Duane's Canoe Outfitters

BWCA Fishing

Fishing the Boundary Waters Lakes can be a wonderful experience, and is the main focus of many of our visitors. While the fishing can be very productive they do not actually "jump in the canoe" as many people think. Expect to put in some time and practice, and you can expect fishing success. Our number one fishing tips is to have your bait in the water as much of the time as possible. While this sounds terribly simple, it works. Live bait such as nightcrawlers and leeches help this process as you can float them off of the bottom while relaxing at camp and have great success. Also try trolling small spinners or baits while canoeing if your travel plans allow a little extra time. I'll comment on each of the main species below and remind you to don't de afraid to ask questions. We talk with folks each day about fishing and have a pretty good idea of what works at that particular time.


Walleye can be found along the shorelines during the spring and early summer. Look for rocks on shore about the size of your head, and this "structure" will probably also be under water. As the days become longer and warmer they move to deeper waters. Best bets then are between small island, off of reefs or underwater rock piles, and in sharp drop offs or holes. Early morning or later in the evening are best times as summer progresses. Can also be caught below rapids and falls. Use small jigs tipped with live bait or rubber worms, Rapalas or other minnow type lures, small spinners such as Meps or Lazy Ike, as well as Lindy Rigs with live bait. This is the choice for eating by most folks, easy to fillet and delicious.

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth Bass are a wonderful sport fish that can be found around shorelines and moving water throughout most of the summer. As the summer progresses move out to deeper waters. They love rocks, weeds and submerged logheads. Live bait, bucktail spinners, top water lures and rubber worms or tube jigs all work great. This is an increasing fishing resource in the BWCAW and provide a great deal of fight. They also are good eating in these cool clear waters.

Northern Pike

Northern Pike can be found at the beginning and end of rapids early in the season. Off of island and points are also good places at this time of year. As summer progresses they will move to weed beds in a little deeper water, Cast or troll along weed beds in the morning or evening. They will attack almost anything, but live bait, and large spoon are the most common lure used. Also a steel leader will prevent them from biting off your line. Watch those teeth around fingers as well. A small net goes a long ways in landing any of these species. Smaller ones can be very good eating, serrating fillets will allow bones to fry out.

Remember, take only what you can eat, smaller fish are best eating, take a picture and release lunkers for another day. Wet your hands before handling fish. Don't touch gills of fish as this will harm chances of survival. Be careful fishing in a canoe, works best in pairs. For real whoppers try to get to shore to land fish. While we certainly invite you fish these great waters, please protect our resources, practice catch and release.

Have a question, please don' be afraid to ask!

Useful Links

  • Minnesota Fishing License
  • Minnesota Lake Finder