Lake of the Woods Ranked #1 U.S. Ice Fishing Destination by Target Walleye
If you have ice fished Lake of the Woods, maybe this isn’t so much of a surprise. Lake of the Woods has been ranked the #1 U.S. Ice Fishing destination (and #2 in North America only behind Lake Winnipeg in Canada) by Target Walleye. What makes Lake of the Woods rank so high? Here is what Target Walleye had to say about it…
The sheer amount of walleyes Lake of the Woods kicks out is almost beyond belief. The south shore of the lake is known best for its expansive schools of eater-sized walleyes/saugers that bite all day long, but don’t be surprised if you ice a true wall-hanger there too. Though it’s popular, the lake fishes big – no need to worry about overcrowding and playing bumper shacks. This border water offers an extended walleye season everyone should take advantage of.
Lake of the Woods has also become a world-class pike-fishing destination during the March late-ice period. Mammoth pike will stage for the upcoming spawn in shallow bays, ready to pop tip-up flags. Believe it or not, 40-inchers are hardly considered “big ones” when the bite is on.
The Ontario side has a huge population of slab crappies. Multiple fish pushing the 16″ mark are a real possibility. If you get on the right school, you could pluck hundreds of fish and the smallest may go about 13″…almost hard to imagine!
Resorts have been working on fish houses, equipment, trailers and bombardiers during the fall and will be ready to roll once safe ice covers the lake. Typically, resorts that plow roads will stake a trail, weather depending, around the end of November or early December for ATV traffic only. Typically around December 10th (again, depending upon ice conditions) resorts will pull out some of their permanent fish houses and it is game on.
This year’s outlook is very positive. There have been more walleyes in Big Traverse Bay (the main basin) than we have seen in a few years. In addition, fall fishing along the south shore and in the Rainy River this fall continues to be excellent. Normally these fish will remain in the area for first ice. Walleyes from the Rainy River tend to slide back into the lake after Christmas adding more walleyes to waiting anglers.
A variety of people enjoy ice fishing. The tradition and enjoyment of ice fishing is hard to explain if you haven’t experienced it. Many will book through a resort and let the resort do the work. Imagine, waking up, having a nice breakfast and at around 8am boarding heated ice transportation out to your heated fish house. The holes are drilled and cleaned out, the house has been moved to be on top of fish and the thermostat is set around 70 degrees. What a wonderful way to spend a winter day in MN.
Some fish with spouses, family, friends. Others use the opportunity to network with business colleagues or use the trip as an incentive for salespeople. Some use the environment for bachelor parties or a girl’s weekend. Lots of options.
Try a sleeper fish house! If you haven’t tried it, maybe this is for you. Spending two or three nights on the ice is a great experience. It is almost like camping but the thermostat is set so you are nice and warm in a cozy fish house. Most sleep 4 but some are larger. Cook your own meals. Catch fish all hours of the day, right from your bunk bed if you like. Have a party on the ice! Resorts and individual sleeper fish house outfitters do a very nice job making sure you are comfortable and well taken care of on Lake of the Woods.
Ice Roads and snowmobile trails are available for do it yourselfers. For those that like doing their own thing and have invested in the proper equipment, ice roads and snowmobile trails across the lake are readily available. Most ice roads are through a resort and there is a small fee associated with accessing that road from the land. The providers of ice roads spend a lot in time, equipment and monitoring the ice to ensure safety. Your job is to make sure you stay on the marked roads or trails, don’t drive too fast and have respect for fellow anglers.
The snowmobile trail runs from the south end of the lake both at the south end over Four Mile Bay, across Pine Island and 42 miles north to the NW Angle. There is another trail that goes from the Arnesen’s Rocky Point / Long Point area up the Angle as well. Great fishing spots are just off of the trails in many locations. Many use the trail to access NW Angle resorts.
If you are looking for a fun adventure this winter, try ice fishing The Walleye Capital of the World. Everything is provided or bring your own gear. Either way, it is a great experience and a wonderful way to take advantage of winter in the north country.