Rainy River Fishing


The Rainy River offers world class fishing. The spring and fall walleye run in the Rainy River creates some of the best fishing in the world. Each season brings a fresh round of activity to the Rainy.map-Rainy-River-public-accesses

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Bret Amundson, Sporting Journal Radio, spring Rainy River walleye

Spring Walleye Fishing on the Rainy River

Spring brings big numbers of walleyes into from Lake of the Woods into the Rainy River for their annual spawning ritual.

Anglers keep a close eye on the open water and once it appears, anglers are getting boats in the water fishing as soon as they can access it.

The walleyes can be stacked in the river thick and it is not uncommon for anglers to catch multiple trophy fish in a single day.

Below are a couple of videos about spring fishing that are very informative.



Spring Ice Out for Northern Pike

Lake of the Woods enjoys a pike season that never closes.  That enables some unique opportunities when pike slide into back bays and backwaters to do their annual spawning ritual.JACE'S NORTHERN PIKE

Some anglers will find good results using dead bait such as a cisco or smelt under a bobber in shallow water.  Those pike can be sluggish and appreciate an easy meal in the cold spring waters.

Other anglers will slow roll spinnerbaits or troll crankbaits with good success.

This is a time of the year to boat a pike of a lifetime.  Much of the success has to do with timing.  Usually there is some good action to be had when fishing in other parts of the region is closed.

The pike limit on Lake of the Woods is 3 fish per day.  Pike 30 – 40 inches must be released immediately.  Anglers are allowed one pike over 40 inches.

The possession limit in Minnesota is the equivalent of a one day limit.


Sturgeon Fishing

sturgeon lake of the woodsThe Rainy River offers one of the best sturgeon fisheries in North America. Anglers come from all over the world to catch a these prehistoric fish many call dinosaurs that reach over 100 lbs.

The sturgeon fishery in the Rainy River is very healthy and anglers often boat multiple fish per day.

Need current spring open water updates?  Check the Lake of the Woods Tourism Facebook page or our Fishing Report.

Click Here for MN DNR Regulations on Spring Fishing.



How To Catch a Sturgeon

Lake Sturgeon are very prevalent in the Rainy River, 4 Mile Bay and Lake of the Woods. Most of the fishing takes place in the river and bay. In a nutshell, try and find a deeper hole in the river. Often, this is where the sturgeon will be living. Anchor up just upstream from the deep hole as the sturgeon will often swim up current to feed.

Ideally, using heavier rods, reels and tackle is a good idea as these fish can reach weights well over 100 lbs. Most anglers fish sturgeon on the bottom as they are bottom feeders. In most cases a 4/0 – 6/0 circle hook loaded with a combo of night crawlers and frozen emerald shiners is hard to resist and will put off a lot of scent. The lead from the sinker to the hook should be short, 12″ – 18″. A common sinker to use is the no roll sinker in a weight appropriate for the current. Often times this might be 4 – 5 ounces.

Much like carp or catfish fishing, cast your presentation out until it hits bottom. Tighten up your line and get ready.

It is important to handle sturgeon in a way that will not injure them. Having heavier equipment to reel them in will impose less stress on a big fish. Having a big landing net is also helpful.

When lifting a big fish, try and grab the sturgeon by the tail and support the fish under it’s mid section. Holding a large fish vertically can actually tear it’s internal organs and gill plates, eventually leading to mortality.

Local resorts and bait shops are great on directing you once in the area. Many anglers bring their own boats, however, resorts offer charters that take you sturgeon fishing, they provide everything and know the spots. For more info on finding a resort on or near the Rainy River and 4 Mile Bay who will take you charter fishing for sturgeon and for all lodging around Lake of the Woods, https://lakeofthewoodsmn.com/lodging/.

Sturgeon Season.  The MN DNR estimates there are more than 100,000 sturgeon in the Rainy River over 40 inches long.  This area is an incredible sturgeon fishery.

-Oct 1 – April 23, catch and release only, no tag needed

-April 24 – May 7, 1 per calendar year (fish must be 45-50″ inclusive, or over 75″)

-May 8 – 15, catch and release only

-May 16 – June 30, closed

July 1 – Sep 30, 1 per calendar year (fish must be 45-50″ inclusive, or over 75″)


Fall sunrise over the Rainy River, Lake of the Woods Tourism

Summer Fishing and Cruising on the Rainy River

Summer offers a variety of species in the river. Most walleye anglers head to the lake, but not all! Many locals and visitors fish the Rainy all year round with great success. Because of the “famous” bites in the Spring and Fall, the Rainy often gets overlooked other times of the year, but a good population stay in the river year round. Several other species are abundant including smallmouth bass, northern pike, sauger, perch, and crappies.


Boating from the Rainy River through Four Mile Bay

into Lake of the Woods

If you are staying or launching your boat on the Rainy River and planning to fish Four Mile Bay ( at the mouth of the river) or take the 1.5 mile trek across the bay into Lake of the Woods, here is a helpful video on navigating through the bay and Lighthouse Gap.


Joe Henry, Rainy River walleye

Most anglers who dream of the traditional fall walleye run on the Rainy River think about that tap on the end of their rod that was provoked by a jig and minnow.  Jigging the Rainy is, and will always be, a great way to catch walleyes.  There is a technique in the fall, however, that many don’t implement enough.  It is a technique that in the summer is much more popular.  Pulling crankbaits in the Rainy River during the fall months can be absolutely deadly.

As the water cools, many anglers have the idea that cranks no longer are as effective.  I have to admit, over the years, I would typically switch over to a Lindy Rig or jig.  As the years have gone by, I for one, have seen enough and experienced enough that trolling is                                                                                        definitely a tool in my fall walleye tool belt.

Fall trolling the Rainy River is effective for many reasons.  Covering water, reaction strikes, the ability to find the active fish are all in your favor.  The next time you decide to try some fall fishing, put on a crankbait for a change and see what happens.  The odds are in your favor.

When the temperatures start to drop in the Fall, the Emerald Shiners make their way up the river, creating a feeding frenzy for walleyes. Once water temps hit the mid-40s the shiners start to move, this usually happens early to mid-October depending on weather conditions. The fall palate is especially vibrant as native deciduous trees reflect their coats of many colors.




tompike-300x225 Ice fishing on the Rainy River is also good. We highly recommend our visitors who aren’t familiar with the area to use one of our resorts or outfitters to avoid areas of the ice that may be affected by current, etc. A groomed and marked trail is perfect for snowmobiling along the river as well![/caption]

Check out the MN DNR website for more information on the Rainy River! Including Spring sturgeon fishing, invasive species, and fishing regulations; http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/areas/fisheries/baudette/lowregs.html

2019 Rainy River Spring Fishery

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