Amid perfect conditions, a perfect storm on Lake of the Woods for the fishing opener?
Perfect weather — both this spring and for this upcoming weekend — could add to what is shaping up to be a perfect storm for anglers on Lake of the Woods and the adjacent Rainy River for the Minnesota fishing opener.
According to Lake of the Woods Tourism, ice on the lake went out earlier than usual and it’s been ice-free for several weeks now, allowing the water to warm nicely. The fall run of shiners and the spring walleye season were strong, and as of Friday morning, the forecast for the Baudette area for Saturday’s opener features nothing but sunshine, with high temperatures in the low to mid-60s.
So where will all those hungry walleyes and saugers be?
According to a story in this week’s Lake of the Woods Tourism newsletter: “With as many walleyes that came up into the Rainy River this spring to spawn, all signs point to many fish along that South Shore/Rainy River area. … This year we are ahead of schedule with open water and water temperatures. With this being said, the prediction is for walleyes to be along shoreline structure and out a few miles in the basin.
“In addition to the Rainy River and Four Mile Bay as key spots to look at, all along the south shore of the lake will hold walleyes. Areas like the Lighthouse Gap, Morris Point Gap, Pine Island, Zippel Bay Reef, Long Point, Twin Islands, Gull Rock, off of points and shoreline breaks across the Northwest Angle. … Typically, look for neck-down areas and points to start.”
As for how to get the attention of those walleyes and saugers, “A jig and a minnow up at the Angle is the go-to method — colors should include chartreuse, pink, glow colors and some gold,” the story continued. … “The go-to method is typically a jig and a minnow all over the lake. Anchor-up and jig within a foot of the bottom. Some anglers like live minnows, some prefer frozen emerald shiners. Either will catch good numbers of fish. Don’t be afraid to troll crankbaits in this cold water.”
The open-water walleye/sauger season on Lake of the Woods runs from May 13 through Nov. 30, then reopens for the “winter” season Dec. 1 and through April 14 — about six weeks longer than the season for inland waters in Minnesota. The open-water possession limit is six walleye/sauger, with no more than four being walleye. The protected slot is 19-1/2 inches to 28 inches, with one walleye over 28 inches allowed.
For inland waters, Saturday is also the northern pike opener. But pike can legally be fished year-round on Lake of the Woods.