Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Father-Son Trip to Pipe Lake
by jjb2275

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/19/2021
Entry & Exit Point: Homer Lake (EP 40)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
My son and and I base camped on Pipe Lake to further explore the area after briefly checking it out the previous summer.
My son and I spent 4 days on Pipe Lake after using the entry point #40 Homer Lake. When we arrived Monday morning at the entry point the air was very hazy and smelled very strong of smoke from the fires across the border in Canada. I was a little concerned that it would be that way the whole trip but by Monday night the wind shifted directions and the smoky haze cleared out. It took us 2 hours to paddle into Pipe Lake and reach the easternmost campsite on the lake. There are 3 small portages and and a couple places we had to get out and pull the canoe over a shallow spot or beaver dam to get into Pipe Lake due to low water levels this summer.

We had decided to basecamp on Pipe Lake after briefly exploring the very eastern end of the lake last summer and having really good fishing while we were there. It also appealed to us that it was a dead-end lake and would most likely be a place where we wouldn't see anyone else. The campsite was great for us and had 4 pads for 2-3 person tent. It was nice and open and faced west and south which allowed the wind to be blowing into the campsite the entire time we were there. Unfortunately, that wind didn't do much to drive the mosquitoes into the woods as they were very active at our site whenever during the day we were there.

Our main purpose for staying on Pipe Lake was to fish after the great experience last summer when we popped in for a bit. The fishing this time was okay as far as action went but most of the fish we caught were very small fish (smallmouth=10-12 inches and pike=12-18 inches). We mainly caught the fish on small bucktails or plastic worms and occasionally on topwater lures. Every other lure or bait choice we tried didn't produce any fish. There were a lot of factors that probably contributed to the fishing success.....low water levels, major cold front came through, east wind for the last 3 days, and mayfly hatches every night (we could hear the fish feeding on them on the surface after dark).

One morning we paddled back into East Pipe Lake and fished around that lake but only caught 1 small pike while we were there. We did stop and get out at the big island on the lake and went exploring. There were nice views from the top and we found that the raspberries were just starting to ripen on the island. We also ran across some moose sign (poop and a bedded area in the grass) while exploring.

Overall, it was a great time in the wilderness despite the fire ban, bad mosquitoes in camp, and the disappointing quality of the fish on the lake. It is always good for the soul to enjoy the quiet and beauty of the wilderness.