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Tablerocker

I'm part of a four man group spending 6 days beginning on labor day in the BWCA. None of us have been there before. Our main focus is fishing. We're all southern Illinois and Missouri bass fishermen but anxious to also target walleye and pike in Hoist Bay, Back Bay, and anywhere within paddling range for a bunch of 60 something rookies like ourselves. Any information or tips would be greatly appreciated. 

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SkunkedAgain

Good luck. I'm sure that it will be memorable. I haven't been into Basswood myself, but read a while back that it holds lakers as well. Bring some spoons and drag them around. The lake trout come up shallow in the spring.

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Tablerocker

Thanks for the response Skunked.  I hadn't considered lake trout at all. Maybe I'll get to check those AND northerns off my lifetime checklist. I Just bought the first spoons I've ever owned, besides the silver minnow I've caught some weed loving bass on.  I hope my canoe mate brother in law can paddle fast enough to get a tail dancer down where they live also. 

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Tom Sawyer

Can never go wrong paddling Basswood! Don't forget big bucktail jigs in white and red, along with plenty of white tubes....

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Tablerocker

Thanks TS. We're aiming toward Back Bay. Any recommendations concerning depth to look for. We'd be happy with a good supply of pike of just about any size. (I think)

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PRO-V

Make sure you throw the beef jerky in the other guys tent so the bears don't bother you.;)

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h8go4s
Posted (edited)

The title of your post says Memorial Day and the text of your post says Labor Day. So which is it?

Edited by h8go4s

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monstermoose78

I have fished basswood many times and I would bring spinner baits, minnow baits, jigs from 1/8 oz to 1/4, twister tails white is a good color, steel leaders for fishing pike, Berkeley gulp leeches, and real leeches. Bring some slip bobbers for the leeches this will allow you to catch panfish, bass both small and large mouth, and walleyes. 

Back bay gets choked with weeds at times. Except for the deer water. 

Hoist bay right out in front of the 4 mile Portage has some logs and old pillars great spots for eyes, bass, panfish, and pike. If you are doing the 4 mike Portage Ella hall lake is a great smallies lake! 

Someone stated lake trout but those bays are shallow for lake trout and going to laker water is a paddle from there. You will have your hands full with pike, bass, panfish, and walleyes. If you want to target lakers I would bring a boat and do Prairie portage and go early in the year as the lake trout will be shallower. If you have questions please ask. One thing please use selective harvesting of the panfish up there it is truly world class fishing.

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Tablerocker

Thanks TS. We're aiming toward Back Bay. Any recommendations concerning depth to look for. We'd be happy with a good supply of pike of just about any size. (I think)

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Tablerocker

It's Memorial Day Gopher Hater. Oops. MM, Thank You for sharing the great tips! No worries about us doing any population damage to such a great fishery. We're hoping for one shore lunch sometime during our stay and not even considering trying to bring any home. We're more concerned with being able to drag our weary butts out on that last day without any extra weight. Anybody on Wood Lake that day may be gifted any jigs or lures that weigh over 1/8 ounce we may have left.

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Tablerocker

Moose, I've heard big bluegill mentioned a few times. How big is a big bluegill in the BWCAW? We get decent bluegill here but anything over 12 oz. is hard to find. 

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Tablerocker

Are there any kind of markers at the BWCAW campsites to confirm you're at a certain site?

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Wanderer

It’s been awhile since I’ve gone up to the area you’re heading but I don’t recall the sites being marked.  If they are, MN uses simple posts with a single board at the top, routed with the campsite symbol.  Painted chocolate brown with yellow in the router part.  You’ll get used to seeing the design by the time you get there.

Campsites are determined by having a fire pit and latrine.  If you don’t have both, it’s not legit for overnight.  My recommendation is to order a map of the area from the USFS.  It shows all the campsite locations and any other info you need.  In the area you’re headed to, we preferred to stay on Washington Island.  That might be a bigger paddle than you’re looking for?  That depends on you guys.

I saw my first lake trout on the eastern edge of that island.  A nice one took a swipe at my bait by the side of the boat.

If you only bring 1 bait with, make it a Rapala original floater, size 18, silver.  You will catch your pike and have a good chance at everything else, except maybe that bluegill.  BTW, a 12 ounce Gill is pretty darn nice in these parts too.

You’ll be happy with a 6 - 1/2 foot medium to medium heavy baitcasting rod with a softer tip and running 20 lb Power Pro on a good casting reel.  Put on a Spro swivel, then 16-20 inches of 20 lb fluorocarbon for a leader.  End that with a cross lock snap for changing lures.  Not that you should need to. ;)

I’d rig a spinning rod the same way if you’re bringing 3 rods.  If only two, spool up a medium action rod with 8 lb mono.  Get lighted slip bobbers for fishing leeches and pink Gamakatsu hooks.

If you want to fish plastics, bring some Berkeley Ripple Shads in glow/cartruese tail.  All sizes.  Other plastic swim baits wouldn’t be a bad idea for the pike.

Those are the only high percentage tips I can give ya.  Good luck!

Oh, one more: Rod holders for your canoe to make trolling easier.

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Tablerocker

 Thanks wanderer. Great information. 

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Tom Sawyer

Also, Pink X-Raps!

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Tablerocker

TS, Any particular size you like best on the ripple shad? 

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Tom Sawyer
12 hours ago, Tablerocker said:

TS, Any particular size you like best on the ripple shad? 

As Wanderer was mentioning, #18 Original Floaters, along with everything else; Bigger is usually better on Basswood. As the saying goes "Go Big or Go Home" I fly fished that lake from a canoe, using 6" rabbit strip leech and big marabou leech and minnow patterns. 

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Wanderer
12 hours ago, Tablerocker said:

TS, Any particular size you like best on the ripple shad? 

The Ripple Shads will catch anything that swims.  In the case of your trip, all sizes could work (I think there are three), but I’d use them more for walleye and bass and prefer the middle size.

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monstermoose78

Only thing is if it later ice out year the walleyes will be inthe current areas. Those bays don’t have much for current areas so the walleyes Could hard to find. Early in the year minnows are great up on basswood.

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delcecchi

I prefer to mostly use a spinning rod in bwca.  An 11 or 13 floating rapala will catch a lot of fish up there, esp in the spring.

Memorial, be prepared in case you get cold and/or wet weather.  Fleece, goretex, etc.

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BobT
On 3/20/2018 at 6:58 AM, delcecchi said:

I prefer to mostly use a spinning rod in bwca.  An 11 or 13 floating rapala will catch a lot of fish up there, esp in the spring.

Memorial, be prepared in case you get cold and/or wet weather.  Fleece, goretex, etc.

My one and only visit to the BWCA was back in 1990 when four of us went up there over Memorial Day weekend. I don't remember where we launched but I do recall rowing against whitecaps for I believe about 7 miles with two portages. Arms were tired when we finally arrived at our campsite. The rest of the weekend was gorgeous with light winds and sunny skies. Felt like the temperatures were into the 80s or so. 

Never forget day four when we were sitting on the rocks looking out over the smooth lake and thinking, we need a bath. There was still ice on shore along the south bank of the lake but as warm as it was and how inviting the lake looked......well.

It was the shortest and coldest bath I had ever taken in my life!! Man that water was cold. Moral of the story is that things aren't always as they appear.

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PRO-V

My first trip was 1978 and we paddled 160 miles in 8 days. Started at Nina Moose and paddled the length of Crooked and Basswood, looped way up into Canada and circled back through Argo, over Curtain Falls, through Lac Lacroix and back to Nina Moose. Was an epic trip. We made the Crooked to Basswood portage nonstop. Made about 75 portages on the whole trip. If somebody would have airdropped us more food we would have stayed a month. Not that tough anymore. 

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BobT
Posted (edited)

That was an aggressive trip. Did you actually find time for fishing?

Edited by BobT

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PRO-V

Some at the end of the day. Usually pretty tired. Ran out of food last day but caught walleyes pretty easy so we survived.

 

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Surface Tension

Considering your circumstances,  if I had to pick one lure it be a 3/8th-1/4 oz jig tipped with a minnow or plastics.    Boulder strewn points that break into deeper water are low light, early morning, and evening spots.  Anchor up and start working those areas over.  During the day you can drift a jig or cast the shorelines.   Depending air temps and time of day, wind blown shorelines will have eyes somewhere on its contour.   All of which require little or no paddling. 

Sticks, floating raps and divers.  That time of year its common to find the walleyes in close and shallow, too shallow to effectively work a jig.   Like returning to camp in the dark after working that lake point spot with jigs.  Troll the floating raps in close and be stealthy about it.    Daytime trolling use the divers and remember the contours of the windblown shorelines.

 When your back at camp, pick up the jig and see what happens. You never know whats right in front of you.

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