Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

June fishing exploits on Lac La Croix
by BWfishingfanatic12

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/10/2023
Entry & Exit Point: Moose/Portage River (north) (EP 16)
Number of Days: 9
Group Size: 8
Trip Introduction:
This trip was a trip of college and high school friends on a backwoods camping trip focused on fishing up to Lac LaCroix. Our group are in their upper 20s to early 30s with some of us starting families so these trips will likely get more difficult to plan and manage with growing families and schedules. My brother and I go to the Boundary Waters every year and have brought some of these friends on previous trips as well. All coming on the trip are avid fisherman and outdoorsman. Hope you enjoy my recap of our exploits and the joy we had with this trip and all the fishing intel and pictures from our trip.
Day 1 of 9
Saturday, June 10, 2023

First Day, June 9th (Arrive in Ely) at own convenience. We all arrived in Ely at various times on Friday evening. Some of our party had a drive over 10 hours, while others only a couple hours. We checked in at the Outfitter to get our permit and canoes and get the key for our bunkhouse. This was our first time both renting canoes and a bunkhouse. The bunkhouse was very convenient and inexpensive especially split multiple ways, and we will definitely be using these more in the future to get as early start as possible. I am hoping that some of our party will start buying some nice Kevlar canoes as it is costly to rent them but split 8 ways it was not really that bad. It was nice to have the light canoes for this longer trip.

Our group congregated in the bunkhouse as people got to town and got our gear consolidated and things packed up for our trip. It was nice to have a place to get organized and ready to kickstart our trip. We reviewed the trip details and looked over the map more once people got all their things packed and ready to go.

We were shooting to camp and fish in an area several miles into LLC that I had researched a lot about. The group was hoping to have a chance at some big lake trout so LLC seems to be the best option for that. The Fish Stake Narrows area was enticing but seemed like it would be a little too crowded so we were hoping to camp in one on the nice big sites that could accommodate our group North of the Lady Boot Bay area. This would allow us to have primo access to the big 4 species that we were after on this trip. (Lake Trout, Smallmouth, Walleye, and Northern Pike) We were planning to stay in this area for most of our trip’s duration.

Saturday, June 10th ~Temperature was in the high 50s-low 60s during the day. It was overcast and a little rainy to start the day with building wind in the 10-20 mph range with some gusts higher. -We had a very early start Saturday morning on June 10th. We left Ely around 5:15 so a little later than we were hoping too but still decent. Our entry point was at EP 16 (Moose/ Portage River North) which was a 50-minute drive up the Echo Trail.

This was a new location and route for everyone, but Brad (my brother) and I had been wanting to trip to LLC at some point and decided on this route with the group. From the parking lot it is a 175-rod portage to the river where we begin paddling. This is the only “long” portage of the trip. The first section is along the river with two short 20 something rod portages before we get to Nina Moose Lake. We were hoping to see a Moose or some wildlife but only encountered hordes of mosquitoes. I know this is a popular entry point, but I was expecting a much wider and easier to navigate river. It was fine but with the popularity of it I was just expecting easier is all. The portages were all short but there were a lot of beaver pullovers and other obstacles and a very narrow and shallow creek at times. The route in and out were the worst mosquitoes I have had in 20 trips up to the BWCA. (I have heard from many that this last year was the worst mosquitoes anyone could recall)

From Nina Moose there were portages of 70 and 92 rods to Lake Agnes. However, even with our early start the wind was already substantially building and was coming from the North/ Northeast and made us concerned about our paddle across Agnes and LLC. Some of our group were lagging already so we congregated right before breaking out onto Agnes to weigh options. (in hindsight I wish we would have made a different choice) However, making a long story short using GPS a couple of our party pointed out that it was “shorter” by miles to get up to the location on LLC that we wanted to anyways and we could avoid the wind a lot by going up through Oyster Creek, Rocky Lake, Green Lake, Gebeonequet, etc… I knew this route would include a lot more portaging, but I was worried about the wind, so I gave in to the group vote to take this alternative route. I think we should have tried to get across Agnes and just camped there if it was too bad, but the choice made for some very memorable moments and experiences that will not be soon forgotten ??.

So, we made the choice to meander up through Oyster Creek to the North. It was a twisty and windy meander up through a very narrow channel with numerous beaver dams to pull over. It was an adventure for sure! There were more portages, but the wind was not an issue with this route that we decided to take so I guess that is a plus. We stopped for lunch at one of the point campsites on Oyster. We had our lunch of PB & J tortillas, trail mix, apples, and beef sticks. The crew was doing better after some food, and we continued North to Pocket Creek and breaking out onto LLC around 3:30/4pm ish.

Unfortunately, the 2 campsites I had my eye set on were both occupied so we ended up settling for one of the storm wrecked sites a little more to the North. On the map section of this site, it has bad reviews, but we made it work and it had a lot of space for our big crew to sprawl out. The only part I did not like was that there was no shade, and it was pretty exposed up on a big flat rock but that helped the bugs not to be as bad in camp. We were able to find 4 good tend pads and some places to unload the canoes easy enough. We only managed to catch a few fish from camp during our stay so that is a negative in my book, but we made do with it and fixed the site up a lot. It was camp 148 in the maps section on this website.

We got camp situated and our tents and other gear up in the area and relaxed for a little bit and readied the fishing gear. There was ample firewood everywhere so that was a nice plus. A few canoes ventured out to fish a little bit, but we were all pretty beat. A few walleyes, pike, and smallies were caught by the 4 of us that got out fishing a little bit. Then we fixed a quick and easy dinner. For this trip we planned lunches and dinners together as a group with typically eating the biggest meal during the middle of the day. For dinner tonight we had Brats, chips, and some carrots.

Then we all settled in for a relaxing campfire with some adult beverages to relax after our long travel day. We spent time chatting about our families, life, work, adventures, and most importantly our Faith. Both my brother and I were blessed with some great Christian fellowship in our college days, and it was great to be in God’s creation exploring and sharing in the amazing fishing together.

Lakes traveled: Moose River, Nina Moose Lake, Oyster River (creek is far more accurate), Oyster Lake, Rocky Lake, Green Lake, Gebeonequet Lake, Pocket Creek, Lac LaCroix (~14 miles)