Fall Fishing the Rainy River on Midwest Outdoors TV
Fall is a very special time of the year. For anglers who enjoy fall fishing, Lake of the Woods is a no brainer. Known as The Walleye Capital of the World, the walleyes in this lake absolutely put on the feedbag during the months of September, October and November leading to some of the best fishing of the year. Ironically, because it is hunting season and there is a lot of crossover between angling and hunting, the main lake, the NW Angle and Rainy River typically don’t receive the anglers or attention they deserve this time of the year. Those who have experienced fall fishing on LOW return each year and for good reason.
There are a number of areas to target fall walleyes on LOW, but on this particular trip, Greg Jones and myself wanted to show some ideas and techniques for fall walleyes on the Rainy River. Our technique was vertical jigging with emerald shiners. We targeted various spots on the Rainy River. Strong numbers of walleyes were boated with, let’s just say, a few nice surprises.
On this Rainy River trip, the walleyes were caught jigging both over the side of the boat and on occasion, pitching upstream and letting working it back across the current. In some cases, bouncing the jig off of the bottom will attract the walleyes. In other cases, holding the jig steady in the water column is the ticket. Every day is different and it is good to communicate with other anglers in the boat regarding what technique is working to get the walleyes to eat.
Our day of fishing was captured for an episode of Midwest Outdoors TV, check it out!
Another nuance to jigging is the size of the jig. Many anglers will chat about using the lightest jig for the conditions, meaning depth of water, wind and current. On the Rainy River, it can be effective to go a bit larger with a jig. With the stained water, the walleyes don’t seem to mind the larger profile and actually in many cases, prefer it.
The jig can be baited with a variety of live bait, but frozen emerald shiners, which can be found at bait stores and resorts in the area, are a popular choice amongst anglers. The shiners are a natural prey for walleyes and with the combination of a strong smell and shiny scales are hard for walleyes to resist.
A popular way to hook a frozen shiner is to thread the hook of the jig through the mouth and out the gill of the minnow, sliding the shiner as far forward on the hook as possible, and then hooking the jig through the midsection of the body. This ensures a higher percentage of hook sets for walleyes that don’t inhale the offering.
Stinger hooks are also very effective for short biting walleyes. We normally purchase stinger hooks, although you can make your own. Very simply, they are a short piece of fluorocarbon line with a very small treble hook on one end and a loop on the other. The loop has a rubber type coating and is slipped over the hook of the jig. The treble is inserted into the minnow just ahead of the tail. This way, if a walleye grabs the back half of your minnow, the stinger will still hook it.
As far as colors of jigs, gold on Lake of the Woods is a staple. In addition, again because of the stained water, glow colors, bubble gum and bright colors are good choices.
Fall is the time of the year when the fish put on the feedbag. Whether you are targeting the main lake in a charter boat, hitting the Rainy River in search of walleyes chasing shiners up the river during the annual fall run or headed up the NW Angle for some multi-species action, fall is the time to keep the fishing gear out and make some memories.