Fishing Tips for the BWCA and Canada’s Quetico Park

When was the last time you caught that big fish and cooked a delicious fillet over an open fire? It is said that it doesn’t get much better than a shore lunch in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or Quetico Park. But catching fish takes a bit of planning. What lures are needed? Can live bait be used? Where do you fish? When is the best time to fish? Many questions, but let’s start simply.

The BWCA and Quetico are mainly known for walleye, small mouth bass, northern pike and lake trout. I recommend you come prepared to fish a variety of species.

Fish Where the Fish Are

Sounds elementary, but many people start in the middle of a lake. A better choice is to start just outside of the weed beds along the shoreline. Weed beds a primary area for bait fish or food and a place for predator fish like walleyes and northern pike to hide waiting for a choice minnow or your lure to pass by. A second area to fish is where water or streams are coming into a lake. The current concentrates food and oxygen and therefore fish will gather looking for a convenient meal. Lastly, fish where there is structure; a reef, submerged rock pile, sunken logs, or trees hanging out over the shoreline.

Recommendation: Check maps for incoming water or streams and for narrow areas where you may find a current. Many lake maps are available that can narrow your search of a good location.

Fish Deep Enough

Stop by the our bait shop for advice. We talk to guides and customers daily and can recommend the best depth to start fishing. The depth you fish changes throughout the season. Most beginners will fish 6-10 feet down and wonder why they don’t catch anything. In most cases, the fish are deeper depending on the air pressure and water temperature.

Walleyes will be deep; 15-25 feet, depending on the water temperature and time of the season. Bass will be 8-10 feet down during Spring spawning times. Once they move to their summer feeding areas, you are more likely to find them “on the top water” and around structures such as underwater logs, trees hanging out over a shoreline and near weed beds. Northern pike will be near the weed beds ready to ambush minnows.

C. P. R.

The big fish deserve to be caught again. Therefore, do C.P.R. or “catch-photograph-release” the larger fish. The big ones are usually females and have been around many years. They are the breeding stock of the lake. Remove them and you remove the good genetics and future of the lake. Keep only the fish you will eat. Good eating ones are12-14 inches long for walleyes, 12 inches for bass and 20 inches for northern. Return the bigger one for another day of fishing.

Fishing Ely Seminar

Want to catch fish this summer? Learn the 5 key points to use to catch fish in the BWCA and Quetico Park. Our nationally known seminar will help you with the what, where and how to fish in the BWCA and Quetico Parks. We can’t teach a lifetime of fishing in one presentation, but we know when you follow our instruction, most wilderness travelers will catch fish.

Seminar covers major fish species in the area, where to fish, what lures and tackle to use and more.

Visit our Ely bait and tackle shop afterwards and talk with our knowledgeable staff for more details and techniques to help guide you to a successful fishing Ely experience.