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First time BWCA trip this year

  • Chad Alesch
    Participant
    Posts: 2
    #1604026

    Hey guys. A couple friends and myself are thinking about doing a canoe trip in the BWCA for the first time this year. Just looking for any advice, info, and ideas on where to go, and who to go through. I’ve looked at the BWCA website before, and see that you can do anything from a fully guided trip, to one completely on your own with plenty of outfitters to choose from. We all like to fish, so that would be a plus if we could do a trip with good fishing lakes. I’m guessing for greenhorns a guide wouldn’t be a bad idea. Most of us do a fly-in trip in Canada every year fishing so “roughing it” won’t be a problem. Thanks for any input!

    sticker
    Participant
    StillwaterMN/Ottertail county
    Posts: 4406
    #1604029

    I haven’t been there in better than 15 years so I can’t help. All I can say is it will be the trip of a lifetime.

    HYBES
    Participant
    SE MN
    Posts: 284
    #1604036

    The first thing you have to do is figure out kinda when you want to go and securing your permit. A lot of entry points/dates are already taken. The Ely area is a good starting point with lots of options. For first timers it would not be a bad idea to talk to an outfitter ahead of time and explain what you want to do, they can give you a game plan/ideas/shuttle info etc. and also have an inside lane on permits and help you get one. Use as much of your own gear as possible to save money or if your outfitted you will kinda know what to buy/borrow if you decide this is for you. After you are more seasoned you will want to apply for permits yourself the first day you are allowed to. I know North Country Outfitters in Ely is a good outfitter and we pick up our permits there. There are many good outfitters in Ely,call around for info.
    Good luck!

    tgruenke
    Participant
    IGH, MN/Holcombe, WI
    Posts: 587
    #1604045

    The website BWCA.com has a lot of great forums. A lot of knowledgeable people. From research that I have done, many outfitters will help you plan a trip if you tell them what you are looking to do. Many of the serious fisherman, will spend a day traveling to a body of water. Then base camp there. They will fish that lake and take day trips to other lakes. This allows them to maximize their time fishing and they aren’t always packing up, portaging, and setting up new camp sites each day. The attached link has a package where they will provide everything accept fishing gear and will mark on maps places to fish. I have stayed at the lodge and it is a great resort.

    http://www.gunflintoutfitters.com/special-fishing-trips.php

    patk
    Participant
    Nisswa, MN
    Posts: 1997
    #1604050

    If you’re even semi-competent at camping and reading a map then you won’t need a guide.

    Using an outfitter for trip planning can be a very good idea.

    Figuring out your permit is probably the best first step. What kind of trip experience do you want and are what work level do you want to put into it? Meaning are you okay being around people, sharing a lake? Easy portage or two plus basecamping? vs Working hard, getting way back in, and maybe moving every day or couple of days? What’s your trip style? Once you answer that then entry points and fishing lakes become easier to recommend.

    Ely – many great choices and good outfitters. North Country is good, I’ve also used Voyageur North and highly recommend. http://www.vnorth.com

    Tofte/Sawbill – Sawbill Outfitters has really great service. Nice lakes, terrain. Very enjoyable area but the fishing might not be as good as other areas.

    Gunflint Trail – I’ve used three outfitters and all were good. Longest drive time to get to. Some shorter portages, some longer, some really long paddling(Seagull lake), some shorter. Due to longer drive there are less people. Some of the lakes have decent fishing, just have to research ahead of time.

    tegg
    Participant
    Hudson, Wi/Aitkin Co
    Posts: 1450
    #1604122

    Not sure if you want to tackle more but the Quetico on the Ontario side will certainly step up the fishing. There are, however, more logistics to sort out. You can still access from Sag, Basswood and I believe Lac La Croix.

    Ben Putnam
    Participant
    Saint Paul, MN
    Posts: 993
    #1604224

    Chad,
    There isn’t a single response on this thread I would disagree with. I am one of the managers for http://www.boundarywatersoutfitters.com we do everything from partial to complete outfitting, guided or unguided trips, we have fishing packages as well. If you have any questions about getting your trip lined up or need any help planning your trip you can always send me a pm here too.

    Don Miller
    Participant
    Onamia
    Posts: 119
    #1604233

    If fishing is the priority a base camp trip offers the time you need to find them. If base camp how far do you want to go in? What is your length of stay? I always argued early June was the best time to be on a good bite. For walleyes I stay away from the northern entry points on the Gunflint and Arrowhead trails. They have walleyes but I could never catch them. If you are used to motorized boat control canoe fishing sucks, especially in the wind. Rod holders can be a big help. Bring along onion or grapefruit sacks for anchors. And if your portaging plan permits, bring some minnows.

    Chad Alesch
    Participant
    Posts: 2
    #1606157

    Thanks for all the input guys. Sorry I’ve been busy the last week and haven’t been able to get back on here. Ben, I may be giving you a call in the future after we have sorted a few more of our plans out to get our trip lined up. Don, I agree, June is the best walleye time, but I will be in Canada in June on a fly-in fishing trip. I think our trip will have to be in July, which isn’t the best time for fishing, but about the only time that works this summer with everyone’s schedules.
    After doing a little research on the BWCA website, I’ve seen a lot of people talking about Crooked Lake for fishing. Being new to all of this, can anyone give any input on Crooked, or other quality lakes for fishing. We would prefer to fish for walleye, but wouldn’t be against catching smallmouth or northerns either. I like the idea of base camping, and doing day trips from there. We were thinking on a 4-5 day trip total, so we wouldn’t want to go to a lake with a travel time of more than one day.
    Thanks

    Ben Putnam
    Participant
    Saint Paul, MN
    Posts: 993
    #1606855

    Crooked is an amazing fishery, it is quite large in scale, but not difficult to fish from a canoe as there are many wind-blocked areas with good fishing. For a basecamp you can get to crooked in a long first day’s travel, but that entry point is of the highest demand, the longer you wait the much less likely you will be to find an available permit to enter there. Other entry points will get you into crooked on your second day. The walleye bass and pike have a blessed mix of eater sizes and trophy quality fish. There are however dozens and dozens of lakes that host excellent fishing in July, so crooked isn’t a necessity for success either. As far as the walleye go in the area, there are only a few lakes inside the line that aren’t worth the time.

    reverend
    Participant
    Rhinelander, WI
    Posts: 1115
    #1606866

    Gunflint side also has some real good outfitters. Guide? Probably not necessary. If you really like fishing, as mentioned plan a hard day or so travel and base camp it in an area you want to explore and fish. That’s where the outfitter comes in-they’ll be able to recommend good plans for that.
    Depending on your equipment and canoe camping experience, consider a partial to full outfit as well. Not terribly much money and sure eases the strain of “what to bring/what to leave”. If there’s anything people do that they regret on one of these trips, it’s hauling a bunch of heavy crap they didn’t need/use and missing a few key things that they wish they’d have had.
    My last trip I went full lazy and outfitted completely-clear down to the food. All I needed was my sleeping bag, clothing and fishing gear. Was without a canoe at the time so needed to rent that at least…then the more I looked, the more I liked the idea of getting outfitted. Worked out really well, had everything I needed and nothing I didn’t-would definitely do it again. I’ve used these guys twice and speak highly of their prices, knowledge and service.
    http://www.tuscaroracanoe.com/?gclid=CLOU59qDw8sCFQuPaQod6RIJFg

    Don’t mind telling you I’m jealous as heck! REALLY need to get my butt back there, and soon!

    tegg
    Participant
    Hudson, Wi/Aitkin Co
    Posts: 1450
    #1606902

    I’ve been on Crooked Lake once. I believe we accessed thru the Horse River/Lwr Basswood Falls. One interesting thing about that route is there are pictographs. Table Rock campsite on Crooked is also pretty unique. I remember walleyes were not particularly difficult to find.

    One trip I’ve yet to make in that area that has intrigued me is Iron Lake. This lake falls in between Crooked and Lac La Croix. I suspect the access is out of the Nina Moose area. Might be a 2-day paddle in. As a base camp one could possibly access both Crooked & Lac La Croix pending time.

    Rick Janssen
    Participant
    Posts: 264
    #1606924

    I will be going on trip #34 on June 3 – it is a wonderful place to be. I have fished and paddled Crooked lake many times and I rate it as my favorite in the BWCWA. There are different routes to get there so like you are hearing, permits are a big factor. We always get ours as soon as they come out. Since you are a rookie, you should get some advice from an outfitter. I don’t know if you need a guide as long as you can figure out a map. Be prepared to get a little lost a few times ( I still do that sometime) but other than that, if you can paddle, portage and fish you should be fine. I hope to go until my arms fall off. We used to move every day and we pushed into some fantastic fishing waters, but I am MUCH older now and we take it easy, slow down, and enjoy it more.

    the better half
    Participant
    Champlin, MN
    Posts: 336
    #1606932

    We took our first trip to the BWCA a few years ago and we used Spirit of the Wilderness Canoe Outfitters for everything. They were great! They sat down with us when we got into town and went over where to camp, where to fish and where to sight see. We had zero equipment so they provided us with packs, canoes cooking equipment and tents. We also used their food plan. Obviously if you have some of your own equipment and brought your own food it would be cheaper. However when we priced it out, the total was pretty comparable to other family vacations we have taken. They also have a house in town that you can stay in the night before you head into the BWCA.

    http://elycanoetrips.com/

    patk
    Participant
    Nisswa, MN
    Posts: 1997
    #1606985

    Fishing tip if your not used to doing it in a canoe. Bring a drift sock. Has saved more than a couple days and put extra fish in for me.

    Ben Putnam
    Participant
    Saint Paul, MN
    Posts: 993
    #1606996

    To add to Patk’s drift sock mention; if you have a small one, it won’t hurt to bring it. If you don’t, a Kondos anchor bag works amazingly well for slowing down the drift by hanging it about 2-3 feet down with a few rocks in it. If you then want to stop on a spot you can lower it all the way.

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