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Backpacking and fishing


aloomens
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One of the other things I really like to do (besides fly fishing, and there aint many) is to go backpacking. I have been thinking it would be cool to be able to go on a two or three night, or week long backpacking trip, and also be able to spend some time fishing for smallmouth. Anyone know any places to backpack which would have access to smallie water? The closer to the chicagoland area the better, but I'd be willing to drive some. Any suggestions?

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The closest I've come within a days drive of you, Al, is the Jack's Fork River in Missouri, Al. That was a float, not a back packing trip. You can easily spend a week there camping on the gravel bars if you want and the smallmouth fishing is very good. The scenery is spectacular as well. There are huge caves to explore and cold water springs along the way as well. Take a snorkel and a wet suit, you'll have a blast.

 

The Ozarks in general offer quite a bit of National Forest. I'm sure there are trails along numerous trophy smallmouth fisheries there.

 

Check out North Sylamore (a national scenic river) in Arkansas, Eleven Mile, Current, Jack's Fork and others in that area. Those are about a 10-12 hour drive from Chicago.

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The Big Piney Trail is an 18 mile loop trail that twice crosses Big Piney Creek. What I remember of Big Piney was that it was crystal clear. Maybe you can find something out about it as a potential smallie stream. This is central Missouri Ozark country, but it has been years sinse I as there, and not fishing at the time. It is a beautiful one or two overnight backpack trail. Look for it in the National Forest west of Potosi. Maybe you can contact the Missouri Smallmouth Alliance for help.

The other place to research that I can think of is the North Country Trail through northcentral Wisconsin. It passes by lakes and streams (that are probably trout, not bass, streams). See what you can find out about Owens Lake or Lake Owens there.

Gregg

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I've fished Big Piney.

 

That's a pretty place and one of the few places I've caught a longnose gar by hook and line. I think there are probably smallmouth there in places, but I was catching warmer-adapted species in it. I don't think I was in the better part of it. Where I was it had quite a bit of litter and there were some pretty badly beaten down banks with beer cans and forked sticks everywhere along the bank.

 

I suspect it's vastly better upstream from the site where I was. It has a good reputation.

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Another place you can check out are the Porcupine mountains in the UP of Michigan. This place is supposed to be a backpackers paradice. You can hike in to fish natural trout streams or there is a lake call Lake of the Clouds which is loaded with smallmouth from what I hear. Keep an eye out for bears though and hang your food at night.

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Al sorry these places are not closer to home but what people have suggested so far are all great choices. Almost a top ten list if you were to ask my opinion,All those streams in missouri,awesome.

 

Paul mentioned the porcupines also another awesome destination.

 

My suggestion for hiking,backpacking, and smallie fishing combined also not very close to home at all is the Kekebic Trail in the Gunflint Trail on the east side of the Boundary Waters.

I have only hiked ten miles of this trail on a rain day that kept us out of the canoes, but was impressed a lot.

The trail i believe runs 80 miles total and meanders past lakes, streams, and of course woods. It does have primitve campsites along it's pathway. Beautiful country!

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Two rivers I would investigate are the Big Manistee in Michigan and the Wisconsin River. And I am talking about the Lower Wisconsin in the western part of the state. I have taken canoe trips on both and they are beautiful rivers, especially the Manistee. I don't know much about the hiking and camping but they are definetely the right type of river. But at least they are a little closer to home. Good fishing. Paul

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Al,

 

People have listed some good spots to hike and fish in the midwest. Timing is pretty important on a midwest hiking/fishing trip if you want to minimize the effects of biting insects. Three or four days of hiking in the northwoods in prime insect season sounds less than fun to me. I've been on fishing and canoing trips in the north woods where it was pure misery being on shore due to the bugs. I wouldn't want to spend three or four days being land locked if the bugs are bad. On a canoe trip, the bugs bother you far less when you are on the water.

 

In my opinion, fall is the best time to do a backpacking/fishing trip in the mid west. The biting bugs are gone and the cool, crisp weather is pleasant for hiking and sleeping. Smallies bite very well in the fall, too.

 

My choice for back packing and fishing in the middle of the summer would be someplace in the the Rocky Mountains where the scenery is spectacular and there are minimal biting insects. You would be stuck fly fishing for trout, but how bad could that be?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Al,

 

I have been trying to figure out a similar trip. The easiest multi-day trips seem to be canoe-fishing-camping trips. But another option for multi-day backpacking/fishing would be the Smoky Mountains.

 

If you are ever planning a trip like this, let me know and I'll split the gas money! (No worries about sharing a trail or not... I'm cool with solo-ing.) I've been doing some training trips at kettle moraine over the past couple years and I think I've got the lightweight backpacking thing down... combining it with fishing would be the bee's knees.

 

-jamie s.

 

p.s. My wife will now need the car to commute to work, so these days I'm really looking for ride sharing opportunties for mid-week fishing and multi-day camping trips...

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