I've been thinking about the border route, one of these years my wife and I are at least going to do the portion that is "in" the BWCA - probably won't do the rest. Maybe next summer... if not then soon...
I've been wanting to catch each species that is native to the BWCA but I haven't given it a serious effort (yet). The BWCA has 21 native species of fish (not counting minnows and lampreys). Of those 19 are available on the Border Lakes.
Of those species I've caught almost all of them but few of them in the BWCA. I'm going to make an effort to try and catch all 19 natives available along the Border during our single push to paddle the border. I'll probably pick up one or two of the non-natives along the way and if it works out maybe I'd try and pick up the two sunfish species found in the interior lakes.
So here is my question to those out there, any of you willing to share lakes where you've caught the following in BWCA? (bonus points for border lakes)
Besides Rock Bass and some kind of sucker, I haven’t caught any of what you ask in the BWCA. You will need a special tag to fish for Sturgeon on the border lakes. The season is closed for them in all other waters in that area of Minnesota. I don’t think you will find Bullheads on any border lakes, and Burbot will only be found in the deepest waters in the summer.
Thanks, I know none of those are too commonly caught in the BW
I generally find Burbot at the same depths you'd find Lakers whens fishing lake superior so I'd suspect it would be the same in the BWCA, not sure what lakes might be the best though. I do know there are Bullheads in Little Vermillion on the far west end of the border (ep 12) but I'm sure they are not very common (only a few show up in the fish surveys).
BTW - a tag is only required to harvest Sturgeon. Catch and release can be done without a tag on open waters (which includes the border lakes).
Your best bet for suckers will be when they are running/spawning in the rivers...same with the sturgeon. If you hook a longnose sucker take some good measurements....the state record isn't very big. We found a solid sucker run on Birch a couple years back at the end of May.
I don't think you need a sturgeon tag to fish for them...just if you are going to keep one.
Along the boarder route, I have caught rock bass and red horse in Fall and Newton lakes on either side of the portage that connects them. I have seen suckers along the Knife river going from Carp to Knife lake. Let us know how you did. what fish will be the easiest? most challenging? to catch?
On the border lakes I have only been on Saganaga, Birch, Knife and Basswood. Haven't caught any of those fish in those lakes from what I recall. Of your list, I have caught sunfish and rock bass in other bdub lakes though. Your endeavor sounds pretty fun. Good luck!
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson...and...“Peace is that brief glorious moment in history when everybody stands around reloading".
I have only caught one on your list, Rock bass. I am a Walleye, pike trout guy. It was on Lake Four. I would say that you have a better chance fishing in rivers up there if you want to fill out this list.
I've caught crappie in iron, bluegill and whitefish in knife. I had a buddy that had something on in basswood by the falls years ago it pulled the canoe around for almost an hour never saw it we suspected it was a sturgeon
Some time in the near future I'm going to plot out a list lake by lake using the MN DNR survey data and Furtman's book (and any info I find here). The surveys are never very complete, especially with the difficulty of sampling many species via net - actually the DNR has gone to hook-and-line for Sturgeon surveys (in many rivers at least) due to the low success rate of boom shockers and nets on that species.
@aholmgren - easiest would be the ones I didn't ask about! Easiest native has to Pike. I don't plan on "targetting" them - even though I like them, catching one incidentally should be fine. Several should be challenging - mostly due to low numbers and/or low distribution. Bullheads should tough. Several like Cisco and Burbot will be tough due to seasonal conditions. If I had to pick, I'd guess Longnose Sucker to be the toughest - I've only caught those on their spawning run out of Lake Superior.
@Savage Voyageur - rivers are indeed always multi-species hot spots. I've been on the Basswood River - that always struck me as spot that could hold good numbers of riverine species.
@fisherboy - that Northern Cisco (tullibee) is a fatty - must be trying to fit in with the Crappies!
Good catch! I had perch on the list (I've caught them on LLC before), must have accidentally deleted it. I double/triple checked the list now and I don't think there are any other omissions. That brings me up to an even 20 native border route species.
Ok, went through and finished a lake-by-lake anaylsis of the border lakes. Mostly used the MN DNR Lake Finder and the Fish Mapper. Supplimented with the recommendations found here and Furtman's book.
A couple surprises in the detailed look: 1. There is a Border Lake that may have a Longear Sunfish (Northern Sunfish) presence. They shouldn't that hard to find (if there are decent numbers), they are really picky about habitat. 2. Green Sunfish are found on a couple Border Lakes too - surprisingly on the east side (Superior Drainage). 3. Angler reports of Muskellunge (not native) in Little Vermilion - not that surprising considering the introduction to Crane Lake, doubtful they are common though.
That brings me up to 22 natives and an additional 2 natives that may or may not exist. Plus 2 more potential non-natives on the border. Maybe I'll even attempt a Brook Trout detour and make it 25/27 potential targets.
Some lakes and species were limited for data. Some species are terrible to survey anywhere but especially without access to modern equipment. Deepwater species - especially Burbot and Longnose Sucker are probably pretty widespread, probably just about any lake with Ciscos/Lake Trout. Maybe not common but probably present. I suspect Crooked and the Basswood River would have Lake Sturgeon too, but that is more of gut feeling than anything.