BWCA Ice Fishing

In my last post, I talked about a fantastic fishing trip I took to Ft. Myers, Florida.  I’m going to continue my trip down memory lane today.  This trip was a bit different from Ft. Myers in that I traded a tropical shirt for a parka and traded a boat for cross country skis, snow shoes and boots.

Looking back at our trail across a lake.

My brother-in-law, father-in-law and my brother-in-law’s uncle headed out for an adventure a couple winters.  We headed up to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota for a real adventure.  The trip started out with a drive from Duluth, MN to the BWCA.  From there, we geared up and headed out for a few days of adventure.  The trip took us about 7 miles into the BWCA.  We had to use a mix of cross country skis, snow shoes and hiking boots to make our way to camp.  The trek in took much of the day as we were all carrying sleds of gear and also changing foot apparel often based on the terrain we were going over.  After the first hour or two I wondered what I had gotten myself into, but then I stopped for a few minutes and just looked around at the beauty of the BWCA.  From there on, I focused on my surroundings and not on the long trek and it was fantastic.

Our Campsite is all set up for the evening.

Because the trip in took longer than anticipated, we decided to set up camp two portages short of where we wanted, but it worked out just fine.  When we got there, we had to dig out about 3 feet of snow for our tents.  I had never done this before, so just getting camp set up was an adventure in itself.

The next morning we headed out fishing.  We continued to our final destination packed much lighter because we decided to leave our camp where it was and just bring our fishing gear.  What a great day!  Almost as fast as we punched holes we started catching fish.  The lake we were fishing was filled with Trout and we nailed them all day long.

We caught fish on a variety of presentations and a variety of depths.  Since we had never fished the lake in the winter before, we set a small spread of tip-ups in varying depths from about 15-50 feet of water.  We also drilled some holes right along the shore in about 5-8 feet of water, and we caught fish in almost every depth.  The shallows had the most aggressive fish and we were catching them on mostly on jigging spoons and rattle spoons tipped with a minnow head.

Getting set up for a day of fishing.

Jerry with the first trout of the day.

Lunch is served!

Andrew stoaking the campfire for shore lunch.

We got a fire going and had a fantastic shore lunch and continued fishing for the rest of the day.

What a beautiful place to be fishing.

Another fish on!

A great day comes to a close with another dinner over the campfire.

Since it gets dark early, we headed back to camp late afternoon and enjoyed Trout Stew for dinner that night.  What a difference a warm meal can make when you are sleeping in a tent during a Minnesota winter in the BWCA.

The next morning we fished a bit on a closer lake to give it a try and didn’t have the same luck as we did the day before.  We didn’t want to go all the way back to our first lake because we needed to pack up and get out of the BWCA, and we knew we had a long trek in front of us.

Things I Learned Winter Camping

1.  No matter how heavy you pack, bring a chair.  After a long day of trekking, standing by a fire rather than sitting is no fun, and sitting in the snow only leads to melted snow and wet clothes.

2.  Don’t bundle up too much in your sleeping bag.  You have a tendency to dress too warm for sleeping, then you sweat and the next night your sleeping bag is an ice cube.  (didn’t happen to me thank goodness)

3.  With the chair learning considered, pack as light as you possibly can.  Those sleds get heavy after a while.

4.  Put granola bars and a bottle of water in your sleeping bag when you go to sleep.  That way you don’t have frozen water and frozen granola bars for breakfast.

I don’t think my photos do the trip justice, but I can’t tell you how beautiful it is up there in the winter.  We didn’t see another person from the time we left the car until we got back.  It was quite an adventure.  I hope to get out there again this winter for another adventure.

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