SANDSTONE, W.Va. — Typically you would find Summers County resident Sammy Pugh rolling along the New River in West Virginia directing clients what direction to throw a bait. Sammy is the owner and guide of New River Trophy Outfitters. However, during August, he and his family and several friends took a trip deep into some isolated territory to try fishing in a different corner of the country.
“It’s called the BWCA, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, and it borders Minnesota and Canada and the boundary runs through the lakes. Sometimes you’re in Canada and sometimes you’re in the U.S.” said Pugh in a recent edition of West Virginia Outdoors.
The area is heavily regulated by the U.S. Forest Service. Fishing in the vast back country is allowed only by limited permits issued by the Forest Service and in an agreement with Canada’s Ministry of Natural Resources.
The permit holder can choose a canoe or motorboat permit. Pugh and his party selected the motor boat option.
“I’d done this trip before, but it had been eleven years since I had been back. It’s a wilderness experience. We put in our boat and we went 18 miles until we began to look for a campsite,” he said.
Instead of one giant lake, it’s a series of lakes connected by streams and require portage to many. The fishing, according to Pugh, is phenomenal.
“There are hundreds of thousands of miles of water and there’s nothing there. It’s true wilderness with no roads, no houses, these fish have probably never seen people or a lure before. It’s truly incredible.” he explained.
As you might imagine the waters are flush with smallmouth bass, northern pike, and walleye. However, Pugh said surprisingly the options didn’t stop there.
“They are trophy size fish, but they also have largemouth along with lily pads and grass. It’s almost like fishing a southern impoundments in some places. For the largemouth we were throwing frogs on lily pads and they’re four to six pounds,” he explained.
The smallmouth bass caught were in the four to six pound range as well. The Northern Pike were up to 40 inches in length.
Although the permit doesn’t require a Canadian fishing license, there are restrictions on the permit. According to Pugh you cannot get out of your boat on the Canadian land. There is also a limit on how far north you can travel in the Canadian waters. But, he said the restrictions are no hinderance to the experience.
“It’s really a neat experience and the fishing is just outstanding. It’s incredible,” he said.