Walleye with jig in mouth

Consider a Border Country Ice-Fishing Trip This Hard-Water Season

Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake near the Canadian border above Minnesota see every bit as much walleye, sauger, pike, and jumbo perch action in the winter as during the open-water season. Make the angling trip north in 2014-15!

Recently, I wrote about a great late open-water season fishing trip to Lake of the Woods. Now, thanks to the unseasonably cold November here in the Midwest, particularly Minnesota, this fantastic border water fishery already has ice fishermen dropping lines through the hard water and hoisting impressive walleyes. I’m planning a trip back to the big lake this winter.

Many resorts on Lake of the Woods (LOW) already are booked pretty tight for the heart of winter, though I’m told some openings still exist, especially in what’s left of December before Christmas. And don’t forget, the season for walleyes remains open on this border water until April 14, and the long days of late ice usually produce great fishing.

Attending the St. Paul Ice Fishing show this past weekend of December 5-7, reports were steady that there’s already a good ice bite beginning on Lake of the Woods.

By last weekend, there was a solid foot of ice almost everywhere with thicker ice conditions in some places.

The author encourages ice anglers to try fishing the Canadian border waters for hot action.
The author encourages ice anglers to try fishing the Canadian border waters for hot action.

Resorts have been pulling houses out for more than a week, including a few sleeper houses early this week. The area received half a foot of welcomed snow overnight Sunday to Monday, and that should help smooth out ice road conditions.

The guys at Border View Lodge on LOW in Baudette, Minn., tell me they’re setting houses over 25-28 feet of water within a mile of Pine Island, so anglers can expect a quick trip to their ice houses. Anglers are seeing a steady bite with good numbers all day.

Rental ice houses on places such as Minnesota’s Mille Lacs and Lake of the Woods provide great fishing opportunities for folks who don’t own much equipment or just want to sample the sport for a couple days. They’ll keep you warm and put you in places where the fish are biting, and on Lake of the Woods, the walleyes almost always are biting.

Don’t be afraid to bring your own gear, especially your electronics. Though you’ll often be using a variation of an ice jig or spoon with a minnow, now’s a great time to try jigging shad raps or some of the other great new lures we’re enjoying during the modern ice fishing revolution. Tipping your lures with salted shiners is a common and productive bait option across border country.

Early ice is here! Be safe and enjoy it.

Shop Sportsman’s Guide for a GREAT selection of Ice Fishing Gear!


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