Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Getting to know Lake of the Woods once again

(North Dakota Game and Fish Department)

By Steve Carney

Contributing Writer

It had been a decade since I’d fished Lake of the Woods and I was excited to become reacquainted with my old fishing spots. 

Early June is typically a great time to fish the southern shoreline of Lake of the Woods’ Four Mile Bay because walleyes tend to hang close to shore during this time of year.  

My headquarters was Border View Lodge, located on the Rainy River. A short jaunt gets you into the “gap” and into Four Mile Bay. But much to my chagrin, fishing that first afternoon was slow. I realized the walleyes and sauger had already made their move to deeper water and mud. I knew they were gone, because I trolled several miles of shoreline in 11 to 14 feet of water and caught mostly small sauger. 

I also noticed that charter boats were heading at least seven miles out, which told me the shoreline bite was over for the most part. 

The next morning was much more successful. My group headed five miles out to the first deep mud and caught fish. Most of the locals basically anchored on the mud in no man’s land and just vertically jigged, waiting for the fish to come to them. 

I don’t ever anchor, so I drifted with the light winds and found success using bottom bouncers and frozen shiners in 30 feet of water which is more of a July and August presentation. Go figure.

The beauty of Lake of the Woods is that you have multiple options for fishing. If the wind is strong, you can hop into the Rainy River as a backup plan. You can always wrangle a few walleyes on the Rainy no matter what time of the year because there’s a resident population that stays around after the spawning run.

Keep in mind that Lake of the Woods is big water. It’s usually not the place for a 16-foot boat with a 40-horse motor.

I always try to have a wingman along. Another boat in tandem with your own provides another level of safety. If you break down on Lake of the Woods, it can be serious stuff.  

It was really fun to get back on this lake and reconnect with one of the finest walleye and sauger fisheries in North America.

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