Should Lake of the Woods be Renamed Lake of the Personal Bests?

Catching a personal best fish is a big deal.  Regardless how much you fish, it is the largest fish of that species you have ever caught.  It is no secret, many personal best records are broken by individuals every single day on Lake of the Woods.  But why?  Why do so many personal bests come from this fishery?  Here are reasons.

Genes Baby, Genes!

There are some things that just cannot be controlled.  In a lake with all natural reproduction, having the right genes is crucial.  fishing for walleye

To become a big fish, a fish has to start out with big fish genes.  For whatever reason, Lake of the Woods fish are blessed with the right genes that enable them to become big fish.  This obviously plays a role in determining how many fish get big and how big they get.

It’s about the Food.

One of the keys to having a healthy fishery is having a variety of forage for fish.  In fact, I have heard it said when a lake is having a fish problem, in many cases, it is actually a forage problem.  It is vitally important to have a good source of forage in a lake.  Just to give you an idea of the different forage, imagine perch, emerald shiners, perch minnows (different than a perch), leeches, bugs, a myriad of larvae that emerge from the mud on the bottom of the lake which form various bug hatches in the lake, crayfish, bloodworms and lots of other critters make up the forage.

Cheeseburger on a Stick!

tulibee ice fishingWell, it isn’t really a cheeseburger, but it puts weight on fish such as big walleyes and pike like a cheeseburger does a human.  The forage we are speaking of is a tulibee or cisco.  These are high protein fish that will add weight and bulk for a predator fish.

When walleyes and pike get larger, many of them will key in on tulibees as their main source of forage.  Walleyes that reach about that 25 inch mark will focus on tulibees and that is also why many of the larger walleyes caught are offshore.   Out in the basin of Big Traverse, as an example, is where lots of tulibees spend their life.

Guides and Charter Boats.

Lake of the Woods has a good number of professional charter captains.  These passionate individuals gain more enjoyment watching a newby catch a big fish much more than themselves.  Having a good guide put you on fish certainly “ups” your chances of achieving a personal best.

Slot Limit.

Slot limits prevent nice sized fish from being kept.  There are different reasons for slot limits.  First, it keeps the mature female fish who lay the most and best eggs around to consistently reproduce.  Walleye Release next to boat, Lake of the Woods

Not only are these fish reproducing, they are getting bigger and bigger and cannot be kept.  This naturally increases the average size of the fish and will create more personal best fish.

The slot limit for walleyes on Lake of the Woods is 19.5 inches to 28 inches must be released.  One can be kept over 28 inches per day.  This allows a lot of walleyes to become big.

The slot limit for pike on this fishery is 30 – 40 inch fish must be released.  One pike over 40 inches may be kept per day.  Again, the slot limit is preserving these big fish and keeping them around longer.


I like to kid around with friends and family and this is kind of kidding around but very much the truth as well.  Do you know what the secret is to catch big walleyes and pike?  Fish in a body of water that has lots of big walleyes and pike!  It makes sense, doesn’t it?

Lake of the Woods is somewhat managed as a trophy fishery and bottom line, there are a lot of big fish in the lake.

Lake of the Woods probably won’t be renamed anytime soon.  If it was, perhaps an appropriate name could be Lake of the Personal Bests!


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