A few years ago I spent some time in Kosovo and had a lot of time to think about things. One of the things I thought about was how cool it would be to catch one of every species of fish in Minnesota. So I sat down and made a list of all the fish Minnesota has to offer and realized that I had covered most of the list already in my life. Lake Trout and Sturgeon being the only ones I had not caught. So I called my brother and told him of my idea and he agreed that he would like to catch Lake Trout as well. Well that was 6 years ago that I came up with the idea and now I can officially say that the Sturgeon is the only fish in Minnesota that I haven't caught.
This last week my brother, my brother in-law and my brother's-wife's-cousin's-husband took off for a week in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. It was a trip that was long over due and was just as incredible as I imagined it would be. We left last monday in the morning and drove straight through to the Gunflint trail and found our entry point on East Bearskin lake and our first camp sight. We didn't get up there until late afternoon so we decided to set up camp on East Bearskin for the night before portaging into Duncan Lake where we had planned to make our base camp.
That first night was great and set the tone for the rest of the trip. We had some great venison steaks and some lentils for dinner and our camp was visited by a pine martin that wanted to join the fun. My brother brought a bottle of Jameson and we had a great first night. Not a lot of fishing went on that first night but we were just getting warmed up.
On day two we portaged in to Duncan lake and found a great campsite on a little point that was kind of in the middle of all the other portages on the lake. After setting camp and having lunch we set off to do some fishing. The afternoon wasn't very productive on Duncan Lake so we decided to head up a short portage to Moss Lake. Moss lake wasn't very productive either and as the afternoon drifted past we were all ready to head back to camp and have dinner. Just before leaving my brother in-law got a hit and had a fish on. After a good fight with the fish we got it into the canoe and it was the first lake trout of the trip. We fished the area for another half hour and got nothing so we decided to call it a day and head back to camp. After the portage back down to Duncan Lake we set off across the lake to camp, on the way we went through an area that was fairly shallow 6-8 feet and could see the bottom of the lake very clearly I said to Matt are those fish, he looked down and saw them as well so I got my pole out and made the first cast and almost instantly hooked into my very first lake trout. Over the next 45 minutes or so Matt and I caught 8 trout. We kept three plus the one Matt had caught earlier and brought them back to camp.
That night we ate fresh grilled lake trout with thyme and shallots with a make shift barley risotto. It was awesome.
The next day we decided we were going to brave the stair portage to Rose lake. On the way to the portage we casted lines for a while and my brother and I both caught lake trout. We spent the day on rose lake, it was a very beautiful lake. The southern shore of the lake is in the U.S. and the northern part is in Canada. We didn't catch anything on Rose but it was well worth the trip. We wanted to make sure that we were back over to Duncan lake around the same time as the night before to see if the night before's hot spot would repeat. We were not disappointed Scott and Kevin both caught lake trout and we took them back to camp where we prepared them fried in shore lunch with rice and mushrooms.
on day 4 we decided to make the 3/4 of a mile portage up to Partridge lake. This portage was the hardest of all of them, lots of hills, rocks, tree roots and a beaver pond that we had to cross.
Partridge lake was incredible we only caught 2 fish while we were up there but it was the most picturesque of all the lakes we went to.
After a great afternoon on partridge lake we headed back to camp to take a nap and have a cocktail before hitting our hotspot one last time. We caught several more fish that night and brought four of them back with us to have for dinner.
With the last batch of trout I had brought some parmesan cheese and made a parmesan crust lake trout with lentils that was incredible. Although we all like the fried trout the most, the parmesan crusted was almost as good. It was a great trip and lived up to all I had expected. Final count for the week we caught 23 lake trout and Matt caught one sucker. We had great food at every meal and discovered a few new things. Hotdogs fried in bacon grease will probably cause a heart attack but are damned tasty and pancakes can be fried in bacon grease as well. Matt tried fried trout roe for the first time and if you fry pieces of trout skin they make great chips.
I have already started planning for next year, we might go back to the Boundary waters or we might go after the Sturgeon to complete my sweep either way I am sure we will eat well.