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.