Helpful Info on Crossing the Border via Water and Ice from the U.S. Side of Lake of the Woods and Rainy River

Choices, choices.  Many guests who visit the Lake of the Woods area, which includes the Rainy River, Lake of the Woods and NW Angle, may decide to slide over the border to Canada to do some fishing.  It is easier than ever to have home base at one of the many lodging facilities on the U.S. side with all of their amenities, and choose to slide across.  There is some important information you need to know, however, when fishing across the border.

Boating into Canada

jesse sutherlandIt is good to know that when you boat into Canada, as long as you don’t touch land, touch a dock, anchor, moor or exchange goods or services, you do not have to check in and clear customs.

If you decide you want to touch land in Canada, you simply need to call the 888-CAN-PASS phone number just ahead of your trip to check in with Canada Customs.  Upon your return to the U.S., you also need to check back in with U.S. Customs as you are entering the U.S. from a foreign country.  You can check into U.S. Customs at a NW Angle resort who has an iPad from U.S. Customs, at one of the three U.S. kiosks at the Angle (Jim’s Corner, Young’s Bay or Carlson’s Landing near the NW Angle school).

Traveling into Canada via Ice

Ice anglers also look for additional ice fishing opportunities during the winter season, especially if they have a snowmobile along with the right equipment.  Ontario, amongst the islands, features great walleye, pike, crappie and even in some parts of the lake, lake trout fishing.

Snowmobiling Lake of the Woods, MNWhen you travel into Canada via ice, you need to check in with customs.  Ice = Land when it comes to customs on both sides of the border.  This means, if you plan on traveling via ice to Canada, you need to check into Canada Customs before you embark and check back in with U.S. Customs upon your return.

Upon your return to the U.S., you also need to check back in with U.S. Customs as you are entering the U.S. from a foreign country.  You can check into U.S. Customs at a NW Angle resort who has an iPad from U.S. Customs, at one of the three U.S. kiosks at the Angle.

Fishing Licenses in Ontario or Manitoba

For those who plan on fishing the adjacent waters of Ontario or Manitoba, you need to have the proper fishing license and have an understanding on how fishing regulations are different than the U.S.   Most anglers that fish Canada waters from the U.S. side of Lake of the Woods fish Ontario.  This part of Ontario is Zone 5 for a reference when looking into various license(s) and regulations.

For those who cross the border into Manitoba waters which is called Buffalo Bay on the west side of the Big Traverse Bay, again, know the special regulations for this area.  Manitoba anglers need to use barbless hooks.  Most anglers will use a needle nose pliers and pinch down the barb on their hook when fishing this area.  Minnesota and Ontario does not have this regulation.

No Bait Allowed Crossing the BorderFROZEN SHINERS

Back in October, 2020, the CFIA (Canada Food Inspection Agency) made a nationwide rule in an effort to stop or slow the spread of aquatic invasive species.  The new law is no bait, alive, dead or frozen, is allowed to pass from the United States into Canada.

Most anglers have found good artificial bait For those who want live bait, you can purchase it over in Canada.  Find a resort across the border that sells bait and you are set.  Please know, once you bring that Canadian purchased bait back into the U.S., you cannot bring it back into Canada again.

Remote Area Border Crossing Permit (RABC)

Canada Border Services Agency CBSA headerThe RABC program facilitates the border clearance process for certain travelers who wish to cross the border into Canada in certain remote areas, which includes Lake of the Woods.

In a nutshell, an RABC can be applied for online and only costs $30 CDN.  It makes crossing the border very easy for those who will be touching land in Canada.

A few things to be aware of.  If there is a Canada Border Services Agency port of entry, travelers must check through even if they have an RABC.  The RABC is for areas where a port of entry isn’t readily available.

It should also be noted that if everyone in the group has an RABC, no check in, in approved remote areas is necessary.  Anyone who doesn’t have the permit must clear customs.

If you are in a boat and plan to cross into Canada and touch land, everyone in the boat must have the RABC for the boat not to clear customs.  If one person doesn’t have a permit, everyone in the boat must clear customs.

With the low cost and ease of getting the permit online, many who slide across the border in these designated remote areas are electing to get the permit as it makes crossing easier.

As a default, it is good to work through your local resort for specifics.  It is also noted that it is your responsibility to know and understand the rules and regulations implemented by both sides of the border, but we certainly hope this article helps.


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