John and Patís
Boundary Waters Canoe Area
We left the house at 8:30 AM and arrived in Virginia, MN at 11:30 and ate some lunch.† We then arrived at Vermilion Houseboats before 1 PM.† We got to see what our houseboat will look like.† Way neat.† Huge cooler for beer/soda/water on front porch.† Freezer + refrigerator small, but adequate.† Nice bathroom.† All the water comes from the lake (they do have a hot water heater that the lake water† goes into for hot water). There† is a 500† gallon container of drinking water that they fill before we leave. We will be washing dishes with lake water.
Aaron showed us about 60 sites where houseboats can tie up at night.† He said that anyone can camp there.†
We found a place to park the van at a boat access place, which was right next to the Hoodoo campground.† We put the canoe in the water about 2:45 PM, expecting to paddle about 2 miles to a campsite. . . . .NO CAMPING.† All the sites that Aaron had told† us we could camp at had big ďNO CAMPINGĒ signs out. So we traveled a total of about 8.8 miles total in 2 hours and 35 min.
We went to the part of Lake Vermilion that is in the Superior Natíl Forest which means you can bushwhack legally.† We found a wonderful island, that actually had a latrine and
a table, but no official US Forest Fire Grate, which means it was not an official campsite.
Since it is Saturday there are a lot of boats.† They really werenít too much of a problem.† There was only 1 idiot who kept coming right at us and then probably saw us at the last minute and we took on a fair amount of water, but nothing serious.
The last 4 miles that we paddled today there was not much wind, plus it was at our backs and we paddled straight across the middle of the lake, as opposed to taking the long route along the shoreline.† We stopped at a beautiful island to cook dinner (NO CAMPING).† Then we paddled a little further and here we are for the night, listening for loons, but havenít heard any yet.
It was very windy today and as we entered the narrow stream to get to our portage, we practically had to put on the brakes because the wind was pushing us so fast and there were a lot of obstacles to try to miss (rocks and tree logs).† We took the canoe out right next to a neat set of rapids and walked the 60 rod portage.
John got at least a 2# small mouth bass upon first entering Trout Lake, and then another 2 more and a northern.† That was while paddling on the way to our site.† After we found a site he went out alone and caught 8 more bass.† Pretty good since he didnít even get a nibble on Lake Vermilion.
Today we padded 12.2 miles† in 4 and Ĺ hours; for the most part the wind pushed us.† When we got onto Trout Lake, the wind picked up and we used our umbrella as a sail and got going as fast as 3.8 mph.† We usually paddle around 4.5 mph.† The last 2 miles we were in a crosswind that was producing white caps.
We also saw a beautiful bald eagle today.
John got a fish hook in his arm while he was out fishing alone.† Two of the 3 barbs were in his arm, so when he got back, I had to help by just holding the fishhook with my leatherman (pliers).† He forced the barbs through his skin and then with his leatherman, he cut the barbs off with his pliers.† Then the hook came out of his arm easily.
It rained a little last night and was cloudy and WINDY! (whitecaps).† When we got up John caught a little fish at our campsite.† Then we packed up and decided to go behind all the islands to avoid the wind to get to a new site.† It was fairly calm behind the islands and John fished and got 2 medium size bass.
We got to the end of the islands and noted that there were probably 3 foot swells.† We had to go through that wind to get to where we were going, so we got out into the wind and for a short, easy while it pushed us.† But then we had to cut across so that we were quartering the wind (3 foot waves).† I didnít paddle, only John did.† I just sat there and stayed loose and calm.† HAH!† When the big waves would come, they would usually come 3 in a row.† The first one was ok, the 2nd a little closer to the gunnel and the 3rd one, we would hold our breath, but that wonderful canoe was used to this stuff from the Mississippi trip and we only took on a small amount of water.† It was really scary though.† Then John would paddle again until the next round of big waves would hit us.† It is truly a† miracle that we made it.
We put our tent up Ė it rained, then it stopped, and then was super windy, not so windy, cloudy, sunny, rainy, thunder.† We paddled 2.2 miles today.
It rained on and off last night and then in the morning.† We got up about 8, and headed for Lake Oriniack.† It was only a short 2-3 mile paddle so John fished enroute and caught many small moth bass (at least 10).† The portage was mosquito laden.† Millions.† So we eventually sprayed mosquito stuff on our hats.† That deterred them nicely.† On the way to the portage we saw a couple of bald eagles.
It was a long hard portage.† While we were both walking together we heard the sound of grousesí wings beating.† When we got to the end Ė John was first, he discovered that the grouse was camped out at the end of the portage and it came running right up to John to attack him.† He shooed it off with a stick and the same thing happened when I got there.† We had to make another trip, so it finally got tired of us and left us alone.
We got in the lake, John threw out one cast and caught a northern.† As I write this he has probably caught a dozen northern of all sizes.
Tonight John was casting from the shore and we heard this loud sound.† When youíre out here, itís common to hear the sound of the wind in the trees before you feel that wind.† We heard what appeared to be really loud wind on the other side of the lake.† We looked and listened a minute and couldnít notice any trees moving.† Then John said ďrainĒ, and sure enough it was the sound of rain racing across the lake headed right for us.† We grabbed our stuff and ran as fast as we could for the tent and barely made it.† It rained incredibly hard for about 60 seconds and then stopped.† Strangest thing I have ever seen or heard.
We have been hearing loons every night.
It was a noisy night with all the insect, frog, and bird sounds.† But we slept very well.† Got up at 2 AM to go to the bathroom and saw the most beautiful half(plus) moon.† Then, although I didnít see anything, but we both heard it; a beaver slapped his tail on the water.† It was quite loud, he must have been very nearby.
We got up and left for the portage to go back into Trout Lake.† The attack grouse wasnít around.† It was a much better portage this time.† We did it in a little over an hour, and when we got to the other end, which was the major mosquito infested area, John threw that stuff in the canoe and we were out of there in 30 seconds.† He cast his pole and caught a bass over 2 pounds; a really nice size.† After that he didnít catch as many and they were small.
We planned to stay at a specific site but it seems that the boaters wanted to do the same.† Our alternate site was taken too, so we paddled into the North Arm of Trout Lake and found 2 sites.† One really nice and the other one even nicer.† We chose the even nicer site. It was on an island.† The island is quite open; not a lot of dense vegetation and our tent is up on the hill, and itís windy!
The weather is nice today;† sunny/cloudy, wind out of the north, but the fish arenít biting that much.† We paddled 4.5 miles today.† And we saw the most beautiful nearly full moon last night.
Got up today and decided to just fish around in our area.† Although John caught at least a dozen, it wasnít anywhere near like it was a couple of days ago.† He even caught some rock bass, a few northern and mostly small mouth bass.
We stopped at an open site for lunch and as we were eating motor boats just came racing in, looking for open sites.† It was amazing.
We also paddled over to the portage that we will be taking when we leave here.† It was 1100 steps with one fallen tree right in the middle of the path, wet mud and an abundance of mosquitoes.†
As we were eating tonight, a boater stopped by and asked how long we would be here.†† He is from this area and very upset about the way they now portage in so many motor boats so easily.† He said that before they started doing that, that there were only a quarter of the people here.† He said that now he sometimes doesnít even find a campsite.† He also said that there are many less people here in the fall, but that the fish bite fairly well.† Apparently June is the best fishing month.
We paddled (and fished) just under 10 miles today and saw a deer and a bald eagle.
Today we decided to stay here another day because our ďrenterĒ wasnít going to come back here to camp.† They had already set up camp and didnít want to move again.† We fished most of the day. John caught small moth bass, northern, rock bass and the biggest blue gill I have ever seen.
We had a strange occurrence today. As he was fishing, his line got caught on another line.† So John pulled that other line in and there was a big northern on it.† He brought it into the boat to take the hook out but it was too deep, so he just cut the line and the fish seemed to be OK.† In the meantime the fish left behind a leach in the bottom of the canoe.
We went to our favorite rock island for lunch and John fished with the leech and got lots of Rock Bass and many Blue gills.† One (Rock Bass) was the tiniest fish I have ever seen and some were a nice size.†† It was put the leech in the water,† pull out a fish, put it† in, pull out a fish,† until at last the leech† was all gone.
Then he was fishing off the shore of our lunch island and caught a huge northern. He† saw it in the† shallow water;† probably at† least 30 inches long.† I saw the pole bend way over and the fish broke the line and got away Ė with† Johnís† favorite lure, and his 2nd to last leader.
After that as we were going along a grassy shoreline we saw what we thought was a beaver swimming in the water. Then there was a turtle on the end of a log that was sticking up out of the water.† As we were looking at the turtle John spotted a deer in the grass 100 feet in front of us.† Then 4 blue herons were flying through the air and landed on the top of some tall pines.† When we paddled out of the grassy area they flew down where we had been canoeing.† After that John spotted one more deer!
The loons were so noisy last night.† They were calling for the longest time. Tough to get any sleep that night.
It was supposed to have gotten down to 35 last night.† It was cold, but not that cold.† We packed up, ate and were at the portage by 9 AM.† Since it was cold that wet mud had hardened somewhat and it was much easier to walk in than the previous day when we† had checked it out.† There were a million mosquitoes but we put deet on our hats and back of our hands and it kept them away.
We entered Little Trout Lake and checked all 3 campsites Ė they were all empty.† As we proceeded to go through the little stream that would take us back to Big Trout Lake we encountered some canoe/fishermen who came in purely to fish.
We got into Trout Lake and checked all of the campsite and talked to some people and they said most of the sites were full. They were all full.† One guy offered to let us stay at his site as there were just 3 of them there.† But we decided that we would bushwack.†† There was one last site left before the portage that would take us back into Lake Vermilion.† And the site was empty!!† Plus it was a beautiful site. We took it.
John cast out his pole 3 times and caught a bass.† Then he walked down on the other side of the campsite and got another one.† There are rocks all along the shore, so you can walk all the way down the shoreline fishing.
We paddled 8.1 miles today in 2 Ĺ hr.
We paddled 5.7 miles today in 4 Ĺ hr. Ė all fishing.† John caught one really big fish that broke his line and took his lure.† His fishing supplies are dwindling.† This last fish he caught got caught in a rock, but we were able to retrieve it.† Without counting he probably caught at least 20 fish today; all but 1 was a bass and probably the one that got away was a northern.
We also saw 4 turtles on logs, 3 herons (possibly the same heron), and a deer that just walked around in the water for about 10 minutes, just ignoring us.† He was even running† and playing.† Then we got too close and he ran off.† You could hear him snorting in the bush.
We though we would see a lot of boats leave today (being that itís Sunday), but we saw 4 boats come in.†
In the late afternoon John was fishing along off the rocks and caught a 4-5 pound bass!!
Itís very nice at this site.† It would appear that the majority of people† want to go way up into the lake, so it is quiet here at night.†† John also took out all the big, and a lot of the small rocks, so it is much easier to bring the canoe in.† The boaters should like it too. There was also the most beautiful full moon last night.
Got up today and left Trout Lake via the 60 rod portage and went back to Lake Vermilion, the lake that has no fish.† We saw turtles on rocks† (actually a big snapping turtle and we werenít sure he would leave when we pulled up to get on his rock, to go pee on that island.) Saw 2 herons today too.
We paddled 9.8 miles today in 3 Ĺ hrs. and stopped at an official state forest campsite, but decided to paddle over to the site/island that we stayed at last Monday.† A very nice site and someone put up 2 more tables since we were here and they left a lawnchair.
John went out fishing and caught 2 bass, which we had for dinner.† That was our 2nd fish meal and both were very good.†† He also caught a 30 inch muskie and got it to the canoe.† When he tried to pick it up, the snap swivel straightened out and the fish swam away with yet another lure.
Tomorrow we plan to paddle out.† The wind direction will determine what path we take since we will be crossing a 2 mile open expanse of water.
Got up around 7AM. It had rained lightly last night.† The wind was minimal when we got up.† There was sun and dark clouds, so we decided to leave.† There was very little wind as we started out, but when we hit the big expanse of water, it was in our face, but still very light.† We were the only people out there except for the seagulls.† We watched the sky and the dark clouds to the southwest (we were heading southeast).† We saw a rainbow over in that direction and it sprinkled on us.† It turned out t be quite uneventful.
John fished a little before we got to our exit point and did catch a fish that fell of the line before it got to the boat.
We paddled 6 miles in 2 hr. 15 min.
I forgot to write about the beaver that was swimming by our site this morning.† We were† on a† small island† and the boats would†† zoom by on the left and they would zoom by on the right and here this beaver swims quietly† by us, right near shore.† He slapped his take and dove under, then came back up and continued swimming off again.
After we got out, we called to the kids to let them know we were on our way home and stopped in Tower to eat, right by the laundromat.†
We went back to Vermilion Houseboats for a few follow up questions and so John could take some pictures of the houseboat and its furnishings.
The local Casino and Convention Center is only a couple miles from Vermilion Houseboats so we stopped to try our hand at the slot machines and to look around at the Hotel.† We also stopped back at the Casino Marina were we got our permit to enter the BWCA and talked to them about permits, etc for our trip in August.
In spite of the motor boats on Trout Lake, this was one of the most enjoyable trips we have had into the BWCA.†† The weather was great, the fishing was the best ever and the bugs were almost none existent.