Massive Fall Walleyes on the Rainy River

Category: article

 Sep 30th, 2021 by Keith Worrall 

Modified Sep 30th, 2021 at 11:33 AM

There has been a trend over the past few years, maybe longer. Right before and during the traditional MN Gun Deer Season, fall walleyes, massive in size, are in the Rainy River. Will this year be one of those years? The one thing is for sure, if you are reading about it after the fact, you may have missed out.

Is this year prime for massive fall walleyes in the Rainy River? Only Mother Nature knows. Initially, some thought there wouldn’t be much of a run as the water was low and the current low. Well, so much for the experts predictions! With all respects, there are a lot of seasoned anglers who have a lot of falls on the Rainy River under their belts. With that being said, again, Mother Nature dictates and often blows away even the best hypothesis.

There was an early run of shiners and various runs have been coming through this year. Consequently, walleye anglers in the river have been catching walleyes. Overall, they aren’t the pigs yet. Time will tell.

There is no doubt as we get towards the end of October, many outdoors-people minds turns to hunting. Very understandable. With that being said, having the chance to hit the river just one more time before ice up could be the best and most memorable trip of the year for massive fall walleyes.

Every year the river is different. Some years, there is a lot of current. Other years, hardly any. An angler has to adapt.

The fall of 2021 has been dry. The river is low as is the current. There are still walleyes in the river and this week there was a good run of shiners again. Only Mother Nature knows, but things could be shaping up for some great late fall walleye fishing.

What is the go to presentation. No surprise to many, it is jigging. When the current is low, anglers can use 1/4 – 1/2 ounce jigs. When increased current, it is important to have heavier jigs. With the stained water, the walleyes don’t seem to mind. When we mention heavier jigs, it is good to have them up to 1.5 ounces just in case. In most cases, a smaller jig will suffice if you are fishing out of the current. The boy scout motto, “Always be Prepared”.

There are a number of jigging techniques on the Rainy River that can be effective. One technique is to anchor up and vertically jig over the side of the boat. Depending upon the current, your line may be a bit downstream, but that can be ok. It is good to use a jig that can “thunk” the bottom once in a while, which can attract walleyes.

Another technique is to purposely have a bit more angle in your line. Especially in current, pull the jig forward in the current and let it drop back until you feel it hit bottom. Lift it off a bit sharper next time. Maybe shake the jig, hold it steady. It is up to us as anglers to figure out what the walleyes want.

Jig colors? With the stained waters of Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River, big walleyes are typically interested in gold, orange, chartreuse, and glow or a combo of such. There are other nuances some use for jigging. In the stained water, noise can be helpful. Rattles, blades and spinners all add not only sound but also in some cases, extra flash.

As far as the bait on the jig, emerald shiners are the go to. Emeralds are native to the Rainy and is one main reason the walleyes are there. Emeralds run up the river in the fall. There is no for sure reasoning why they run. I have heard theories such as it is food related or the shiners are running to toughen up for the winter, getting re-slimed in the big schools. Nobody really know. What we do know, big fall walleyes love them and stay close.

Yep, it gets a bit cold outside on the back end of October into November. If you can handle the weather, the reward could be massive numbers of big fall walleyes and perhaps that fish of a lifetime!

To learn more about the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods, check out the Lake of the Woods Tourism website.

To find a guide, charter boat or lodging, check out our lodging page.

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