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In the winter, visitors to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) have to submit self-issued permits before embarking on their trips.
Before the sun has even risen, Lukas carts his ice fishing gear across the 
surface of West Bearskin Lake in a homemade pulk sled.
The lakes of the BWCAW are connected to one another by portage trails.
As dawn breaks, Lukas heads out on to Duncan Lake, where we set up camp for the day.
The BWCAW is a nearly 1.1 million acre Wilderness Area, nestled in the Superior National Forest of northern Minnesota, right on the
border of Canada.
Lukas used a handheld auger to break through the thick ice.
Our first catch: an 18” lake trout, perfect for the frying pan.
A Fish Finder, or Sonar, is a useful tool for determining depth and locating the fish you are targeting.
Depending on what they eat and which lake they call home, lake trout can vary in color, from silver to gold and white to red or orange-fleshed.
Lukas sorted the kindling by size, in front of the ice-covered rock that served as our windbreak.
Outdoor cooking essentials: a great fire, great ingredients, and a great cast iron pan.
Lukas coated this lake trout in mustard and a classic shore lunch batter before pan frying the fillets to serve up alongside sauteed vegetables, which included chanterelle mushrooms that he foraged last fall.
Superior National Forest accounts for relatively few acres of the U.S. National Forest system, but it contains 20% of the freshwater, making it an incredibly valuable natural resource.
As dusk fell, it was time to hit the portage trails and head home.
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January 2019

Photography by Bryan Derballa

Lukas Leaf is an avid outdoorsman and chef from Minnesota — this January, we met up with him to experience the solitary sport of ice
fishing. Deep in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is Duncan Lake, the frozen expanse of water that would be our camp for the
day. Ice fishing is a sport that’s as much about the place as it is the act, and for chef Leaf, there’s no place like the Boundary Waters.
We were struck most by the absolute silence: every breath of wind, every crack of ice, and even the soft hush of falling snow echoed
in that space. In that quiet, cold world, waiting patiently for the fish to bite, we found ourselves slipping into a different, more essential rhythm of life.