Piragis Northwoods Outfitters
Boundary Waters Canoe Trips
105 North Central Avenue
Ely, Minnesota 55731

Why we do what we do:
Art in the Boundary Waters Guided Canoe Trip with artist Brent Spink


Our guides know the Boundary Waters and Quetico Wilderness better than most people know their own back yards. It takes one thing above all others to be an experienced Wilderness Guide. You have to know the country you travel in. Know it because you'd paddled it, hiked it, portaged it, slept on its ground and fished its waters, come to understand the language of its skies and subtle weather patterns. That's the way to truly know it and our guides know the area because they live in it and with it.

Scroll down to see what folks say about our guiding services...

Steve Johnson, Aaron Chick

Fishing Guides:
Steve Johnson, Aaron Chick

Daily Rates for Guides vary depending on the length of the trip and how extensive the outfitting packages is. Daily rates range from $175 -- $250+ per day.

Call us today at 1-800-223-6565

or email us info@piragis.com with questions

Call our outfitting department at 800-223-6565 or email us:

Call Drew Brockett or Adam Macht

We love to talk paddling and would love to speak with you about your trip.

Sandra and I had a fantastic time on our Autumn Colors trip!  No complaints.  The colors were beautiful and overall the weather was cooperative.  I wish I was still on the trip right now.

The equipment and food provided were top-notch.  Good value for the money.  Most of all, I’d like to commend you for having Steve Johnson as a guide.  He was great!  Knowledgeable, upbeat and a good cook.  He did an excellent job of assessing our groups’ ability and stamina and setting the pace accordingly.  I’d love to go on another trip with Steve as guide in the future.  I would certainly recommend him to anyone who was interested in a BWCA trip. – Dan & Sandra Szymanski, Bakersfield, CA

Aaron Chick made our trip a great success.  – Scott & Kathy Hewett, Aptos, CA

Steve Johnson was an outstanding guide and we enjoyed the time so much we may want to reserve his services again next year.  Steve was an awesome guide.  I think our week went really well and we enjoyed the time with him.  We read several chapters from a book each night around the fire, enjoyed fishing and cooking together and his knowledge of the wilderness plant and animal life was incredible. – Larry Graubner, Nolensville, TN

Aaron Chick is such a great guide. He is a real treasure and not only made our experience out in the BW fun and safe but we learnt a tremendous amount from him about canoeing, portaging, camping and getting to know the lakes and understand the weather, which was an amazing condensed lesson from him of decades of experience. We were very lucky to get such a great guide at the last minute. Aaron is a real gem! - Joanna Walters, New York, NY

Dear Bert,
Your company did another outstanding job in getting our canoe/fishing trip planned and executed.  Feel like you and your guides would bend over backwards or do anything to make our fishing trip a success.  Caught lots of fish (three species each day) with Brad on  Wednesday and Aaron on Thursday.  Sorry the weather didn't cooperate for a third day on Friday.  We really loved that big three-man canoe.  Brother Steve caught his first northern pike and had a great time.  Will be back again next year for sure.  I will give you a call as soon as we know what block of time will work for us.

Thanks for treating us so well and giving us such fine service.  I won't hesitate to refer anyone wanting to go on a fishing trip to you at Piragis.
Larry Nutt, Wichita, KS

We got excellent tips from your fishing guide Aaron Chick.  – Rick Thom, Jefferson City, MO

Darren Young was a great guide, a cheerful companion willing to both give direction and accommodate our preferences while sharing his knowledge. – Byron Swift, Washington DC

Steve Johnson didn't mess around the campfire. I think he nailed every meal for us, and by that I mean he was very diligent and professional in the preparation and serving of the food such that all the guys were well fed, even proportions, every meal of every day! The food was really good, and the guys had plenty of food every meal. Nothing was burnt, nothing tasted bad. Steve made it look almost easy.

The "guide" was truly exceptional. I think the guys and I will be telling tall-tales about his canoeing, fishing, camping, cooking, and general guiding prowness for years to come. I've been camping all my life (bikes, canoes, rafts, backpacking, ski-huts, snow-camping, etc), and have taken over a dozen trips in the BWCA and Quetico, and I learned a lot from Steve. He knows the country and takes care of his party. One of the guys said paddling in the bow with him was like being on a "paddling Discovery channel". He caught more fish, in less time, than the rest of us combined. and landed decent-sized Northerns with his bare hands from the canoe, He answered 100's of questions, cooked all our meals, prepared us for the more difficult portages, coached us through one short stretch of rapids, kept us safe and let us all roam, all with a smile. Never a negative word from him the entire trip. – Mark Levorsen, Centennial, CO

Everything was fine!  I thought Ann was an excellent host and guide.  Thanks all for making my trip such a success. – Faith Drummond, Lancaster, PA

I have been on two trips with Aaron Chick as leader and am considering coming back again. He made the trip. Aaron is a hard working and knowledgeable guide and fisherman. Everything was outstanding from the equipment to the food to the fishing. - Erik Staub, Greeley, CO

I thought you should know that all your equipment was of the finest quality and performed flawlessly. I also wanted to compliment our guide, Steve Johnson. He proved to be not only a tireless and enthusiastic guide, but knowledgeable about every aspect of the flora and fauna we encountered. This added an unexpected and enriching dimension to our trip. Steve is really a consummate professional and a major asset to your outfitting business. Thank you again for a job well done. - Craig Crockard, Sylacauga, AL

People in general love Steve Johnson as a guide, here's some quotes from year's past:

The guide, Steve Johnson, was excellent.

Steve Johnson was an absolute superstar.

Our guide, Steve Johnson, was the best we could have hoped for.  He was so knowledgeable of woods, water, and wildlife, and a great cook too!

Steve Johnson was great.  His cheery disposition and paddling/camp/culinary skills made the trip a memorable experience.

I credit the quality of the trip to Steve's willingness to learn what each of us was looking for - lay over day, length of trip, wildlife sightings etc.  He did a great job of setting up an itinerary that was suitable and enjoyable for all 5 of us - he was flexible, thoughtful and informative and always willing to help me improve my canoe skills.  Just as important to me was Steve's extensive knowledge of the local flora and fauna - this is key for me and really added to my enjoyment of the trip.  I also appreciate that he clearly loves the area and was happy to be sharing that . 

Steve Johnson was just as you advertised—extremely competent and knowledgeable on every aspect of the trip. 

The highlight of the trip was Steve Johnson as our canoe guide.  He was great!  We had utmost confidence in his leadership and he never steered us wrong. 

Steve Johnson was a great guide, never intrusive or commanding, but always ready to help and participate in many, many ways - including bringing most of his vegetable garden with him! He was a master in turning a dried bag of stuff into a real meal - although, having freshly caught fish certainly added tremendously to our dinners.

Johnson was great; knowledgeable, but not all knowing and superior. Helpful to a fault.

Steve is a superb guide.  He is gracious, knowledgeable, low-key, and a good communicator.  Steve’s knowledge of everything is encyclopedic.  His competence gave us confidence in doing things we had never done before.

Superb -- Steve is like no one I've ever met.  I think he could build a camp and feed us all out of a tree branch, a rock and a rubberband.   Steve could make a gourmet meal out of a rock. 

My nephew Eric...first time to the BWCA, and loved the experience. Age 25--been working out, and lifting weights...Steve nicknamed him the "mule." Steve said everyone should have at least one trip in their lifetime with a "mule." This was mine. Never before seen anyone carry two packs, one front, one back...Oh, to be twenty five again!

We had unbelievable wolf howling on Lac La Croix on Wens. morning...they were right across the bay from our camp. Across the bay. Think of that! I could see the big Alpha Male in my mind as I listned to those howls....I won't ever forget that morning.

And the night before, Steve had us lay on the rocks along the waters edge as he put out the camp fire...we watched satellites race across the sky....satellites crossing above us in the clearest sky I have ever seen.....don't see that where I live, to many city lights!

Cameron caught a fish...Steve cleaned the fish for dinner....few minutes later, a Bald Eagle swooped down in front of us with his talons extended and picked it up, off the rock.....we all stood there with our mouths open! Could not believe what we had just seen, and the camera was sitting on a rock twenty feet away. In hindsight, its more important that we each have it in our memories, rather then on a film card.

Cameron, age 12....was so excited for the entire trip we could hardly hold him back...including when he ran into the mud on a portage. If Cameron thought he could walk on mud, he learned NOT! Steve then taught us how to make a "bridge" with the canoes to get our packs, and each of us, out into open water. Without Steve, we would have surely turned around, looking for another route.

Equipment provide by Piragis was excellent, as usual....everything was new, and worked flawlessly...the staff that assisted us were equally superior....We were in and out in no time at all.

Can't thank you enough for a quality trip. I have done a fair amount of traveling, and thus have some experince in grading performance...Piragis Outfitting is the best. Please advise your entire staff that all of their hard work does not go unnoticed....or unappreciated. Piragis put together a top shelf experience.

See you next year! Mark D. O'Leary