Paddling the Route of the Voyageurs
In our modern lives, adventure is something we seek and schedule. For most of us, adventure is a choice. However, for the Voyageurs in in the mid 1700’s through the mid 1800’s, adventure was a way of life. The French Canadian paddlers were legendary for their enduring power and gritty toughness as they moved furs and other goods via the natural waterways of the northwest territories – often for up to 16 hours a day.
Rainy Lake and Rainy River were common stops along the Voyageurs highway, which linked the great lakes to the interior of the country. Today, these same canoe routes exist virtually unchanged since the days of the Voyageurs, offering visitors to Rainy Lake and Rainy River the chance to adventure through history.
Before grabbing your paddle, take time to research and plan your trip. A good place to begin is the Voyageurs National Park Rainy Lake Visitor Center, where you’ll find historical information, maps, regulations and advice for following the path of the intrepid voyageur. What’s more, the center offers the opportunity to paddle back in history aboard a 26-foot North Canoe, where groups can explore the life of the voyageur, complete with paddle salutes and rowing songs.
If you have your own canoe or kayak, remember to stop at one of the park’s visitor centers for guidelines and safety recommendations before launching. Be sure to consider is the weather conditions as well, since Rainy Lake’s many islands and open water can lead to quickly-developing storms. If you plan on exploring the Canadian side of Rainy, you’ll need the required identification and other documentation.
Hire it Out
If you’re not familiar with the area, or you don’t have a boat and other equipment, you can work with a local outfitter, who will provide everything you need, from canoe or kayak, to paddles, life jackets, and possibly even shore lunch! Many will even paddle along with you, pointing out landmarks, significant islands and outlets.
The Voyageurs left behind very little, other than tales of strength and endurance that have been handed down through generations. If you follow in their paddle strokes, be sure that you also bring home only stories and memories, which, after all, is true to the path of the voyageur.
Plan your Trip
We look forward to your upcoming visit to the Rainy Lake area! We are available to help with lodging and other accommodations. Reach out and Plan your Trip!
The International Falls Bass Championship will be the center of attention through the weekend. This catch-and-release contest has become one of the premier Minnesota fishing events. It's much more than a fishing contest, with daily and nightly entertainment, foot races and more. Their website is www.ifallsbass.com
So what should you expect if you get out to wet a line, we thanks the Rainy Lake Guide Association for providing this fishing report, and guide Bruce Jean for providing a nice photo.
Walleye: Walleyes continue hold their deep water presence on most of the Rainy Lake’s reefs or mid-lake humps as some fisherman refer to them. Actively using electronics to mark schools of fish is the key. The depths of these fish appear to change almost daily ranging from as shallow as 20 feet to as deep as 36. A ¼ oz. jig and minnow has been working well, lindy rigs with a minnow or leech has been working when fish are finicky.
Crappie: Crappies remain in deeper water along breaklines and submerged brush with most of them being caught in the 18 to 30 foot range. Jigs and minnows have been working well.
Smallmouth Bass: Some bass are being caught in deeper water ranging from 12 to 25 feet. Weighted plastics have been a good choice along with crank baits and lipless baits. Other bass remain in shallow water along rocky shorelines and points. Again, plastics, twitch baits and spinner baits are catching fish.
Northern Pike: With the warming water of August much of Rainy Lake’s pike population has moved to deeper water. Casting or trolling water ranging from 15 to 40 feet has been the best bet for catching larger pike. That being said pike continue to be caught on windblown points and weed beds. Spinner baits, buzz baits, spoons, and larger jerk or twitch baits have proven successful.
This post was brought to you by Rainy Lake Guide Association.
Exploring Rainy River
The Rainy River forms part of the border between Minnesota and Ontario and is a haven for anglers and boaters of all stripes. Perhaps best known for fishing, the river is one of the world’s top destinations for premiere walleye fishing each spring and is also home to other game fish. In addition to anglers, canoers and kayakers enjoy Rainy River’s numerous access points along its 85-mile route, and its many resorts provide a welcome rest regardless of the day’s activities.
Flowing from approximately the west end of Rainy Lake and the communities of International Falls, MN and Fort Frances, ON, the river travels west-northwest to Baudette, MN, and Rainy River, ON, then enters Four Mile Bay on Lake of the Woods.
Rainy River’s watershed is largely forested and composed of peatland and bogs that were part of Lake Agassiz 10,000 years ago. In the past, its waters were used by fur traders, lumber mills and commercial fishing boats.
Rainy River is counted among the finest fishing destinations in America. Each spring, resident walleyes flood the waterway, offering anglers the chance to land a “lunker.” The early fishing season runs approximately early March through mid-April (check the MN DNR website for exact dates each year). Though walleye is the river’s premier gamefish species, anglers also target sturgeon, smallmouth bass and northern pike. Notable Rainy River catches include a 35.1-inch walleye (released) and a 100-plus pound sturgeon (also released).
Because Rainy River is between the U.S. and Canada, anglers who plan to fish the Canadian side of the river must have a valid Ontario fishing license, as well as an Outdoors Card and a Remote Area Border Crossing permit.
U.S. Rainy River Access Points
Multiple access points mean options abound for exploring Rainy River. Camping is not allowed at the following boat launch sites unless otherwise noted.