First Trip to the BWCA
Finally we were heading up to Moose Lake to get checked in at Williams and Hall. Blayne got us all checked in and soon the canoes were loaded heading for the parking lot/launch at Snowbank. I was starting to get a little nervous as this was the first time I had ever been in a canoe. Everything was loaded and soon we were heading east across the lake towards the portage to Disappointment. The wind wasn’t bad at all and it was a relatively easy paddle. I found my “canoe balance” early and felt comfortable the entire week. Pulling up to the portage it was quickly decided that two of the more experienced in the group would bust their butts across the portage and head for two of the desired campsites on Disappointment while the rest of us, including myself the newbie, would catch up later.
Here is where things got interesting and I received my baptism to portaging in the BWCA. I made the mistake of volunteering to carry the food pack and the canoe at the same time. Now one by themself would not be an issue. But having never done either alone the two together was way too much for this guy. I made it about halfway before having to drop the canoe thus having to come back to get it. Rob and the other members of the group are proud to make single portages so I felt like I was getting off on the wrong foot. I thought I was in a little better shape than I that but found out quick I better work on my cardio before the next trip. In the end it wasn’t that big of a deal but I was a little nervous as to how the rest of the week was going to go portaging to different lakes they had in mind.
After three long months it was nice to finally be on Disappointment. Rob had wanted the island campsite but it was unavailable. Fortunately the first site on the south side of the lake was and it definitely is a nice one. Plenty of room for three tents, lots of open space, a nice campfire setup, two nice tree layouts for hammocks, and room enough for everyone to have a seat. We were originally planning on staying here for 3 nights but later in the week decided to basecamp in this spot for the remainder of the trip as fishing improved. We quickly set up camp and gathered water for the purification system so everyone could top of their drinks. Then it was time to hit the lake.
Entertainment around the campsite was provided by an extremely friendly snowshoe hare. He would hang around all week and was absolutely fearless.
After reading Quetico Mike’s Zulu fishing article I couldn’t wait to give the elastomer plastics a try. I had been telling Rob for the past few weeks that I had the secret bait and I was going to kill the smallies on it. While waiting for everyone to get their gear ready I waded out to just above my ankles in my muck boots which proved to make everyone jealous for the week. I casted out the Zman Jerkshadz in Pearl White and caught a few smallies before leaving the campsite. One being a nice 2 pounder. That first afternoon the sun was high in the sky so we mainly fished smallmouths. I was impressed with the Zman soft plastic easily landing over 15 bass including a few nice ones over 3 pounds. Rob tossed a Floating Rapala and his results were nowhere close. Ironically it was the only time we fished strictly for bass the entire trip as the longer we were there we were able to narrow in on the walleye and we both love to walleye fish. I would highly recommend the bait to anyone heading into the BWCA and will for sure pack them again as I think the smallies would provide lots of action if other species were slow.
The first night we managed to catch 3 nice walleyes that we put on the stringer for the next nights fish fry. We probably could have done a little better but got a late start after cooking steaks on the grill. It felt good to hit the tent that night since it had been a long day and I hardly got any sleep driving thru the night to get to Ely.