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Boundary Waters,/northern Minnesota Info Request

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I am seriously considering a trip to Northern Minnesota/BWCA/Lake of the Woods early next June. I would appreciate any advice or suggestions, with considerations to a couple points.....

We will be a group of 2-4 middle age guys and plan on possibly staying a week. We prefer to not get tied down with reservations and agendas, but rather play it by ear. We may take tents for a night or two, but prefer a cheap motel/cabin when we do pay for lodging but don't want to get reservations in advance. There's nothing worse than getting tied down to a specific locale and not liking it so much or not great fishing for whatever reason. We could haul my canoe with 2.5 hp motor, a johnboat with jet prop, or could rent when we get there, depending on how expensive renting watercraft would be. As expected, we want to catch fish!! We really want a chance at some pike, walleye, muskie, and lots of smallmouth. Ideally, we would like some seclusion from the tourists areas, but still close enough to civilization to run to town for an occasional dinner and some brews.

For the time being, I would like some info on specific locations. We can get down to the details of fishing after we research some locations. A couple of us have spent time working in Minnesota and North Dakota, so we know what to expect as far as the elements.

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Depends on how hard you guys are willing to work. Most of the best places in the BWCA are somewhat tough to get to. There are some lakes that you can daytrip to, but fishing won't be nearly as good and you won't get the true BWCA experience. I choose a basecamp trip to focus on fishing, but lots of folks do a loop to see as much of the area as possible. There are some lakes that allow motors, so you could take a canoe in and daytrip to lakes that don't allow motors. There will be quite a few people up there in early June, so don't expect to find complete solitude.

This site will help if plan to research any further.

http://bwca.com/

Crane lake and Vermillion are close and will give you a similiar experience to the BWCA, but there will be a lot more people and the fishing may be a little more difficult.

Pike and smallmouth won't be hard to catch up there, walleye will be a little more difficult unless you have targeted them before.

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I've heard good things about Lake of the Woods and other northern Minnesota waters, but really couldn't give you any specifics because I've never been there.

I went to the BWCA last July for only 4 days. . I absolutely LOVED it and cannot wait to go back. But to be honest, the BWCA doesn't sound like a perfect fit for what you are looking for, except for the good fishing part. Being that it is a wilderness area, no motorized boats of any kind are allowed. No roads, no cars, no motels . . . just wilderness. Even came across a park ranger and he was paddling in a canoe and portaging just as we were. You have to rough it in the BWCA and that is a big part of the whole experience. I suppose you could get lodging in Ely and break up a weeks stay into a couple shorter trips out of there, but that would be missing the whole point of the BWCA. The idea there is to get with an outfitter, get set-up with your canoes, your portage packs, your camping gear, and then pick an entry point that is available (not already booked), and go as far back into the wilderness as you can. Its a lot of work, but also very, very rewarding.

Ely, MN is pretty much the launching point for most BWCA trips. Very small town with a handful of restaurants, and a couple dozen outfitters from which to choose. My advice if you plan to do a lot of portaging, buck up and rent the kevlar canoes!

Let me know if I can answer any other questions.

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I've heard good things about Lake of the Woods and other northern Minnesota waters, but really couldn't give you any specifics because I've never been there.

I went to the BWCA last July for only 4 days. . I absolutely LOVED it and cannot wait to go back. But to be honest, the BWCA doesn't sound like a perfect fit for what you are looking for, except for the good fishing part. Being that it is a wilderness area, no motorized boats of any kind are allowed. No roads, no cars, no motels . . . just wilderness. Even came across a park ranger and he was paddling in a canoe and portaging just as we were. You have to rough it in the BWCA and that is a big part of the whole experience. I suppose you could get lodging in Ely and break up a weeks stay into a couple shorter trips out of there, but that would be missing the whole point of the BWCA. The idea there is to get with an outfitter, get set-up with your canoes, your portage packs, your camping gear, and then pick an entry point that is available (not already booked), and go as far back into the wilderness as you can. Its a lot of work, but also very, very rewarding.

Ely, MN is pretty much the launching point for most BWCA trips. Very small town with a handful of restaurants, and a couple dozen outfitters from which to choose. My advice if you plan to do a lot of portaging, buck up and rent the kevlar canoes!

Let me know if I can answer any other questions.

MY RESPONSE>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Thanks for responses so far. I guess I should have mentioned we are lazy fishermen - hence my canoe with the 2.5 motor! HA We won't be interested in any long portages or a whole lot of work. The part about being close to a town with some action is not that important. Anywhere within an hour of a little action would be great but not a determining factor. I guess I should have mentioned that we would be willing to camp somewhere with easy access to fishing. We would set up a basecamp and paddle around a few miles from camp to fish. It would be really nice to also be able to fish within walking distance of camp.

As far as crowds, we wouldn't need a place entirely to ourselves, just want to avoid the "trout park" atmosphere. The main thing would be the chance of catching some nice fish!! All other "wishes" would be a bonus. So if anyone has further advice, it would be appreciated as we know nothing about the northern fishing areas. Thanks again.

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I haven't been to that area in a long time, but if you are "lazy fisherman" that location isn't for you. I would search elsewhere in northern Minnesota and Upper Michigan or elsewhere in Southern Canada.

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You may want to look into floating the Wisconsin river or upper Mississippi. Lots of big smallies, plus pike, walleye catfish, etc. I would give anything to spend a week in late august on the upper Mississippi again.

I would head up to Brainerd to fish the upper Mississippi or Bemidji MN and fish the lakes/rivers out of a canoe.

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You may want to look into Saganaga Lake or Sea Gull Lake, both of which are off the Gunflint Trail. Each of these lakes offer limited motor access (25h.p. or under on Saganaga)(10h.p. or under on Sea Gull) in certain areas. You would need to consult a current Fisher or Mckenzie map for those specifics. Saganaga has considerably more area available to motor access. Additionally, if you would like to rent a canoe from an outfitter you could access several more lakes by short portage. There are also plenty of lodges on the Gunflint Trail near and or on these lakes. Unless you just have absolutely cruddy weather or you don't know what you are doing, you will catch fish.

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You may want to look into Saganaga Lake or Sea Gull Lake, both of which are off the Gunflint Trail. Each of these lakes offer limited motor access (25h.p. or under on Saganaga)(10h.p. or under on Sea Gull) in certain areas. You would need to consult a current Fisher or Mckenzie map for those specifics. Saganaga has considerably more area available to motor access. Additionally, if you would like to rent a canoe from an outfitter you could access several more lakes by short portage. There are also plenty of lodges on the Gunflint Trail near and or on these lakes. Unless you just have absolutely cruddy weather or you don't know what you are doing, you will catch fish.

we have about settled on the exact area you mentioned. Voyageur Canoe Outfitters has a cabin to our liking and on the Seagull River that connects to Saganaga Lake and Sea Gull Lake. You sound like you have firsthand knowledge of the area. We will probably hire a guide the first day, but if you have some fishing tips to share I will certainly print and share with the group. None of us have ever fished for walleye or pike. Tell us what to buy for each, how to fish, where to fish, etc. All advice will be helpful.

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Pike--I would be fishing buzzbaits and spinnerbaits. Zara spooks work really well too. Just find weeds or current areas and you will usually catch a few. They are almost a pest on some of the lakes up there, but they get HUGE on saganaga. My two biggest pike have been caught on buzzbaits, but they eat just about anything that moves. They are also delicious if you know how to clean them.

My two biggest BWCA fish

BWCAJune6-122011041.jpg

Pictures571.jpg

Lots of fish this size in almost every lake up there

Pictures568.jpg

Walleye

Depend on the time of year you are going will determine where the walleyes will be. They will be in the river systems/bases of waterfalls/current areas in mid to late may, but you can usually always catch some small ones in those areas. I would look for reefs or sunken islands near open water. You will catch lake trout/walleyes/smallies/pike on these areas, especially if they are windblown. I caught most of my walleye while casting for bass, and we never really targeted them while we were up there. I would probably use a lindy rig or a jig tipped with minnows/leeches in the areas I mentioned above. I love it up there and will probably be heading up there again in early June next year.

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