There’s undeveloped country roughing the landscape in northern Minnesota. It’s 1.1 million acres of woods sprawling around 1,000 lakes. It’s the Boundary Waters, a federally protected wilderness with summer access granted by canoe.  

“People find peace of mind here that they don’t find anywhere else,” says Steve Piragis, Piragis Northwoods Company canoe outfitter. “It’s that relaxation that one finds away from the constant chatter of the mind that I think makes wilderness, especially this wilderness, so important.” 

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is on the minds of outdoorsmen these days because a new copper mine is proposed just shy of the Boundary’s borders. The site sits at the top of the watershed where Midwest anglers have their own kind of three-species fish slam.  

“I would say in order in terms of fun to catch on a fly rod, it’s smallmouth bass, northerns, and walleye,” says fly fisherman Reid Carron. “But just being here and casting to these beautiful fish and catching them is the main thing.”  


Here’s how to go for a “tri on the fly” in the Boundary Waters:


Kris Millgate is an outdoor journalist based in Idaho Falls, Idaho. See more of her work at