With water temperatures on the rise walleye have turned on. They are holding near shallow windblown structure such as points, inside turns and weedy bays. Most walleyes are being caught in the three to ten foot range with a wide variety of techniques. The go-to choice has been jigs (casted or trolled) and spinners tipped with minnows or worms. Long lining crankbaits or twitching jerk baits have been effective options when covering water is important, and last but not least, don’t overlook the ever-underestimated slip bobber tipped with a minnow or leech. Areas of current have proved successful especially on low wind days. In these areas deeper holes (20 to 35 feet) with ¼ to 3/8 oz jigs have been good places to focus. A few fish are being caught on break lines and shallow reefs (17 to 25 feet) directly adjacent to spawning areas.
Most of the lake is now seeing at least some bass guarding their nests. This has been a moving target this season with different parts of the lake warming at different rates and often cooling just as fast with roller-coaster forecasts. Recently however; things appear to have stabilized and the bass are moving up. Deeper parts of the lake are seeing bass just starting to bed while shallower areas have experienced bedding bass for over a week now. Look for bass on shorelines in and around shallow boulders. Top water lures, stick baits, and plastics have been catching fish.
Crappies continue to be shallow in the three to six 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.
With the warming bays baitfish have moved in and the predators have followed. Look for pike to be moving into shallow warming waters. They are well past spawn now and are feeding heavily. Windy shorelines and bays where other fish and minnows are schooling is a good place to start. Water temperature is often the key to spring pike but remember the actual temperature is not as important as the direction it is going. Rising water temps throughout the day can often bring pike into small areas in big numbers. Spoons, larger jerk baits, and twitch baits are drawing strikes.
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.
Rainy River access in International Falls, Pelland Junction, and Birchdale are all open.
Rainy River provides some of the earliest and best open water fishing in the upper midwest as walleye head upstream from Lake of the Woods. Walleye season on our border weaters remains open until April 14, and you might also pull in one of the huge sturgeon lurking in the river. The swifter waters below the dam at International Falls are almost always good for a few walleye and smallmouth bass. Kuttes Landing at Pelland Junction is just upstream from the confluence of the Little Fork River, which is another great hot spot. Nelson Park at Birchdale is just below the Long Sault Rapids where you can find concentrations of walleye and sturgeon.
Related: What Fishing On Rainy River is like.