OPEN WATER FISHING
Even if you’re a veteran angler, Lake of the Woods will provide some of the best open water fishing opportunities you have had in your life. The lake is renowned as a world-class fishery providing hundreds of thousands of pounds of walleye annually. In addition to the tasty walleye, Lake of the Woods has sauger, smallmouth and largemouth bass, muskie, jumbo perch, sturgeon and plenty of northern pike. During the summer, gigantic sturgeon roll and breach the water’s surface as they begin their ageless trek up the Rainy River to spawn around the Long Sault Rapids.
One of the great fishing opportunities up at Lake of the Woods is jumping on one of the many resort charter boats. These boats are big, comfortable and typically offer a restroom. Everything is provided on a charter boat. A licensed Coast Guard Captain will lead you on a fishing adventure to where the fish are. Working with fellow guides around the lake enables guides to better track fish movement and provide a quality fishing experience. Rod and reels, tackle, bait and all equipment to reel in a big one is included on the fishing trip. A visitor really only needs to make two decisions in a day, what to wear and what to eat. It really takes the guess work out of fishing providing a relaxing and successful trip.
Depending upon the resort, most charter boats will accommodate up to six anglers plus the Captain. Some resorts will combine groups to allow for smaller groups on the big boats. Whether you are going solo or as a couple or maybe you have a group of six, there typically is a spot for you to enjoy the charter fishing experience.
When much of the state is closed to fishing for walleyes and pike, up at Lake of the Woods it’s Game On! The walleye season extends to mid April. This is prime time to fish the Rainy River as the ice is disappearing and the walleyes are swimming up in preparation for the spawn. Large numbers of fish and some monsters are possible. There is a tradition in these parts tracking the open water in the river and dropping that boat in for the first time of the season. Results are often time incredible.
The Rainy River also is famous for it’s Lake Sturgeon fishery. These fish live to over 100 year old and reach weights of over 100 lbs. Arguably, the river and 4 Mile Bay offer the top sturgeon fishing in the Midwest.
A mid-May opener generally finds post-spawn walleyes in transition from the Rainy River back toward the Lake of the Woods. The average-sized walleye is 1 to 1 1/2 pound males that are caught with traditional jig and minnow combinations. Edges of river channels and flats are a good bet when worked with slow presentation in the colder spring season water. Also becoming active are post-spawn northern pike that are in shallow bays during this period. Also, smallmouth bass, another best kept secret here on Lake of the Woods, are peaking during their spawn and can be found extremely active.
Early June marks the beginning of what can be the fastest and most productive time frame for shoreline walleyes. As the water temperature warms, anglers trolling or drifting live bait along island or mainland shorelines can expect impressive numbers of “eaters,” as many will refer to them. The areas being worked most frequently are shallow sandy bottoms. Northern pike are roaming weed lines as their feeding intensity increases. Crank baits, spoons, and spinner baits can all be productive. Check out the Rainy River for smallmouth bass fishing.
For trophy walleyes the time is now. Water temps are peaking, moving fish to mid-lake mud flats and rock reef areas. Walleyes can be found both in shallow on rocks or deep on the flats. Regardless, the big fish are vulnerable and can provide an impressive experience. Bait fishing over reefs with jigs, three way rigs, bottom bouncers, or spinner rigs are proven methods. If trolling in the mud flats, try using downriggers, planer boards, lead core etc., with crank baits. Walleyes can be found in deeper waters of the Rainy River by trolling deep divers. All methods can produce during this traditional trophy season.
Fall fishing is some of the best fishing of the year. The tough part is deciding whether to go hunting or fishing. The walleyes up at the NW Angle, on Big Traverse Bay (which is the main open body of water) and in the Rainy River are starting to put the feed bag as the water cools.
There is typically a run of walleyes up the Rainy River as they are chasing the emerald shiners upstream on their annual fall spawning run. This fishing can not only be productive, it is some of the best scenery of the year. Charter boats are available this time of the year and many anglers will bring their own boats and drop them in at one of our many river access points. Sit back, soak in the fall colors, enjoy the migration and hang on tight to your fishing rod!
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