Paddling, Portaging, and Fishing in the BWCA

My best bud Matt Walsh and I wanted to spend a few days in the beautiful Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota. So we planned out a trip to do just that! Our focus was fishing and taking some sweet pictures in the process. We also were searching for Johnson Falls :)

Day 1: My Kind of Day

The night prior we drove up to Duluth to see our buddy Rob for some dinner and a pint. Spent the night at his place and hit the road right way in the morning. Had to stop off to get our backcountry permit, few last supplies, and hit the Gunflint Trail. Drove all the way to East Bearskin Lake launch point, blew up the boards, loaded up the gear, and setoff to find a campsite. Everything here is first come first serve so we didn't have a clue if we could get the site we wanted. No biggy because we were open to sleep anywhere. Plus we figured we would fish the whole way and drink out of every lake we paddled, which ate up some time too. 

Found a campsite that was open on Caribou Lake. Not in the spot we originally wanted buuut this place was awesome! Matt instantly threw a line into the water to see what we were working with lol We then setup camp, gathered fire wood, got dinner going, and back to fishing. Fished into the night as the countless stars and Milky Way put on a show for us :)

Day 2: Searching for Waterfalls and Catching Fish

Woke up feeling ready to take on the day. Matt got the coffee going right away as we fished from the shores of our campsite some more. Talked about the plan for the day. We knew we wanted to see Johnson Falls and had a long portage ahead of us. This was going to be a physical day but we will still get plenty of time to kickback and fish.

Now to find this dang waterfall! I have seen a few pictures but we both wanted to see it in real life!

After a fantastic time playing around and relaxing by the falls we hit the water again. Just a super quick paddle to the big portage. 232 rods (each rod is like 16 feet). This was going to be a task with our gear. We both started to dial in our carrying systems, but we need to improve on them for sure. This was a bitch of a portage, but I hammered it out and ran back to help a buddy out.

Big portage out of the way, we are ready to find a campsite on Alder lake. But first we need to taste Canoe lake, toss out some lines, and quick portage over to Alder Lake 

First two campsites were taken but we finally found a free one. Not ideal since we wanted to face the sunset, but this actually worked out even better! Awesome campsite again and thank you to the people prior that left some freshly cut wood! We setup camp, made some dinner, I setup a time lapse, and we fished into the sunset.

Day 3: Waiting for a Window

Middle of the night the rain started and did not let up until around 10 am. So we stayed in the tend playing Rummy 500 until we got a window to pack up. Neither one of us wanted to pack in the rain. We got the window, hopped out of the tent, packed up quick, and hit the water. But first we needed a photo shoot with our girls and fish the area one last time. 

Just popping out fish left and right! We both were catching them to make it a super fun day. Even though we were still having a blast on Alder Lake we needed to get moving. Still have another portage ahead of us and paddle across East Bearskin Lake, given I know we will be fishing the whole way back. 


Just a kickass adventure start to finish! My favorite paddle of the year, thus far! This was both of our first time portaging with SUPs, not an easy task. They are big, long, and awkward to carry but we improved our methods every portage. Awesome fishing, unreal pictures, tons of laughs, and good times rounded out one hell of a trip. We are both super excited to get back and explore other ares of the Boundary Waters. Truly an outstanding place to paddle and step up your backcountry game for all skill levels, just make sure to get good updated maps to help find campsites and portages, happy we did. Overall, I could not have asked for a better adventure partner for this one. We were on the same page start to finish. Helps when both people are down for whatever and influence each other to fuel their passion, Matt with fishing and me with taking photos, but I do enjoy fishing.

Can we go back already?! :)

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