Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Father's Day Saganaga
by zvance88

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/08/2024
Entry & Exit Point: Saganaga Lake (EP 55)
Number of Days: 8
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
After our first foray into the BWCA and numbered lakes last year, my father and I decided to venture a little deeper into the lakes surrounding Saganaga. We were rewarded with rain, wind, insects and four sore thumbs from the insatiable hunger of post spawn smallies.
Part 1 of 3
The Power of Positivity Friday June 7th - Sunday June 9th

I plan my trips to the BWCA during the long Minnesota winters with enough time to think, plot, prepare, choose an entry point, change the entry point, set expectations, lower expectations, and gather supplies.

My father, turning 64 this year, committed to come back to the north woods this summer with the intention of having an adventure, finding some lost youth, but mostly catching smallmouth bass. He has dragged me on the water to pursue his passion for bass fishing since I can remember, just as his grandfather dragged him on the water back in the 1960's on the Currituck River in North Carolina.

He and my mother arrived after a long road trip from Florida on the evening of June 6th. We set to work packing our camping gear, our food, and fishing supplies. I typically prefer to try to find my limits, both mental and physical, during trips like this; however, this time, I wanted to maximize the time spent fishing rather than paddling in to a destination. I arranged a tow in to Red Rock Lake with an outfitter on Sag and I thanked myself for it. I was concerned that a shuttle would detract from the experience. It didn't. with rain and a 30 mph headwind on Sag, I was not exactly safe to paddle. With three deaths already in the BWCA this year, my mind reverted back to my high school shop class - "Safety First, Bro."

Back Story Upon moving to Minnesota in January of 2022 and discovering there was a largemouth bass population in a lake near my home, I decided to reteach myself how to fish. I set myself up with a spinning rod and an old canoe and got to work. In the winter of 2023, I decided I wanted to teach myself to fly fish. Unknown to me at the time, Minnesota has a vibrant fly fishing scene with access to almost any type of fresh water species you could imagine. I purchased a used fly rod on Facebook Marketplace, brought it on my first BWCA trip, and hooked up with my first smallie on a fly standing in moving water on Lake 4. It is safe to say, at that point, I was hooked. End Back Story

During our shuttle drop off on the portage from Saganaga to Red Rock lake, I heard our boat driver say to his colleague words no angler entering the Boundary Waters wants to hear - "Watch that rod..." then an audible crack. My spinning rod had lasted an hour into the trip. Luckily, my dad brought a spare telescoping rod and my fly rods were intact in their hard shell cases. Forgiveness was granted. Accidents happen and there is no undoing that which is already done. During my preparation for BWCA trips I discovered that the best thing to bring with you is a positive attitude. If I could only bring one thing - it would be that... and a life preserver, and an extra rod.

We loaded the canoe, portaged, and went to find the first agreeable camp site which happened to be the northern most on Red Rock Lake. It was a fantastic site - 4.5 out of 5 stars. We passed another group on the way there and inquired about the fishing... "Not so great - we have caught two" was their solemn reply. With thoughts of a skunk on our minds, we set up a tarp and tents and sure enough, it began to rain. I went into my tent to unpack my rain jacket from my carefully prepared apparel dry bag and came up blank. I had left it on the coat rack to grab on the way out of the house. As I looked around camp trying to maintain a positive attitude I spotted an extra garbage bag. Three carefully placed holes later - I became Bradley Cooper from Silver Linings playbook for the rest of the week. At least I was dry and my positive attitude was still intact. ~Saganaga Lake, Red Rock Lake