8-Day Camping [And Kayak Fishing] along WI/MN Boundary Waters

I’ve returned home from a recent 8-day camping trip along the Mississippi River between WI/MN borders and what a fun-filled journey that has been. The fishery, the wildlife, the peace: all exuding right here in Wisconsin. This article will break down my trip into three segments – preparation, experience, and reflection – so – you too – can vicariously experience the journey I went on through words and images.

Preparation

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Benjamin Franklin

Preparing itinerary. I started initially planning for this trip back in March. I knew when I wanted to go on this trip, and made the necessary campsite reservations ahead of time. I used Google Maps’ Trip Planner service to mark destinations, traveling distances, and dates. See below for sample. I live north of these five campsites and my thought process with the itinerary was to start south and work my way north, towards home, which worked well in my case since I was beyond exhausted towards the end of the entire trip. I knew I was going to be primarily kayak fishing, I selected campsites along the Mississippi River, with waterfront access or near-proximity to water. I had 10 days reserved for this trip: two nights per site (I did fast-track towards the end, hence 8 days instead of 10 days). The routine for each trip was:

  1. Arrive 3pm to check in.
  2. Kayak fish in the evening. Sleep.
  3. Wake up. Kayak fish full day. Sleep.
  4. Wake up. Kayak fish in the morning.
  5. Check out. Drive to next campsite.
  6. Arrive 3pm to check in at next campsite.
  7. Repeat steps 2-6.

Meals occurred in the morning and evening, with a snack in the afternoon. After I knew what my itinerary was, the next step for the next few months leading to the trip was the packable items. Below is a list of all the items I packed for my trip. Keep in mind my activities consisted of kayaking, fishing, and photography on this trip. Your list may differ, or be similar depending on your activities.

Camping Essentials

  • Camper (or tent)
  • Food
  • Snacks
  • Water (1 gallon/day)
  • Sports drink.
  • Coolers
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • SPF clothing (shirts/pants)
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Extension cord (25-50 ft)
  • Waste bags
  • Switchblade
  • Flashlight + extra batteries
  • Handwipes
  • Facewipes
  • Towels
  • Soap
  • Patio umbrella

Photography Essentials

  • Camera
  • SD cards
  • Extra camera battery
  • Camera charger
  • Camera cleaning supplies
  • Gopro
  • Micro SD cards
  • Extra camera battery
  • Battery pack (20,000+mAh)
  • Battery pack charger
  • Gopro mounts
  • Laptop
  • Laptop charger
  • 1-2 TB external hard drive

Kayak Fishing Essentials

  • Kayak: Feelfree Moken 12.5 v2
  • Paddle
  • Life jacket (PFD)
  • Feelfree Crate Bag
  • Fishing poles
  • Tackle/Lures
  • Fishing net
  • Tethers
  • Pliers
  • Scissors
  • Fish grippers
  • Buffs/neck gaitors
  • Visibility flag
  • Bilge pump
  • Sunglasses
  • Eyeglass ear grip
  • Kayaking gloves
  • Cap
  • Mosquito face net
  • Water
  • Spare clothing
  • Whistle
  • Dry bag

Emergency Essentials

  • First Aid Kit for land
  • First Aid Kit for kayak
  • Electrolytes packet
  • Emergency Poncho
  • Spare footwear
  • Charged phone (75%+) before hitting the water

Experience

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”

Martin Buber

I will limit typing so much in this section and let pictures do the speaking. I embarked on this 8-day camping trip with the intent of fishing each day at various sections of the Mississippi River between the WI/MN border. Each area I fished in produced a healthy population of fish. I threw hollow body frogs, the R2S Whopper Plopper 75, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and several flies from my fly rod. Water condition was relatively clear at 2′ except for 2/8 days where heavy rain occurred, muddying up the water. Quick, daily recap of each day can be viewed on my Instagram or Facebook page! When the fishing became slow, I switched to the DSLR and captured the wildlife and scenery surrounding me. There were ample backwaters on the Mississippi River and I was truly fortunate to capture some of the best nature had to offer.

Aside from engulfing myself in the backwaters, I had a pleasant experience with my fellow camping neighbors, locals, and anglers throughout my trip. Many weekday campers/anglers were retirees and it was absolutely special to be in the presence of hard working individuals who are happily enjoying themselves with nature.

Please enjoy these few slideshows of some of my catches, wildlife, scenery, the Hobbit Home, and my kayak!

Fishing Photos

Wildlife Photos

Landscape Scenery Photos

The Hobbit Home & Kayak (Feelfree Moken 12.5′) Photos


Reflection

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”

Margaret J. Wheatley

I believe reflecting on one’s experience improves future occurrences. And the chances of me replicating the same trip is high. This was my first solo, multi-day, multi-campsite trip. However, the end of this trip is a continuation of my journey. Granted, I have camped in the past and have also camped on the water, so I was not foreign to how this all works out. However, eight days – which seemed short during the trip – is quite long; because I did all my planning a few months ahead of time, I was able to cruise through the five campsites with minimal issues. Now let’s reflect. The following 8 reflective questions were created by Marc Cappelletti -Travel Industry Marketing and Product Consultant – on questions to ask oneself after returning from a trip. Comparably, my trip was statewide, but does allow me to broaden my thinking that can be applied to future trips.

  1. What about this trip am I most thankful for?

    I could generate a list of a hundred things I’m thankful for (which I absolutely am regardless) on this trip, but the one that I’m most thankful for on this trip was a good night’s sleep. Being on the water for 8+ hours each day, I needed my body to be healthily restored while on the water to avoid any incidents. I didn’t get a good night’s sleep the first two days as I was adjusting to my “bed,” but after getting accustomed to the space and sleeping position, it really was just like sleeping in my bed at home.
  2. Did I shy away from doing anything? How can I address that fear?

    I shied away from using enough insect repellent and sunblock each day, which came with itchy and burning-sensation consequences. I had the items, but did not take the proper time to apply them onto myself. Also, since some of the campsites didn’t have shower, I was attempting to be careful not to over-apply the repellents and sunblock on myself. This is not a fear, but I can address this by dedicating time, whether that’s setting reminders on my phone or watch, to apply the necessary repellent and sunblock on myself to prevent further damage to my skin.
  3. What did people I saw not have that I take for granted?

    N/A.
  4. Which rituals or activities did I experience that could benefit my daily life, or that of my loved ones?

    Stretches!!! I stretched the first thing in the morning, the first thing before getting into my kayak, and the first thing after getting off my kayak. Knowing I’d be sitting for extensive hours for eight days straight, stretching kept my muscles and joints relaxed and strong for the day, eliminating stiffness and cramps that I would otherwise deal with on the water, which would not be enjoyable. Doing morning stretches will definitely be a routine I will continue to do at home and the workplace, or wherever I venture to!
  5. Did I meet any people or organizations that would benefit from my assistance, financial or otherwise?

    N/A.
  6. What, if anything, did I get frustrated with while traveling that was out of my control?

    Weather. Pre-planning months ahead of time always comes with unknown weather conditions. Some of my outings were delayed or cancelled due to storms in my area. This was definitely out of my control and was expected.

    Mosquitos. All five sites were inhabited with mosquitos. My first day on the trip, a storm rolled through which increased the mosquito presence. As mentioned above, I was lackadaisical with using insect repellent and I faced the consequences of bites throughout my legs and body, primarily in the evening.

    FLIES (gnats). I was surrounded by flies during my 2nd campsite both days. Repellents didn’t work and it was truly frustrating trying to fish and paddle with flies buzzing in and around my face. I fortunately had a mosquito net to put over my head, which allowed me to proceed with my activities unbothered. But the moment the mosquito net came off, the flies were back in full force. I knew flies’ disturbance could be present on my trip and had my mosquito net ready for them.
  7. What do I do at home that I didn’t miss while I was away? Can I stop?

    To add some humor here, I did not miss mowing the lawn while I was away. Unfortunately, I cannot stop this (ha). On a more serious note, I did not miss having to pack my meals every night as I prepped them all before start of trip. These weren’t off-the-stove meals mind you. I cannot stop this, but I can get [back] into meal prep for the week for work so I don’t have to do that every evening when I’m done with work, which can be exhausting.
  8. What did I learn from this trip that will help me increase enjoyment of future trips?

    Be in the moment. Capture your surrounding in person, and with a camera (if available) for future reminisce. Embrace advancements of technology and savor the memories made now for the future.

All in all, the 8-day camping trip met my expectation. I traveled effortlessly from one site to the next, and had some of the best fishing this year. I definitely plan on replicating this trip (or something similar) next year, and maybe target more (bigger) species than what I did this trip!

Kayak Acknowledgement

I do want to take this time to also recognize the durability my kayak – Feelfree Moken 12.5′ V2 – endured during this trip. Together, we paddled through tons of inseparable duckweed, skidded over entrapped logs, and remained buoyant against boat-formed waves and heavy winds. The Wheel in the Keel was definitely definitely imperative on this trip as I launched and relaunched dozens of times at multiple boat launches. I couldn’t imagine having to drag the kayak without the Wheel in the Keel with all my gears in it, whilst having to also load atop my vehicle. The Moken’s stupendous feature made for a convenient way to transport, move, and fish out of. It was the perfect kayak for this trip!

Photo courtesy of Tyler Thiede, Small Craft Fisherman, Small Craft Outfitters

Thank you for reading!

Video of this trip will be published on Youtube in TBD.

Video on a quick look at the Hobbit Home can be viewed by clicking here.

Subscribe to this blog or my other social media to stay connected with future adventures!

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