Last update: 12/09/2023
Current fishing tips and conditions for Lake of the Woods.
- Ice is forming but still not safe for fishing
- Back bays are iced over but safety is still a concern
- Ice anglers are spearing for pike in the back bays
- Traverse bay is almost completed ice over
- For safety work through resorts and outfitters who are monitoring ice thickness
- Rain River is now covered in ice and ice fishing is underway
- North West Angle is iced over. Make sure only to venture out on marked trails
Monthly Fishing Reports
Monthly fishing reports and conditions for Lake of the Woods Basin, Rainy River and Northwest Angel.
Melting snow and ice is oxygnating the water. Fish are becoming more active. Ice fishing continues through the end of March. Catch and release only for walleye and sauger.
March is pre-spawn season for walleye and they’re feeding to bulk up. Walleye fishing is good. The season extends through April 14. Anglers report fishing the eastern side of Big Traverse Bay in 25 to 30 feet of water for walleye is productive. Target mud, gravel, and reef transitions.
Long Point to Rocky Point, Northwest Angle and Pine Island offer good fishing for walleye, sauger and jumbo perch. Hotspots for walleye include the waters off Zippel Bay and Morris Point gap where walleye are staging before heading up Rainy River to spawn. Target the mud flats and transition zones.
Jigging is the primary fishing method. Recommended setup is one line for jigging and a second line for dead sticking. A spoon tipped with cut shiner, ice jig or minnow on a hook are the most common presentations.
Fishing for trophy pike, eelpout (burbot) and ciscos is strong through March. Pike begin congregating in spawning areas around Zippel Bay, Four Mile Bay, Rocky Point and Twin Islands.
Reefs and rocky areas in Northwest Angle hold large pike during March and are producing catches. A quick-strike rig using two treble hooks baited with dead or live baitfish is the preferred method for targeting pike.
Ice fishing is winding down in the Northwest Angle, but late season ice fishing on Lake of the Woods is still productive in many areas.
Walleye are now moving from Lake of the Woods into Rainy River to spawn. Large walleye catches are common. Jigging larger plastics, jigging with a minnow, or slow trolling crankbaits are the most popular techniques for targeting walleye on Rainy River this time of year. Some anglers will spot lock or anchor and vertical jig.
Fishing on the Rainy River is really picking up for all species. Sauger, pike, muskies and sturgeon are abundant. Rainy River and Four Mile Bay are April hotspots for sturgeon fishing. Sturgeon harvest season begins April 24th.
Walleye and sauger season extends through April 14th. Catch and release only in Rainy River and Four Mile Bay. Walleye and sauger can still be harvested in the main lake.
Limited ice fishing remains in certain areas of the lake. Ice fishing is productive but proceed with extreme caution on any ice during April. Pike is the target of ice fishing in April. Pike between 30-40 inches are catch and release. Up to 3 pike over 40 inches can be harvested.
Fishing back bays with smaller boats during April is perfect for catching pike as the move in to spawn. Bottom fishing with minnows, minnows under a bobber, or casting spoons, spinerbaits and crankbaits are perfect for pike this time of year.
Sturgeon catch and release season ends April 23rd. Harvest season begins on April 24th. A sturgeon tag is required. One catch per year between 45-50 inches or over 75 inches.
Open water fishing on Lake of the Woods begins to pick up toward the end of April. Northwest Angle is almost free of ice.
The bays on the sound end of LOW, including Lighthouse Gap and Morris Point Gap, are mostly free of ice—and if not fully ice free, will be soon.
Pike fishing in the bays and along shoreline structure is still strong. Preferred baits are minnows. A dead minnow fished on the bottom or a live minnow suspended under a bobber are productive presentations. Quick strike rigs are also popular for targeting pike. As waters continue to warm toward end of May, spinners, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits become more effective.
Sturgeon fishing on Rainy River and Four Mile Bay remains strong. Most anglers are using a sturgeon rig with a no roll sinker. Preferred bait setup is a wad of nightcrawlers or a frozen shiner on a 4/0 circle hook. Target holes and flats. Sturgeon harvest season ends May 7th. Catch and release runs May 8th – May 15th.
Very little ice is left on the Northwest Angle. Bays and marinas are now mostly open. Walleye fishing here is picking up. Jigging with a jig and minnow is the preferred method for fishing these colder waters. A lot of walleye are still holding in shallow water having just finished spawning. Target points, flats, and shoreline structure.
Anglers targeting walleye among the islands in Northwest Angle are also catch sauger, smallmouth bass, pike, jumpo perch, pike and an occasional muskellunge. All gamefish species are active in Northwest Angle by end of May.
Anticipation is building for the MN Fishing Opener May 13th in NW Angle.
Walleye and sauger fishing along the south shore of Lake of the Woods is in full swing by the end of the month. Walleye is the main catch. Vertical jigging with a jig and minnow is the most popular method for targeting walleye here. Go with orange, gold, chartreuse or pink colored jigs in the LOW stained water. Water depths from 10-25′ most consistently produce catches, but there are walleye in the shallows as well.
Trolling crankbaits is effective for targeting walleye when they’re spread out across the flats.
Rainy River and Four Mile Bay are still producing a decent number of walleye catches through end of May.
Water is now much warmer along the southern end of LOW. Fish are active and more aggressive presentations are getting strikes. Crawler harnesses and spinner rigs get a lot of Walleye. (Use #2-#4 gold, pink or white spinner blades.) Jigging with a minnow is still effective. Walleye are just starting to take leeches.
Most walleye are caught in 10-25 feet of water. Troll shoreline shallows using crankbaits during the early morning and later hours of the day.
Walleye fishing in Rainy River is productive. Target holes, areas with rocky structure, and current breaks. Trolling crankbaits or spinners/crawlers is most effective for targeting walleye spread out on the flats, or when having difficulty finding fish.
Rainy River smallmouth bass fishing is in high gear. Inlets, bridges, areas with rocky bottom, and the mouths of feeder rivers are all top smallmouth habitat. Target pike near weed beds, feeder rivers and shallow bays.
Walleye fishing in Northwest Angle is strong throughout June. Most walleye are still caught jigging a jig with a minnow or soft plastic on structure. Trolling spinners and crawlers becomes more effective in NW Angle as the water warms toward the end of the month.
Fishing crankbaits, spinnerbaits and swimbaits will catch a variety of fish in NW Angle. Bottom bouncers work well in rocky areas.
Pike, sturgeon, smallmouth bass, jumbo perch, crappie and muskie are often found in the same areas as walleye. Most bass are found along shoreline structure.
Muskie season opens June 17th.
The south end of the lake continues to produce good walleye catches. Fish are active and foraging. Getting your bait in front of as many walleye as possible is key. Anglers are fishing deep reefs and mud. Optimal depth for walleye fishing is 15-35 feet. Hit the shallows in the morning and the evenings.
Drifting brighter colored spinners and trolling crankbaits are the go to presentations for walleyes fishing along Lake of the Woods’ southern shore. Test different trolling speeds and lure colors. Fishing rocky structure with crayfish imitations is also effective.
Rainy River and Northwest Angel walleye fishing are producing reliable walleye catches. On Rainy River fish the deeper holes, flats and current breaks. Morning and evenings produce the best bites for walleye. Find smallmouth bass near the mouth of feeder streams, rocks and bridges. Pike hold to the edges of weeds and current breaks.
At Northwest Angle jigging and trolling with spinners/crankbaits are the go to walleye techniques. Move around ’till you find the schools. This time of year sauger, smallmouth bass, jumbo perch, crappie pike and muskie are abundant in the bays, weed patches, and around the points throughout Northwest Angle. Casting is another popular fishing method.
Sturgeon harvest season opens July 1. A sturgeon rig with a 4-oz no roll sinker fished on the bottom with nightcrawlers is the most productive presentation for catching sturgeon.
A few anglers are still jigging and casting for walleye on the south end, but most catches are now coming from trolling spinners/crawlers and crankbaits. Drifting spinners with crawlers is also popular. Hammered gold blade spinners and a two hook harness presentations are catching a lot of walleye.
Big Traverse Bay’s open basin is now holding thousands of foraging walleye and sauger. Follow the schools of baitfish, target the reefs and you’ll find walleye and sauger. The typical fishing depth in Big Traverse Bay is 30-35 feet.
Fishing the shallows in the mornings and evenings continues to produce walleye catches. Walleye are also pursuing baitfish into the shallows.
Lake of the Woods’ southern end is producing numbers of sauger, pike, perch, and crappie catches.
Morning and evening fishing in Rainy River and Four Mile Bay is producing the most walleye catches. Trolling is the preferred method for targeting walleye.
Sturgeon fishing is productive in Rainy River.
Anglers continue to pull good numbers of walleye, sauger, smallmouth bass, pike, perch, crappies, bullheads and muskies from the islands in Northwest Angle. Trolling crankbaits and crawlers is the preferred fishing method. Jigging over structure and casting shorelines, points and bays is popular.
Trolling crankbaits and drifting spinners with crawlers continues to pull walleye from the southern shoreline. Anglers report a two hook crawler harness is one of the effective walleye presentations.
The basin is still holding large walleye. The mud flats and reefs are producing nice size catches as well. Using a fisher finder in the basin is recommended for locating walleye and the baitfish schools they feed on.
Emerald shiners begin their run up Rainy River mid-September. More fish are entering the river. Walleye fishing in Rainy River and Four Mile Bay is good. Trolling crankbaits and spinners is producing walleye catches. Casting from shore is producing pike and smallmouth bass catches.
As water cools toward the end of the month sturgeon fishing picks up on Rainy River.
Fishing for walleye, sauger, pike, muskies, perch and crappie remains strong in Northwest Angle. Walleye are most sought after but anglers are catching a mixed bag. Some nice size pike and muskie are typically pulled out of Northwest Angle in September.
Sturgeon open harvest season ends Sept 30.
Walleye fishing continues to be strong along Lake of the Woods’ southern shore throughout October. Anglers report high catch rates in the waters from Morris Point Gap west past Zipple Bay around Long Point, and on the Canadian side in Big Traverse Bay.
A lot of anglers are targeting walleye and sauger by fishing jigs tipped with shiners and flathead minnows. Run the jig hook through the mouth of the minnow, out the gills, pulling the hook through the mid section of the minnow. This is the ticket to hooking light biters.
Top producing jig colors are gold, orange, chartreuse, pink, glow white, glow red or a combination.
Walleye are following migrating shiners into Rainy River. Walleye fishing is strong upstream through Baudette and Birchdale. Jigging with shiners is pulling in the most walleye from the river. Many anglers are still trolling.
Sturgeon catch and release season begins Oct 1. With cooler waters, sturgeon are now quite active. It’s a great time to target these dinosaurs.
Anglers continue to pull good numbers of walleye out of the Northwest Angle. Walleye are being found just off structure. Jigging minnows is the go to technique.
Muskie fishing is productive.
There is typically a little less fishing pressure on Lake of the Woods during mid October due to the deer hunting opener. Many anglers trade in their rod and reel for a rifle and deer stand.
Jigging for walleye with emmerald shiners and fatheads continues along the south end of Lake of the Woods. Brighter colored jigs are still the color of choice.
Anglers can expect to catch a mixed bag of fish including walleye, sauger, pike, muskies, jumpo perch, sturgeon and the occasional crappie. 15-25 feet of water is the prime fishing depth.
Good reports from anglers on walleye fishing on the Rainy River. Some big catches recorded. Jigging frozen shiners and trolling crankbaits are still the two methods of choice for most anglers. Fishing on Rainy River just before ice over tends to be strong every year.
Fishing in Northwest Angle continues to produce decent catches of walleye and a mixed bag of sauger, pike, muskie and perch.
By the end of November ice is beginning to form on back bays and on the lake. Much of Rainy River is freezing over. Much of the Northwest Angle is frozen up. During this transition fishing slows for a few weeks.
Much of Lake of the Woods is open for ice fishing. Many ice trails are open but ice conditions vary. Two popular early season ice fishing locations include Four Mile Bay and Pine Island.
If you haven’t ice fished Lake of the Woods previously, hooking up with a resort or experience ice fishing guide is recommended. Always be aware of ice conditions where you travel.
Ice fishing is exceptionally productive just after first freeze over.
Ice fishing for walleye, sauger and sturgeon on Rainy River is under way. However, lake access is limited through mid December. Parts of the river are still not safe for ice fishing until late December. Fishing is hit and miss.
Fishing is a mixed bag of pike, perch, tullibees, sturgeon and eelpout (burbot). Most anglers are fishing in 20-30 feet of water. Most common and productive setup is (1) a jigging rod in one hole and (2) a deadstick with live minnow in a second hole.
Resorts are setting up fish houses across the ice and providing transportation for anglers. The ice is not yet thick enough to support larger vehicles.
The south end of the lake is producing some nice walleye catches. A bunch of slot fish between 19.5 and 28 inches, and some trophy catches over 28 inches.
Saugeye fishing is strong.
A mixed bag of perch, pike, tulibees and eepount are being pulled from the lake, with an occasional sturgeon. Most fish are being caught in 25-30 feet of water during early January.
Fish are beginning to move deeper (30-35′). Small presentations (1/8oz jig) tipped with a minnow are working best. When the sun is out stick with shiny lures such as silver and gold. On cloudy days brighter lures an glow colors work best. For your deadstick presentation, fish a live minnow on a small hook or jig about 12-24 inches off the bottom.
Larger vehicles and wheelhouses are now allowed out on the ice. Stay on marked paths and adhere to weight limits.
Rainy River continues to produce for anglers fishing a jig and minnow. Due to the current, ice conditions on the river vary. Top catches are walleye, sauger and sturgeon. Some days are hit and miss.
Ice fishing is now in full gear on the Northwest Angle. Walleye, sauger, perch, eelpout and pike are the main catches. Again, jigging online and deadsticking the other is the best strategy. Jigging a small spoon tipped with cut minnow also works well.
There is a lot of activity on the ice plowing and maintaining ice roads, and moving fish houses around to stay on top of the walleye and sauger.
30-35 feet is the target depth for walleye fishing. During morning and evening, fishing walleye in 15-20 feet of water is productive.
Jigging, deadsticking and fishing a live minnow under a bobber are the main ice fishing methods. Most popular lure colors are gold, white and glow. Orange also tends to get bites.
Fishing yields a mix bag of walleye, sauger, perch, burbot (eelpout), pike, tulibees (cisco) and sturgeon. Whitefish are also appearing on the scene. Anglers fishing the northern end of the lake report several whitefish catches.
Fishing the evening and morning hours on Rainy River is still the best strategy for targeting walleye and sauger and tends to produce the highest catch rate. Ice conditions on Rainy River vary.
Northwest Angle is producing high catch rates. More walleye than sauger are being caught in this part of the lake.
A lot of anglers are using tip ups to target pike.
Jigging a jig with minnow on one line and deadsticking a live minnow on a second line just off the bottom is still proving to be an effective strategy.
The following are the top catches on Lake of the Woods reported by anglers.