Fishing in the BWCA or Quetico is a rewarding experience.
The area offers four main species of fish including Walleye, Smallmouth
Bass, Northern, and Lake Trout. The state record Walleye weighing 17lbs.
9oz. was caught in Saganaga lake one of our entry points into the Boundary
Waters. The state record Northern, Lake Trout, and Brook Trout were all caught in the Canoe Area as well. As you can see the trophy fish
are out there along with many smaller breeds of these fish. We have tried
to compile a helpful list of fishing tips which will hopefully enhance
what you already know.
· a soft sided tackle
box of a very small size
(one per canoe)
· one or two fillet
knives per group
· needle nose pliers
· extra spool of
· red and white spoon
(1/2 oz-3/4oz are good
· copper and orange
· steel leaders 6-8
inches in length
· Sutton spoon (silver)
· Smithwick rattlin'
Rogue (blue & silver, black & silver,
· Rapala 3-4, sizes
9-18, mix floaters & divers,
blue, silver, perch
· Rattle Trap
· Lazy Ike
· Possibly one Shad
Rap or one Fat Rap
· a handful of lead
head jigs, varying from
1/4oz-1/2oz, assorted colors with
being being a favorite
· fuzzy grub tails
· Swedish Pimple,
yellow or red
· Berkly power grub
or other Berkly power baits
· Mepps spinners
4 or 5 varying color size and
with or without tails #2 or #3 with buck
or with silver blades
are our favorite
· a couple of slip
bobbers with matching split
· Lindy rigs either
plain hook floater or spinner
· plain hooks
· leeches and leech
is a large list of tackle but it covers fishing for all the species.
Not everyone wants to fish for all the species so look over the following
and bring what you want to fish for. Keep in mind these lakes have
been formed by glaciers and there are many rock outcroppings for your
lures to get snagged on, so bring enough gear to cover your losses.
You may have noticed we did not include a landing net on our list.
This is because we feel it is too bulky to carry along. You may lose
a few fish because of this, but overall it will be much easier.
Smithwick rattling Rouges, slip bobbers, plain hooks, Lindy rigs,
jigs, Swedish Pimple, Leeches, leech locker, 6 pound test. Walleyes
are a somewhat finicky species so it isn't wise to use bulky items
such as leaders and big hooks when fishing for them. Keep in mind
they are nocturnal and do much of their feeding in the evenings and
early mornings, this is when you can experience some outstanding action.
Slip bobbers with leeches is probably the best method, but probably
not the most exciting. But with leeches on jigs it is a little more
fun and productive. In May and June Walleyes are usually in 10-15
feet of water along the shores or points or where running water enters
the lake. In the evenings they will tend to go a little shallower
even into 5 feet of water, this is when you use your Smithwick's or
floating Rapalas. July, August and September Walleyes move into deeper
water off of reefs, down to 30 feet of water. Casting deep diving
rapalas in the evening over reefs in about 10 feet of water will be
good in these months.
spinners, worm baits, jigs, and Lazy Ikes, 6-18lb. test. This
species can be found the majority the summer along the shorelines,
at the beginning and end of moving water and around reefs. Underwater
rocks provide great cover for them and they can be found the majority
of time by these rocks. They also like weeds but will prefer the rocks
however, if both rocks and weeds are found together then prepare for
some hot action. Smallmouth Bass are excellent eating and great fighters
so enjoy catching them.
Rattle Traps, leaders, Rapalas, and Lazy Ikes, 6-10 lb test. Northerns
are caught near running water in May and early June. In mid-June the
weed beds start forming and provide great habitat for them. Fish points
and islands throughout the summer but especially in the fall. Northerns
can be caught on many lures used to catch other species, but if you
are pursuing the Northern exclusively, then try using a steel leader
and spoon. They are a territorial species and will hit anything in
their area. Since the water in our area remains cool throughout the
summer, Northern are great eating, Just ask us how to remove the Y
bone if you don't already know.
spoons, Swedish Pimples, and other spoons, 12 lb test and up.
Trolling a Sutton spoon is an effective way to catch Lake Trout. This
species love cool waters around 44 degrees, so early spring you can
fish shallower and keep getting deeper throughout the summer. Make
sure to bring enough weight, up to 2 oz. to get your spoon down. When
Trout are deep you will need to troll very slowly with lots of line
out to get it down to 30-50 feet range and deeper. Troll just fast
enough to feel the lure turning over. They are great fish to eat but
do not provide a lot of action.
Since you will not have a net along you will need to take care when
removing your fish from your line. When removing walleyes and Northerns
you will want to grab the by squeezing their gills to close them.
Smallmouth you just put your thumb inside to grab their lower lip.
Never put your hands inside the fishes gills or grab them by the eyeballs.
Since you will only be keeping enough fish to eat, you will be releasing
a fair number of fish, always wet your hands before handling them
and return them to the water as fast as possible. Using a barbless
hook is a good idea for catch and release but you will lose some fish
An unattended lure is an accident waiting to happen.
Many of times campers need to cut their trip short due to a hook stuck
in their hand or body. To prevent this from happening we have a rule
around our place and when we are out on trips. If anyone finds a rod
with a lure on it unattended, then the lure is theirs. Always remove
lures from the rod when not fishing and especially when portaging.
To make transporting your rod and reel easier on
a portage take the reel off and pack it into your bags. Then, using
Velcro straps attach your rod to the canoe, one strip on the tip and
one at the butt end of the rod.
A medium action rod 5 1/2 to 6ft. is a good choice
for wilderness fishing. If you can bring two different spools to attach
to your reel, use heavy test line on one and light on the other.
Voyageur Canoe Outfitters
189 Sag Lake Trail
Grand Marais, MN 55604
© Voyageur Canoe Outfitters 2005