What Can I Catch on Lake of the Woods?
Lake of the Woods offers trophy class fish in mulitple species. Whether you want to hunt muskies, chase walleyes, hook-up with northerns, go deep for lake trout, jig for jumbo perch, cast for bass or fill your livewells with crappies, Lake of the Woods has all your bases covered. With 14,000 islands and more than 65,000 miles of shoreline, Lake of the Woods will provide a lifetime of fishing opportunities for any angler.
Muskie fishing begins the 3rd Saturday of every June. The early season usually has muskies on structure closely related to spawning areas. Weather conditions can speed up or slow down the spawning process so you should be ready to adjust your approach as conditions and fish activity dictate where you need to be focusing. Water temperatures will be your best tool in figuring out where to target the toothy critters during the first couple of weeks of the season. The progression into July and the summer peak typically sees muskies move out from weedy areas and set up closer to rock structure. Multiple pieces of structure in one area will almost always be an excellent place to find muskies, especially during the summer and early fall. The majority of fall muskies taken on Lake of the Woods are done so by trolling crank baits along shorelines and rock structure. There is nothing more fun than multiple big fat fall muskies in late October on Lake of the Woods. There are two excellent books that can help get you ready for your muskie fishing trip to Lake of the Woods: Dick Pearson’s: “Muskies on the Shield” and “Pro Tactics: Muskie – Use the Secrets of the Pros to Catch More and Bigger Muskies” by Jack Burns and Rob Kimm. Both of these books are easy to read and full of excellent information for muskie anglers of all skill level. Check these books out, you won’t be sorry you did.
Walleyes have long been the number 1 dinner plate fish on Lake of the Woods. The walleye season begins the 3rd Saturday of May each year. Walleye populations have been quite good in recent years and many groups report their best fishing ever in any given year. Size and numbers have both been abundant. Spring walleyes are typically fished along shorelines in the sand and rocky rubble. Points with boulders can also be good. Reef fishing is the most popular way to pick up walleyes during the summer. Just work a reef from top to bottom and find out where they are laying. Jigs and spinners with minnows have always been the presentation that catches the most fish. Fall walleyes often go back to sand and weed lines as well as current areas close to deep water.
Northern fishing on Lake of the Woods is open year round. The 2008 season saw a return to excellent northern angling after a couple of years of tough fishing due to difficult spawning conditions of a few years prior. Many northerns were caught both jigging for walleye and casting for muskies. Trophy class northerns in the 40 inch class have been quite common the last few years, while the smaller eater size northerns drastically increased in the 2008 season. Shallow weeds are the most common place to contact northerns, but the larger ones tend to be caught in deeper water off points when the water temps rise. Big northerns are often part of the menu in the fall when trolling big crank baits while muskie fishing.
Crappies, Smallies and Perch are open to angling all year round. (please check regulations closely for smallmouth rules. Populations have been found in good numbers the last few years. Size and numbers of perch in particular has been quite remarkable the last couple of years. Anglers targeting smallies look for rocky rubble and boulders near shore to do most of their casting. Jigging around reefs that normally hold walleyes during the summer is another common presentation as the season progresses into fall.
Crappies are typically found in 3 general areas of Lake of the Woods: Obabikon Lake, Miles Bay and Hay Island. Any one of these areas can provide a hotter bite than the others at times so ask to find out where your best bet would be before you head out fishing.
Lake Trout swim up in Whitefish Bay and can be accessed via Turtle Portage. If you don’t mind a long boat ride and a little grunt work, you can add lakers to the agenda of your fishing trip as well.
** All of the above pictured fish (except those in the crappie photo) were caught and released. Mylie’s Place is proud to encourage CPR fishing. Catch, Photograph, Release.