In this latest installment we head to the Gunflint Trail area in search of walleyes and wilderness in the Boundary Waters. So throw away your deodorant and set sail for Ogishkemuncie Lake.
Target species: Walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike.
Getting there: While Ogish can be accessed from several directions, we approached from the east, entering at Sea Gull Lake (entry point 54) and proceeding through Alpine, Jasper, and Kingfisher to reach our wilderness home for 5 days. We set out early and reached Ogish the same day, but if you’re interested in a more leisurely pace the trip there can be broken up into two days.
Now Sea Gull, besides being beautiful and teeming with fish itself, is enormous. This means that not only is the wind usually curling up waves of various sizes, but also when a storm hits it can be especially nasty. Therefore I would recommend staying the night at the Trail’s End Campground (managed by the Forest Service) and then leaving early the next morning. And, as always, be apprised as to what the weatherman predicts is in store for the day.
We camped on the second most westerly island on Ogish. I would recommend this island for not just the solitude and swim-friendly shore, but also for the lookout point just a short hike up from the campsite that offers fantastic 360 degree view of the lake. It’s a great place to just relax and observe nature at its finest.
Fishing: While not as wildly successful as some of our other BWCA journeys, the fishing on Ogish was still fast enough to keep us interested. We reeled in plenty of smallies near fallen trees in the shallows and even a few northerns hungry for daredevils. As expected, these angry fish fought valiantly and provided plenty of excitement, but they would not suffice for our one fish meal.
The walleyes took more effort to locate. It wasn’t so much a matter of where the walleyes were, it was when. Once dusk began to approach, Sander vitreus started chomping. Off the western tip of our island, Dusty found a few nice fish using a glow-in-the-dark jig slimily adorned with a leech.
Now, none of us are fit to carry Al Lindner’s spare tackle box, so when I say we couldn’t catch walleyes during the day, that by no means you won’t be able to. There are plenty of fish in Ogish, just keep moving and experimenting until you find the right formula.
On a side note, a great way to add some campsite fun to your BWCA trip is to bring along a plastic horseshoe set. It weighs next to nothing and is a great alternative to poker when gambling to see who has dirty dish duty.
In addition to the fishin’, Ogish offers another treat: cliff jumping. Obviously plenty of caution should be exercised while undertaking such an activity when you’re a solid day’s paddle and portage from civilization, but if you’re both sober and careful enough, thrills can be had.
Summary: Ogishkemuncie is more than a funny name. It is a gorgeous backcountry playground that rewards you handsomely for making the effort to visit. Hopefully the fish will be in a gluttonous mood when you go, but if not, settling for the superb scenery and surrounding stillness will hardly seem like settling at all.