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iffwalleyes

BWCA Help

18 posts in this topic

Hey everyone. I have never came to the BWCA but I am kicking around the idea of making a trip over there next summer. I am looking for some info and help. I would like to take a trip for about 4-5 days. Something simple without alot of portaging. Where should a person look to head too? Where does one find any good resources for maps etc available at?

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Jason, will fishing by your prime goal? If so, which species? That'll help folks give advice, as there are some beautiful short trips that don't have especially good fishing.

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There are 3 main entries into the BWCA. Ely, Sawbill Trail and the Gunflint Trail.

I think for your ideas and the most options you should look into Ely entry points. There are tons of easy trips for beginners. It will be harder to get away from the crowds, but there are still quotas and rules so finding sites and quiet can be done.

Will you need any outfitter help for gear, canoes or food? There are many great outfitters in the Ely area that con provide great services from full outfitting to ala carte gear needs and shuttle services to and from the lakes. Also many of the outfitters will offer trip planning services if you're renting with them. They can offer suggestions for routes as well as fishing and sightseeing ideas.

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I am guessing by your handle that you like to fish for walleyes. A good trip with not much portaging and short portages would be into Ensign Lake. It would be a trip out of Ely to the end of the Fernberg Road. You could paddle or get towed up the Moose Chain(Moose to Newfound). It really isn't that bad of a paddle so the tow would only be if you wanted to save time heading up Moose and Newfound. The portage from Newfound to Splash is relatively short(30 rods). Then from Splash you would head into Ensign. If the water is high enough you won't have to portage from Splash to Ensign otherwise it is extremely short (5 rods). There are some really nice campsites and from Ensign you could make day trips in to a couple of small stream trout lakes, one lake trout lake and a few other lakes with smallies, walleyes, pike etc.

No matter where you decide to go swing by an outfitter or some other shop that sells Fisher Maps and pick up a map (or maps) of the area you are going to be in. They have campsites and portages marked with the length of the portages. There are also contour lines so you will have some idea what the portages will be like (steep vs. gradual) and some of the lakes have countours mapped.

Good luck on your trip.

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Is this a fishing trip or a sightseeing trip?

If this is a fishing trip, is it the "Seek and Destroy- Fish Walleyes till you drop" kind of fishing or more laid back fishing with a bobber from shore?

Would you be willing to do some portaging and how far in are you willing to paddle in? 2 hours? 4 hours? a day?

Justin

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A good trip for first timers is Gabbro out of Ely. There is one fairly long portage to start and you are in. You will have access to Little Gabbro, Gabbro and Bald Eagle. All three lakes have walleyes and pike. Gabbro and Bald Eagle have enough to keep anyone busy for a week. You can also day trip to Peitro (ck sp) off of Bald Eagle for some fine smallmouth fishing. This is the kind of trip that you can bring your lawn chair. I even bring a small cooler full of good eats. Gabbro & Bald Eagle will have some people on it, but there are lots of campsites.

If you need some or all equipment Ely has several outfitters. If you decide to go to Gabbro you will need to get your reservation in the lottery to get choice of entry dates. See the link to the B-Dub reservation website for information.

www.bwcaw.org/

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Fishing will be part of it but not the main part. Site seeing will be very important seeing wildlife etc. But I do want to bring along my fishing gear and pick up some fish to eat. I won't need anything from an outfitter. I have all my own stuff canoe, camping gear, and food. I was thinking of probably going out of Ely as well. Hopefully this can help narrow down what I am looking for.

Do you need a permit for all places? I am looking for somewhere that at a drop of a hat I can head too without too much planning. I assume some areas you don't need a permit or reservations or am I wrong?

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You will need a permit if you go into the BWCA. Depending on when and where will determine if you need to entry the lottery or not.

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Anywhere within the BWCA will require a permit. If its just a day trip into the BW's then you can get a daily permit which doesn't require a reservation. There are also bwca-style areas outside of the BWCA in the National forest that don't require permits, but you are going to encounter more people and motorized travel.

I'm actually not that familiar with the Ely area, but I do spend quite a bit of time in the BWCA each year. Most of the trips are somewhat spur-of-the-moment. The highest demand permits are usually for easy to get to areas and popular destinations. If you're interested in wildlife and good fishing, those don't usually go along with popularity. Many permits are still available during the season, but you usually have to work a little harder.

I would say a good thing to do is dicuss your strengths and find out what you're willing to handle to find what you want. I'm not talking grueling deathmarch, but most people avoid any portages over 120 rods. Thats still less than a half mile. If you're willing to make a couple of portages with maybe one long one in there you will seperate yourself from the crowds.

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Well I don't mind hiking some but I don't want to go somewhere where all I end up doing is portaging. If it is just one long one that is do able for me. Keep the info rolling in thanks.

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I guess another question would be, "how many people are you willing to put up with?" I was strapping my canoe down at the Lake One parking lot after a five day trip and a gal from the Cities (could have been anywhere) came up to me. She started talking and this was the gist of her message:

"I've been soloing in the BWCA for five years and always have gone down the Lake One chain. I'm looking for something different. Can you show me a route where I can be into solitude within a day with no portaging?"

The routes are there, but as has been previously mentioned, they will be filled with people. That's not to say they are bad trips. Especially for first time adventurers, there are some great routes that are easy to do. If solitude is part of what you are looking for, at least one demanding portage has to be part of the package. I've only gone out of the Ely area but there are a number of suggestions any could give you. Gabbro is good. So is Ensign. Moose Lake into Wind Lake and beyond to Wind Bay of Basswood is okay. Some smaller lakes through the woods there (Good, Indiana) as well. Mudro to Fourtown and Horse is a good route (then out Tin Can Mike, Sandpit and back to Mudro). These are easy to intermediate but will have people. Permits are at a premium and if you would like to go you should get into the lottery. Applications have already started. smile.gif

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Here is a great trip for you!

Isabella River into Quadga Lake. Good fishing there and there probably won't be anyone. Permit shouldn't be a problem either. You will most likely see moose on this trip and you will definately see the tallest white pine you will ever see in your life!

Another good one would be Nina Moose River into Agnes then into Lac La Croix and then into Iron. Phenominal fishing and you will definately see moose and it is honestly gorgeous up there.

Both of these routes are nice and not jam-packed with people. You will still need permits. Fishing is great too!

The Nina Moose to Iron trip is harder than Quadga, but the fishin on Iron is better. Let me know if you need more details.

Justin

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I second the Isabella River plan for moose. I haven't paddled that route, but I backpacked the Pow Wow wilderness trail this fall, which is in the Isabella River area, and there was moose sign EVERYWHERE!

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Lots of moose up the Isabella River. Just about put my son under the belly of a big bull standing in the river. He was in the front of the canoe and I was trying to see how close I could get. From 17 feet back, it didn't seem too bad. For Matti, he was more than close enough! grin.gifgrin.gifgrin.gif

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Finnbay-Cool!! You guys live in the greatest place!

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Lots of great trip ideas - here are some other resources.

If you don't mind spending a few dollars or can find one in a library, pick up Robert Beymer's book Boundary Waters Canoe Area Western Region: Volume 1 (there's Vol II for the east but for Ely you'll want the western region book). Fantastic book chock full of routes you can take & other great info.

Second, if you need to secure a permit & haven't done it before, go to bwcaw.org. Permits are only available by lottery right now, but once the lottery is over you can search availability by entry point & grab your permit on-line.

Good luck!

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I totally agree with getting the Beymer books. You can usually borrow them from the library, but they have a map inside that usually isn't in the library version. It ranks route by their difficulty and gives some great narration.

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Another good book for planning a trip is Exploring the Boundary Waters : A Trip Planner and Guide to the BWCAW by Daniel Pauly. Similar to the Beymer books and one book covers both regions.

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