East Pike Lake in the BWCA Smallmouth Haven

I took my first trip to East Pike in 1977.  I have made the trek 15 times over the last 45 hears.  The reason for the trip is crazy small mouth bass fishing.  This year I got a 20 incher and our party of 8 caught over 150 fish over 3 days.  Over the years I have proven a number of different technique for catching smallmouth.

On my first trip all we did was drag a worm on a worm harvest with a bobber set to about 6 to 8 feet.  Pull this over the bolder fields and you were sure to pick up one bass after another.  Our record was set when the boys were 8 and 10.  It was their first trip.  We went out after dinner and fished from 7:00 until dusk.  We were on the east end of the lake where there is a forest of sunken timber.  It was a hot day and the wind had been blowing out of the west all day long.  I had to tie on to a dead head to keep from blowing off our spot.  In 90 minutes we caught – I should say the boys caught 110 smallies.  All I did was bait hooks and take off fish.  During this frenzy we lost the bobbers and worm harness and used a hook with as little worm as possible.

I attended the John Hoyer seminar and when he was talking about wind creating current and causing fish to get active, I recognized what had happened all those years ago.  The wind was blowing toward the shore we were camped on.  The wind creates current and brings in warm water and in many cases bait fish and top water feed.  I attended the John Hoyer seminar and when he was talking about wind creating current and causing fish to get active, I recognized what had happened all those years ago. The wind was blowing toward the shore we were camped on. The wind creates current and brings in warm water and in many cases bait fish and top water feed. So this year when the fishing near our camp got slow. We did what John Hoyer suggested. We paddled over to a point and fished on the windward side. For those of you in Rio Lindo that is the shore where the wind is blowing on. Sure enough the fishing picked up.

So this year when the fishing near our camp got slow.  We did what John Hoyer suggested.   We paddled over to a point and fished on the windward side.  For those of you in Rio Lindo that is the shore where the wind is blowing on.  Sure enough the fishing pick

https://www.frankies.net/fishing/featured-angler-larry-dahlberg/This year I began using a slip bobber.  I liked it because I could cast much farther but I did not like it because you can’t change it out quickly.  I had to dedicate a rod to the slip bobber.  Not an issue if you are on a boat but I limit my rods to 2 on a BWCA trip.

When things began to slow down I again thought about John Hoyer’s advice.  Try everything in your box.  I had some luck one year with a rattle trap finished like a crayfish.  When that slowed down, I was moving through my box and saw a popper.

I remembered back to when Frankie, Larry Dahlberg and I went smallmouth fishing.  Dahlberg is a genius and we would pull up to a bay and he would say were going to get one out of the fist bend, two out of the second and one out of the third.  We would cast sometimes under the trees.  Frankie on the stern with a bait caster.  Larry on the bow fly fishing left handed!  Needless to say my spot in the middle kept me in the trees as much as the water.  First hole, pop pop pop smash.  To my amazement we go 4 smallies out of that bay.

Why not try poppers.  I put on the grey xxxx poper I used with Larry and Frankie.  The only other popper we had was a hoola popper finished like a frog.    Sure enough pop pop pop smash.  That is how I got my 20 incher.  I just love the way smallies fight.  He ran 3 times and jumped twice.  Little did I know but maybe he was afraid of something more than me but that is another story. Link.

One of the problems with top water is that sometimes they hit at it because they are pissed off and not hungry.  This led to a first for me.  Here is the story.  We were fishing about 50 ft off shore and casting poppers as close to the shore as possible. We would pop them back to the canoe.  After getting about 4 slams without hooking a fish I decided that I would set the crap out of the next hit.  In a few casts – smash – power set and the popper came flying out of the water directly at my head.  I instinctively ducked and so did my buddy Ron.  Problem was that we both ducked to the same side of the canoe.  I reached to the high side and realized we were already gone so I just went with it.  I could not believe it.  We just swamped our canoe!  Tackle boxes, paddles and Ron’s camera bag went into the water.  Ron is a gifted photographer and he has a $2K camera in his bag.  Ron is no dummy and had the bag in a yellow floating super seal bag.  When we popped up from under the water.  Ron was wide eyed searching for his camera bag.  I began laughing my butt off because I could not believe what had just happened. 

We collected our gear and swam the boat to the shore and emptied the water.  We loaded up.  Thankfully it was 78 degrees out, sunny and the water was in the mid sixties.  All we lost was Ron’s fishing pole.  So we thought. 

We began paddling and I thought – he was fishing with a floating lure.  Let’s see if we can find the lure.  A few minutes later we spotted it.  Picked it up and pulled.  Sure enough, up came Ron’s pole. 

Other than some very bruised pride we were no worse for the ware.

If you want to fish East Pike you will have your work cut out for you.  First you need to get a BWCA permit from the feds. 

https://www.recreation.gov/

The entry point for East Pike is John Lake.  They only allow three entries per week.  You have to reserve your trip by the first week of January or they will all be gone.

Next you have to be in good physical condition.  There is only one portage to get into East Pike.  It is three quarters of a mile and goes up 250 ft and then back down.  The trail is narrow, rocky steep, muddy and mosquito infested.  Have fun!  I made my boys promise that they would carry me on a rickshaw when I am 80!  Hopefully they will stay in shape! 

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