Lake of the Woods, MN… Best Fishing Anywhere

If you have never been to The Walleye Capital of the World or perhaps only ice fished it, the open water season offers an incredible experience.  It doesn’t matter if you are a rookie at fishing or very experienced, the resorts around the lake offer everything needed for everyone to have a fun and memorable day on the water.  It won’t take long to learn why many consider this area some of the best fishing anywhere.

There are basically three areas to Lake of the Woods, all of which offer some world class fishing.low map three areas

First is the Rainy River which feeds the lake.  This all by itself can be a wonderful fishery with walleyes, lake sturgeon and pike.  There are 42 miles of navigable river from the mouth of the river at Wheeler’s Point all the way to Birchdale, MN which is 26 miles east of the small northern MN town of Baudette.

The second part of Lake of the Woods is Big Traverse Bay.  This is the big open water of the lake spanning 30+ miles north/south by 25 miles east/west.  A big body of water with it’s deepest area only 38 feet deep.  This is like one big aquarium full of a variety of fish.

The third area of Lake of the Woods is the Northwest Angle.  The “Angle” is on the very northern tip of Minnesota and is actually the northernmost point of the contiguous United States.  This is where the 14,552 islands of the lake begin.  This area is surrounded by Canada, with Manitoba to the west and Ontario to the north and east.

Zippel Bay Resort log cabin, Lake of the WoodsLots of Options for Lodging.  Resorts, hotels and cabins to stay and fish at are all around the area.  Stay right on the Rainy River, or maybe in the small northern MN town of Baudette, along the south shore of the big lake or maybe up north at the NW Angle.

There are a number of full service resorts offering guided fishing, rental boats, restaurants and cool little taverns.  At the same time, there are the small resorts where a person can get away from the crowds and do their own thing.  Something for everyone.

Like any new area or body of water, the first time is the most difficult, but after that first time, it is so much easier.   Check out these ideas for anglers new to Lake of the Woods.

charter boats and restaurants openThe first time, make like easy.  Anglers fishing Lake of the Woods are lucky because there are a number of great options for fishing on a charter boat or with a guide.  Especially the first time to the big water, some anglers who own their own boats even find it helpful to jump on-board a charter or with a guide the first time out to get a lay of the land.  When you step aboard, nearly everything is provided.  Rods, reels, tackle, bait, expertise in navigation and getting you on fish.  This make life easy as all  you need to do is dress for the weather, bring sunglasses and a camera to record the adventure.

A guide or charter boat makes it so nice.  Jump into a vehicle with a few others and drive up.  You can focus on each other rather than the weather, navigation and fish.

On the south end…  Charter boats for the most part are on the south end of the lake fishing the Rainy River and Big Traverse Bay which is the big water of Lake of the Woods.  When I say big water, I am talking about 25 miles north south by about 20 miles east west.  If Lake of the Woods was a great lake, it would be the sixth largest.  This can be intimidating and certainly requires a healthy respect.

Anglers with a walleye on Lake of the WoodsThe thing about the basin is it is loaded with millions of walleyes and saugers.  The basin also boasts a strong population of big trophy walleyes as there is a good number of tulibees in the big water.  Walleyes will focus on tulibees when they reach that 25 inch mark and these fish enable walleyes to get bigger faster.

Charter boat captains do a good job of sharing info with one another about fish movements, where there are active fish and other variables ultimately leading to a successful trip.  Most trips produce walleyes, it’s just a matter of how many and how big.

The basin reaches a maximum depth of about 36 feet deep.  This makes the entire body of water fair game for fishing.  This is one great big aquarium of life and a big part of Lake of the Woods.

Up at the NW Angle  The other option is heading up to the NW Angle.  Currently, due to COVID – 19, the U.S. Canada border is temporarily closed for non-essential travel which includes tourism.  That means until the border is opened again, folks are traveling across Lake of the Woods via water.

Some use their own boats if their boat is large enough and they have a competent captain used to big water.  Others use the transport service on the lake run through Sportsman’s Lodge which will shuttle you across to your favorite NW Angle resort.

When things get back to normal, most will travel up to the Angle by vehicle.  When driving to the NW Angle, anglers must be knowledgeable about credentials to cross into Canada and back into the U.S. again when up to the Angle.  A passport, passport card, enhanced driver’s license or combo of a government issued photo ID with a birth certificate are necessary.  It is also important to note Canadian Customs looks at a DUI as a felony and you may want to check ahead before crossing the border if someone in your group has a DUI in their past.  NW Angle sunset, LAKE OF THE WOODS

The NW Angle is the northernmost point of the contiguous U.S., is where the 14,552 islands begin and boasts about 12 resorts, some on the mainland, some on islands.  The fishing is excellent for multi-species and the scenery and wildlife are even better.  Angle resorts have excellent guides that will fish in U.S. waters, Ontario waters or both, depending upon what you are targeting, etc.  These guide typically run about a 20′ boat that can navigate to the best and most scenic fishing spots on both sides of the border.  If you like fish, most guides to a noon shore lunch that will mess up any fish fry you have at home ever again because they are so delicious and fresh.

Bring your own boat…  For anglers who own their own boat and enjoy the challenge of new water, Lake of the Woods has so many good options.  Boat ramps are available on the Rainy River, south end of the lake and up at the Angle.  Some are public and resorts also offer nice boat ramps with sheltered marinas for a nominal fee.

Do you homework.  Check out Navionics or your graph in your boat prior to coming  up.  Get an idea of where you will be staying, launching and fishing.  It is nice to have a game plan.  Resorts and bait shops can be great resources for local info.

Lake of the Woods, NavionicsRegarding where to stay, Lake of the Woods Tourism has a complete list of lodging options on all sides of the lake.  There are Ma and Pa resorts to brand name hotels, small to large, self service where you make your own meals to full service with full restaurant and bar.  Lots of options on where to stay.  One thing you will find, whether you jump on a charter, in with a guide or fish on your own, prices up at Lake of the Woods are reasonable and have not caught up to the more cosmopolitan resort areas yet.  That means more can enjoy The Walleye Capital of the World, perhaps for multiple trips!

To find out more about Lake of the Woods, check out the Lake of the Woods Tourism website, feel free to give us a call at 218-634-1174 or chat with a resort.

The open water season is excellent for fishing.  So many anglers have never experienced the open water bite.  Do yourself a fishing favor, come on up.  You won’t regret it!


To learn more about Lake of the Woods, check out the Lake of the Woods Tourism website.

To find a guide, charter boat or lodging, check out our lodging page.

Various travel options to the area.

Lodging Availability Finder.  Enter desired dates, what part of the lake and hit Enter!

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