Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Early Laker Fly Fishing
by paddlingredrock

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 05/09/2024
Entry & Exit Point: Saganaga Lake Only (EP 55A)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
A goal of mine during the last 5 years has been to catch Lakers on a fly rod. Some of the lakes we fish are almost to easy using a spinning outfit with spinners and other lures. I need to mention myself and my two boys have been trekking in the BWCA since about 1988 and my father lived on Trestle Pine Lake from 1989 until 2004, when he passed away from cancer. My boys basically grew up visiting the area from 1989 until his passing in 2004, when they were ages 1 through 15 years old. I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in July 2022 and have been through 36 chemo infusions, 3 radiation treatments and have been told to get my affairs in order by my oncologist. As such my stamina and energy levels are about 50% of my levels before cancer. Obviously, this trip and goal were very important to me for a variety of reasons. One being that I may never see these lakes again. As a lifelong angler I have often thought about what would be last fish caught by anyone before passing. I plan to fish more but you never know what that last fish may be!
We entered on Sag and paddled in all day ain the rain to Cherry Lake and set up camp in the west site. 4 portages through Sag, Swamp, Ester, Hanson and into Cherry. I was able to double portage with a very light pack containing my medications and paddles on one trip and then a 35 pound pack. MY BOY PORTAGED BOTH SOLO CANOES AND 3 OTHER PACKS ON ALLTHD PORTAGES - I AM ETERNALLY GRATEFUL FOR HIS WILLINGNESS TO DO THIS FOR ME. HE IS AN IRONMAN AND RUNS MARATHONS AN ULTRA RACES, SO HE MADE IT LOOK EASY - BUT IT IS NOT. I COULD HAVE NOT DONE THE TRIP WITHOUT HIM, NOT POSSIBLE.

The second day we portaged two more times from Cherry to get into the laker lakes we cherish. I will keep them unnamed to protect the fishery and quality of these lakes.

I purchased a Maxxon rod and had it customized by officials at Maxxon and Fin and Featherss in Iowa City so it was the perfect set up for my solo 15’ wenonah solitude. In addition Gunnar Brammer of Duluth who is an accomplished fly fisher for lakers that provided invaluable info to me related to Lamson Reels, correct fly line, leaders and streamers to use. I had the perfect, customized set up for fishing ice out lakers when they are shallow.

I landed two beautiful lakers that day and am happy to say they were both landed with an outstanding net made by Dave Hoskins in the Quad Cities, Iowa. After trying 4 different streamers the answer was a 2 O orange and gold twitter streamer on the RIO fast sinking outbound line.

Based on the paddle in time of 7 hours we decided to paddle back out to Sag on Sunday to make our tow time of 4 pm on Monday. In the past when I was in good health we could do the paddle in, in 5 1/2 hours. On our paddle out the winds were from the north and gusting to 30 mph. No way we could tackle Sag in those winds with 40 degree water temps, so we camped Sunday night at the campsite near the main open water on the west end of Sag. Rose early at 6 am on Monday and paddled the final 3 miles to American Point. Rested in sun and gorgeous weather for six hours until our tow arrived. Returned to Voyeugers and headed back to Iowa on Monday.

This was an outstanding trip with one day solid fishing in gorgeous weather and fulfilling a dream of catching lakers on a fly rod. NOTHING WAS POSSIBLE WITHOUT THE HELP OF MY BOY AND WIFE IN PREPARING MY MEDS FOR THE TRIP. MY WIFE STAYED IN A CABIN AT VOYEUGERS AND SPENT A COUPLE DAYS IN GRAND MARAIS GETTING A MASSAGE FOR MOTHERS DAY.

My message to all potential appreciators of the BWCA and Quetico is to take full advantage when your in good health and can experience this outstanding and precious country.