Plan Ahead for March Ice Fishing
As many Midwesterners who enjoy ice fishing are in the heart of the ice fishing season, it is good to look 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 after February 28th, the walleye season and pike season closes and ice fishing for those targeting predators appears to be over.
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.
Limits on Lake of the Woods remain consistent with a combined limit of 6 walleyes and saugers, with up to 4 of the 6 being walleyes. Any walleye between 19.5″ – 28.0″ must be returned to the water immediately, with anglers being able to keep one fish over 28″.
Limits on pike are three with a protected slot limit of 30″ – 40″ having to be returned to the water immediately. Anglers are allowed one pike over 40″.
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.
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!