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Thread: TR: Isle Royale NP, 5/5-5/10
07-02-2007, 09:39 AM #1Stuck in the middle
- Join Date
- Nov 2006
- Gnar Towne City, US
TR: Isle Royale NP, 5/5-5/10
So this trip report is a month old. I didn't even think of doing one up until I saw that there was a fishing forum. So I thought I'd share my first (sadly) fishing trip of the season with you all.
Isle Royale National Park is located in the middle of Lake Superior, right off the tip of the Arrowhead of Minnesota. For the uninitiated, you have to take a boat to get out to the island. Because of this, it's quite isolated and rarely fished:
(click for BIG)
The boat out to the island, a little 40-footer:
While the fish that you may catch aren't monsters or the stuff of lore, they are plentiful and of a decent size. The fishing laws for Isle Royale are pretty easy: inland lakes can be fished by anyone WITHOUT a license. Rivers and streams that connect to, and Lake Superior itself, must be fished with a valid Michigan license and all applicable stamps. Trout on inland streams and rivers are catch-and-release only.
So for this trip, we were doing what's called the "Feldtmann Loop;" a 32-mile, counter-clockwise circle along the lower south-west corner of the island. It's a fairly easy hike, with the most difficult portion being an 11-mile stretch up, over, and back down a ridge line on the southernmost trek. It was at this part of the island that we'd find great Northern Pike fishing at an isolated inland lake, and (rumored) great Lake Trout fishing in Lake Superior. The Feldtmann Loop and our two fishing camps we'd be setting up:
(click for BIG)
We bought two-day Michigan passes online for the days we'd be in camp on Lake Superior and set off. Since Isle Royale allows no live- or artificial-bait, I brought an assortment of spoons, daredevils, and even some Mimic Minnows. Two other people accompanied me, and my friend Don brought the same assortment, plus a Hula-popper.
We hiked our first 8 mile leg to get to Feldtmann Lake--the isolated lake with some of the best Northern fishing on the island. I've read that people have caught more Northern off the shore at Feldtmann than anywhere else on the island, so the stoke level was high. Since we didn't have a canoe or kayak, my friend Don even found some super-lightweight waders so he could trudge out along the shoreline to some more remote spots. This turned out to be a great investment.
We arrived at Feldtmann Lake and found ourselves to be the only ones there. What a great way to start off. We set up camp site about 10 feet from the shoreline. We had a gorgeous view out onto the lake, which was really choppy from the wind whipping down the ridge into the lake basin area--and coming directly at us. Eventually, this wind would died down completely and opened up a great evening of fishing. Choppy water:
And the view from our camp site, once the wind died down:
Don was the first to put a line in from shore, and within two casts, had a Northern on. This first one didn't put up much of a fight. He caught it from the shore, on a black and white spoon:
Don had a few more hits, but didn't land anything. He soon put on his spiffy lightweight-waders, which were hilariously too small for him:
But the humiliation would soon pay off. He waded a few feet from shore and started casting again. At about 7 feet away from his lure as he reeled in, he saw a fish come up and strike at his black and white spoon. He was so surprised, he jerked his reel back and hooked the fish right above the bottom dorsal on the middle of the stomach. With some delicate reeling and some teamwork on shore, we were able to remove the hook with no damage to the fish. The prize:
After seeing this, I soon joined in with a red and white Daredevil. I had two hits, one a miss, and one where I failed to set the hook. I soon gave up and went to reading a book and drinking some vodka. Of course, Don had to catch another fish nearly immediately after I put my rod down. No picture of this one, but it was a decent size. It was getting dark, I had a bit of a jag on, and didn't feel like getting up to get my camera.
We went to bed for the night amid a dead-silent setting. It was so eerie to not have any noise--ANY NOISE--at all, that my ears sounded like they were ringing the whole time. In the middle of the night, I awoke to a moose trampling along the shore line outside of our tent. Upon inspection in the morning, we found a large moose print in the sand.
We did the normal stuff: cooked, ate, cleaned, and by this time, it was noon; not ideal for fishing. We hiked out about .5 miles to an area of coastline on Lake Superior called Rainbow Cove. We ate lunch and read, and just generally relaxed. After a few hours, we headed back from some more non-stop Northern Pike action.
Don, again, was the first to catch a fish, using his black and white spoon:
But I would not be out done, and after giving up on my red and white Daredevil, decided to risk it with a Hula Popper. After a mere 4 casts and a few jigs, I had this thing landed:
At this point, my third friend on the trip decided to join in. He used a Mimic Minnow. The entire time, all he caught was this:
Don caught two more fish before the day was up:
We went to bed early, having to tear down camp and hike 11 miles to our next destination: Siskiwit Bay, located on the south-western point of the island. As we hiked, we looked back at Feldtmann Lake that had been teeming with fish:
So we woke up the next morning, hiked up the Feldtmann Ridge and back down, and arrived at Siskiwit Bay. After setting up camp, we went down to the boat dock that was there and the break water to inspect the fishing. Don's pass for fishing on Lake Superior was already active, and mine started at 7pm EST. So we waited a until mine came active. We watched as something continually was hitting on the surface. We tossed a few lines in after 7pm, but only had maybe one strike between Don and I. We gave up and called it a night--but not before some delicious gin and tonics. As we drank our gin and tonics, we watched the sun go down on Siskiwit Bay:
The next morning we hiked down the beach of the bay and went to the opening of the Big Siskiwit River. Not planning on trout fishing, we couldn't fish in the river itself--which was pretty easily accessible due to the lower water levels of lake superior--because we didn't have any barbless hooks. We made a mental note to bring some for next time. Instead, we fished the rocky opening of the river that connects to Lake Superior, but no luck. The Siskiwit Bay beach:
Later on that evening, we head back out to the break water. The sun was just right and the waves were minimal. We could see nearly all the way to the bottom of the lake--a good 20 feet down, at least. For the first time, we saw fish. A small brown trout was pacing the rocks of the break water, coming up and hitting the surface only a few feet out from us. We cast repeatedly but could never get a hit. While casting, I noted another, bigger brown in between the breakwater and the boat dock, along with two massive carps that were just sitting at the bottom. I worked the inside area of the boat dock and break water, while Don worked the other side of the break water. We both were unsuccessful, we used a combination of Daredevils and spoons of various colors. The best was two hits that Don could muster. Looking up the dock back towards camp, you can see the rock breakwater on the left-hand corner:
So the next day we packed up and left Siskiwit Bay empty handed. But we did get to hear a large pack of wolves nearby our camp howl and go nuts for a few minutes as we went to bed. It was eerie but also extremely cool. Of course, this was the only noise we would end up hearing all night, next to the normal lapping of Lake Superior and the haunting whistles of the loons in the bay.
In the morning, we packed up and hiked 12 miles along the middle of the island back to the boat dock, set up camp, and waited until the morning to catch a boat back to the mainland of Minnesota. And as we arrived into our last camp, it started to rain for the first time. So even though we had bad luck fishing at one of our locations, we were lucky with the weather.
That's all. Hope you enjoyed the info.
Last edited by fonixmunkee; 07-02-2007 at 09:47 AM. Reason: Updated to include some maps for reference10/11 days on snow: 5
10/11 days with your mom: 16
07-02-2007, 11:26 AM #2
Look like a hell of a trip! I made it up there a few times growing up. Never saw anyone after the first mile of a hike or canoe. Might just have to plan a trip for the fall???
07-02-2007, 02:49 PM #3
cool tr, I've been all around the eastern half of the island, and done the minong ridge trail, but I have never done the feldtmann loop, looks like a good time.
07-05-2007, 10:01 PM #4
I worked on one of the ferry boats to the island for 5 seasons.... Cool summer job. Unfortunately I never got a chance to spend much time on the island and never got too far out of rock harbor. It truly is an incredible place.
Last edited by focus; 07-05-2007 at 10:03 PM.
07-06-2007, 01:01 PM #5
Went to Isle Royale with 3 buddies fresh outta high school 28 years ago... what I learned is that taking a QP on a week long hiking / fishing trip means you should take 3 weeks worth of food.
Nice TR - Gods country up there for sure... Run into any moose?"Those 1%ers are not an avaricious "them" but in reality the most entrepreneurial of "us". If we had more of them and fewer grandstanding politicians, we would all be better off."
- Bradley Schiller, Prof. of Economics, Univ. Nevada - Reno.
07-10-2007, 07:24 AM #6
bump over spam
07-16-2007, 10:00 AM #7Registered User
- Join Date
- May 2006
- Route 108
love that place! the pike inland never seem huge but usually don't disappoint. Going out there at the end of the month to try my luck from the kayak for lakers while superior chills the jager
11-01-2007, 05:06 PM #8
Isle Royale is awesome. My dad and I went on a week-long backpacking/fishing trip there. We saw about 4 other people and tons of moose. We were followed the entire week by a small red fox who would always try to eat our luers.
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