Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Snowbank to Thomas
by waterwolf22

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/22/2018
Entry & Exit Point: Snowbank Lake (EP 27)
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 8
Trip Introduction:
8 guys, 5 days, annual BWCA fishing trip.
8 guys in mid 20's, 5 days, 4 canoes, annual fishing trip. The night before launch, we stayed at the Adventure Inn (Ely) in a single motel room with 4 queen size beds - a good deal noted for the future. The 8 of us had 4 canoes, 3 rented from Spirit of the Wilderness Outfitters. SoW also provided a tow across Snowbank Lake to the Boot Lake portage to start our trip. All said and done, our entire group took off towards Thomas lake from the Boot Lake portage around 8:30 AM Wednesday morning. We paddled and portaged (single) through Boot, Haven, Abinodji, Gibson, Cattyman, Jordan, Ima, and finally Thomas.

Our goal was to reach a cluster of campsites on the SW end of Thomas. We landed home after examining 4 campsites that were either taken, too exposed to high winds, or too small for our large group. Around 3-3:30, we eventually found a great site that easily fit 8 guys, 4 canoes, and mixture of hammocks/tents. This would be my 7th BWCA trip and every time I have ended up blessed with a fantastic campsite. Sometimes it takes a little extra work and patience at the end of a tough day but it always seems to work out.

Our group fishes pretty hard. We usually prioritize a few eater fish and sometimes chase trophies. This time we were armed with crawlers as there was a leech shortage in town. We were also excited about the chance of catching a laker, even though no one in our group had much experience fishing for them. On the way in, we ran into multiple groups who told us they had either caught zero or 1 fish during their entire trip. It's easy to brush off this warning from one group, but when you hear it from 3 we started to get a little worried. All in all, I think we did very well considering the timeframe and weather. We had abnormally still conditions with very little wind and quite a bit of sunshine. We managed a couple lakers by pulling little cleos far behind the canoe in 50-100 FOW - the biggest being 20 in which we also ate. We caught our eater fish and fried up probably 6-8 walleyes 16-18 inches during the 5 day trip. We also managed 4 walleyes between 20-22 inches that were released. Walleyes were caught in 15-25 fow mostly with night crawlers (bobber or drifting/ trolling harness/spinner) or bright colored shad raps. For the first time ever, we caught less pike than walleye. Majority were on daredevils or little cleos, the biggest was about 32 in. The only SMB caught between all of us was the smallest I had ever seen - about 3-4 inches long.

We decided to split up the trek back to the Boot Lake portage by camping on Jordan Lake before our exit. This ended up being a great decision to get across Ima and half our portages with calm conditions. Jordan Lake is a little gem that I will be back to explore. On day 5 we got picked up and towed across Snowbank during a thunderstorm, so the tow ended up being worth it. There was lightning we had to carefully wait out and big waves on the way back to the launch. Another great trip to add to the memory bank.