Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Family Trip to Quetico - returning after 25 years
by Hillbilly

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/10/2009
Entry & Exit Point: Quetico
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 4
Trip Introduction:
Going back and writing this report now (2019) of our families 2009 trip into the Q. Our family is from Idaho and my dad took us on an epic adventure as kids in the mid 1980's. We had talked about this trip for so many years and finally got around to coming back. This trip was with Andersons tow across LLC to the western part of Quetico. Crooked-Roland Chain-Argo-Darky-Minn-McAree with some day trips in between. Awesome time!
So here we go! We converged in Minneapolis with my Dad and brother flying in from Idaho, myself from San Diego and my sister and her yellow lab Harper driving up from Chicago. We stock up with food at a grocery store along the way and my Dad gives a small fortune to the good folks at Cabelas. Eat a Culvers burger and a shake and head to Andersons Outfitters on Crane Lake per a recommendation of a friend who said the tow across Lake La Croix was the best way to get into a remote part of the park... a great tip!

We enjoyed dinner on Crane Lake at the Voyager Lodge and rehashed some of the highlights of our 1st Quetico adventure some 25 years ago. Some highlights of that trip were the insane topwater bass action for us kids, getting caught in a thunderstorm and losing the canoe with the high water (my dad had to swim out and retrieve it) and my brother catching a huge walleye on a bass "jig n pig".

The next day starts early with all new sights for the 4 of us. The tow from Crane Lake to Loon Lake to Lac La Croix really makes you feel like you are getting "out there" and we get dropped off at Bottle Portage on Iron Lake. I paddle off with my sister Darcy and my brother and Dad head off together as well. We grew up doing a lot of outdoor activities so there is no weak link on this trip my sister holds her own except she would rather read a book than fish... but she puts up with the rest of us.

The fishing rods dont take long at all to break out and we catch a few walleye and some nice bass in Iron and Crooked. Bass are on their spawning beds in Crooked and some big boys are cruising the flats right under the canoe... cool!
The first day takes us through Iron into Crooked and up the Roland Chain. We have great fishing along the way I am casting my fly rod and the topwater bass on Little Rowland are just blasting it out of the water. We meet up with my Dad and brother on Middle Rowland and take the one camp there for the night. Its a beautiful calm evening. We go out and troll for Lake Trout but don't get any. Already we are loving this place and this time together and excited to see what the next lake has in store.
Evening paddle on Middle Rowland. The canoe gets loose and makes for an interesting photo before we retrieve it with the other canoe. The sound of loons on the lake are foreign to us Idahoans but a welcome reminder of the beauty around us.

So day 1 is in the books we hit the hay and get up semi early the next am. My Dad is a camp/gear junkie and loves some of the new gear he bought for the trip... the Jet Boils were fairly new stuff at this point. He loves futzing around camp and as a result we never leave camp early; fine with me. My sister likes to enjoy tea and chill out meanwhile my brother and I take advantage of the early am with a paddle around Middle Rowland and catch a lot of nice bass on the fly rod. We switch the rod back and forth with each fish and are passing the rod back and forth nearly every cast.

Once we get going we have our sites set on Argo lake only 2 portages away... not far for your average canoe tripper but when you have that much shoreline and 3/4 very eager to catch more fish it takes a full day.

Day 2 finds us catching more smallmouth bass and our first lakers of the trip trolling across Rowland and Argo. We want to try a lake trout so keep a smaller fish for dinner that night. We end up cooking it with the skin on which is a mistake and it turns out bad/fatty. The next trout we ate on a subsequent trip we remove the filet and skin and saute in butter and its delicious. You also need to eat the little skinny ones the big fat lakers are not as good in my opinion. The mid island camp is taken so we find another great camp just to the south. My sisters dog Harper is enjoying the trip and is a good canoe buddy except for when a fish is hooked at which point he tries to dump us 10 different ways...

My bro and I cruise out after dinner and manage to hook a couple beauty lake trout that pull hard. These are powerful fish.

The next am my Dad and I go out and try to troll up some more lakers. Its a glass calm morning and we each land a couple. They fight hard and are beautiful fish. We let em all swim away and head back to camp to pack up and head to Darky.

We troll are way up to the Darky portage and catch a few fish along the way. The skies are beautiful as the sun shines on stormclouds headed our way. class="responsive tripimage" src="" align="left" >

The Darky pictos are well worth the spot and we enjoy the breeze. There are a few groups camped on Darky so we take a 4* site on the NW part of the lake. Not a good landing but a nice rock bluff gives a good view of the lake to the south. We go out and troll for walleye and end up catching a old looking lake trout.

We paddle up to where the Darky river flows out and for an evening fish and the walleye are on fire. My brother and I each catch our best walleye ever a 24", 26" and 27.5" beauties!

My dad catches a few nice bass around camp and we keep a few of the smaller walleye for a fish fry that night... Fish Tacos in Quetico it does not get much better!

Delicious! We never catch walleye where we live in the west and we all agree this is the best eating fish out there.

The next day Dad stays back in camp (his favorite activity!) and my brother sister and I portage over to the little lake to the east and catch a ton of Smallmouth bass. Fun day we drop my sister off on a mid lake island and she enjoys the sun, a book and a nap on an island all her own. A luxury that is easy to come across out here!

From Darky we head out to Minn, McAree and out Black Robe. The route out on the Darky river has us fishing and having more fun with beautiful skies across Minn. A great time with the family we will never forget. Good to be back in Quetico!