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Jan 23rd, 2013
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Boundary Waters - Trip Report #13184127 06/13/19 12:23 PM
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Jpurdue Offline OP
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I've had quite a few folks ask about this, so I thought I'd put a trip report together. My trip ran Sunday June 2 through Friday June 7th.

Day 1: We started at the end of the Gunflint trail (50 miles NW out of Grand Marais Minnesota). We used an outfitter to tow our group of 8 (2 guys each in 4 canoes) to American point on lake Saganaga, this is the farthest spot motorized boats are a allowed. From there we canoed about 12 miles along the outer track, down through Ester and Hanson lakes on to the South Arm of Knife lake where we made camp. We had four portages total along the way, including three that were pretty brutal. (one of which is almost straight up a small mountain). Fair weather and light winds made for easy paddling. The entire trip took about 10 hours. Most of the group was in their mid 30's but two guys were in their late 40's. The portages nearly killed the two older guys. All in I'd guess the portages added up to about 3 miles day one (counting the back trips for gear). When we set camp we realized half the guys had not followed the list and we had way too much stuff. (3 hatchets, an extra tent, etc...) This no doubt made the portaging worse. Water temps were about 55 degrees. (Cold enough, if you tipped a canoe mid-lake you might be donezo even with a life jacket on) After setting camp and a quick hot dog dinner we had about 3 hours to fish before dark. The smallmouth were pre-spawn and we slayed them. Any spawning bay was just loaded with 3-4.5lb smallmouth. Ned rig Turds, jerks, and chatterbaits produced. I'd estimate a fish was caught every 3-5 casts.

Day 2: Woke up to 27 degree air temp. The guys in the tents were frozen. They didn't put up their rain fly and all their warm air escaped. They didn't sleep a wink and woke up covered in frost. I was snug as a bug in my hammock. (under quilt, sleeping bag, bug net, rain fly.) We slayed fish all day long. Smallmouth. Largemouth. Walleye. Pike. Lake trout. Pick your poison. Bacon for breakfast. Steak for dinner. Everything over an open fire. Water and bourbon for drinks. The water of course comes straight from the lake.

Day 3: I've now caught so many fat pre-spawn smallmouth my thumbs are destroyed, just bleeding everywhere. I improvise with bandaids and duct tape so I can keep fishing. I'm sticking with the Turd and outfishing guys 3 to 1, often from the back of the canoe. We took a small portage to Toe lake and caught pike by the dozens on chatterbaits and jerkbaits. It was almost silly how easy it was. Burgers for dinner.

Day 4: The fishing slows down a little. We've beat the place up pretty well (Big lake, but you can only get so far in a canoe in a day). Fish that rarely see lures had now seen ours 3 days in a row. I think I only caught 30 smallmouth that day, half a dozen pike, and a laker. Food is running out, fish fry for dinner.

Day 5: We know there is zero chance the two older guys can make it out in a single day after the debacle coming in, so we break camp and decide to head about half way out. We find an awesome camp site on the south side of an Island on Ester Lake. Fishing is average on this lake, but we are all okay with that. It's finally warm enough to hop in the lake and try and clean some grime off (Water temp 60, air temp 75). Awesome sunset seen from a small mountain through cigar smoke. The older guys decide to burn 90% of their gear to avoid having to portage it out. It's the great purge. Fish fry again.

Day 6: Lazy paddle back to American point. We arrive two hours before our pick up and enjoy a nice warm breeze on the point until the boats come to pick us up.

Who knows how many smallmouth I caught. Hundreds for sure. I also caught the full cycle. Smallmouth, walleye, largemouth, pike, and lake trout. I was the only person in the group to get all species. My best estimate is we traveled/fished 60+ miles in the canoes. Probably portaged 6+ miles. At our primary camp we were 18 miles from the nearest gasoline engine and 75 miles from the nearest cell phone signal.

Rugged and brutal physically... but awesome trip!

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Last edited by Jpurdue; 06/13/19 12:24 PM.

"Bragging may not bring happiness, but no man having caught a large fish goes home through an alley." -A.L.

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Re: Boundary Waters - Trip Report [Re: Jpurdue] #13184132 06/13/19 12:24 PM
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Awesome! Thanks for sharing. I am sure the OT would enjoy this but most of them do not bass fish. Or fish at all for that matter.

Ok saying "most" is not fair. I would say half do not fish on the reg.



Re: Boundary Waters - Trip Report [Re: Jpurdue] #13184165 06/13/19 12:59 PM
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Nice! The boundary waters is an awesome place. The portages can be a beating, but it's entirely worth to be in the middle of nowhere with the scenery and fishing.


Re: Boundary Waters - Trip Report [Re: BoPro] #13184172 06/13/19 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by BoPro
Nice! The boundary waters is an awesome place. The portages can be a beating, but it's entirely worth to be in the middle of nowhere with the scenery and fishing.


Middle of no where is right. We didn't see another human until day 3, even then they were just paddling through.


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Re: Boundary Waters - Trip Report [Re: Jpurdue] #13184176 06/13/19 01:10 PM
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Wonderful trip. It will take those other guys a trip or two to get zeroed in on the essentials to take and follow directions from the lead man. We have the same problem of over packing and bringing things that I supply when running trips to Mexico. Thanks for sharing.


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Re: Boundary Waters - Trip Report [Re: Jpurdue] #13184213 06/13/19 01:36 PM
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Wow what an amazing sounding trip!! Smallmouth til your fingers bleed... hooked


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Re: Boundary Waters - Trip Report [Re: Jpurdue] #13184271 06/13/19 02:24 PM
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I've been numerous times. Only human thing we see when we go up yonder is satellites flying over. Never met up or saw anyone.

Congrats!


Re: Boundary Waters - Trip Report [Re: Jpurdue] #13184273 06/13/19 02:27 PM
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Sounds like the most perfect trip, with exception of the portage part. I'm too old for that!


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Re: Boundary Waters - Trip Report [Re: Jpurdue] #13184278 06/13/19 02:37 PM
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Thank you for posting...I was one of the people who contacted you for details of the trip.

Re: Boundary Waters - Trip Report [Re: Jpurdue] #13184367 06/13/19 03:39 PM
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Great trip!
coolphotos


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Re: Boundary Waters - Trip Report [Re: Jpurdue] #13184389 06/13/19 04:04 PM
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Sounds like a great trip. What all did the older guys burn to lighten the load? I mean you pretty much ate all of your food so your load had to be significantly lighter going out.

Re: Boundary Waters - Trip Report [Re: PowerLizard] #13184399 06/13/19 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by PowerLizard
Sounds like a great trip. What all did the older guys burn to lighten the load? I mean you pretty much ate all of your food so your load had to be significantly lighter going out.


They burned all their clothes, down to just the set they were wearing. They were going to burn a 20lb cot they brought but one of the younger guys agreed to pack that out if they got to keep it. They burned some other things I can't mention that were probably not legal to burn. I told them before the trip, ounces add up to pounds, pounds add up to pain.


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Re: Boundary Waters - Trip Report [Re: Jpurdue] #13184523 06/13/19 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Jpurdue
Originally Posted by PowerLizard
Sounds like a great trip. What all did the older guys burn to lighten the load? I mean you pretty much ate all of your food so your load had to be significantly lighter going out.


They burned all their clothes, down to just the set they were wearing. They were going to burn a 20lb cot they brought but one of the younger guys agreed to pack that out if they got to keep it. They burned some other things I can't mention that were probably not legal to burn. I told them before the trip, ounces add up to pounds, pounds add up to pain.


Wow. A 20 pound cot. I can't imagine packing that heavy for a car camping trip. There is a BWCA.Com forum for canoe adventures up there. Half the posts are about packing light. Taking a 3 pound folding chair is a sin. My guess is the "older" guys are not going back. I would love to go up there. I am in my mid-50s so I guess my window of opportunity is closing.

Re: Boundary Waters - Trip Report [Re: Jpurdue] #13184545 06/13/19 05:48 PM
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Great report and pics.

Would love to do that some day but maybe just a 3-4 day trip.

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Re: Boundary Waters - Trip Report [Re: Jpurdue] #13184574 06/13/19 06:12 PM
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What an awesome trip !! I fished up there when I was a kid with a grandfather . We fished the Lake of the Woods area --- so many mosquitoes and Deer flies .
I always wanted to do a canoe trip like that ----until I watched the movie Deliverance .
One of the bigger issues when you do a trip like that is safety . What happens when someone needs emergency help ? Did y'all bring a satellite phone just in case ?
Looks like one of your crew wearing a "dinner jacket " ?

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