Rainy River Fishing Regulations
Early spring Rainy River fishing is here and it is considered some of the best fishing in the Midwest. Walleyes travel up river to spawn along with northern pike, and sturgeon become more active as well. The Rainy River provides anglers a improved chance at catching those trophy fish because they congregate to spawn. Boaters with sonar will notice parts of the river with fish stacked on top of each other for extended areas.
It is important for anglers to remember that fishing regulations and limits change for the Rainy River when compared to the actual Lake of the Woods. The Rainy River allows anglers to keep 2 total Walleyes or Saugers under 19.5” from March 1-April 14. Unlike the Lake of the Woods the Rainy Rivers slot is anything over 19.5”. This regulation is designed to protect the large fish who are spawning in the river. Walleye fishing closes to anglers from April 15-May 13. Fishing opener for Minnesota is May 14 this year. At this date anglers are allowed to keep 6 total walleyes and saugers and not more than 4 of which can be walleye. At this point the slot reverts back to 19.5” to 28” and fish in the slot must be immediately released. Four mile bay has the same slots and season dates as the Rainy River up until Dec 1 where the bay switches to a possession limit of 8 walleyes and saugers of which 4 may be walleyes with a slot of 19.5”-28” must be immediately released and one may be over 28”.
Lake Sturgeon are also a popular fish for the Rainy River. The seasons and limits for sturgeon are as follows. There are two open season dates to keep sturgeon on the Rainy River. From April 24-May 7 and July 1-Sept. 30 anglers are allowed to keep one sturgeon 45”-50” or over 75” per calendar year with tag. Along with the possession dates there is a catch and release season. The dates include Oct 1, 2015-April 23, 2016, May 8-May 15, and Oct. 1, 2016-April 23, 2017. Sturgeon fishing is closed from May 16-June 30
Northern Pike season is open yearlong for the Lake of the Woods and Rainy River. Three northerns may be kept but only one over 40” may be in possession and northern 30”-40” must be immediately released.
Anglers are encouraged to be careful not to harm fish during handling. Getting the fish back into the water as quickly as possible is a must to decrease mortality. When grabbing fish supporting the body of the fish is very important. Gaffs are illegal in the Rainy River.