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 email@example.com (Photos courtesy of Elisa Winterland, Burgess Eberhardt and Pete Schultz)
International Falls, Rainy Lake and Ranier Convention and Visitors Bureau
One of the best tasting fish in Minnesota is the Black Crappie, which are plentiful in the vast Rainy Lake waters. To eat them, you must first catch them. It's always a good idea to check with local bait stores on the best lures for crappies, but most crappie fishers get a supply of live minnows as they are the natural food source and crappie's favorite meal.
It's best to go with ultra light rods and 2-6# line which helps in feeling the "light bite." Bobbers are a good idea for younger anglers, but not necessary. While the world record crappie is 6 pounds, the typical "keeper" in Minnesota lakes is under 1 pound. Spring fishing is perfect for crappie fishing as they can be found along shorelines where there are fallen trees or sharp drop offs. They prefer structure such as weed beds, humps or holes under the water and wind-protected coves with good cover. Early morning yields the best chance of success, and once you find one, there is most likely a school of them at the same spot.
“Before going fishing, anglers should be sure to check page seven of the fishing regulations that details what’s new for 2019,” said Al Stevens, fisheries program consultant with the Department of Natural Resources." The current limit of crappies to have in possession is 10 per licensed angler. And that would make an awesome fish fry!
There is nothing quite like the fresh taste of a fish caught just minutes before frying it up on shore. While some people are happy to catch and release their fish, others prefer to catch and eat their fish! If your weekend plan includes a fish fry using the fish you catch, there are a few tips on making sure you don't go hungry.
First, have a back-up plan. What if the weather keeps you from getting out on the water at all? Or, your success is less than what is needed to feed your group? So, pack up some food just in case. Second, figure out what you will need in the way of batter supplies and cooking utensils you will need to pack.Third, think about the fuel source for your make-shift stove. Will you need to bring some dry pre-split wood, or do you have a gas-fired portable stove? What about matches, kindling or paper for fire starting material? It would be sad to catch the fish and then not be able to start a fire to cook them on due to a failure to plan ahead.
Finally, what goes good with fish? Be sure to pack your favorite side dishes. (oh, that reminds me, pack some dishes too!) Shore lunches provide an opportunity to get out of the boat, stretch your legs, enjoy the scenery and make some memories with friends and family. Good luck and good fishing!