Gear/Tips for fishing Isle Royale

Questions about water transportation and fishing on the island.

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Gear/Tips for fishing Isle Royale

Post by the1grimace » Sun Apr 01, 2018 8:55 am

This summer, I will be hiking across Isle Royale National Park with some friends, and I hope to be able to fish both the island's inland lakes and Lake Superior. That being said, I haven't really gone fishing since I was a boy, so I am looking for some input on what gear to bring and maybe how to use it.

My goals: Catch some fish to clean, cook, and eat while hiking. I am not interested in sport fishing; I just want to extract delicious food from nature. Since I am hiking, I want my kit to be as light as possible. My priority list for choosing gear is lightweight > idiot proof> inexpensive. Our current itinerary has us visiting Desor and Chickenbone. It is also possible that we will camp at Hatchet.

Proposed gear: A small, sectioned container for tackle, tackle, rod, fillet knife, stringer.

A. What rod do you recommend? I want something that is easy, portable, and lightweight. I am looking at Emmrods. because they are lightweight and shouldn't involve any assembly or disassembly. Just strap it to my pack and go. Is this a good choice?

B. What kind of tackle do I need? Do I need two different kinds of line for Lake Superior and the inland lakes? What kind of line? Given the environment, what kinds of lures should I use? Is it worth my time to dig up worms and use them as live bait?

C. Any other input that someone who hasn't fished in a loooong time could use to help have a relaxing, rewarding fishing experience while on the island.

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Re: Gear/Tips for fishing Isle Royale

Post by Base654 » Mon Apr 02, 2018 3:54 am

So my two cents. It's hard to fish from shore, but I have heard of people having luck at Chickenbone. I carry Cabela's Fish Eagle® Travel Spinning Rod. (not a commercial just the one I have) it's a simple four section travel pole. I have 6 pound fancy braided something or another on the smallest spinning reel I could find. The weight difference is slight, and I can use it at the local pond. Spoons and spinners have given me the best response. I used my folding knife to filet, not pretty, but why carry extra. You might be ambitious with a stringer, from shore I don't catch much. Two years ago I caught a big trout in lake Superior off a dock and had to fight it a while with the light gear, but I would rather do tat than carry sturdier stuff.

Check the Greenstone paper on the NPS site for seasons and catch limits, hook types(barbless) and bait(no natural) restrictions:

I am better at fishing than catching.

Others: feel free to dispute me, I am better at fishing than catching.

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Re: Gear/Tips for fishing Isle Royale

Post by Ingo » Mon Apr 02, 2018 7:36 am

I have an Emmrod and it works OK, but I only cast about 1/2 as far as with a spinning rod. More use or practice would probably help, as it's a little different motion (lots of wrist). I would suggest getting the light action rod end (more coils)--I think that might help, but I went with the middle ground and it's pretty stiff. I've use it on 1 trip and caught 1 fish with it :).
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Re: Gear/Tips for fishing Isle Royale

Post by Midwest Ed » Mon Apr 02, 2018 10:01 am

Both Hatchet Lake and Lake Desor are officially classified by the NPS as being void of any game fish although there have been very few anecdotal reports disputing this. There are are more reports though of people coming up empty from them.

Chickenbone should be good though. Try the weedy shallows at Chickenbone for Northern. Use a steel leader for Northern.
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Re: Gear/Tips for fishing Isle Royale

Post by johnhens » Mon Apr 02, 2018 1:20 pm

When backapcking, I carry a 6'6" 2 piece Medium Light spinning rod ( Cabelas) and a Shimano 2000 series spinning reel w/front drag, spooled with 8 or 10 # test Trilene XT. I attach a 9" or 12" 20# test steel leader with a sampo type swivel. I carry a pair of forceps to remove lures and a jaw spreader. As far as lures, I carry 3: a 1/2oz Five Of Diamonds, #4 Mepps Black Fury with a silver blade and a jointed #9 Rapala in perch. I have replaced the treble hooks with single hooks w/ a pinched barb. Oh and a fillet knife!!!!

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Re: Gear/Tips for fishing Isle Royale

Post by the1grimace » Mon Apr 02, 2018 8:23 pm

Thanks for all of your input! If Hatchet and Desor have little to no chance of yielding something worth eating, I'm not sure it will be worth the extra expense and weight. I've read that shore fishing Superior is an exercise in futility.

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Re: Gear/Tips for fishing Isle Royale

Post by pyrowaves » Tue Apr 03, 2018 8:02 am

Second on reading the greenstone for some rules and regulations.

Notice you'll need barbless hooks, or pinch the barbs down. Also I think there are some rules/recommendations on not using the same lures in Superior as inland to help prevent invasives without cleaning.

On that note, me and two others are going in Mid June and will all have fishing gear. We plan on fishing primarily for food, but you can't rely on it as a meal. If its something you are interested in, look into changing up your route if possible as you can hit some other places and pass by Hatchet and Desor.

I can get more detail on the gear we are bringing later on. And a fishing report after our trip in June.

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Re: Gear/Tips for fishing Isle Royale

Post by Redbad » Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:40 am

The campgrounds with docks do give access to Lake Superior waters and while I have not caught fish from them, I have seen folks catch pike from the McCargoe Cove dock and Lake Trout from the Daisy Farm dock.

Shore fishing from Chickenbone (Chickenbone West Campground) is possible but it will involve some wading past the reeds. There is a population of walleye which, if caught, will make the effort worthwhile. There are leeches...

Both lake Desor and Hatchett Lake have many baitfish. Historically they are both listed as having Brook Trout. Whether they still have any is an open question. Keep in mind that fishing these lakes is difficult -- accessing Lake Desor from NLD or SLD to fill water bottles is a challenge -- and it may be that most folks pass on fishing these lakes.

I have no experience with an Emmrod (I fly fish and have fly fished ISRO). Fishing from shore will be difficult and the further you can cast, the more water you can cover.

Good luck!

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