Paddle - BWCA, Quetico, Sylvania, and other paddling places
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#1 Posted : Sunday, February 17, 2019 4:49:58 PM(UTC)

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A group of us will be heading in for a trip in Mid June. While I am getting some trip experience under my belt, I am always seeking sound and savvy veteran advice. In this case, I have a bait question: I have always bought live bait to take in with us, which is somewhat expensive and also an (albeit small) burden at times to lug along. On the last couple trips, we decided to use some fake baits to see if we could have some luck with them. It seemed as though we actually had equal or better luck using fake baits vs live baits. With that being said, is this the norm or an exception? To be honest I'd rather pack in a bunch of power bait in my tackle box rather than lug a container of live leaches or minnows around, but wanted to get some advice first before I commit completely to artificial baits.

Thoughts/Advice would be greatly appreciated!

#2 Posted : Sunday, February 17, 2019 7:23:33 PM(UTC)

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I have always thought that live bait worked much than artificial. I go to Quetico and artificial is all we can use and I still catch fish.
thanks 1 user thanked MagicPaddler for this useful post.
PointMe2Polaris on 2/17/2019(UTC)
#3 Posted : Wednesday, February 20, 2019 5:40:01 PM(UTC)

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I used to bring in a flat of 500 Nightcrawlers into Quetico every year for my 10 day trips with 4 buds over the 4th of July. I caught a lot of walleye. Ever since the live bait ban in Quetico (2008 I believe) I have to go with Gulp and PowerBait worms and minnows.

My walleye catch rate has gone down by at least 30% as a result of the live bait ban. I know many will disagree with me but that has been my experience.

Now mind you, I still do pretty well with plastics and artificial baits but not as well as I did when I could Lindy Rig with live Nightcrawlers Harness’s and jigging with worms.

Wish I could return to the old days ... I would average 50 walleyes per person per day up in Kawnipi ... I can still catch 50 walleyes on a very good day using artificials and plastics but I usually have to work a lot harder and longer to do so.

But I only fish in Quetico so I will have to stick to the “ no live bait “ policy.

#4 Posted : Wednesday, February 20, 2019 5:41:04 PM(UTC)

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The only time I have used live bait anywhere in the BWCA or Quetico is when staying at the Kawishisiwi cabins on lake one.  From there its easy to buy/carry what you need. And even that is only leaches for walleye/smallmouth and big chubs for pike.  

Every trip I've been on (25+) I've used nothing but artificial bait.  While I consider myself a casual fisherman at best, I always catch enough and often far more than I would ever need.  If you don't know the area well, I recommend trolling as a good way to cover new water and find underwater structure that you might want to sit/cast near.  I use a Titelock rod holder even with my kevlar canoe.  Simply have a couple 3x3 blocks of plywood with a piece of webbing attached to each.  Let them hang over the gunwale of the canoe (webbing keeps em from falling) and the Titelock (C-clamp type) squeezes onto the outside of the blocks.  Holds em in place and doesn't damage the canoe.  

For trolling bait, anything that Rapala makes is worth trying imo, along with Wally divers (they roll sometimes), smithwicks rattlin rouge, ratl-a-traps, ect....   Anything that floats is nice as its easier to get unsnagged.  I also strongly recommend using some kind of swivel if you're trolling.   Fake minnows and spoons in particular have a tendency to twist your line which just sucks later on.  

Be sure to post how it goes.  GL. 

#5 Posted : Tuesday, April 23, 2019 2:48:48 PM(UTC)

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Live bait is preferable but, you can still catch fish using artificial.

Really just boils down to how big (or little) of an inconvenience you feel hauling live bait around is to you & your crew.

Personally - I almost never bring live bait.
#6 Posted : Thursday, June 25, 2020 12:37:51 AM(UTC)

Last June I found a huge bag of leeches on a portage.  I tried to find the owner, but we didnt see anyone for the rest of the day, so I did the right thing and fished them the rest of the trip .  It was great to have live bait, as I normally throw plastics.  Constantly changing the water wasn't too bad either.  The industrius former owner had double bagged it with gallon ziplocs.  When you turn the bags perpendicular the bags can be left open on the bottom of the canoe.  Super cool!


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