Normally we paddle and portage a minimum of 10 miles into the interior of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to get away from people. This time we paddled in about 2 hours and set up a basecamp on Lower Pauness Lake. We didn’t really have an itinerary or a time schedule. Our main goals were to fish, explore and relax.
Ultimately we would get up around 0530 every morning to see the Milky Way and watch the sunrise. We would eat a quick bite of breakfast and then be off by 0700. The first day, we fished the lake. The second day we paddled over to Shell Lake to look around and scope out campsites for a future trip. We fished Shell Lake as well. The third day we crossed the Devils Cascade portage into the Little Indian Sioux River up to Loon Lake.
We saw Beaver, Otters, Eagles and lots of other wildfowl. No Moose or deer were seen on this trip but that was to be expected. Without having a real itinerary it was nice to just travel and explore at our own pace. This was probably the most relaxing and stress free trip to the BWCA that I’ve ever been on.
I was talking with our oldest son about 2 months back. He had just returned from a trip to the Boundary Waters with a group of friends that didn’t go as well as he’d hoped. I commented about him and I doing a trip together and he agreed. I went about getting a permit as well as a rental canoe and lodging and planning out an itinerary.
Long story short, we spent the past week canoeing and fishing up in the Boundary Waters together and it turned out to be one of the best trips ever. The fishing was tough due to them still being in their summer pattern/deep water. We earned every single fish we caught. I don’t have all of the pictures yet so will only post a few of the main ones.
I am currently surrounded by gear that needs cleaning, drying, sorting and stowing. I have a pile of things to do before I can write a proper blog post but I will do that ASAP. Feels kind of strange knowing that I was in Des Moines at 0530 and home by noon. At least I have 2 more days to get things caught up. See ya soon!
We had a cold front come through last night with the forecast calling for a high of 97F on Saturday. After a week of 100F+ temperatures we were happy and decided to go fishing. The alarm went off at 0345 and we were on the road by 0425.
We arrived just as the sun was coming up and the temp was 74F, but very humid. We couldn’t wait to get in the river and start wading, hoping it would cool us down.
Zip is really coming along and his confidence grows with each outing. He has started swimming on his own and crossing the river on his own as well. I think after the Cossatot River trip he figured out that swimming in the river was a good way to cool off.
We ended up catching 20 fish in the 4 hours that we were there. Only one was decent but we didn’t bother taking pictures of them. We each were wearing our old Simms Flats Sneakers to see how my glue job on the sole worked out. Short story: it didn’t work so these might get retired. It’s sad really, since the uppers are in great shape but the soles are SUB-PAR for sure.
And now for what is probably the dumbest decision I have made while fishing.
Apparently someone had a pop-up awning set up on the river bank. I noticed 4 mounds of rocks and dug into them to find dumbells that were used to anchor it down. As anyone who has read my blog knows…I can’t stand seeing trash in my rivers. So yes, I loaded them in my pack to haul them out. My wife took a 10 pounder while I took a 10 and a 20 pounder. For the math majors out there…4 corners and 3 dumbells= the fourth mound had a big rock as an anchor.
The Yeti Panga 28 hauled the load with no problems. Not ideal nor comfortable but we made the 3 mile hike back. I need the exercise and I could use some dumbells for the house. Unfortunately, my decision to haul them out pretty much ended the trip. Neither one of us felt like continuing downstream then hiking back up in the full sun and heat. Plus, we had a group behind us and I wanted the weights.
I did get to test a new rod on this trip and thoroughly enjoyed using it. I also tried out a Shimano Scorpion BFS reel and REALLY liked that one. I will probably do a post on both soon. We are still having internet issues. The technician was out 4 times last week and ran a bunch of new wire and all sorts of other stuff to no avail. Last we heard, they would be back out on Monday. We currently have 11Mbps available to us and it is difficult to get blog posts out. Hopefully we will have more posts soon…Take care.
I gave the Loop Opti K2 9ft 4wt fly rod a good workout. This is a very easy and forgiving rod to cast and was a pleasure to fish with.
Last time we were here we were stopped by a deep pool that prevented us from going further upstream. This time I found a way across and continued up about another half mile. The fishing was good and if we return, I’d like to push up and see more of the river.
We both caught a lot of fish until the sun and heat drove us off the river. We headed back to camp for lunch and a cold one and to set up the solar panels to charge the battery pack.
We noticed on our map that there was a Creek that flowed into the Cossatot River about 5 miles down from our camp. Early one morning we decided to give it a go. Upon arrival we noticed it was covered in weeds along the creek bank and we were a little hesitant to venture in. I’m not a fan of snakes and this sure looked liked a good place to encounter one.
I ended up going in first while keeping my eyes peeled for Copperheads or Water Moccasins. I didn’t want Zip running wild through the weeds since he’s never seen a snake and I’m not sure how he’d react and we didn’t want him to get bitten.
We fished the Creek for about an hour and a half until it narrowed to a trickle. Our fears were unfounded as we never encountered any snakes. We caught several Longeared Sunfish and lots of Smallmouth. Several of each were decent sized considering how narrow this creek was.
The humidity was really high that morning and we were both drenched in sweat when we returned to the vehicle. We explored the area a little more before returning to camp. We ended up swimming in the river for about an hour to cool off.
My Subaru Forester Sport worked great on the trip and we encountered zero issues with it while driving all over the forest via logging roads. The Thule Cargo Box was a last minute addition and worked as expected. It held our Gazelle tent, folding chairs and our rod tubes.
The Dometic 11L/3gal water jug ended up being ideal for our camping setup. It was easy to carry down to the river and refilling with our Katadyn Hiker Pro water filter. The quick connect fitting was a nice feature and eliminated any hassles. A 3 gallon jug is a lot easier for us to manage.
The SetPower RV45S refrigerator was a nice addition. It was easily powered by the vehicle in transit as well as by the battery while in camp. The battery can power this fridge for about 2.5 days but anytime we had sun in the afternoon, we charged it up. You never know when cloudy weather will set in for a few days. And it was great to have a cold beer at the end of the day!
We left camp at 0600 and drove the 5 miles over to the Ed Banks Access point. After a quick scout around we noticed that the far end of the river crossing had been repaired and that we could continue up-river to the Ed Banks Site #2.
We had never been to this campsite and it was nice to be able to fish a new area. It is the most remote campsite in the park with only a picnic table and tent pad available. Few people camp here.
At that time of the morning we had the river to ourselves and the temperature was in the low-70’sF.
We each managed to catch our Personal Best Smallmouth on the Cossatot River at this access point. Both fish fought hard and were worthy of respect. They were released back to where they belong.
The first full day of our trip turned out to be the best as far as fishing went.
This year we opted to fish the Cossatot River again. This was our first longer trip with Zip and we weren’t sure what to expect. It seemed easier to pick a place we were familiar with until we knew how the dog would get on with week long camping.
After a four and a half hour drive, we turned onto the forest road and stopped to air down the tires.
This was also our first time out with a 12 volt refrigerator. I did a previous post on the LiFePO4 battery build that I did to power the fridge.
We got up early every morning to fish and returned to camp around noon and deployed the solar panels to keep the battery charged up. It worked out well since it allowed us to escape the worst of the heat and we could relax in camp a bit. We could also use that time to dry out our gear and re-rig if necessary.
Upon arrival, we noticed that the river was up quite a bit due to all of the recent rainfall. We were worried about wading certain sections but that proved to be irrelevant since it was dropping fast.
We also timed our arrival for Sunday afternoon hoping that the weekend campers would be gone. It wasn’t to be as there were other like-minded campers spending the week in the camping area. The first day was also the hottest as the temperature hit 96F and it was difficult to stay cool. We ended up putting a fan on Zip to help him cope with the heat.
We made several trips down to the river to get Zip wet and he thoroughly enjoyed that. Coupled with the fan, he was good to go.
It was definitely good to be back on the Cossatot River and we had high hopes that the fishing would be good.
I ordered a Blood Run Skein Cane Centerpin Rod which was 13 feet long and has 4-sections and is rated for 6-10 pound line. It definitely casts a lot better than the Crappie rod I was using last time. Coupled with a Kingpin Imperial 475 Centerpin reel, it made casting a dream.
I practiced casting for about 45 minutes until I felt that I had the hang of it. In the end, the Cross-body Wallis Cast seemed to be the best for me. In time I will practice a couple of other casts just to have options.
I ended up catching 3 Largemouth bass while the wife caught 7 Crappie and 2 Largemouth bass.
I had been waiting several days for the weather and my work schedule to cooperate so I could get out and practice. I did get a few “bird’s nests” while casting which were not fun to untangle, but I think that after a couple of more casting sessions, things should smooth out a bit.
I still feel that this is a viable option for some of the rivers we fish and will test that theory out soon. Stay tuned for that. See you on the next one.
We were awakened last night by a strong thunderstorm and a heavy downpour. We debated about continuing with our plans to fish the river on Sunday. Needless to say, we headed to the river a little later than normal. As much to fish it, as to see how much it had changed from the recent flooding.
I took my Loop XACT 9ft 5wt MF fly rod and the Loop Opti Dryfly reel. I caught 5 fish on a #6 grey and olive squirrel tail Bunny Leech with a 3mm bead head. The rest I caught on my Tailwalk Troutia 55L spinning rod. Zip was really curious about the fly rod and I was afraid of hooking him since he tried chasing the fly.
The whole time I was fishing, my phone, which was stowed in the backpack, kept announcing a Thunderstorm Watch was in effect til later this evening. So we kept an eye towards the sky as we fished.
I did manage to figure out two river crossings but will need a full day to figure out the main stretch. Hopefully we can get that done soon. And Zip actually swam one crossing which was something new. I’m glad he’s becoming more comfortable around the river. It’s no fun wading across while carrying him.
If you remember in my last post from this river, you might recall the picture of the tree that had been washed out. Well, it’s completely gone now and more than likely several miles down stream.
I guess we had two milestones on this trip, Zip crossing the river on his own and also, not getting car sick on the ride! Although we caught 19 fish, the above mentioned milestones were the highlights of the trip.
It has gotten hot here quite a bit earlier than normal. It was 70F when we arrived at 0815 and by the time we left at 1300, it was 91F. It was actually too hot to wear waders as we were both soaked with sweat. And that’s fine by me as I prefer to wet wade.
All of the practice that I’ve put into my fly casting has paid off. It was really fun today and I hope to keep improving and learning. Have a Great Day and we’ll catch you on the next one.