General BWCA and Quetico Park Fishing Tips

General BWCA and Quetico Park Fishing Tips

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) of Minnesota, and Quetico Provincial Park of Ontario, Canada, hold a variety of fish species. Following are some general fishing tips to help you maximize your catch. The predominate species in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) and Quetico Park are smallmouth bass, northern, walleye and lake trout.

Caught a nice one! Smallmouth bass generally spawn in mid-June. During prespawn you will find the bass near reefs and flats with access to deep water. Rapalas and other types of artificial lures that run at depths of surface to six feet as well as weighted jigs with or without live bait will work the best. It typically will take one to two weeks for the smallmouth to recuperate from the spawn. Post spawn smallmouth can be found at the surface using a variety of fishing lures including: Zara Spooks, surface Rapalas, buzz baits, and Mepp's spinners. Jigs tipped with leeches also produce well. In mid to late August smallmouth begin to move into deeper waters. They frequent the same typical structure, but at depths of 8 to 15 feet.

Northerns generally stick to weed beds, although they can be found at anytime and anywhere. These ferocious fish will hit on anything BIG... Suicks, muskie bucktails, big spoons and HUGE Rapalas. Always use a leader when fishing for northerns. As the weed beds begin to die out in late summer, focus on the remaining green weed beds and large brushy structure.

Walleyes can be found in 5 to 10 feet of water in spring and typically during the summer at 8-25 feet. Deep diving Rapalas, crankbaits, and jigs will produce the best. September walleye fishing can be fantastic. Look for areas where water flow is restricted (narrows are best) and plan on fishing into the night.

Lake Trout are most active during May and early June and again in September. Large flashy spoons like Daredevils and Little Cleos or jigging spoons like Hopkins will give you your best success. Normally during the summer months lake trout descend to depths of 65 feet or more. Lake trout spawn in early to mid October. Focus your fall trout fishing on areas featuring fist-sized rocks located along shorelines, islands and reefs, at depths of 15 to 35 feet. Trolling and casting with deep diving crankbaits will also produce.

Always go through your tackle box and see what you already have before you go out and buy anything new. The biggest factor in being a successful fisherman is knowing how your lures work. Chances are you probably own many types of lures whose action you are very familiar with and which could work in our area.

Good old stand-bys that fisherman have used for many years make the best tackle. The following are descriptions of some of the more popular lures used in this area.

Lead head Jigs
Various sized hooks weighted with lead. Usually 1/8 ounce to 1/4 ounce sizes are preffered for walleye and smallmouth. Use 1/16 ounce and 1/8 ounce for panfish.
Soft Bodied Jigs
Plastic molded bodies which resemble worms, grubs, frogs, lizards, leeches or crawdads. The most popular style is the grub body. Use a 2 to 4 inch body for walleye and smallmouth. Use a 1 to 1-1/2 inch body for panfish. White, black, yellow, motor oil, and pumpkin seed are the most productive colors for our area.
Brand name for top water and subsurface lures. Rapalas come in many shapes, sizes and styles. Rapalas in the 3 to 4-1/2 inch rangewill work the best. Perch, Black & gold, black & silver and crawdad will be the most productive.
Oval shaped metal with a hook on the end. The best sizes will range from 3 to 4 inches in length. Solid silver, red & white, black & white, and yellow with red diamonds are productive colors.

For walleye and smallmouth, select an ultra-light rod and reel approximately 5-1/2 feet in length. Open face spinning reels as opposed to closed face reels are often preferable because many times the line becomes tangled under the cover of closed reels. Fishingline in the 6 to 8 pound test range is most desirable.

Medium action set-ups are most well suited for northern and lake trout. A stiffer rod about 5'6" to 6' in length works well. Again, an open faced reel is preferred. Use 10 to 12 pound test.

Some experienced fishermen will use bait casting rods to fish with. While they work well, learning to use them on a wilderness canoe trip is not a desirable situation. Bait casting rods can be very touchy, backlashes are common, and it is inevitable that the urge to throw them in the lake will enter your mind at one point or another.

Fly fishing for smallmouth works best with cork poppers and hair bugs with about 6-8 weight floating line. Use a 6-10 pound leader/tippet. The early morning and evening (just before sunset) are the best times for fly fishing. (The water tends to be at its calmest.) You could also choose to use large streamers or mega divers if you are interested in fishing for pike. Use sinking line for streamers and floating line for bugs & poppers.

Back to BWCA and Quetico Park Fishing