Spring Fishing Underway (finally!) On Rainy River

It took long enough to get here, but spring walleye fishing on the Rainy River finally is underway.

The fun will be short-lived, though, because Monday is the last day of walleye season on Minnesota-Ontario border waters including Lake of the Woods and Rainy River. Season resumes May 10.

Royal Dutchman Resort in Baudette, Minn., posted this photo Tuesday on its Facebook page of the Nelson Park boat ramp in Birchdale, Minn., which now is clear of snow and ice and accessible to larger boats.

According to Lake of the Woods Tourism, the public boat ramp at Nelson Park in Birchdale, Minn., about 30 miles east of Baudette, has been cleared of snow and ice, and large boats are launching there. Royal Dutchman Resort in Baudette posted this photo of the cleared Birchdale launch Tuesday on its Facebook page.

I expect Birchdale this weekend will be even more of a zoo than it is already.

Clementson Resort, located on the Rainy about 10 miles east of Baudette, posted a report this morning saying the river was open to within three miles of the Frontier Landing — the next ramp downstream from Birchdale — and there’s a good chance the river will be open to Frontier later today, given the warm temperatures. The Frontier Landing is about 17 miles east of Baudette.

Fishing also is good, from what I’ve been hearing. With marginal runoff to this point, there’s not a lot of current so heavy jigs aren’t necessary. I don’t expect the conditions will change before the end of the season.

Once walleye season ends, fishing pressure will shift toward sturgeon, and spring is perhaps the best time of year for tying into a behemoth fish that can weigh 100 pounds or more.

Sturgeon fishing is catch-and-release only through April 23, when a limited harvest season begins for anglers who buy a tag. For more information, check out the 2014 Minnesota fishing regulations booklet or the DNR website at mndnr.gov.