Tag Archives: Boundary Waters
The first day at camp, we fished for about an hour without ever getting a bite. We were both using titanium leaders since we anticipated catching quite a few Pike. I switched over to a 20# fluorocarbon leader and immediately hooked a smallmouth bass. At that point my son switched over to the same setup. We knew it would be risky and decided to chance it. We ended up catching 6 Pike over the duration and only had one break-off.
I’ve never spent much time chasing Walleye and when my son started catching them, I asked him what his technique was and tried my best to duplicate it. He definitely has the touch since he caught twice as many as I did. He ended up trying hard to put me on good Walleye and I reciprocated by trying to put him on good smallmouth.
I’ve made several trips up to the Boundary Waters in LateSpring/Early Summer and the fishing was fast and furious. The last several trips I’ve taken in early September were mediocre. Fish just weren’t where I expected them to be. We fished some amazing water without any success.
Our most productive areas to fish were above and below Beaver dams. I’m assuming the oxygenated water had a big factor in that. We could fish the entire shoreline of a small lake and catch two fish, yet at the dams we would catch 10-12.
And true to form, we both packed too much fishing gear. We primarily used a 3/16th ounce jighead and a 4 inch curly tail grub in green pumpkin. That combination caught all of our fish except two. Next time I will pare things down A LOT.
I did have a reel malfunction though. My Shimano Stradic drag gave out which cost me a fish. I surmised that the clip ring had disengaged from the clicker on the spool support shaft. When I returned home I tore into it and confirmed my suspicion. It was an easy fix.
As stated before, conditions were tough and we earned every fish caught. We generally fished for about 5 hours a day and spent the rest of the time in camp just kicking back and talking. Something we rarely have time to do these days and it was nice to catch up as well as strengthening a bond. I will definitely make more time for that in the future.
It was good to see how our son had taken to canoe travel and the skills he had developed and honed over the five trips he has taken. He is a top notch camper and canoeist and is getting better at fishing. There will come a time where I will not be able to make trips like this anymore and it is safe to say that he will carry the mantle forward and pass it on to future family.
Video of a Typical Portage…
I thought I would do something different and so I filmed a complete portage crossing from beginning to end.
This particular portage was 60 rods long. A rod is equal to 16 feet in length. This is one of the easier portages that we encountered.
Pardon my breathing, I was carrying two packs and this was my second trip across the portage that morning.
Portages are necessary to go around steep drops, waterfalls and/or lake to lake. Everything has to be carried over.
Camping on Lower Pauness Lake…
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.
Back in Town…
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 ( a lot of trips just happen like that and I’ve had my fair share too.) 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!
A Fine Compliment…
My youngest son’s Scout Troop was planning a trip to the Boundary Waters and parts of Quetico. I vowed to make sure he was ready even though I had my hesitations due to his age and stature.
I took him on several float trips down one of our local rivers, teaching him the necessary strokes and when to use them. I taught him how to read the water and how to avoid obstacles. How to navigate through rapids and eddies and how to pick the most efficient line. A kid is a kid and you never really know for sure if they’re actually listening or not.
I was suffering from a torn rotator cuff and was scheduled for surgery so never had any intention of going on said trip. But I did my best to uphold my vow. And I lamented that I wouldn’t be there for my youngest sons first trip “Up North.”
The surgery came and went with a rotator cuff repair and a torn bicep tendon surgically reattached. Late one evening I received a call from a gentleman whose son was going as one of the adults and was informed that he had been in a bad car accident and wouldn’t be able to go. He asked if I wanted to take his slot. I looked at the calendar seeing that it was 3 months post op and physical therapy was going really well. I said OK, count me in. Of course I set some conditions, mainly being that I wouldn’t be able to portage a canoe.
As it turns out, these kids were too young to handle portaging canoes or to even carry the heavier packs. I had my work cut out for me and ended up carrying our canoe over every portage. My middle son was on the trip as well, acting as the Navigator because it was his second trip up there. To his credit he worked harder than anyone and always took the heaviest loads without complaint. Bless that child because he helped his old man more than he knew. My kids are 5 years apart and the middle son hung mostly with his friends. But he and his buddy always canoed close to me because I knew all of the shortcuts and best campsites. The leader was using a GPS and those only work on straight lines so you do a lot of unnecessary paddling. But it was good to share the experience with both of them.
On the way out, I had fallen behind the group a bit, just to prolong the inevitable end of the trip. And from the canoe to my left, one of the Dads who went, smiled and pointed to the bow seat of my canoe at my son. He said, “you can certainly tell who taught that young man how to handle himself in a canoe!” Also, “I’ve been watching you two paddle for the past hour and he never misses a beat and always anticipates the next curve of the river…he’ll be a pro just like his Dad soon.”
Wow! I got choked up and all I could do was smile and give him a thumbs up. I saw my son square his shoulders a bit from a swell of pride. Thank you sir for the compliment…you made my trip that much better.
And now I know that my son WAS listening! How cool is that?
One Of The Best Men I’ve Ever Known…
My friend Dennis is a humble guy with a big heart and more patience than the law allows. He’s older than me, old enough to be my father in fact, but we’ve had a pile of adventures together. I’m truly blessed to know him and consider him a true friend. By his definition…”a true friend is someone you call for bail money in the middle of the night, a true friend asks ‘how much’ NOT ‘what did you do’?” He has a way with words that makes a guy think.
I was in the middle of a divorce and whining about how I never drank, didn’t do drugs, went to work everyday etc. And BAM! He dropped a wisdom bomb on me…he said, “those are things you’re supposed to do, you don’t get extra credit for THAT!” So true.
When it comes to politics we are diametrically opposed. And boy have we had some humdingers for arguments! But no matter what, I respect him and we end up realizing (somewhere in the political middle) that we’re really not that far apart.
I count my true friends on one hand…people I would take a bullet for…he’s one of them. Maybe in some weird way its a “Fishing Mafia” and since I’ll take a bullet for you…that extends to your whole family. Weird I know. But that’s how it is.
He and I have paddled all over the BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area) and had a blast during all of it. He was right next to me when I was handed a whiskey bottle and “you betcha” he took a long pull too.
I have no idea what he saw in me and it was fate that brought us into contact. But I count my lucky stars. He has a way of reading people better than anyone I’ve ever seen.
How he put up with my youthful arrogance I’ll never know. He wanted to take everyone to the Boundary Waters. I wanted to seal it off and only allow certain people in. I was one of them of course. Youth! He didn’t understand the depth of my reverence for the area. It was hallowed ground to me and I only wanted to share it with like-minded people. It wasn’t a trip to Disneyland like most people acted…I thought it was akin to visiting one of the Great Cathedrals and demanded they show respect.
Over the decades that we’ve been friends he has begun to understand my thought process on the subject. And for that matter I’ve accepted his position as well. I’ve taken all four of my kids and my wife up there so they could get a glimpse of the splendor and quite possibly a peek into how I think and operate.
Dennis and I had talked about a trip together, just the two of us for 20 some odd years. We finally pulled it off and it was amazing. One of the all-time best trips ever. We boated in, set up a base camp and explored new waters for the first time. No schedule, no itinerary…just an actual vacation. We finally felt that we didn’t have to “earn it” by only paddling our way in.
There is not another soul that I would hunker down with in the woods. A storm so fierce that it flooded our camp and forced us to seek shelter under the tree canopy. Cold rain water pouring down my spine from a defective rain jacket…laughing like mad men and passing a whiskey bottle back and forth among the lightning and thunder claps, and daring the storm to get worse!
Good Times with True Friends!