Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Sawbill to Phoebe
by Ajoutdoors

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/26/2015
Entry & Exit Point: Sawbill Lake (EP 38)
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
Took a 5 day trip with my cousin
I awoke in Mexico City at 6 am Saturday morning. I got to my house in Milwaukee at 9 pm, drove through the night to pick up my cousin in Minneapolis at 3:30 am and arrived at Sawbill around 9 am Sunday morning. Sunday July 26th We got our rental canoe from Sawbill Outfitters and were on the water at 10 am. We were going to try for Phoebe Lake. I estimated a 6 hour trip. I was also hoping to do single portage but that did not last. All the portages went ok. The 285 rod from Beth to Grace is long but it is mostly flat. It took 21-24 minutes each way. We had some difficulty getting from Grace to Phoebe however. We missed the first portage thinking it was just a river portage. This resulted in us walking the river. On the way back, we took the portage and it was much easier. We made it to Phoebe and took an island site. It took about 7 hours and we were both exhausted from being up for 36 hours straight. Temps were about 90 today with little wind. We went to bed around 8 pm.

Monday, July 27th We stayed on Phoebe all day today and didn't see another person. Went out and did a lot of fishing. First cast caught a 16 inch walleye. It turned out to be the only walleye all trip. We caught a lot of small mouth bass but almost all were 10 inches or under. Never caught so many small small mouth. We scouted some other campsites and some looked like they haven't been used all year.

Tuesday, July 28th We decided to head back toward Sawbill and break up our route on the way back. The portages were very busy this morning and we followed a group to Grace. This time we didn't miss any of the portages and it went much better. We stopped for a while on Grace and debated moving on to Beth or staying on Grace. The weather was windy, overcast and light drizzle so a good day for portaging but we decided to stay on Grace for the night. We took the peninsula campsite and it was excellent. Nice landing, great furniture, and very clean. One group came in to check out our site but they were only people to paddle by all day. Fished again but again just very small bass.

Wednesday, July 29th Headed back to Alton today for our last night. I wouldn't say our portages were any easier but we did have the weight distributed a lot better in our packs. It was very windy today but luckily the wind was at our back all day. We paddled up the western shore of Alton and took the 5th site. All the sites were much more worn than the campsites on Grace and Phoebe. We went out fishing later and didn't catch a thing. By the time we fished, all of the campsites on the west side were occupied and we could hear voices most of the night.

Thursday, July 30th We broke camp in the morning and the wind was howling out the west. We felt bad for anyone heading out today. Got back to Sawbill and got everything unloaded. We were driving around 11 am.

Overall I really like this route. The only problem was the fishing. All of the bass were so stunted. I checked the MN DNR website and the average weight of bass on Grace is .7 lbs. The privacy was great though. I can't wait to come up again.