Spring Rainy River Walleyes / Sturgeon on Midwest Outdoors TV
Spring is a very special time of the year. For anglers who enjoy spring fishing for walleyes and sturgeon, Lake of the Woods is a no brainer. Known as The Walleye Capital of the World, the walleyes in this lake can get big and run up the Rainy River in the spring to adhere to their spawning ritual. For anglers who want a shot at a trophy and in many cases good numbers of nice fish, this can be some of the best fishing of the year.
There are a number of ways to target spring walleyes on the Rainy River, but on this particular trip, Greg Jones and myself were jigging with both frozen shiners and plastics. Our technique was vertical jigging initially, but eventually, we learned the walleyes wanted more of a horizontal look to the jigs and it was game on! Without giving away the show, the spring river bite was ON big time.
In many cases, anglers anchor up and jig. In some cases, drifting slowly downstream and using the trolling motor to slide back up is the ticket. Often times, bouncing the jig off of the bottom will attract the walleyes. In other cases, holding the jig steady in the water column is the ticket. Sometimes, anglers will cast towards a shoreline and sweep the jig downstream in the current. Every day is different and it is good to communicate with other anglers on the boat regarding what technique is working to get the walleyes to eat.
Another nuance to jigging on LOW is the size of the jig. Many anglers will chat about using the lightest jig for the conditions, meaning depth of water, wind and current. On LOW however, it can be effective to go a bit larger with a jig. With the stained water, the walleyes don’t seem to mind the larger profile and actually in many cases, prefer it.
The jig can be baited with a variety of live bait, but frozen emerald shiners, which can be found at bait stores and resorts in the area, are a popular choice amongst anglers. The shiners are a natural prey for walleyes and with the combination of a strong smell and shiny scales are hard for walleyes to resist. A popular way to hook a frozen shiner is to thread the hook of the jig through the mouth and out the gill of the minnow, sliding the shiner as far forward on the hook as possible, and then hooking the jig through the midsection of the body. This ensures a higher percentage of hook sets for walleyes that don’t inhale the offering.
As far as colors of jigs, gold on Lake of the Woods is a staple. In addition, again because of the stained water, glow colors, bubble gum and bright colors are good choices.
If you are interested in checking out how good spring fishing on Rainy River can be, check out Midwest Outdoors TV this weekend. The show airs on KSTC 45 out of the Twin Cities and other stations across the Midwest this weekend. Next weekend it will air on Fox Sports North and Fox Sports WI. Check your local listings or check out the Midwest Outdoors website to learn more.
Spring is the time of the year when the fish put on the feedbag. Whether you are targeting monster walleyes or numbers of fish, hitting the Rainy River in search of walleyes chasing shiners up the river during the annual spring run is the time to get your fishing gear out and make some memories.