Rainy River fishing/boat access update

Spring weather has taken a step backwards the past few days, but that hasn’t halted the progress of open water on the Rainy River along the Minnesota-Ontario border.

Birchdale Ramp

Clementson Resort posted this photo earlier this morning showing the boat ramp on the Rainy River at Nelson Park in Birchdale, Minn., has been cleared of ice and now is accessible to larger boats.

Clementson Resort posted a photo on its Facebook page this morning showing the boat ramp at Nelson Park in Birchdale, Minn., has been cleared of ice and is now accessible to big boats. Located about 30 miles east of Baudette, Minn., the Birchdale ramp is typically one of the first to open to large boat traffic.

As for the fishing, I haven’t heard a lot of reports to this point, but word is anglers are averaging about 25 walleyes per boat. No big walleyes yet, but numerous eater-sized fish and walleyes up to about 24 inches have been reported.

Springtime regulations on the Rainy limit anglers to two fish, and all walleyes longer than 19½ inches must be released. The regulation applies to all waters of the Rainy, including Four-Mile Bay of Lake of the Woods.

Clementson Resort and Royal Dutchman Resort near Baudette both are offering daily updates on their Facebook pages. Conditions on the river will change daily as ice-out progresses, but bottom line is one ramp is already open to large boats. Fishing season on the Rainy River and other Minnesota-Ontario border waters is open through April 14. When the river is open to Lake of the Woods remains to be seen and likely will hinge on the return of warmer temperatures.

More information about spring fishing on the Rainy River is available here.

Fishing in Minnesota? Better buy a new license

Better get a new license if you’re going fishing  in Minnesota; 2014 fishing, game and trapping licenses expire Saturday.

This could be a point of confusion for some people, because Minnesota fishing licenses for a few years didn’t expire until the end of April.

No longer; some hunting and fishing seasons continue past the end of February when the old licenses expired, and new licenses now are required.

The exception is ice shelter permits, which remain effective through April 30.

New licenses are available at all Electronic Licensing System outlets, online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense and by phone at (888) 665-4236.


Fish photo reminder

The recent cold snap — hopefully, it’s short-lived — provides an opportunity to remind anglers to be careful when photographing fish that will be released.

Jason Hamilton, a Lake Winnipeg guide who provides occasional fishing reports for the Herald, posted an item on Facebook this week reminding anglers not to pose with big fish outside in cold weather and scolding those who do.

Lake Winnipeg, of course, is a hotbed for trophy walleyes, a destination where there’s a better than 50-50 chance that anglers will catch the biggest walleye of their lives.

It’s also known for extreme cold temperatures, and that’s where photo problems can occur.

In cold weather, take those fish photos inside the heated shelter — which most of us use if we’re fishing in these extreme conditions. The photo might not be as striking and the lighting not as good, but exposing a fish to subzero temperatures will freeze its eyes and layer of protective slime in seconds.

The fish might swim away when put back down the hole, but it soon will die.

That’s an unintended consequence that easily can be prevented. Unless you plan to keep the fish, don’t take outside fish photos until temperatures improve.