The Fall Walleye Bite is “ON”!
There are a lot of things that compete for an outdoorsperson’s time this time of year. Great hunting opportunities, football games, excellent fishing. With that being said, life is short and the fall is a great time to fish Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River. As this is being written, reports around the lake and up and down the river are excellent. It is a fantastic time to fish both the lake and river.
Rainy River. If you haven’t heard, the bite is on. Shiners have run in the river, some are still running and there is a good number of walleyes in the Rainy River. What makes the shiners run in the fall? Nobody knows for sure but in speaking to some DNR fisheries folks, one hypothesis is food. They believe they may be coming up the river to eat.
Some who have fall fished the Rainy River for years predicted this would be a good year due to some decent current vs our past couple of falls. They are correct in reports have been excellent for anglers boating not only good numbers of walleyes but some hawgs.
One of the great things about fishing the Rainy River is a small boat will work fine. As always, this is a cold water period so we stress safety, but in fishing this past weekend, there are boats from 14′ all the way up to charter boats taking advantage of the great fishing. There is literally 40 miles of navigable water from the mouth of the Rainy River all the way to just past Birchdale. And so many spots to fish. Current breaks, holes, bars, rock piles, etc.
There are a number of access points to land a boat up and down the river. In addition, the City of Baudette just added public docks in Baudette Bay which an angler can tie up and walk up for a bite to eat, grab a beverage or perhaps some supplies or to simply take a break.
The most popular anglers are catching walleyes on the river is a jig and shiner. Both frozen shiners and live shiners are being used. A 3/8 ounce to 1/2 ounce jig works nicely in a slow moving current. It doesn’t hurt to use a stinger hook for those short biters. It amazes me the size of walleye that can be caught on a very tiny stinger hook. Stinger hooks can often change the overall results of the day.
Most anglers anchor up and jig just off of the bottom. This is very relaxing fishing as you watch the migration take place in front of your very eyes. Others will slowly move around in an area looking to change the angle of their offering from vertical to a big more horizontal to see if the walleyes prefer that on a given day, and to cover a bit of water.
If you don’t use a stinger, most anglers will hook their shiners on a jig by inserting the hook of the jig into the mouth and out the gill, pushing the minnow as far up on the jig as possible and hooking the minnow again through the body about half way back. This at least gives you a better chance of a nice walleye not stealing your bait.
Big Traverse Bay (the basin of Lake of the Woods). Reports on the main lake are also excellent. Across the entire south shore from Long Point, to Zippel Bay to the Morris Point Gap along Pine Island to the Lighthouse Gap where the Rainy River enters Lake of the Woods, there are great fish reports. Many anglers are saying they are going through a lot of bait and catching a wide variety of walleyes and saugers, but ending up with a nice bunch of fish.
The fish are ranging from 15 – 25′ of water. Most anglers are anchored up and jigging with frozen or live shiners. Pink, gold and glow jigs have been good colors.
The NW Angle. This time of year at the Angle is typically stupid good, as it is this year. Some anglers are fishing MN waters and others Ontario waters. In addition to a great walleye bite, anglers are also catching good numbers of big crappies, jumbo perch, pike and muskies. Points and neck down areas for the walleyes have been the go to as typical with most fall bites in this island rich portion of the lake.
Shore lunches are still happening and as in other portions of the lake, the scenery this time of the year is breathtaking.
Perhaps you have heard an angler speak about how they received “a call” about a particularly good bite. This is the fall call for anyone who enjoys catching walleyes with a chance at a trophy!