What are the desired qualities for a artificial bait for the BWCA?
Well if you asked me I would tell you there are four qualities the perfect bait for the BWCA must have. It must be good for the environment, easy to pack in, durable, and able to catch multiple species of fish!
Why must the bait be environmentally friendly?
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area is one of the few spots on this planet with a high density of lakes that still is a wilderness. We want to keep it clean and leave as little of a human imprint as possible. There are many things that are not allowed into the BWCA including glass bottles, and with fishing lures we should have the same mindset. There are currently no rules on what type of artificial lures you can use in the BWCA and it's up to us to make that choice. Additionally, there is growing concern of fish consuming dis-guarded soft plastic baits. They fill their stomachs and slowly starve to death. We should choose soft plastic baits that biodegrade!
Why must the bait be easy to pack in?
In the world of backpack camping the lighter the gear the more expensive it gets and there is a good reason for that: ENERGY. The more you pack in the more energy it takes to get deep into the wilderness to awesome Walleye lakes. Lighter the gear the better. Space is also limited, so baits that don’t take up a lot of room are a good choice. Soft plastic baits are easy to stuff in your pack.
Why must the bait be durable?
Well that's an easy question to answer. The more durable the bait the less baits you need and from what we learned just a minute ago that it is very important. With the occasional hammer handle northern ripping up baits durability is a must.
Multi Species Baits?
When you have to carry everything you need for a week or so of living in the woods, space becomes a premium and you want to keep it light. So baits that can catch all four target species; walleyes, northern pike (well they will hit anything), smallmouth, and lake trout is a good choice. With soft plastic baits you can change out the jig head weight to target different depths easily with the same plastic bait. The majority of the lakes in BWCA are tea stain water that are extremely clear. You usually have better luck with realistic looking and natural action plastics.
The perfect Artificial bait for the BWCA is Bio Bait.
Bio Baits are the closest thing on the market to a 100% biodegradable soft plastic bait. Most soft plastic baits will bloat when submerged in water which if you have ever lost a soft plastic lure to a fish it can be very harmful and even cause the fish to die. Bio Bait being water soluble will actually shrink and break down in water making it easier for the bait to pass through the fish. On top of that, these baits can biodegrade up to 85% in as little as a year making them a very environmentally friendly bait.
These baits are also surprisingly durable in use: you can twist them, bend them, and pull them like those Z-Man baits everyone goes crazy about. I admit they aren't quite as strong as Z-Man lures but they are pretty close - and Z-Mans will take 100's of years to biodegrade. Also I forgot to mention that these baits are infused with Fish Oil in their bait making process, unlike most baits where they are just coated with salt or dipped in "bass juice", these baits are infused with actual fish oil and will continue to have their sent after days of use. All of that being said it's pretty safe to say Bio Baits are durable.
They are also very easy to pack. You should only need a couple different types of baits depending on what type of fish you are going after. My personal favorites for walleye and smallmouth is the DNA Switchback in the Yellow Perch pattern. The Grub in the Whiskey Tango color works well for lake trout, walleyes, and smallmouth. Like I said earlier, northern will hit all of the above.
I know I've been raving about these baits for quite awhile now but I haven't gotten to my favorite part yet. Have you ever seen a soft plastic bait with the detail of a high quality crankbait? Same, well at least till Bio Bait DNA baits came out. These baits have a crazy amount of detail for a soft plastic bait - just look at the pictures. Don't worry, that detail isn't just for show. They catch fish, and a lot of fish. Here is a small example of what these lures can do: We sent some to Quetico Provincial Park last fall with one of our shop guys. He said that they caught around 15 walleyes in two days on that trip! With that being said we now know that Bio Bait catches fish making them the perfect artificial bait for the BWCA.