So, after three years of putting off this trip for people backing out on me or whatever other reason, we finally went on the trip. Originally started out as 7 ppl going to be whittled down to me, my wife, and one of our german shepherds.
What a great week, started out getting a tow from Seagull Outfitters in Minn. to Hook Island 8am Monday morning. (W/ only 5 nights we wanted to get a leg up and save some paddling time in Minn. and get to the park). Crisp cool air blowing in our faces, and the smell of nothing but nature, and the familiar sight of loons fishing out in the water as we putted along. We threw some sticks for kuno to get some of the excitement out of him, loaded up the canoe and qear and were off across Saganagas Lake to the Cache Bay ranger station, paddling the whole way into the wind.
Janice was cool n nice as could be, gave us some hints n pointers on camp sites etc and we were off again paddling back into the wind, and feeling like a giddy kid @ Christmas. We tackled the first portage (longest of the trip @ 180+rods) and were off again, wanting to get most of our traveling in on the first day.
We hit a short cut on Saganagons then a short portage to slate lake, thru some gorgeous lilly pads to Fran, then a no named lake after some beaver dams, and then to Bell Lake, our destination (tho we didn't know it @ the time). Originally we were heading for other man, but the campsite on Bell was so beautiful we stayed for two days.
We trolled across the lakes on the way in catching a couple small bass n pike, but w/ a cold front hitting us w/ that wind from the NW I knew it would kill our fishing.. but after hitting the tent early we were ready to give it a go tues am... we caught nothing Tuesday but what a gorgeous lake, we stayed tues and wed w/ gorgeous warm weather, coupled w/ easy breezes and cool nights..our only lake residents being a couple loons..
Wednesday we went out fishing the other half of the lake. After catching two smaller pike and a little small mouth I was feeling good about some fresh fish for dinner, but after loosing two large pike and a good sized smallie we were eating freeze dried goodness for the third night to grumbling from the wife and the dog as to "oh and were is all the good fishing in canada ..." so after 2 1/2 days of our own private lake, Thursday we headed back out.
Once we hit Fran the wind picked up a bit, in our favor, and we decided to start fishing for dinner. We hit on a school of feeding smallies, kept a couple a 2 n a 4 lb, lost a big one when my knot i didn't re-tie after a few fish came undone, and then trolled to Slate..
When we hit Slate the wind got fierce, corrective strokes continuously, as a storm was blowing in, and we paddled straight for the portage to Saganagons were we set up camp just in time for the front to blow over. So what to do in canada when the sun come out...we fished ; )
Paddled a few hundred yards to the rapids coming down out of Silver Falls and lit the smallies up buddy, no monsters but did add two to the dinner plate (after no fish all week we were gonna feast!) and fished back to camp hunting a big pike, while only catching a few smaller guys up to 5lbs maybe.. but the fish was great, had bald eagles flying over head, wood mallards on the lake, and early owl calls as the moon came up over the tree line.
Friday am we woke early to tackle the big portage, we slowly fished to it hoping to get a leg up on dinner w/ little luck. We got to the bend before the portage and I got excited. A 5-6 foot muskee followed my chatter bait right up to the canoe... I got scared and kept the bait out in front of him as I drew Kim's attention to the old fish. Didn't want to let him hit it that close, was honestly afraid he would tip the canoe just a couple feet out n down from the canoe. So I tried again, and 4 more times he curiously followed my lure right up to us, but I couldn't get him to hit it farther out. So we hit our final portage.
Back on Saganagas, we decided to fish above the falls and down the peninsula. Third cast out a monster took my chatter bait, fought him for a few and he was gone, and so was my bait... we caught several more smallies, one close to 6 lbs, and took off trolling to our final camp site, landing two more along the way. After setting camp we headed to the pictoglyphs, very cool, and fished some more. We hit ten more smallies, man they were lighting it up the end of the week, and headed back to camp to feast on some smallies for our last night.
And a more perfect night we couldn't of asked for: Temp was perfect, slight breeze thru our small camp at a lo/narrow spot on the peninsula, sun setting to the west while the moon was coming up in the east @ the same time, was like being in a movie it was so perfectly picturesque.
I mentioned to Kim that the only thing the trip lacked was a moose sighting and I didn't land any monster fish. But w/ the good weather, and movie like setting of that last night it was perfect.
Saturday I was up about 5:45am, and so I decided to give it one last go @ a big fish, and started throwing a buzz bait w/ no luck into the bay on each side of the camp. Switched to a spinner, lucky strike type, white w/ a split soft plastic tail... kept seeing some thing chase some fish up to the shore to my right, so I kept reeling it in slow. After a few casts wham, knew she was a big one, not near as large as the 6ft monster, but a good sized fish, after several min of fighting her I landed my monster fish. Kuno didn't even know what to do as he watched me reel her in, an almost 4ft muskee so fat my hand barley were big enough to support her under neath. I was so happy, was better than Christmas. Kim was still asleep, and w/ no one but the dog as witness I let her go back to her bay.
So I thought that was it... was packing up camp getting ready to paddle by and say farewell to janice and thanks for the pointers.. was I wrong. As I was rolling up the sleeping pads in the tent Kim kept asking had I heard anything, I thought she had heard me, but I came out of the tent just in time to see a very large bull moose slide into the water not 20yds tops from camp, Kuno just looking not a single bark, and we watched raptured as he swam the bay and exited the other side. After we loaded up, said our goodbyes to janice, we paddled back to Hook Island for our tow out, and started the 22hr drive back to Tennessee..
On a side note: we out camped the dog! By Thursday all he wanted to do was lay in the canoe, and the tent as soon as it was set up, even @ dinner time we had to coax him w/ some fish in his food just to eat, poor baby had it rough.
All in all, a perfect trip, great weather, gorgeous lakes, good fishing, and got to do it w/ my favorite person in the world and my boy dog, absolutely fantastic...
Seagull Outfitters: bunk house lodging night before we headed out, and tow service to and from Hook Island on border.
BWCA day use permit if not using tow service, Quetico camping permit, rabc permit, outdoors card n fishing permit.
@ end of Gunflint Trail from Grand Marias, MN
Fischer maps, a paddlers guide to quetico provincial park by robert beymer, and the boundary waters and quetico fishing guide by michael furtman.