The Boundary Waters may be my favorite place in the world. A vast 1.3 million acre wilderness area dotted with glacial lakes and streams. Under the water surface, meaty walleye, feisty smallmouth bass, toothy pike and stout lake trout patrol. Various species of pine trees grow from the sharp edges of rocky cliffs. Whitetail deer, moose, wolves, pine marten, and other wildlife occasionally stray from the shadows offering a glimpse into their daily routines. The BWCAW (Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness) offers it’s visitors a chance to step back in time and see what the world was like 200 years (and more) ago.
The wilderness allows for more than just a getaway from the daily grind. It can offer some spectacular fishing. Of course you have to work a bit for it, with portages, paddling and pancakes over an open fire.
A favorite trip of mine involved a campsite near a set of rapids. The group I was with piled into the canoes and headed north in search of dinner, while I chose to stay at camp and try my luck from shore. Those rapids produced one of my more memorable days with a rod and reel, while the group got skunked and retreated, shoulders sore from the paddle. Multiple smallies over the 4 lb range tested the strength of my line that day and pulling out the first one made my 13-year-old eyes grow the size of tennis balls. Each fish that followed just puffed my chest out a little further and lengthened my bragging when the group returned emptied handed.
The Boundary Waters is an area for great fishing, self reflection, family recreation and isolation. It should be protected, but utilized and enjoyed. If you haven’t been there, I recommend doing some research or going through an outfitter. There’s no cell service (for now) and no roads. But find a way to go and you won’t be disappointed.
If you want to do a trip between May and September in 2014, plan it now and apply for your permit. Entry points are controlled to eliminate overcrowding in popular areas. A lottery was already held for some areas while the remaining entry points will be available on a first-come first-serve basis starting January 29th (the last Wednesday of January).
Of course you can take trips outside of summer and the more daring will do some winter camping in the BWCAW. Guaranteed to put hair on your chest, and more lake trout on the ice.