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Geez, talk about handicapping yourself. Trout will probably still be available at times near the surface, and for that all I can think of would be some larger streamers in white, silver or orange.
I have often caught early season trout trolling along in 20 feet or less with a minnow/spinner combination, and in SOME lakes have had success just after ice-out tossing silver floating Rapalas.
Some guys use a jigging spoon, or a jig and minnow combo (much like walleye) for early trout, but I haven't tried those methods very often, sticking mostly with what I am comfortable with.
Of course, the most popular method of all is to use a cisco on heavy line usually on the bottom in 35 feet or more - we often do that right off the campsite to catch supper while setting up camp.
A fly-rod..... Let us know how it turns out.

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I am a little late on this post but if anyone has some tips that would be great!! I am heading up on my first trip to the BWCA and will be entering at Cross Bay lake and heading towards Tuscarora and on into Gillis. I will exploring many lakes in the area and have done alot of research ( with the help of the DNR site ) on the lakes that hold lakers. I am wondering if anyone would provide me with some tips or insights from their early season trips. I will be fishing exclusively with fly rods. Thanks for any information.

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Pete - It sounds like you think I might be limiting myself with only a fly rod. Would it be prudent of me to bring along a spin set-up? We are trying to pack light and would appreciate any more insight.


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I am not well-versed enough with fly rods to know just how much you can get out of them, but have had fellows use them for bass, northern, and even walleye in shallower waters. Just never occurred to me to try that type of equipment for lakers, due to the fact that they are generally a "deeper" fish.
Just my opinion, but the added weight of a couple of spinning outfits might be worth it. I often carry 2 or 3 rods on such trips, and use electricians tape to tape 'em to the braces while travelling - which has the added benefit of keeping the rods firmly attached to the canoe in the event of an unfortunate and unplanned swimming exercise.
Lures would include some jigging spoons, jigs, rapalas/shad raps, Mepps, and a couple of beetle spins.
There's lots of fish other than lakers where you're going, so be prepared to be versatile. Walleye, bass and northern are the most targeted species.
Good luck. Look forward to hearing your report.

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Pete - Thanks for your responses. I am expecting to get into other fish (especially pike) and hoping that the lakers will be an added bonus. I leave early Thursday and will let you know the outcome.

thanks again and tight lines!!

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Lake trout in the spring really aren't that hard to catch once you find em.
Pick rocky shorelines close to areas where they can get deep fast, and try trolling with walleye spinning rods, a 5/8 keel weight sinker, a 4-5 foot leader of 12 to 14 lb test, and a variety of J-7 rapalas in 20 to 40 feet. It has ALWAYS worked for us.
I once caught one while trolling an earthworm behind a spinner rig for walleys. That had to be the weirdest fish caught for me in the BWCA.

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I have to agree that Fly Rod is not going to be your best tool for trout in the BWCA. I have been through many times and the area you mention is great for lakers. Gillis, Thomas, Fraser, Kekekabic all hold good fish. Lakers are active early and go deep when water temps start rising. I found the average laker to be 16 to 20 inches with some good fight and there are lunkers in there too. Also, it sounds like you are getting in on the tail of laker time and should also see Northern and Walleye become active as well. One thing to pay attention to is the sucker fish. If you see them in the shallows or streams, the water is still pretty chilly and you will have best luck on trout. Shortly after this time is great for walleye and Northern.

BWCA is all about practicallity. You can only bring so much stuff, especially fishing gear. I would recommend a medium heavy rig with 10 lb test maybe even heavier depending on your patience when you get a fish hooked. The thinking here is that you may get some activity from trout, but you may also find that bass, walleye, or Northern are more active. A fly rod is pretty worthless for this. Also, I had the best luck on lakers trolling a line back about 150 feet. Make sure you leave a lot out - this is key. I used a variety of lures and tend to use stuff like Shad Rap, Walleye Divers as a first try and then move to things like Mepps and spoons. Trout are snesitive to light and temp above all else. If I don't get activity after 30 minutes I switch colors. My main three that I use are Bright Green, Gold, and Silver. In BWCA I also use White and Black as well. When trolling I tend to stay about 50 to 100 feet from shore and often get hits in little channels or near boulders. Conditions are more difficult to read. Best fishing is ussually when there is some wind and chop with clouds. Trout don't school like many other fish do, so don't get hung up on a spot after pulling one in. There may be more hanging about, but it could also be a random fish. I ussually take another pass and move on if I don't get a hit again. If conditions are sunny and flat, it could be tough getting trout becasue they are likely going to be hitting the surface for bugs. A fly rod may be better in these conditions, but it will still be tough. Also, the wind ussually picks up pretty early and dies in the evening some time. I like to cover a lot of water and see as much as I can in addition to fishing so trolling is a great way to do both and it works well. I have also noticed that fishing is ussually good or bad with not much middle ground. I personally have the best luck early (May 21 - June 5). Late in the year is good too. These are great times to go because you miss out on the really nasty bugs and big youth groups for the most part.

Trout Lakes:
Kekekabic - awesome lake with great camping spots. Popular destination. Easy to fish.

Little Saganaga - big and maybe difficult in wind. Can be reached in one day, but there are quite a few portages.

Gillis is easy to reach, one of the best trout lakes.

A great route is tpo drop into Snowbank or moose and head to little sag via Thomas and Fraser, then catch Kekakovic on the way out. Taking the knife back to moose is a piece of cake after some serious humping. This is not a first time in route and takes about a week depending on your ambition level. It truly does catch some great trout lakes. There is a string of long portages from Fraser to Little Sag.

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