Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Seagull Winter Trip
by schwartyman

Trip Type: Snowshoeing
Entry Date: 02/16/2018
Entry & Exit Point: Seagull Lake Only (EP 54A)
Number of Days: 2
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
This is my first trip report on this site! I have done dozens of canoe trips in the BWCA and one to the Quetico. I had spent one night winter camping prior to this so I definitely consider myself a newcomer to winter camping. The plan for this trip was to be a 3 day, 2 night but we cut it short to avoid driving home in a snowstorm.
Ever since my first BWCA canoe trip 5+ years ago the fisherman in me was naturally curious about a BWCA winter trip. After a little research it seemed a winter trip takes a tad more skill/preparation than a summer trip so I knew I wanted to keep my first trip close to the entry point, and for no more than 3 days. I actually worked at Seagull Outfitters for 2 summers so I'm very familiar with the lake and decided that a base camp on Seagull would be perfect for me. My original intention was to chase walleye and set tip ups for northern but after reading a bit it seemed those fish were rather inconsistent in winter on Seagull, and that Lake Trout were biting hard and can be a blast to catch in the winter. I was hesitant to plan a trip around lakers having very little to no experience with them, (ive only caught lakers on Jap which is basically cheating) I decided to try my luck and try for them anyways.

Both my college roommate and I are blessed with not having Friday classes, so we left Menomonie, WI around 2 am on Friday with the intention of staying until Sunday evening and driving home lateish. We hit Grand Marisa as the sun was coming up. It was a cold morning and Superior was beautiful. After buying some minnows from Bucks and filling up on gas we started up the Gunflint. The trail is just as beautiful as you'd expect it to be in the winter.


We ended up at the Seagull landing around 9:30, loaded up our gear and took off. Because both of us have little to no winter experience we brought more gear than I knew we would need, but decided it was worth hauling it in to have a little sense of mind. We each had a backpacking pack and then we traded off pulling a standard ice fishing sled with more gear. I brought up my pop up ice house and all my standard ice fishing gear. Reading around it seemed most people recommended not sleeping directly on the lake with ice holes nearby due to slush possibilities, but after seeing a solid 5" base of snow I was confident IF random slush came in on us in the middle of the night we could react before coming human ice cubes.

There was plenty of snowmobile tracks leaving the landing which made travel easy.

The wind was absolutely brutal blowing 5-25 all day leading to a -20 to -30 windchill. Of course hauling all that gear kept us plenty warm. I wanted to set up a bit south of miles island so we could fish the whole time right in our tent. I was surprised to see lots of groups out there. Originally I thought we would have no problem being alone but was quickly corrected. After trying to decide where we would be best wind protected and also be deep enough for fishing we ended up in between a few islands in 60 FOW. By the time we were all set up; cutting fishing holes, setting up the ice house, setting up the tent, eating lunch etc, it was around noon. We fished for a bit without success when I decided to go explore and chop some wood, right after leaving I heard my friend yell he had caught a fish.


I had honestly expected to catch nothing and was satisfied with the one fish. We caught nothing else for the night and watched the sunset, then went to bed pretty early after an exhausting day.

We ended up sleeping quite well. Our setup was basically just a 2 person tent with a tarp under it inside of a 4 man pop up ice shack. We obviously banked it in quite high with a good bit of snow. I have a -20 degree bag and my friend has a -10 degree bag. After a great nights sleep we ended up sleeping in quite late, not really sure how. We immediately chipped open our ice holes and started fishing, to find they were biting quite rapidly. We ended up catching 4 back to back to back to back. It was an absolute blast.


The fishing for the afternoon was a bit slower, we caught one or two more and decided we wanted to throw on our snowshoes and go to the top of the palisades. Before we did this, my friend had to go to the bathroom (#2), so I took a second to continue fishing and listen to my weather radio, which quickly informed me that northeast MN would be receiving 7-9 in of snow, exactly when we were going to be on the road. We decided it'd be smartest to head out that night rather than worrying about the drive home. It ended up being the right call as the whole area received more than the predicted amount of snow throughout the whole day.


We were able to have a beautiful hike back, catching the sunset and having the wind die down to have it be a comfortable temperature. We arrived at the landing just as it became dark and got back to Menomonie around 2am.

It ended up a day shorter, and I know we brought far more gear than we needed, but we had an absolute blast and caught plenty of fish! I will absolutely be doing another BWCA winter trip and cannot wait to use what I learned on future trips!