2024 Spring Rainy River Update: Fishing is Excellent

The Rainy River is open and fishing is starting out absolutely excellent.  When asking a local resort owner how many fish are in the river, his answer was, “It’s loaded.”  Reports of 40 – 150 walleyes per day per boat in many cases.  If you ever had a desire to experience some of the incredible spring walleye fishing that has made the Rainy River famous spring of year, now is the time!

Boat Ramps are Open

Currently, the Nelson Park boat ramp in Birchdale and the Frontier boat ramp are open.  The next boat landing in line to open is Vidas and that is anticipated to open Monday, March 18th.  Having a number of boat ramps open helps divide out the number of trucks and trailers between a few access vs just one, making life easier and wait times to get your boat in very nice.

Lots of Walleyes are in the River

big spring walleye 2024 oak harbor 031424Every year is different.  Some years, we are waiting for the walleyes to slide in the river.  This year, it appears (and many resort owners and guides already knew this) that good numbers of nice walleyes were already in the river.  This is coming true as fishing has been good for most.  In addition, the size of the fish are across the board, including the big females most want to get their hands on.

The walleye season on the Rainy River and Four Mile Bay is catch and release only right now.  The walleye season goes through April 14th on Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River.  If you are fishing Four Mile Bay or the Rainy River, the season for walleyes and saugers is catch and release only from March 1st through April 14th.  The season will open up again for the MN Fishing Opener on Saturday, May 11, 2024.

If you are fishing the lake (either ice fishing or open water fishing if the open water makes it to the lake before April 14th), the normal keep limit applies.  Anglers can keep a combined limit of 6 walleyes and saugers, with up to 4 being walleyes.  All walleyes between 19.5″ – 28.0″ must be released.  Anglers are allowed to keep one walleye over 28 inches.

As is true in all of Minnesota, there is a one day possession limit for anglers.  Remember, if you have fish left over from the day before, they count against what you can keep today!  We are lucky to have a liberal limit which allows most groups to eat some fish while up and also bring a meal of fish home.

Sturgeon Fishing Starting out Hot

Sturgeon anglers are also reporting excellent fishing with numerous fish being boated.

There are two sturgeon fishing seasons on Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River, a catch and release season and a harvest season in which you can keep one fish per calendar year. The harvest season runs from April 24th – May 7th and July 1 – Sept. 30. The catch and release season runs May 8th – May 15th and Oct. 1 – April 23rd. This means from May 16 – June 30, no sturgeon fishing. The rest of the year, you can fish for sturgeon. See MN DNR Fishing Regulations for more info.

The MN DNR estimates there are over 100,000 sturgeon over 40 inches in the Rainy River.  Fish also live in the lake, but the Rainy River is typically the hot bed of sturgeon fishing.

Sturgeon fishing has increased in popularity.  There are a ton of fish, the fish are huge, they fight like heck and fishing the Rainy River doesn’t require a big boat.  It is beautiful, relaxing and for most, they have a very good chance at catching the largest fish of their lifetime.  Check out this article on Sturgeon Fishing for the Beginner.

Spring fishing is tradition in these parts.  It is the first time of the year for many they get their boat in the water.  It is a chance to catch good numbers of walleyes and a walleye of a lifetime during a time when most areas are closed to walleye fishing.  For many, it is a long time tradition passed down from generation to generation.  Maybe this would be a good year to give it a try.  Now is the time!

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