To say this body of water is special is an understatement. This past winter, Lake of the Woods experienced a record of angler hours on the ice of a bit over 2 million! This many angler hours is a combination of a great bite, good ice, the onset of wheel houses with anglers basically living on the ice thus having their lines in all day and the convenience of resorts making ice fishing easy for guests who literally step into a heated fish house on the fish with everything ready to go.
The good news is the walleye and sauger population is very healthy. A lake with natural reproduction, over 65,000 miles of shoreline and 14,552 islands really help the resource. Fishing this year has been spectacular. Walleyes and saugers are showing up across the lake. Some anglers right now are targeting walleyes shallow, along Pine Island, south shore, Zippel Bay and Long Point areas. Up at the Angle, Flag Island Flats has been giving up good numbers as has the west edge of Little Oak Island. All of these fish are coming out of depths of 5-15 feet of water.
At the same time, the well known pattern of anchoring up either in the mud targeting huge schools of fish or on the edge of a reef with a jig and frozen shiner or as of late, leech, is also producing nice walleyes.
Another well know mid summer technique turning on is pulling harnesses. If you don’t recognize the term harness, basically it is a snelled spinner with beads and one, two or three hooks. Anglers use either a bottom bouncer (I prefer 2 ounces) or some other kind of weight and bait such as a crawler, leech or minnow. Some even use artificial bait when the panfish are aggressive or in heavy weeds.
Drift or troll with a desired speed of 1.0 – 1.3 mph with a 45 degree angle to your line. The walleyes and saugers have a hard time resisting the flash, vibration and live bait offering.
Other species have also been active. Big pike are being caught by unsuspecting walleye anglers in various parts of the lake. We are talking pike of over 45″. That is a trophy anywhere, especially in MN waters.
Paul Johnson, Lake of the Woods pikeMany of our resorts in the NW Angle fish guests into the Ontario side of the lake. In addition to walleyes, pike, smallmouth bass and muskies, lake trout are also sought after and abundant.
If your passion is hunting muskies, this Saturday, June 17th is the Lake of the Woods muskie opener. This includes both the MN side and Ontario side. LOW is known as a world class fishery for muskies. With 14,552 islands, the habitat is excellent and the fish thrive. Much of the lake has stained water, so just try and maintain a steady heart rhythm when a 50 incher comes up out of nowhere!
Starting July 1st, the sturgeon season opens once again. Although they get much of their attention in the spring, summer sturgeon angling is lights out and can be a fun day to add to your traditional walleye trip.
Birchdale, MN on the Rainy River actually hosts an International Sturgeon Tournament. Anglers must fish within close proximity of Nelson Park in Birchdale and dozens of sturgeon are boated.
For those “hard to buy for” Dads, a Lake of the Woods fishing trip for now or in the future can be a great gift. Whether Dad fishes out of his own boat or would prefer to jump on a charter or in with a guide on the big waters of Lake of the Woods, resorts have plenty of options to fit any budget.
Perhaps you have heard it said, throughout a person’s life, experiences are appreciated and remembered more than “things”. This year, treat Dad to an experience that will stimulate his memory for years to come!
To give you a flavor of how fishing in general was last year at this same time, check out the video done just after Father’s Day last year. Fishing so far this year has been excellent around the lake.