A Successful 2023 Fishing Opener on Lake of the Woods

It’s the Minnesota Fishing Opener, a day some look forward to all winter.  If you are from MN or fish in MN, you are certainly aware of it.  The 2023 MN Fishing Opener took place this past weekend and Lake of the Woods did not disappoint, rewarding anglers with good numbers of walleyes as well as some big walleyes.

Known as The Walleye Capital of the World, Lake of the Woods is one of the best fisheries in the world for walleyes.  It is a natural choice for angler looking at experiencing some excellent walleye action.  The majority of the anglers caught limits of walleyes and saugers with a lot of trophy walleyes mixed in.  When we say trophy walleyes, we are talking walleyes over 28 inches which is typically about an 8 pounder with a good share of fish over 30 inches as well.

Jigging for Walleyes.

The majority of fishing opener walleye anglers used jigs and minnows or frozen shiners.  On some lakes, anglers are used to moving around slowly with jigs and minnows trying to get over more active fish.  On Lake of the Woods, however, anchoring up and jigging is a very effective method for a number of reasons.  First off, the walleyes and saugers on LOW seem to move around a lot which bodes well for still fishing and simply staying put.

Second, some believe a mini ecosystem is actually created under your boat when anchored up and jigging.  Scent and scales from the minnows are in the water attracting fish.  In addition, anglers are jigging, often contacting the bottom of the lake and shaking their jig.  All of this commotion creates vibration which equates to a meal for a walleye or sauger.  More fish start to congregate, anglers are reeling in fish and there you have it, an ecosystem for angler success! Fish cleaning table Wigwam Resort

Walleyes Caught Around the Lake

Walleyes were caught in many locations during the opener.  Anglers fishing the Rainy River overall experienced the normal high water, but nothing out of the ordinary for this time of year.  Lots of nice fish pics and reports from the river, although, with decent weather, most ventured out to Four Mile Bay or the big lake itself, Big Traverse Bay.

Four Mile Bay, as it traditionally does this time of year, held good walleyes.  When walleyes spawn in the Rainy River, some stay in the river and others slowly make their way back into the lake.  4 Mile Bay is a natural spot to hang out with it’s warmer water, many areas just off of the current and good forage offerings for walleyes.  Usually fishing the edge of the river channel as it sweeps water up into the bay is key.

The majority of anglers fished Lake of the Woods along the south shore.  There were good reports from the Lighthouse Gap all the way to Rocky Point.  The most popular depths were 8 – 15 feet, but walleyes and saugers were caught very shallow around 3 feet and deeper than 30′ as well.  As you know, walleyes are not all congregated in one area, especially in a lake with a lot of walleyes.

big fishing opener walleye ken mar ke resort 051323Up at the NW Angle, great success was also had during the opener.  Shoreline structure, points and neck down areas where there is some current was the best.  Once again, a jig and minnow was by far the most used presentation.  One resort commented on opening morning, guests said they caught walleyes in almost every spot they fished.  The action slowed a bit in the afternoon.

Right now is an incredible time to fish Lake of the Woods.  The fish are hungry and relatively close to shore.  They are caught in the river, bays and along shorelines.  The water is cold and the fish are hungry.

Nice Options for Novice Anglers

There are many ways to experience LOW.  Some anglers bring their own boat.  There are numerous nice public and private boat ramps to land a boat of any size along with safe parking.

Others who don’t own a boat or simply want to make their trip easy jump in with a guide or in a charter boat.  Contact your favorite resort for more information.    Lakemap, Lake of the Woods

Up at the NW Angle, most visitors will hook up with one of the guides who work through the resorts.  Guides up amongst the islands typically use a nice 20′ boat, perfect for accessing the 14,552 islands Lake of the Woods is famous for.  This is an adventure before you even wet a line navigating amongst the islands and many great fishing areas.

Don’t forget about Pike!

nice pike lakeroad lodge 051523Pike have been active in back bays.  As some of the big females are working there way back to the big lake, there is plenty of action to be had.  Some anglers love fishing pike for the action and excitement.  Others enjoy eating pike.  As long as you filet them to get the “Y” bones out, they are delicious coming out of the cold waters of LOW.

The current limit of pike on LOW is 3, with all fish 30 – 40 inches having to be released.  Anglers are allowed to keep 1 fish over 40 inches as part of their daily limit.

Travel to the NW Angle.

There are a number of ways to travel up to the NW Angle.  You can certainly drive to the Angle.  All past COVID restrictions when traveling through Canada to reach the Angle have been lifted.  Simply credentials to cross the border such as a passport, passport card, enhanced driver’s license or a government issued ID along with a birth certificate.

If you want to avoid customs and traveling through Canada, there are a few ways to travel up to the NW Angle.   Boating across the lake from the south shore and staying in MN waters is one option.  Boaters have to make sure to have a large enough boat that can take big water.  It is also helpful to watch the weather and wind forecasts.  Many who boat up to the Angle leave at daybreak before the wind comes up.  Don’t have your boat overloaded and take all safety precautions.

Another option is the Lake of the Woods Passenger Service which will transport you from the south shore via charter boat to your favorite NW Angle resort.  No worries here.  The charter boats are big boats operated by a licensed charter captain.  Sit back and relax and enjoy the scenery and adventure.NWA

Lake of the Woods is full of fish.  Whether you are after the most sought after fish, the walleye, or you are looking for other species such as pike, perch, muskies, sturgeon, or smallmouth bass, good fishing opportunities abound.

The Minnesota Fishing Opener on The Walleye Capital of the World rarely disappoints.  If you have been to LOW, you understand.  If you have not, now is the time.  You wont’ regret it!


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