From Lac La Croix to Basswood via Argo, Ted and Robinson
by cburton103

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/15/2017
Entry & Exit Point: Quetico
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
Day 1 of 4
A roommate of mine from professional school and I flew into MSP after a full day of work on Thursday and landed around 11 PM. We drove up to Ely to Jordan's outfitters and picked up fuel and a couple forgotten items at a Walmart on the way up. We arrived at Jordan's around 4:30 AM and distributed and packed our canoe packs (I live in Houston and he lives west of Fort Worth, so we couldn't do this ahead of time). By the time we were finished packing it was time to jump in the van with Mark to catch our 7 am tow from Crane Lake. My buddy slept in the back seat for the 1.5 hour shuttle, but I was too interested in picking Mark's brain about his life, Quetico trips, and recent reports.

We forgot our bungee dealie bobs and picked up a couple bungee with ball attachments which were helpful but not nearly as useful and BDBs from Anderson's. The lady at the register was quite nice though, and she had to go into the back just to find those. The tow boat ride through the border lakes and to Bottle Portage was a lot of fun. The winds were quite calm. I did sneak in a quick ten minute nap during the ride which was a good, quick refreshment.

We took the "high road" on Bottle Portage, which looked much drier than the alternative. Not a bad portage for being around 80 rods. Conditions were great - minimal wind, very few clouds, and mid 60s. We caught a handful of eater size walleye in some of the moving water going into the main body of Iron Lake and kept the three smallest ones for a quick shore lunch of fried walleye. Next, we stopped by Rebecca Falls and Curtain Falls and caught a few smallmouth on Zulus. The falls sure seemed to be flowing full strength. The lake levels appeared to be high with no pollen lines on rocks above the current lake levels.

Just before the portage into the Roland chain we saw what would be our second to last group of canoeists to see before we got past United States Point on Basswood. The portages through the Roland chain were short, but otherwise typical Quetico portages with some mild elevation change, somewhat overgrown by vegetation with a blowdown or two across most of them. We trolled the southern shore of Middle Roland for walleye, and my buddy caught a 20 incher and a nice, healthy 27 incher. Both were photographed quickly and then released. They were caught on a gold and black shad rap 9.

No luck trolling through Roland, and a light rain had begun to fall. We noticed numerous empty bass beds paddling through the Siobahn River into Argo. Didn't notice a single bass bed occupied the whole trip. We paddled lazily through Argo to the nice island campsite west of Birch Island. We were getting pretty tired, so we were glad to have calm winds still. We set up camp and grilled some ribeyes to perfection over a good, hot coal bed. Tough to find wood on this popular campsite so we had to find some dry wood mostly around the shoreline.

The bugs were perhaps the worst combination of biting flies of various sizes and mosquitos that I've ever experienced. The bugs and a lack of sleep drove us into the tent even before the sun set.