Fishing on Minnesota’s Lake of the Woods – from a kayak – for sturgeon, walleyes and pike

Wisconsin Outdoor News editor Dean Bortz works a weed edge on Lake of the Woods’ Four Mile Bay for bass and pike from a fishing kayak. (Photo by Joe Henry)

On an invite from Hobie Fishing and Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau, I was able to spend three days learning how to fish from a kayak at the River Bend Resort at the mouth of the Rainy River, just off Four Mile Bay on Lake of the Woods.

I’m no stranger to kayaks. Friends, family members and I have used kayaks for years, but strictly as a means to run rivers across northern Wisconsin during social outings. I’ve used kayaks on the Wisconsin River in Oneida County, the Trout River in Vilas County and the North Fork of the Flambeau River in Ashland and Price counties. But, I had never really given any thought to fishing from a kayak. Why would I do that when I already have a canoe, jon boat, 12-foot V-hull and a 14.5-foot Alumacraft to fish all the small waters I want?

Joe Henry (l), of Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau, and Stephanie Locher, of Hobie Fishing, work their way across Lake of the Woods’ Four Mile Bay under pedal power as they fish by kayak. (Photo by Dean Bortz)

Well, I’m here to tell you that my thinking recently changed.

Ingrid Niehaus, Kevin Nakada and Stephanie Locher, all of Hobie, worked with River Bend Resort owners Paul and Brandi Johnson, and Joe Henry of Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau, to bring a crew of outdoor media types to the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods to take a closer look at kayak fishing, with the primary goal being the landing of a lake sturgeon.

Skeptical wouldn’t be the right word, but I was certainly curious as to how the trio of cool cats from Hobie planned on accomplishing this. Turns out it’s easier than I would have thought.

Jason Houser, of Illinois, hooked this 37-inch sturgeon while anchored at the mouth of the Rainy River. The fish was released. (Photo by Joe Henry)

First of all, the three Hobie fishing models we used, including a slick inflatable that can be flown as checked baggage on an airplane, are far more stable than the recreational kayaks I’ve used on Wisconsin rivers. Then, Hobie’s Mirage Drive foot-pedal propulsion system allows you to shift into reverse. That ability allows anglers to back up against strong fish while having both hands free. Getting blown into a reef, shoreline wood or over a weed edge? Just back up a little bit and keep fishing. There is also an anchoring system that allows fishermen to settle in over a deep hole to wait out sturgeon.

I didn’t catch a sturgeon, but four other anglers in the group caught them ranging from 37 inches to a little more than 50 inches. All from a kayak. It was a ton of fun. Niehaus, Nakada and Locher sold me on the idea of fishing from kayaks. I can think of a number of places where I could use a fishing kayak in Wisconsin. This is going to be a blast.

For more on the experience, see the Aug. 24 issue of Wisconsin Outdoor News.

Categories: Blog Content, Wisconsin – Dean Bortz

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