Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

March '21 Lake Trout Trip on Seagull Lake
by RustyPaddler2

Trip Type: Snowshoeing
Entry Date: 03/18/2021
Entry & Exit Point: Seagull Lake (EP 54)
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
Near perfect trip on Seagull fishing for Lake Trout
I'm lucky to have a flexible work schedule and wanted to pick a good weekend in March this year for a long weekend ice fishing trip. I lucked out - the snow melted and refroze making for easy travel and the weather report was near ideal - several cold days/night before arrival and then warming up during the trip with rain forecast for the last night. Plus, my good friend (and trip photographer - all images by Joe Flannery) was available on short notice as well. I lucked out again and caught Mike Berg, owner Seagull Creek Fishing Camp, on the phone the night before we headed north. He provided what turned out to be excellent advice on bait, structure and tactics for Seagull. Thanks Mike! We got great advice too from Matt and Cassidy at VCO at the end of the trail. They'd been out a few days earlier and helped us narrow our choices of where to set up. Thanks guys!

We arrived to find a fairly full parking lot (boat launch along GFT). We loaded our sleds and put our ice cleats on over our boots - the trip would have been tough without them - I will carry a spare set on future icy lake trips as they are vital and I broke one but was able to cobble a repair. It was sunshine and short sleeve shirts for the 4 mile walk out to where we set up. I've never pulled so much with so little effort.

We wanted to be able to fish at night from within the tent so we set up on the ice over 50 feet of water and opened a couple of holes in the tent (W - NW side of Miles Island). Turns out I was more into sleeping than fishing after the long drive up. The bite was slow and we set our sights for a better day on Friday.

Fishing started slowly Friday morning near the tent but we did get a couple of bites. We then set out for the lake topo we'd been advised to seek - 45 to 50 feet of water near fast drops into 70 or deeper. Our fist fish on the ice was a walleye - would've been a nice keeper but the season was closed. From then on it was all lakers. We consistently pulled 17 to 19" lakers onto the ice over the next 3 days with a total catch of about 30. We drilled many, many holes and moved often between holes and to new spots - it truly paid off. More than 1/2 the fish were caught without the Vexilar but boy is it fun to see one, two or three lakers chase after your jig/bait on the dial. Our bite was reasonable in the morning, would slow down and then pick back up from 11 to 1 and then later on days 2 and 3. We'd get an evening bite as well picking up more so as the sun set. We did not try at night as all the hiking pretty much wiped us two old guys out.

Bait and Tackle: our best jig was a Rapala jigging rap with hooks at each end and a treble hook in the middle - blue with chartreuse belly and a hunk of shiner or fathead on the treble. No other bait was as aggressively chased. We had luck with jigging spoons and a little luck with a very large Wonderbread spoon.

On Saturday, we spent the whole day out fishing except for a nice shore lunch and time on the top of Palisades. As we headed to our tent just before sunset, we rounded the top of Miles and saw a white/black clump on the ice with a shiny rod sticking up. It had been warm, sunny and windy that day. Our tent, Snow Trekker 10 x 12, staked into the ice, broke loose and tumbled up the channel shedding poles, tie-downs and stakes as it went. Crap. We were walking in an inch or more of water and slush - how wet would our stuff be? How far would it be flung? We gathered the tent and "accessories" and decided to turn back and drop our stuff at the camp we passed 200 yards prior. We returned to our tent site to inspect the situation and figure out what we would need to do. We very happily walked up to a nice and tidy interior view of a tent set-up with no tent. The two folding cots were on the big tarp and all our gear was up on the cots and the lightest weight items were under heavier packs and other gear. Only one thing in the tent blew away - a little inflatable pillow that was recovered the next morning. Phew! We packed it up and returned to the campsite and got set up before dark. How old am I and still learning things the hard way? We'd placed a few big rocks on the top of a stakes as they'd melted loose the prior day but refroze over night. We thought this would be sufficient. But the sun and the wind proved us wrong. Again, phew - so nice to sleep in a dry sleeping bag that night.

On Sunday we had another good day of fishing and then packed up and moved our campsite closer to our exit to avoid a long slog should the overnight rain prevent a refreeze. We weren't close to 50 feet of water but we did find a flat at 35' that produced several nice trout that evening. Possibly the incoming rain revved the bite. The lakers frequently spit out ciscos and shiners (?), often still alive so there was some active feeding happening and we seemed to have benefited from it.

This was my first season of ice fishing and my buddy's first trip out in many years. The value of information online, great advice from Mike and the VCO crew, and luck sure paid off for us. I still have a post-trip glow and it's been about a week out of the woods.

P.S. I found a smart phone on the top of Palisades. The lock screen has a pretty unique picture. Describe it and I'll send you your lost/now found phone.