Suspending twitch baits can bring some of the most exciting spring action with nearly every species Rainy Lake has to offer. Often however; these baits are fished too fast when the water is cold and fish are not in an aggressive mood. The key to more strikes is in the pause. Even a pause of five to ten seconds is not too long, but to a waiting angler that feels like eternity. Counting the seconds on each pause can help you force yourself to wait. And don’t be afraid to change it up, Jerk-Jerk-Pause two seconds, Jerk-Jerk Pause five seconds. When you get a strike remember what you did and repeat it.
With water temperatures in the high forties to mid-fifties walleyes have remained slightly behind in their traditional movements. They are being caught in bays where water temperatures are slightly above that of the main lake. Windblown shorelines and points have been most productive. 1/16 to 1/8th ounce jigs tipped with a minnow or plastic have been effective. With the cold weather the need to slow down and be methodical can’t be understated. Action on spinner rigs is starting to pick up. With warmer weather in the forecast the bite is only expected to get better.
Due to the cold temperatures Smallmouth have yet to begin nesting. Most fish are being caught near their traditional spawning area staging up on windy points, large boulders or any other significant structure near potential spawning sites. Suspending twitch baits have worked great. A long pause is the key to more strikes. As always plastics and hair jigs are great go-to options.
Crappies are shallow in the three to five-foot range. Most crappies are being caught using a slip bobber and a minnow. Turns and points in bull rushes as well as on and around sunken rocks have been the key.
Pike have finished their spawning weeks ago but remain shallow and near spawning areas. Bays protected from larger bodies where water has had a chance to warm faster are a good place to start. Spinner baits, spoons and most significantly suspending twitch baits have been most productive.
-Our fishing report is courtesy the Rainy Lake Guide Association.
-Photo Courtesy Minnesota Arrowhead Association
-This post was brought to you by Rainy Lake Guide Association.
The ice is out on Rainy Lake so walleye anglers will be able to boat to the best potential spots with ease. The trick will be knowing where those spots are. The usual advice after ice out is to seek a rocky shoreline near one of the larger sand bottom bays. Troll the windward shoreline with a minnow on a spinner rig, that should help you establish the depth where the walleye are congregating, then anchor and jig with a minnow at that depth.
You might also come across schools of crappie and they will respond to smaller minnows on jigs or even bare hooks. Around the weedy edges of the bays, you can also encounter northern pike.
If you are planning to fish Rainy River for the opener, you should try the wide side of larger bends. You will do best with live bait and in the River, emerald shiners are always the favorite.
There are other outdoor recreations to enjoy. The "Bog walk" at the north end of the Tilson Creek Ski Trails will provide access to the trail system where you can hike with a good chance of seeing wildlife from the birds in the process of nesting to various forest animals that will be a little easier to spot with fewer leaves on the trees.
If you're not up to a hike, how about a drive, the forestry roads will also offer a good chance to spot wildlife and some will encounter fun points of interest. An example is the Flowing Well Road in southwestern Koochiching County. The flowing well has been running steady since the early 1900's. A pipe was sunk hundreds of feet deep to tap an underground source and supply water to ice the trails used to skid enormous loads of timber out of the forest each winter.
Speaking of big timber, you can follow a forestry road to the "Lost 40" hiking trails. the Lost 40 is neither lost, or 40 acres. It is really around 120 acres that was never logged due to a survey error. Some of the pine there have been growing for hundreds of years and are huge.
If you'd like directions to any of these sites, just ask! Email the Convention and Visitors Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org (Photos courtesy of Elisa Winterland, Burgess Eberhardt and Pete Schultz)
International Falls, Rainy Lake and Ranier Convention and Visitors Bureau
At last word, the ice in the Little Fork River had pushed north to White's Bridge just outside of Littlefork. That means it will push into the Rainy River very soon, and the Big Fork River will do the same. When the Forks break out, water clarity in Rainy River drops and there will be debris and ice floes to dodge. That usually means a bit less fishing pressure for a few days.
Meanwhile, ramps on the Rainy have been busy and word is the walleye fishing is very good. This spring, it is a catch-and-release extended walleye season on Rainy River, but you can still keep some fish.
Northern Pike, crappie and smallmouth bass seasons are open continuous on our border waters. On Rainy River, all northern pike between 30 and 40 inches must be released immediately. You can keep a total of three and one can be over 40 inches. You can keep 10 crappie and 6 smallmouth bass.
It's worth checking out the forest at this time of year too, the forestry roads are generally open and wildlife is stirring. If you listen, you can hear grouse drumming to attract a mate. Songbirds are arriving from the south as are all sorts of waterfowl.
Birders will have improved access this summer. the Polar Polers Ski Club has started construction on a boardwalk over the wetland at the head of their Tilson Creek Trail system. That will provide access to several miles of trails through quite a bit of varied habitat. The likelihood of spotting wildlife is pretty good, especially at this time when the trees have not yet filled out creating dense cover.
Another option for getting out into nature is to check on the waterfalls, where spring runoff is thundering through with a roar, and providing great photo opportunities. I suggest hiking around the hundreds of yards long cascades on the Big Fork at Big Falls, or checking the narrow restriction of Vermilion Falls just south of Crane Lake. Both have great trails and adequate parking areas.
This post was brought to you by Rainy Lake Guide Association.