As we work our way into July we keep getting questions about if live bait can be used in the Boundary Waters. The answer is yes, you can bring in Minnows, leeches and crawlers to name a few of the most popular types of bait. There are no rules stating you have to only use artificial baits. You do want to make sure that any left over bait is packed out of the wilderness and thrown in the trash.
The question for your group and your trip is what kind of bait do we want to pack in and fish with?
Night Crawlers are a pretty basic bait the will entice a number of types of fish. They are easy to put in your canoe pack or canoe. They just need to be kept in the shade and they will make it for most or all of your trip. The key is to make sure you have enough. The middle part of the summer is when night crawlers are most popular with the fish. This typically means mid-June to mid-August.
Leeches are another great mid-summer live bait option. Leeches take a little more care, but are hardy and loved by the Walleyes, Smallmouth Bass and a few other fun fish to catch. Leeches like to have fresh water a number of time a day. It is best to not get them too warm in the container. Leeches are best when the lake water has warmed a bit. Too cold, such as early spring, and you may not have as much luck with leeches. The warmer summer lake water allows the leeches to be a bit more active. Too cold of water and they tend to keep balled up on the hook. To take leeches on your BWCA canoe trip you should plan on having some sort of leech tote that has very small holes. Minnow buckets have hole much too large to keep the leeches confined. You want a container that allows you to easily change water to keep your bait happy.
Minnows are a great spring and fall a bit. The cooler weather makes it easier to keep healthy minnows. The typical types of minnows used in the Ely, MN are are fathead chubs, rainbows, shiners, and a variety of sizes of sucker minnows. You can use minnows year round. They get a little harder to keep when the weather turns hot. So most turn to leeches or crawlers for their mid-summer canoe trips.
Now a quick note to those of you headed into the Quetico Provincial Park in Canada. There is no organic bait allowed into this wilderness area. You also need to make sure you are using barbless hooks when fishing the Quetico.
If you have any questions please give us a call here at Spirit of the Wilderness 800-90-2709. We do stock minnows, leeches and crawlers all summer long. Just give us a quick call if you would like to pre-order your bait for your upcoming BWCA canoe trip. Need suggestions on what bait to take or what lures to pack or buy? Just stop in and ask. We talk fishing!