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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walleye-rainy-river-spring-2014-225x300Spring brings big numbers of fish into the river for spawning. Boat fishing begins at first ice out and does not stop there! 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. In addition, the Rainy River offers one of the best sturgeon fisheries in North America. Anglers come from all over the world to catch a prehistoric monster, at times over 100 lbs! The sturgeon fishery is 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.

Spring Walleye Fishing on the Rainy River.


Spring Ice Out for Northern Pike

Another great species to fish for in the spring is northern pike. After the annual pike spawn these toothy beasts are hungry. They have already spawned out so some of their size may have disappeared but their length and fight will not. As soon as the ice goes out in back bays anglers can be seen casting buzz baits for the pike.



sturgeon-river-300x225Lake 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/.


walleye-river-summerSummer 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.


Sturgeon, Rainy River, Lake of the WoodsThe sturgeon season opens July 1st and continues into May.  Sturgeon are readily available and most anglers are fishing the lake.  The river is beautiful and full of fish with little boat traffic as most are targeting walleyes on the lake.


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.



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 palatte 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

To order additional information Click Here or call 1-800-382-FISH.

2019 Rainy River Spring Fishery

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