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Some of Minnesota's best fishing is off the beaten path

The remote Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in the northern part of the state offers a scenic place to cast a line
BY JIM LAWSON, For The Oklahoman Published: June 29, 2013
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Editor's Note: Jim Lawson is the tennis coach at Moore High School and recently returned from a fishing trip in northern Minnesota to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

My wife playfully calls it our “prove your manhood” trip.

Several years ago, I began making annual trips with the other men in her family to remote Mack Lake in Northwestern Ontario's Quetico Provincial Park.

To reach our campsite, we would have to spend a morning of riding across Canadian back roads, hiking, and paddling. Once there, we would spend many hours fishing from a canoe in search of smallmouth bass and walleye while being harassed by the pesky northern pike.

Normally, we catch a lot of really nice fish. By the end of the week, we are sore from paddling the canoe and hooking so many smallmouth bass.

Mack Lake is definitely off the grid — no cell service for miles. We have the conversation each year of what to do in the case of a major injury, heart attack, etc.,

We never have arrived on a good solution other than agreeing it would take a long time to get assistance.

Two years ago, we decided to start searching for new places to fish on the American side of the border. Last year we started visiting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota.

The BWCA is comprised of more than 1 million acres of wilderness lakes and forests. While resorts were created in this area many years ago, a series of laws — beginning with The Wilderness Act in 1964 — were passed which restricted logging, mining, and the use of motors within the wilderness area.

The result was that the resorts relocated to other lakes outside of the BWCA and most of the area became available only to those willing to hike in or canoe, just like Canada's Quetico to the north.

This has created excellent fishing and nature-viewing opportunities for those willing to make the journey.

Last month we visited Crooked Lake, located on the border of Minnesota and Canada. The lake consists of several bays, each named after days of the week.

We read about the smallmouth spawn in Saturday Bay, so we decided to focus our efforts there.

Saturday Bay is a smaller, shallower bay than the others on this lake. The larger bays run about 2 miles from north to south and about ¾-mile wide.

Not huge, but when your mode of transportation is a canoe, seeing whitecaps on any body of water has a tendency to be terrifying.

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