Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Crooked Lake Loop
by tbro16

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/03/2019
Entry & Exit Point: Mudro Lake (restricted--no camping on Horse Lake) (EP 22)
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
I depended on this forum for my trip planning so I figured I'd return the favor a bit here. This was my 2nd ever trip to the BWCA but first time soloing and first time to the Crooked Lake area. After reading about the falls, the pictographs, and supposedly some good walleye fishing I couldn't pass up an opportunity to see it all. It was a 6 day trip, beginning on 6/3. I portaged the Horse river route on the way in. Pretty easy going for the most part, but can see how it would be quite difficult when the water is much lower. I way overpacked and was forced to triple portage. Took me 9 hours from the parking lot to Lower Basswood Falls. In night one I caught a few walleyes in under the MN falls, but nothing to write home about. In the next few days I moved my way closer to Thursday and Friday bays of Crooked, which is it seemed like the best fishing was. The pictographs were really neat, theres a nice walleye hole with an island and a ton of current just north of there, and table rock was pretty cool to see in person too. For the most part, I wanted to get to the bays of Thursday and Friday as soon as I could. I couldnt wait to fish the groups of islands in both bays. Needless to say, that was a bad plan. I fished both bays for 4 to 5 hrs each, specifically hitting the islands and points, without a single bite. I get they are big bays and they should require much more time, but I noticed pretty quickly that if there was not current, there were no fish. I did pull a few walleyes from each of the bays, but they all came much closer to the river. Again, first time to the lake and minimal experience fishing out of a canoe, but in the end I had a decent fishing week. It was some of the most consistent fishing I've ever had, but it was never really that hot. Every time I sat in the canoe to fish (anywhere from 2 to 5 hrs) , I pulled a minimum of two walleyes but I never caught more than 9. Time of day or weather didnt matter, I always pulled a few fish. No big fish either, all were perfect eating size. My best success came anywhere close to about 14 feet of water with current around an island or point. This will probably change in the coming days as fish continue to push towards their summer patterns. I also learned how to fish little current my second time trying it. At one point I had pulled 5 walleyes in no more than 7 or 8 casts. So much fun! Big current was pretty daunting. Didnt look like the place a rookie paddler should be fishing, so I didnt really even bother.

Some campers on their way out said a few males they caught were still in spawn mode. This is the reason why I believe I didnt have much success down into the big bays. I figured the male walleyes were still sitting near the river, but they'll slowly start to transition into their summer spots. No females to find anywhere for me, must have still been in their post spawn funk. All fish were caught on an 1/8 oz jig and leech. I didnt bother travel trolling cranks or anything, just wanted to get from point A to point B without the hassle of snags and such. Some of the fish were as fat as I've ever seen. Stomachs plum full of these 3-4 inch silver shad.

Paddling out through Gun/Boot were nothing short of awful. Not much wind at all the entire week until the day I had to leave. I woke up very early in the AM to try to beat the wind, but there wasnt such a thing. Stiff winds blowing straight into my face all day through Crooked at the other 6 lakes to get back to Mudro. That mile long Wagoosh portage is something else too... woof. I don't think I'll ever attempt that one again alone, but have already begun to plan a trip back with a few friends.