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toddrun

1st trip to big Saganaga

12 posts in this topic

My 10 year old son has been bugging me relentlessly for the last 2 years for a trip to the BWCAW. I finally gave in, but his first trip will be a motor trip to Big Saganaga. At least he will be able to see the terrible affects of the Ham Lake fire.

I have never been to Big Saganaga, I have been all around it but have never touched the water of that big lake before.

Just wondering if anyone is willing to share good campsite locations (good night fishing from camp) or good areas to start looking for Walleye, Northern Pike, Smallmouth or Lakers? We are headed up June 14th so I think all 4 species of fish should be accessible to us. We do have to stay on the U.S. side of the lake, since I just reserved my permit and we are heading up in a week and a half, not enough time to get the correct Canadian paperwork completed.

I would really like to make this a good trip for my son so it becomes a life long adventure for him, that's why I am asking. Typically, I enjoy the hunt for fish, but that has resulted in 0 fish trips on occasion and my son would not enjoy that so much.

Thank for any hints you are willing to share.

By the way, what is the deal with no lake depth maps available, at least I have not been able to find one?

Todd - rungetodd@hotmail.com

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Did you see the article in the DNT yesterday in the outdoors section about Sag? My first trip would be with those guys featured in that article. Hiring one of those guys would all but guarantee success, at least from that story...but to me hiring a good guide on an unfamiliar lake is always money well spent, considering the total cost of the trip. I hope someone else on here can chime in some "free" help... Good luck on your trip!

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A guide is not a bad idea, but you are going to have a tough time NOT catching fish on Sag. This time of the year you can catch smallmouth casting Rapalas or plastic lures into most any shallow rocky point or flat. Be careful up there right now because the water levels are low and there are many rocky reefs that seem to pop out of nowhere. It all else fails, one of the most tried and true methods of catching fish up there is to drag a Rapala behind the boat trolling the shoreline and islands. You will catch fish including smallmouth, pike and walleye. Livebait like slip bobbering leeches near areas where there's current is also a great idea.

A big hint with places like shoreline/island structure is look for areas where the rock face drops straight down 10 feet or more. Usually at the base of those areas there are fish to be caught. I think they use that rock face to push baitfish up and it's a natural funnel for baitfish that move along the shoreline.

Truly the best fishing to be had is in the morning and evening when the sun is rising/falling. You can catch plenty of fish during the day as well, but it just doesn't stack up.

To sum up. Find current areas. Use crankbaits casting or trolling. Consider livebait. Fish morning/evening and explore during the day. Have fun! I'll be up there after Father's Day so I expect a full report of where you caught them!

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As far as campsites are concerned...most of my top choices burned up in the fire. You can't go wrong with any of the island sites throughout the American side of the lake. As you approach the site make sure there's a good place to pull your boat up should weather come in. You should have plenty of good fishing no matter where you go. Just make sure the campsite is clean and the Ranger Box (toilet) is in good condition. If the campsite has trash or the ranger box has garbage thrown into it (other than toilet paper) it can be a bear magnet.

A final point about fishing....lakers are tough to come by this time of the year unless you have lures to get down deep and are going to be using electronics. Are you bringing a boat (25 hp or less!!!) or are you renting one from up there?

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WriteOutdoors, offered you some good advice. If your after eyes I'd stick to shorelines and reefs close to shorelines, you'll see them sticking out of the water.

Which campsites are best? I say which every one is open. Last time on Sag I motored around for over an hour till I found an open site. That island happened to to be over run with ants BTW.

Someone asked not to long ago about lake trout, I'll copy my response here. I happen to like the American Point-Long Island area.

Bring spoons, stickbaits, inline weights, and heavy jigs.

Can't give you a depth for 2 weeks from now but be prepared to get your spoons down. Use your sounder to locate benches that drop into deeper water. Lake trout will be on those somewhere and a jig tipped with a fathead would be my choice there. Bring an assortment of jigs from 1/4 - 3/4 oz.

In Sag I wouldn't hope to get into any suspended fish.

Get the spoons onto the bottom. If your finding you have to be deep let the inline weights drag through the sediment. An assortment of inline weights ranging from 1/2- 4 oz would be wise. Now I'm not saying the trout will be in 70 FOW but if they are you'll have your bases covered.

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Thanks Guys,

I really appreciate the expert advice.

My son will absolutely enjoy catching his first Smallmouth Bass I am sure. And if I can get him into a legendary Sag Walleye it will be a trip he will never forget. Now if I can just find them without finding a rock reef with my motor. I did find an old Fisher map that actually marked some of the rocky reefs so that will help navigate some.

I do have my own boat. A 16.5 foot Alumacraft with a 25 HP Yamaha 4-stroke that should work out great for us. I picked up one of those plastic props that the blades pop off if you hit something hard to protect the motor, but I wish I could have found a good rock guard as well.

I have been to the BWCA upwards of 20 times in canoe, but never in a motor boat so this will be an experience. I know what a hassel it can be finding a good site, but at least with the motor we can cover a lot more ground in a short period of time.

Thanks again guys and I will post an update after I return.

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Check out the thread below about sag trout, there are a couple of suggestions of where to get a decent lake map of Sag from a couple of places in Grand Marais. My limited fishing of Sag mainly consisted of either slip bobbering or lindy rigging along the shorelines and points, and any current areas that I could find. Casting shad raps/rebel crawfish/skitterpops along rock shorelines will put you on some smallies. Good luck and hope you both have a trip of a lifetime cool.gif

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The next island up closer to American Point ,Englishmans I think?, after long island has a great campsite with a sand shoreline . Nice for the bottom of the boat Also, its protected from NW. winds. Red rock bay is close and would be a good place to start searching. Ive caught nice fish,walleye,bass and northern in red rock bay and the edges and reefs in the open area just before the entrance to red rock bay.Recently heard fishing on Sag. was picking up. Good luck.

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the shoreline fishing advice for walleye given earlier is good..... though in sag you don't necessarily need to find reefs or structure of any kind..... the most productive spots i know of are the back ends of some of the shallow, muddy bays..... only thing is, there are lots of shallow, muddy bays and lots of shoreline......

don't forget to hit the areas with current..... they are as close as you can get to "can't miss" on sag. for walleye....

i'd help ya out on a spot or two, but we always get an RABC and camp on the side where you can run bigger motors, catch more fishies, and see fewer people..... i've been doing that a few times a year since i was 10, and have never really fished the american side...... if nobody here divulges any secrects, just head around in the red sucker area and look for other boats....

i know the first few times my dad went up he got a guide...... i'd recommend it, at least for a half-day or one day adventure...... it'll give you a few spots to return to and eliminate at least some of the learning curve for that lake.....

good luck.....

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Thanks all for the valuable input. I am lucky with my 10 year old son, he will sit in the boat and fish with me for 12 hours in the rain and will only complain when we head back to shore. I have 40 year of fishing experience and I think I can figure out Big Sag when I get up there, its just nice to have a few hint to get things going. I may still look up a guide for a half day, I have found in the past that is money well spent. If anyone has a prefered guide, please let me know.

By the way, does anyone know what campsites are not livable after the fire? Sounds like all the sites on the east side of the channel are burned up? I was told that it may be hard to find a campsite going in on a Thursday, hope I don't have to waste a full day finding a site.

Todd

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I have fished sag this time of year and find them in James bay with a slip bobber and a leach. The lake is very clear so don't think deep water is out this time of year. Leaning Pine bay north of James bay on the east side can hold nice bass and northern, while the west side by the mouth usually a few walleyes by the little island. Devil's walk will or has allways been a place for northern it's shallow and weedy. If you go out that far in the middle of the lake watch the reefs by the islands out there. To get into Devil's walk the enterance you will need to stay to the right. If you try to go straight in there is a reef that jets out. Those are a few places that have worked for me in the past. Have a fun and safe trip, that lake can blow up some good waves. cool.gif

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I was just curious after reding that article in sundays paper if there are any eating sized or smaller walleyes in there? In the articles i have read it seems like all the walleyes they catch at least 25 inchers or so.

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