I just got back from a four-day trip to Lake of the Woods at Adrian’s Resort with the winner of this year’s Catholic Spirit youth essay contest, Cody Lensing of Shoreview, and his father, Merl. The details of the trip will be featured in an upcoming issue of The Catholic Spirit.
August 9, 2008
So, I can’t give too much away right now. But, I can say this: Although Lake of the Woods has lots of walleyes and is a popular destination for walleye anglers, it is by no means an easy lake to fish.
Its size means the fish have miles and miles of water to roam, and roam they do, especially in the summer months of July and August. It pays to do some serious research about fish location before you head out on the water.
Perhaps a more important factor, especially at this time of year, is the weather. Of particular importance is the wind. The stronger it blows, the more challenging it is to both get to your location and control your boat.
A popular method of fishing on this lake is anchoring and jigging. If you are going to do this, it is crucial to have an anchor that will hold. Two factors to consider are weight of the anchor and style.
I can tell you one thing: Mushroom-style anchors are almost worthless on this lake when it gets rough. Anchors with some type of spike or spikes are effective at digging into the bottom and holding fast. Some anglers like attaching heavy chains to their anchors to add more weight. Finally, don’t forget to let lots of rope out when you drop anchor. A good rule of thumb is to let out one-and-a-half to two times the depth of the water you’re fishing. For example, at 30 feet (a popular depth at this time of year), you would let out anywhere from 45 to 60 feet of anchor rope.
These are the types of lessons you will learn if you fish this lake. If you do your homework and are prepared, you won’t have to learn them the hard way. Of course, another approach to fishing this lake that avoids all of these issues is to hire one of the many charter boats operating out of the resorts.
Even if you bring your own boat, it might not be a bad idea to book a charter the first day of your trip to figure out where the fish are and what presentations work best. Or, you can go on a charter if the water is too rough for your boat. Either way, you will gain valuable knowledge that will help you later on in your trip or on future trips.
Bottom line: This is a lake worth getting to know. The fishing has been great for the last several years and it has a more generous slot than many other lakes, including Upper Red, which isn’t quite as far north. On Lake of the Woods, you can keep four walleyes and have to throw back anything between 19 1/2 and 28 inches. On Upper Red, you have to throw back anything between 17 and 26 inches and can keep three fish.
I have fished both lakes and, let me tell you, that extra 2 1/2 inches on Lake of the Woods is huge. Not only does it mean you can keep bigger fish, but more of them. On all of my trips there in the last four years, we have caught fish between 17 and 19 1/2 inches and it is great to be able to drop them into the livewell. Part of the fun is anticipating the fish fry that comes later.
This is precisely what keeps me coming back to Lake of the Woods.