The warmer weather is expected to result in more action for ice anglers. The walleye and crappie bite has been strongest in the morning and evening hours. Jigging with live bait is most effective and the advice is that a bright color, or even a jig that produces some noise attracts more attention. Most areas of Rainy Lake are accessible for folks with snowmobiles and portable gear. The usual ice road to Sand Bay and the short roads to the east are available for light vehicles and the National Park ice road is open to Rainy Lake City.
The border waters will remain open to walleye fishing after this weekend which always allows for the latest ice fishing in the region. The earliest open water walleye fishing is usually available on Rainy River and the accesses will be open as soon as the weather and safety permits. The border waters walleye season extends to mid-April.
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.
Voyageurs National Park has opened the Rainy Lake Ice Road as far as the Black Bay Ski Trail and is working on extending the road east to Cranberry Bay and Back. That provides a lot more access for ice fishing, or sightseeing and skiing for that matter.
As far as Ice fishing goes, the brutally cold snap kept a lot of people off the ice, but those that ventured out report the walleye bite was fair around Sand Bay and you could use a jigging spoon tipped with a minnow, or just place a minnow under a bobber and do okay.
Meanwhile, back at trails, the Park Service is working on staking and grooming all the trails in the Park, and the trails outside of the park have been well maintained by the International Voyageurs Snowmobile Club. We are getting a break from the frigid temps, so get out and enjoy.
International Falls, Rainy Lake and Ranier Convention and Visitors Bureau