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