Kayaking Isle Royale TR

We made our Spring trip to Isle Royale last week, our 3rd kayaking in Spring. Our plan was to be dropped off at Malone Bay and meet our friend Dan. We would then paddle to Siskiwit Bay spend a few days there and return to Malone Bay via Hay Bay.

Our trip began with me picking up Trica at work. While waiting for her, I related past trips to Isle Royale to her co-workers. Her boss walked by and grumbled “I wish I were going with!”.

We drove to Balck River State Forest campground and set up the tent. I wasn’t sure if I could sleep as I sometimes don’t the night before a trip. We were up at 4:45AM. Packed up the tent and were on our way!

We arrived in Duluth, MN by 9:30 and decided we would stop to see the Aqaurium, something we had wanted to do. It was a great day at the Aqaurium, I recommend it!!

We left and drove to Grand Marais. We stopped at the Broken Spoon for lunch. The food was great! We picked up a few things and continued on to Grand Portage. We went to the dock to check in. We dropped off our kayaks and went to Rydens on the Border where we would spend the night. We were asked if we would mind taking a hiker to the boat with us in the AM who had just come from Buffalo, NY. He was going out to the Island to spend a week working for the Wolf/Moose research team. He was a pleasant person to talk to, his first time to the Island. I asked him if he gets seasick as the trip across Lake Superior can be rough. He gladly took Dramamine from Tricia!

The ride to Windigo was rough, 4-6’ waves with an occasional 8’. We got to Windigo and checked in. I was surprised at how low the water was!!The Boat Captain, Mike decided to overnite at Windigo as the Lake was getting rougher. We grabbed a shelter and set up camp. We returned to the Visitor Center for a Presentation by Ranger Valerie on the mammals of the Island. During the presentation, it began to snow outside! We returned later for a presentation by John Vucetich, one of the research biologists studying the wolves and moose, the longest continuos study of its kind in the world! A little moose trivia:

Moose begin to get warm at 55 degrees.

They don’t get cold till -25 degrees.

Summers that are too warm interfere with them putting on the weight they need to survive the winter.

Early the next day, we were on our way! While loading up, we saw a cow with a calf swimming in the bay.

Again it was a rough ride, though not as bad as the day before. We arrived at Malone Bay at 3:00.

We offloaded our gear and went to get a shelter.

After getting a a shelter and not seeing our friend Dan, we asked Cliff The Ranger if he had seen Dan, which he had not.

We hiked over to Siskiwit Lake and looked to the East through binnoculars for Dan. Soon we saw the relfection of the sun off a paddle and soon could see Dan. He arrived with another kayaker John, who had through hiked the PCT in ‘04.

We helped them get their gear to a shelter and carried our boats the 1/3 mile to Siskiwit Lake. We went out for an evening paddle and discussed our plans for the next few days. The weather would be iffy ,so we opted to stay at Siskiwit and fish. Dan had to leave by Wednesday at the latest to return home to leave for a trip to Alaska. Jerk

We got up early the next day and headed over to Siskiwit Lake. On the way, I noted a good variety of warblers and made a mental note to get out with my camera and binnoculars. Fishing was great, I caught a lake trout rather quickly. We headed off to a bay some folks we rode the boat with told us to try for Northerns. Dan hooked a Northern first, a 36" fish with a good girth. Tricia soon had one on and the way her rod was bending, it was big. I paddled over to help her; this one would have to be landed on shore!! I got a good look at it as we got into shallow water, it was a good 44"!! As we got into the shallow water, it started to jump around and spit the lure out and returned to the deep!! Trica was not very happy-and I decided I was not going to wade fish!!

We continued to fish, towing the person who had a fish on to shore as most of the fish were in the 30-36" range. We had a blast!!

While fishing a moose made an appearance on shore, it kept looking back as if it was being followed. After watching us intently, it continued on its way. Its mottled appearance suggested a heavy winter tick infestation. Trica was ablt to get video of it. We reurned to camp for a dinner of fresh trout and pike!

The next morning, we slept in. All were tired from the previous few days. We had French Toast for breakfast and it was back to the kayaks. The day was much nicer than the previous and we reurned ot “Mean Fish” bay for more northern. We stopped to fish a point for lakers on the way back at the end of the day. Tricia hooked into a good sized laker. I was on my way to help her when the fishingrod she was using snapped. My fishing rod! She still had the fish on and we were able to pull it into my boat, where I quickly put it on the stringer. I was glad she caugh the fish-not too happy about the rod! It was her first laker though and she was thrilled. She also decided she was not going to fish for lakers out of the kayak!! Fresh fish again!!

The next morning, after listening to the Marine Forcast, Dan and John decided they would start the paddle back to Rock Harbor as Lake Superior would be cooperative the next few days!

We were sorry to see them go, it was fun to talk with John about Long Distance Hiking. Though we hiked different trails, the experiences were similar.

After they left, Tricia and I decided to take advantage of the low Lake Level. Superior was down 18-20" and we followed the shore to hat Island. Along the way, I walked in the lake when we encountered blowdowns or water, Tricia went inland. On one of her detours, she came across moose bones, it looked ot be a young moose. When we returned to Malone Bay, we told the Ranger of out find and put a call in to Rolf Peterson who was at the West end of the Island. He asked if we could get GPS coordinates for the site which we agreed to. We would paddle back and flag a tree to mark the site form the water and get the coordinates for the site.

When we returned to camp, out neighbors, who had also been fishing invited us to waht would be their annual Friday Fish Fry. Not knowing of their fish fry, we had only kept what we could eat. We found out they brought a cooler and the cool temps plus little snow piles still present for ice, they were able to keep their fish fresh.

We went out that afternoon for a hike on the trail to the Greenstone. We saw a good variety of warblers which had flown over with the strong south winds. We saw the best concentration of warblers I had ever seen including, Black and White, Blackburnian, Yellow Rumped, Bay Breasted, Chestnut Sided, Yellow, Magnolia, Black Throated Green, Nashville, Redstart and a beautiful Scarlet Tanager. We also saw bald eagles, an osprey and afew pileated woodpeckers. I heard sandhill cranes but did not see them.

We returned to camp for our fish fry. We made a pot of Cheesy Potato soup. Others brought, coucous, wild rice, and of course fried trout and pike!! It was wonderful!! There had been a fire ban but we had gotten some rain. The Ranger came over to tell us the ban was lifted. We quicly mad a fire as it was cooling off.

We also had heard of a few canoists who had an illegal fire at Wood Lake. They had smoked some pike and left uneaten fish there and garbage. Apparently, one of the uneaten fish was carried off by a wolf. We all hoped that this would not lead to problems at that campsite. I hope they find the people who did this and fine them!!!

Saturday, NOAA was predicting 30 knot winds 6-8’ waves. We weren’t sure we would get off the next day. We hauled out kayaks back to Malone Bay and started to get our gear ready to go. It was windy, so we put up a tarp in the shelter. The wind continued into the next day, but had started to shift to the SW. We found out the Voyageur would be making its usual trip and pick us up at the appointed time. We all pitched in to carry gear to the dock and waited for the Voyageur. The ride back was rough but not as bad as coming over!!

I was sad that our trip was ending, but happy in the new friends we had made and the knowledge I would be back soon!!

On this trip Trica had dehydrated Chili and Pasta sauce which both rehydrated well. She also made jerky which was great!!!


Great pics as always! Glad you had a good time. Since when is it a bad time up there anyway?

I can’t believe how low the water level is. I remember some of those areas and it’s amazing how low it is compared to last year.

Nice catch of L trout as well. Wish we were going this year.



Saw that you are doing somehing different this year.

What are your plans?

You would have laughed seeing Tricia with her laker, It was big and went for the bottom. I think she thought it was going to pull her over.

She said she is done fishing for lakers out of a kayak!!

Have a good trip what ever you do!!


Definitely the

Challenge landing some fish from sea kayaks.

We’re so busy this year, our trips are very limited. We’re headed up to the Manitou Islands soon for a quick getaway and then doing either Pukaskwa or Lake Superior Provincial Park in July immediately following the symposium in Grand Marais.

Tell me, where some of those pics you posted around Hat Island? And was the water totally withdrawn from the mainland to the island? I can remember going through there last year and the water was only about 6" deep in that area. It looked like that area to me, but I wasn’t sure.


Hat Island was shallow
Damon, I was able to walk across to Hat Island, there was water, but not much.

This is the shot of me “crossing” to Hat Island


Hope you get out to Canada.

I still want to paddle the North Channel. That may be an option for us this fall if the preice of gas keeps up!!

low! I’ve heard several people talking about the levels, but man, that’s really low compared to the last couple of years.

Seemed all the water drained down into Lake Michigan this past weekend…we just got back from the Manitou’s and had 9 foot waves last Thursday with 45 knot gusts. I’ve got pics of guys kite boarding in Frankfort and if you didn’t know any better, you would definitely think they were out on the ocean with incredible surf conditions.

Great TR
Really enjoyed reading about your trip and Tricia’s fishy adventures…LOL…and, the birdy pics were great…warblers are really hard to identify, IMHO…glad you had a good time…hugs!