Guide to Planning an Ice Fishing Trip on Lake of the Woods

I guess having a choice is a good thing.  Take ice fishing on Lake of the Woods for example.  There are many choices when planning ice fishing on The Walleye Capital of the World.  Let’s break things down a bit in an effort to help you make the best decision for you.

What part of the lake should I fish?

When planning ice fishing on Lake of the Woods, take into consideration there are three parts of Lake of the Woods.

  1. Rainy River.  Yes, there will be walleyes in the river when we get ice this year, but we caution anglers about ice fishing the river unless you are with a resort or outfitter, so we are careful to say too much about it.  Locals fish it and a few resorts / outfitters.  Safety first, both on the river and lake.cropped_entire-lake-of-the-woods-us-canada-snowmobile-map-nwa-edge-riders-2-523x640

2.  Big Traverse Bay.  This is the main basin of the lake and is targeted by resorts at the mouth of the Rainy River as well as on the south shore of the lake.  This is big ice that extends about 30 miles north / south by 25 miles east / west.  Resorts and outfitters offer a variety of day house and sleeper fish house rentals.  There are ice roads, resorts will transport you out where there are no roads and you have lots of great options for planning ice fishing.

3.  NW Angle.  This is the northernmost point of the contiguous U.S. and is where the 14,552 islands begin.  To travel by land, one must travel through Canada and then back into the U.S. up at the Angle.  This means having the proper credentials to enter Canada, a passport, passport card or birth certificate and government issued ID.

For those considering driving to the NW Angle, life just got a bit easier as come October, 2022, Canada will most likely be lifting both their vaccination requirement along with giving travelers the option of using the ArriveCan app.  This will make travel easier, it will also allow some who were not vaccinated, the opportunity once again to drive through Canada to the Angle. DSC_0046

For those who want to avoid customs in traveling to the Angle, there is the option of taking the snowmobile trail across the lake, utilizing the Lake of the Woods Passenger Service or flying up and landing on the ice via Lake Country Air.

In these scenarios, you are staying in MN the entire trip and do not need credentials to cross the border because you aren’t.

Hotel, resort lodge room, cabin, log cabin, villa?  

With about 60 lodging facilities up at and around Lake of the Woods, there are options.  There is really something for every taste and every budget.  Check out our list of lodging options around the lake or check out our lodging availability request tool which sends your request to the lodging facilities in the geographic area in which you choose.

Deciding on what type of accommodations often depends upon what kind of group you have.  A husband/wife may want something a bit nicer and private.  A group of young guys may not be as particular.  The point is, there are many options and doing a bit of research to what exists can pay dividends.

Cook my own meals or eat out?  

Fish fry, Zippel Bay Resort, Lake of the Woods MNSome do both.  Depending upon where you stay, you might have a restaurant and bar right at your resort.  If not, there are surely lots of options in very close proximity.

Lake of the Woods resorts and area restaurants have some incredible food options.  If part of the enjoyment of your trip is eating out and not having to cook, you have some wonderful food options.  Whether you appreciate a hand pressed cheeseburger and fries, a homemade pizza, authentic Italian night or a thick juicy steak with shrimp, there are options.

Bring my own fish house, rent a day house or rent a sleeper fish house?  

  1. Bring your own fish house.  There are lots of options.  A number of resorts plow ice roads in which you can bring your own equipment after paying a road fee.

2.  Rent a fish house.  When planning ice fishing, some might consider to rent a fish house for the day. Some call these “day houses”, as you use them during daylight hours and come back to shore at night.

bombardier sunset lodge the woody 3The house is all set up in an area where the guides believe the fish will be.  The holes are drilled and the heat on.  There are no worries with snow drifts, slush, cracks, mobility.  The work has been done for you and you spend your time fishing.

In some cases you drive your own vehicle to the door of your fish house and come and go as you please.  In other cases, the resort will transport you to the door of your house with no ice roads around.  In most cases, ice guides check on you throughout the day to make sure everything is going well.  At around sunset, they pick you and your fish up and transport you back to the resort just in time for happy hour.  Some will actually clean your fish as well.cyrus-fish-house-with-sunset, planning ice fishing

3.  Sleeper Fish Houses.  There are some ice anglers when planning to ice fish really enjoy sleeping and cooking on the ice.  This is almost like ice “glamping”.   It isn’t quite ice camping as the thermostat is set at around 70, there are cooking facilities and some of the sleeper houses are very nice.

A number of resorts and outfitters offer sleeper houses for rent.  Usually set up with a couple of bunk beds, people enjoy fishing all day and even have the line in at night.  Not known as a night bite lake, anglers will pull eelpout and an occasional walleye from the depths at night.

Imagine waking up early in the morning in a warm, cozy fish house, having a hot cup of coffee watching your electronics as the bottom starts to come to life.

Others enjoy the spectacle mother nature can put on.  Not only is this icescape beautiful during the day, the night sky is normally lit up with so many stars, brighter than you have ever seen.  Milky ways.  The brilliance of the night sky is awe inspiring partly because of how far north you are and partly because of no light pollution.  The scenery can be spectacular. Ice fishing up at Lake of the Woods is a tradition for many.SLEEPER HOUSE INSIDE

Whether you are a hard core angler and running around the lake looking for big fish or you are a beginner and maybe have never tried ice fishing before, one thing this area offers is choices for planning ice fishing!

Click Here for planning ice fishing or to Access Lake of the Woods lodging options.

Click Here for the Lodging Availability Finder.

Click Here to return to the Lake of the Woods Tourism website.

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