Excitement to Fish on Lake of the Woods
I’m writing this article with great excitement. I got to go fishing on Lake of the Woods!! I would classify myself as a novice but the fish don’t know that and I’m glad. It’s an annual event that this family gets to go ice fishing over Christmas. This year was no exception.
Lake of the Woods is known as the Walleye Capital of the World™. It is a world renowned fishery and according to statistics from the MN DNR at Lake of the Woods, our fishery is more than healthy even though many pounds of fish are harvested each year. Lake of the Woods is the largest fresh water lake next to the Great Lakes in the US. It supports many species of fish and keeps the excitement brimming as anglers drop their lines in.
This angler, if I can call myself that, has caught the fishing bug. I can’t wait for my next chance to get onto that body of frozen water and experience the beauty and the bounty of it all. It’s an indescribable experience and one that all should come and enjoy. As a local, I begin to see ATVs, Snowmobiles, Wheelhouses and all kinds of equipment frequent our highways during this season.
Let me give you a play by play of my experience. We left out house in town at 6:30 a.m. with 4-5 layers of clothing on and coolers packed with lunches and beverages and of course, chocolate. It was pure dark but as we traveled onto the “lake road” (Hwy 172 North), up in front of us we saw the most beautiful orange moon any of us had ever seen. We arrived at out destination and waited for our host to load us up for the ride out.
I must mention that this day was the coldest day of the year so far with temps at minus 9 below zero. Our guides would tell you it was perfect for making ice!! We were loaded into a smaller vehicle pulling an enclosed trailer to motor us to our location. Out on the ice we went, through a bay area and then up over land and onto the “big lake”. The road was plowed but the driver was very skilled at that morning light to navigate us through turns and twists that have been hewn out on the lake.
Right here I must mention that I personally am in total awe of the skills and commitment resort owners and staff have to making this ice fishing experience one of a kind in all of life. They are up in the wee hours of the morning moving houses, securing them by packing snow all around them and then drilling the ice holes in the houses and turning up the heat so that you walk into a beautifully warmed fish house. The work is continual as Mother Nature changes her mind and direction of weather every day. It’s always an adventure.
We arrived at our destination (still dark) and our guide gets us all set to have a great day. He makes sure we understand the current fishing limits so that we are in compliance with them and assures us he will be checking on us throughout the day. Temperature in the house is excellent and we have a fresh bucket of shiner minnows to use as our bait.
The lines are dropped in. Each person is allowed to fish two lines. Usually one is left laying on the ice with a bobber or just with a hook and this is called a dead stick. (Are you impressed?) The technique is to bait your lure with a minnow and let it drop until you feel bottom (which I have to learn each time). Then with an up and down motion, you start to “jig” and wait for a tug on the line. I was told to “set the hook” with a great upward motion and pull in whatever was at the end of the line.
There were six of us in our party so we fished out of two houses. By 10:00 a.m. our sister house had 11 fish, we only had 1…so….one of my companions started to tell the “skunk” to get out of our house…hehe. That did it. The catch was on!! Excitement?!?!? On my! It is like a fever! And everyone in the house starts cheering for that fish to come through the hole. Yes, caught a beautiful sauger, which is the first cousin of the walleye.
My story is getting pretty long, but I have to brag because I caught the biggest fish of the day….a 20.5 inch walleye. We got the picture and put it back down the hole to practice catch and release and keep the fish population growing. And yes, each house limited out and we all had the time of our lives! I want to go AGAIN!!
Let me invite you to come to Lake of the Woods to have the same great experience that I had. I promise you that you will have stories to tell for years to come. The lake is beautiful when frozen and the city of houses that are out there is amazing. Please applaud the ones who make this sport accessible to all peoples whether experienced or not.
For more information on lodging or ice fishing contact our website at: www.lakeofthewoodmn.com/lodging.