation of another early morning to continue our egress. We had a quick fire and then went to bed around 8:30, we were wiped. Slept with the fly off the tent again! We paddled 18 miles and total distance was 21 miles. Lakes: Kawnipi, Murdoch, Agnes, Silence, Sultry, Summer, Noon, Shade.
Day 9 August 31, 2012: Woke up at 5, but snoozed until 6. We broke camp and were on the water by 7am. There was lots of steam coming off the lake, and it was cold last night, really good sleeping weather. It was still cold in the morning. Short portages to the stream to North Bay, going through West Lake to get there. The first beaver dam had a hole in it and was passable without getting out the canoe by going really fast through it. The second beaver dam had completely washed out and because of it the creek was pretty shallow. We crossed North Bay of Basswood lake at 8am with no wind! We saw a solo canoeist on a small island just getting up for the day and continued on to Burke. When we hit Burke the wind had picked up, but not too terrible and it was at our backs, again! I caught a 20” lake trout on Burke and we kept it for lunch. While we paddled we saw fire fighting planes and helicopters overhead, so there must have been a fire started from that storm. We got to camp and stayed on the island campsite near the portage to Bayley Bay. We explored the island and climbed to the top for an amazing view. The wind was really picking up so we stayed at camp, rebuilt the fire pit, and fished from shore. Caught a smallmouth that I ended up keeping due to it being hooked deep. Nick napped in the afternoon. Around 4:30 we went out fishing and the wind had died down a bit. We caught another bass to add to our dinner. Dinner was fried fish and mashed potatoes. We sat by the fire and saw the full moon, it was VERY bright. Went to bed at 9:30. Later in the night we started to hear some animal noises. There were branches snapping and rocks turning over on the shoreline. Nick got up to investigate. It ended up being an otter that cannonballed into the lake when Nick threw a rock in the direction of the sound. We paddled 7 miles and covered a total of 8.5 miles today. The lakes were: Shade, South, West, Basswood, and Burke.
Day 10 Sept 1, 2012: Woke up at 6am, Nick at 7 and we decided to head out a day early. We packed up camp and single portaged into Bayley Bay. We met a group of fire fighters who were visiting Quetico and semi raced them back to Prarie Portage. The rangers at Prarie Portage were very nice and radioed Atikokan HQ to place a call to Williams and Hall if they could pick us up a day early. Within an hour a tow boat was picking us up. In addition, they also refunded a days worth of time in the park which was very nice. Tired and worn out but a good trip. We arrived at Williams and Hall and had a customary beer in the store with Charlene. A quick shower and we loaded up the car to head back to reality. A trip of a lifetime that this trip report really doesn’t do justice. Paddled 3.5 miles 4.3 miles total. Burke lake and Bayley Bay of Basswood.