I got a call from a friend of mine last night who is planning on going up to Lake of the Woods this weekend. He is bringing his wife and kids to spend Memorial Day weekend on the big lake.
I have to confess feeling more than a twinge of jealousy. This is a prime time to be up on this lake — and many others. Judging by the fishing reports I have been reading for Lake of the Woods, the fishing is good and getting better. Because of the cold and wet spring we have had, the fish are a bit more sluggish than usual. But, on this lake, that just means that, rather than catching 100 walleyes a day, you might only catch 30-50.
In other words, a slow day of fishing on Lake of the Woods is often better than a good day on many other lakes. That is precisely why I consider the six-hour drive well worth it.
I also like the fact that you can keep walleyes up to 19 1/2 inches, before reaching the protected slot of 19 1/2 to 28 inches. On this lake and many others, I often catch walleyes between 17 and 19 1/2 inches, which I can keep on LOTW. For some reason, many other lakes, including Upper Red, have protected slots that begin at 17 inches. I sometimes get frustrated by the number of fish between 17 and 19 inches that I have to throw back on these lakes.
Another nice thing on LOTW, at least on the south end, is that finding the fish and catching them is relatively easy. You don’t have to hover on small pieces of structure and finesse fish with complicated rigs. Rather, you drive across Four Mile Bay and out through the gap near Pine Island, find where the boats are clustered, drop anchor in the mud and drop a jig and minnow down to the fish. It’s so simple, even kids and inexperienced anglers can do it.
I find that very appealing. As much as I like to fish, I don’t fish for walleyes enough to have learned many of the complex methods for catching them. But, I am pretty good with jigs, and you rarely have to use anything else on this lake, even in the middle of the summer.
Actually, I will be heading up to LOTW in late June with my son, Andy, and one of his high school classmates. We will be going on a five-day fishing retreat organized by a priest of the St. Cloud Diocese. That will be the subject of a future Outdoors column. We will be going to the Northwest Angle, which is several hours north of Baudette on the south end of the lake. It will be interesting to see what the fishing is like farther north on the lake.
I’m excited to find out!