Majestic Rainy River at Lake of the Woods
Rainy River creates the border between Minnesota and Canada. Its wide expanse and the swift current makes for great adventures on this water. The Rainy flows from Rainy Lake in the east at Fort Frances, Ontario, Canada and International Falls, MN. It meanders over small rapid areas and around a few islands to make it to its destination in Lake of the Woods.
The Minnesota Department of Resources along with the counties of Koochiching and Lake of the Woods maintain small rest areas, parks and landings where anglers can launch their boats or visitors can just enjoy the beauty of the river and possibly cook a hot dog over the provided fire pits in an area complete with shelters and picnic tables.
Spring Fishing on the Majestic Rainy River is an experience of a lifetime. Walleyes swim upstream to take part in their annual spawning ritual. Lunkers galore show up on angler’s lines for the thrill of landing a trophy fish. During this early “ice out” season, timing only Mother Nature knows, anglers from all over travel to find those trophy fish they’ve always dreamed about.
This spring of 2021 has proven to be an early season and at this writing the Rainy River is open shore to shore almost to Wheeler’s Point. That’s incredible. In about one week, ice season finished and open water season started. As the current increases on the Rainy, it starts its thawing ability and then with over the average spring temperatures, the race to the lake is on.
The MN DNR imposed Catch and Release ONLY in the Rainy River during this spring season so that the population of walleyes and saugers is sustainable. Previous studies showed a decrease of mature male walleyes in the river. In order to sustain their availability, Catch and Release is enforced. Remember that anglers may only fish on the US side of the river because of the Canadian border closing.
Lake of the Woods is one of the healthiest fisheries around and it boasts of having more than enough walleye, sauger and other species to go around. There’s an incredible number of poundage caught each year, but Lake of the Woods still keeps producing the great population.
Access Points along the river are completely open. From the east on Hwy 11, the first access is a remote state park area at Franz Jevne. The Birchdale Landing at Nelson Park, located in Koochiching County, is so popular during this season that’s it’s not unreasonable to see hundreds of cars parked with boat trailers up and down the road leading to the park. Even local people are amazed at the sight of anglers who are have traveled distances to frequent this great river.
The next access point moving towards the west on Hwy 11 is Frontier Landing which is about 12 miles to the east of Baudette. This is also a favorite spot to launch your boat with great ease, and it’s very close to the Hwy so it’s closer to walk to your parked vehicle. Both Nelson Park and Frontier Landing have camping sites available as well as shelters, bathroom facilities and grill pits for your random meal before hitting the water.
Moving west about 7 miles you can launch at Vidas Landing which is a very open spot and great ease in launching your boat. There are also bathroom facilities, shelter and barbecue grills. If you move further west into Baudette, at the edge of town you come to Timbermill Park. What a beautiful place to camp and also use this great landing. This area is complete with a fish cleaning house with running water and just a beautiful setting on the Rainy.
As you head west on Hwy 11 into the heart of Baudette, turn right onto International Drive at Willie Walleye Park, home of the big fish. Continue towards the Canadian border crossing and you will come to a beautiful wayside park called Peace Park. This is a very popular boat landing with ample space for parking your vehicle and boat trailer. You will be launching in Baudette Bay which leads right into the Rainy River.
Of course, you can also continue on towards Lake of the Woods itself and use the huge public landing at the Wheelers Point area. As you can see, there is no lack of opportunity for launching your boat and enjoying the fresh spring air and the marvelous fishing the Rainy River offers. Walleye season is open until April 14th. Come and enjoy!!