Just back from a little ditty in the BWCA. Here are some notes, in no particular order, followed by some pics – also in no particular order:
(1) Said over and again throughout this trip by more than one camper: wow, what a difference a few weeks can make. For many years now the trip has been in early September. This year we attended in mid-August. The calendar change exposed us a bit as one-trick ponies I think. We applied the same fishing methods in the same places and caught fewer fish. Don’t get me wrong – there was enough action to keep a guy interested and supply food… but it wasn’t hot and heavy, and each fish required more work and time. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call the fishing slow. Water temps were higher. Our “fish the first and last” required an adjustment (due to longer days) that we didn’t really make. The big fish were not to be found – likely in deeper water... Last year we had a legitimate party-wide total of ~30 smallies >= 17 inches… This year we had one. The fewer fish were compensated for by way of more mosquitoes though… so it worked out (HA!). We wore headnets each night. Not used to that either.
(2) Bear came to camp a few nights. On the first, he was greeted by banging and yelling supplied by a couple guys in camp. The next night, we heard him down the shore at another camp… being berated by a worried camper. It wore on into the night – clearly a case of the solution to a problem becoming much more annoying than the problem itself. This guy was yelling at the top of his volume for an hour… and you know how sound travels across water. Amid the rambling, these snippets were heard: “Okay bear, here come the ROCKS!” and “Show me your face – show me your FACE!” Eventually the guy quieted down around 330-400 AM. I imagine the bear got a good chuckle and was reluctant to leave such an entertaining figure. The next night he was back in our camp. I overheard one of our guys approach the bear and say, in a relatively quiet but firm voice, “Go on and get out of here now bear. Go on – GIT.” The bear proceeded to exit the joint, thus suggesting that maybe conviction is better understood by a bear than is volume. This same sequence occurred on a later night.
(3) We were fined by the USFS for splitting our party into two groups and entering on different days. They mean to allow only a certain number of entries per point, per day. Our approach fouled that system, and for that we paid $125. Lesson learned. It was somewhat intriguing to be “boarded” by an official canoe crew and interrogated there in the land of the rock and water.
(4) We encountered some interesting weather toward the end of the trip. Joe and were caught out in a minor lightning storm… rather than paddle back we chucked the canoe in the woods and walked across a little peninsula to camp – that was a good little bit of adventure that featured high winds and sudden bursts of rain. On the way out, we were dead on into high teens or maybe even 20 mph winds from the west. Joe did a heck of a job keeping us pointed right into the teeth of that bit. We never were in danger of coming broadside to the wind.
(5) The popper fishing was down somewhat, presumably due to higher water temps and longer days. Still got a fair number on the top, but many more casts required. Joe got a few pike to eat a Hula Popper.
(6) There was one little “milk run” that was somewhat akin to last year’s – but it was down a magnitude with respect to quality. One morning I picked up six smallies and one LMB on clousers in a period of ~45 minutes – all from the same dropoff. That was the best action of the trip for me. They were all ~12-15”, as opposed to 15-18” last year.
(7) I threw around big pike streamers with fair dedication, but caught only three small hammer handle pike. Toward the end of the trip I was trying to round up some smallies in deeper water – fishing a full sink line and a SE MN brand muddler minnow #8 (the goal was to get the body of the line and thus the retrieve down deep while floating a fly up a bit) when I came up with two walleyes and two pike from a nice rocky drop. Ironic that the best pike (still not what you’d call “BIG”) came with no steel leader, and ate a trout fly.
(8) Three other guys applied fly fishing technique on this trip. Numerous fish were caught on the fly by multiple individuals. Pretty cool. I very much enjoyed watching those successes. I got a great vid of Joe catching his first bass on the fly.
Another one in the books. Thanks to the Director for being the Director and setting everything up. It’s no small planning effort. Thanks to each paddler for making a good trip. See you next year.
Here’s a quick photo journal (maybe I’ll add some more later):