Best of Friends
by William Llilly (1 of 2)
Best of Friends I remember it like it was yesterday. It has been several years since my first trip into the Boundry Waters but I will never forget this trip.
A friend of mine from work was always telling me about his trips into the Boundry Waters and how great the fishing was there. He said, "the fish there don't even know what lures are, they will hit anything you throw at them". I was the one who was hooked.
The adventure was on! We were going to stay 7 nights. We went the week before Memorial day to take advantage of the extra day off work and to avoid the mosquitos.
This trip was the greatest adventure I had ever been on. A group of us from work went together. We divided into three canoes and our outfitter gave us team names. There was Team Bass, Team Walleye and Team Pike.
The tow boat dropped us off at American Point just off of "Big Sag". We paddled our way West without a care in the world. I never seen such a pristine and beautiful place in my life. I am used to doing my fishing out of a fully rigged fishing boat with all the latest equipment you can buy. The canoe was a bit uncomfortable but the scenery made it worth all the discomfort.
My thoughts on this subject changed immediately when we started our first long portage. They call this Monument Portage. I began to think this was because it was a monumental event to get all the gear and the canoes to the other side. Then we came across the monuments seperating the Canadian side from the United States side of the trail. Little did I know I was only half way across the portage.
By the time we reached the far side of this monumental portage I began to understand why my friend who had been coming here for years recommended buying a fishing vest with lots of pockets for smaller tackle boxes. You can wear your tackle box instead of carrying it! We had enough stuff to carry.
Another newcomer to this place was Kirk, my partner in Team Bass. He is a wonderful cook and wanted to bring more fresh food than the normal trips our experienced hosts usually came with. We had a very large cooler loaded with steaks, brats and lots of fresh diced potatoes with onions that we would all thank him for later. But not right now!
My partner is also a very experienced fisherman and we brought about 300 night crawlers, in 4 different containers, with us that we spent many nights on the golf course gathering before our journey began. Again, we would thank him for this later, but not right now.
After 3 trips across the "mountain" the six of us were ready to hit the paddles again. No time for fishing today. We had to make it to our destination and get camp set up before nightfall.
The weather this year was extremely warm and we were all down to T shirts or bare skin by the afternoon. We were starting to get worried about our worms and all the fresh food we brought with us.
As it turned out the worms were fine in the boxes of bedding we had brought. We just had to keep them shaded with our shirts and jackets we all, very willling, supplied them with. The food was another matter though. Our ice was turning to water fast. It seems that our cooler, sitting in the middle of an aluminum canoe reflecting sun on it most of the afternoon, was not a very good thing.
As we were paddling we heard water running down into the lake and we went to investigate. Turns out Mother Nature had heard our concerns. As we pulled the canoes up to the sound of the water we had found our savior. There was ice along the stream bed! Lots of it!
We took out our camp axes out and chopped enough ice to fill the cooler and we even threw some into the worm containers. Nothing could stop us now! We would make it to our campsite and put everything in the shade. We would look for more ice as the days went on. Nature was on our side! We were masters of the wilderness!
As we made our way past the Ottertrack cliffs the water narrowed and the wind was right in our faces. This is where I realized this was not just a pleasant little paddle. All of a sudden this easy floating adventure became a struggle just to make any headway.