We missed out on the sunny, 70-degree days anglers enjoyed last week, but two friends and I got our first taste of open-water fishing for the year Monday when we made a trip to the Rainy River.
The transition from winter to spring happened fast this year, and Four-Mile Bay of Lake of the Woods at the mouth of the river already was open when we launched the boat Monday morning at the Wheeler’s Point boat access. It might have been a Monday with cruddy weather, but the parking lot was full, and pickup-boat trailer rigs were parked along the road when we pulled in about 10 a.m.
Water clarity is the key to spring fishing success on the Rainy River, and the walleye bite can shut down on a dime when the river becomes turbid, which it often does after tributaries open and muddy the water. I was a bit concerned about our fishing prospects when I saw the water clarity was beginning to diminish, but there was nothing to do but make the best of it.
We headed into Four-Mile Bay and dropped anchor along the edge of the channel in about 10 feet of water. With a stiff southeast wind and gusts up to 30 mph, the resulting “walleye chop” swung the boat in depths varying from 8 to 10 feet.
Weather and water conditions were far from ideal, but the “wait ‘em out” technique proved to be a good choice, and the three of us figured we boated about 30 walleyes during the six hours we toughed it out in the elements. The biggest walleye of the day stretched the tape at 27 inches, and another fish lost at the side of the boat was at least that big. Typical of prespawn walleyes, the average size was impressive.
We didn’t have the 100-fish days we’d heard about the previous week, but all things considered, we had a good day on the water under some very unpleasant conditions. The heated seats in my buddy’s truck felt good that night on the drive back to Grand Forks.
I’ll have a story about the trip and spring fishing on the Rainy River in Sunday’s Herald.