March Ice Fishing on Lake of the Woods
There is still time for catching walleyes through the ice and Lake of the Woods resorts have houses on the ice waiting for you! As many Midwesterners who enjoy ice fishing are winding down the ice fishing season, anglers who fish Lake of the Woods are looking ahead at a month of ice fishing that many don’t really consider when it comes to targeting walleyes and pike, March! You see, in most of the great state of Minnesota, March ice fishing is somewhat limited. Fish houses cannot be left overnight on the ice for the entire month of March and the walleye and pike season closes the end of February.
March on Lake of the Woods, however, is very different. Fish houses are allowed overnight through March 31st. The walleye and sauger season continues on through April 14th and the pike season is open continuously. Being farther north, the ice typically is good and thick throughout the month, and even if some melting is taking place, ice fishing is happening in areas of the lake less affected by runoff, flow of water and current. On Lake of the Woods, ice fishing for March walleyes and pike is the norm and allows an extra month of excellent fishing.
Some resorts actually extend the life of the ice by blanketing ice approaches to the land access with saw dust or hay. For those of you with more history under your belt than others, this is much in the same way ice was kept for ice boxes.
What a great time of the year. The sun is out longer, the fish are active and in some cases staging for the spawn and some days anglers actually need to wear sunscreen. Other days seem more like winter with snow and cold. It’s March walleyes and pike on Lake of the Woods and it’s tradition.
This is an interesting place. One one end of Lake of the Woods, people are catching walleyes, saugers, jumbo perch, world class pike and monster eelpout through the ice. Fish have the feedbag on gaining energy for the upcoming spawn.
On the other end of the spectrum towards mid or late March, the Rainy River is open and people are fishing in boats. This is the time of the year that big numbers of walleyes from Lake of the Woods slide up the Rainy River on their annual spawning run. This is also the time of year an angler can catch a walleye of a lifetime, not to mention big numbers of fish.
Most anglers will be using jigs and minnows for walleyes. More popular are jigs and plastics. The brighter colors of chartreuse, orange, pink and white are all popular colors depending upon many factors, the color of the water being one.
The walleye season on Lake of the Woods continues through April 14th. The regulations on the Rainy River for March through April 14th is different than the lake as the walleye season is catch and release only. As most anglers aren’t here for the fillets, the chance at a monster walleye, big numbers of walleyes and a chance to splash your boat for the first time this year is all what draws anglers the end of March and through April 14th.
Only Mother Nature knows when the first open water will appear on the Rainy River, however, this year things look optimistic to many it will open relatively early. First off, there has been a lot of current this year. Ice thickness is not what it is in a normal winter. Second, a good amount of snow on the ice pushes the ice down into the current, melting it faster. Again, time will tell. Follow the Lake of the Woods Tourism Facebook page or Rainy River page on their website for frequent updates.
If you decide to start planning a spring Rainy River trip, there are numerous boat access points along the river. Click here for a myriad of info about the Rainy River.
If you decide you want to get in some bonus March ice fishing, here is a list of resorts and outfitters from the south end of the lake up to the NW Angle.
Whatever you decide, fishing for predators in March and April on Lake of the Woods is in full gear and as a trophy fishery for both walleyes and pike, might be worth a trip!