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Wind Walleyes All Summer Long on Leech Lake

No Passport Needed on the Rainy

Fishing the Big Lake - Welcome to Wigwam Resort

Lake Michigan: Locating and Landing Kings

 

Wind Walleyes All Summer Long on Leech Lake

By Toby Kvalevog, Jeff Andersen and the Leisure Outdoor Adventures Pro Staff
Wind and walleyes have always gone hand in hand on most Northern Minnesota Lakes. Walleye fishermen across the country have often revered a “walleye chop” that stirs up the walleyes and gets them in the feeding mood. Leech Lake, located near Walker, MN, epitomizes this to the fullest.
Leech has an array of fishable structure scattered along its vast shores that attract wind in all seasons. The lake itself consists of nearly 103,000 acres of: shoreline, points, expansive flats, humps, bars, and much more. Probably the most unique characteristic of the lake is it fishes like a chain of lakes surrounding a main lake.
The diversity of these tributaries on Leech Lake, as well as a large main lake, gives a fisherman endless locations to chase walleyes throughout the fishery. Whether it is the main lake or any of its many bays, each offers their own unique structure, but the one characteristic they all offer are well defined points both above and below the water. Utilizing these points with wind crashing in will up your odds when locating walleyes from the start of the season in May through the last day of open water. Many of Leech’s main points (Ottertail, Duck, Pine, and Stoney point) will hold walleyes year round, and also look at your map or GPS for some of the lesser fished points that could serve as hidden gems or will get you away from the fishing pressure.
When beginning your search for eyes on Leech, step 1, check the wind; step 2, see what the wind has been doing the previous few days; step 3, and utilize technology like the mapping software from Contour Elite. Contour Elite will not only allow you to see what is above the water but also give you a 3-D underwater view of the nooks and crannies that will hold fish along these points. Using this, we eliminate the points that may not produce and focus on the ones that should. When the wind blows, it will concentrate and disorient baitfish which makes them easier targets for hungry walleyes. Walleyes will generally position themselves on the windward side of the point, cruising the break lines awaiting an easy meal. Once you find these areas, experience tells us you will find the more aggressive, actively feeding fish. The most fishable points will have a quartering wind, causing the bait fish to be pushed in. A quartering wind is one that is not coming directly into the tip or side of the point but somewhere in between; IE- NW wind would be perfect for the west side of a point. This wind will generate needed current, yet allowing for a controlled drift. This drift can be complemented with a quality drift sock and trolling motor. The drift sock can be used to slow the boat and the trolling motor will help you slide in and out along the point until you narrow in on the correct depth where the walleyes are feeding.
Within these points look for the shallower, more pronounced breaks in the 6-8 ft. range and begin your search here. Early and late in the year it's tough to beat a jig and shiner combo. For Leech, we have found one of the best to be a blue and white Kenkatch shiner jig because of the longer shank hook and wide gap; another great option is the VMC Neon Moon Eye jig. For Shiners, we like to run the hook in the mouth, out the gill, and up through the belly to keep the hook near the dorsal fin. This will increase your hook sets dramatically over a shorter shank jig. While controlled drifting with the wind, hold the tip of your rod, (Jason Mitchell 6-6 med light is perfect), up at a 45 degree angle and swim the jig just off the bottom. An active jigging stroke of one lift for every 2 seconds is usually too much for the fish to resist.
Later in the year we will set up a bit deeper and troll these same points. Trolling by nature is a faster search process when locating active Walleye. For a trolling run, we will use the Jason Mitchell elite series trolling rods. For reels, making use of a line counter is a great option and pair that with a quality braided line. The no stretch line with a shock absorbing fast tip of the trolling rod takes all of the guesswork out of the equation. Begin your pass in the 8-12 ft. range and run your favorite spinner night crawler combinations or your favorite crank baits. Chasing walleyes with cranks and spinners is a very effective way to contact fish. With cranks, like most clear natural lakes, we like to keep our selections natural. Matching the hatch is a very common term in fishing, but one that is very applicable on leech. Perch and Shiner minnows are mainstays in the diet of walleyes on Leech and usually where we start when choosing colors. With both cranks and crawler harnesses, it is important to play around with speed, color, and size of your combinations until you see what the fish prefer. What we have found is that through the course of the day, the fish will change their preference so you have to be willing to make slight changes in your presentation size, color, and speed.
Since these Leech Lake points can be long, use an “S-Curve” trolling pattern to cover a range of depths in a single run until you narrow your search. As you move along during your trolling run pay attention to when the bites occurs and if the rods are on the inside or outside of the boat. If the bite comes on the outside as you are making a turn, which will tell you the fish want it a little faster. Conversely, if the walleye hits on the inside rod as you are turning, this might indicate the need to slow down a bit with your presentation. With the help of a Minnkota iPilot we utilize the track record feature that allows us to follow our EXACT trolling run, bringing us directly back over a school of fish.
Wind walleyes on Leech are something that is accessible to any angler most anywhere on the lake all summer long. Fish them early, fish them late, just be sure to fish them and you will ‘get hooked’ on wind walleyes!
Leisure Outdoor Adventures is a premier guide service, and promotional group partnered with Chase on the Lake resort in Walker MN and other businesses in central Minnesota.

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No Passport Needed on the Rainy


By Bob & Ginny Riege
Ginny
Ginny holds the largest walleye caught and released on the Rainy River.

Rivers are everywhere, and most of them have a good population of fish.
Most anglers live close to a river, therefore it's easy to get onto a good bite when the urge strikes you. In fact, some rivers that border states have no closed season on a variety of species. This enables the angler to get out and do some fishing even during the cold winter months.
One river that has always been a fascination of ours is the Rainy River.
The Rainy River actually has a walleye season that is open from March 1st to April 14th . You can keep 2 walleyes under 19.5 inches, everything else must be released.
The Rainy River is one of those border rivers. Of course it borders not a state but another country, Canada. The nice thing about fishing on the Rainy River is that you have all the trappings of a Canadian river or lake, but you don’t have to clear customs nor do you have to show a passport when getting off the river. Of course, you have to know where the boundaries are in order to fish in American waters. Therefore, we selected a guide to help us on the last day of walleye season before it closed this year. The date we selected was April 14th, but the area can be fished starting again on May 15th with the same result. The guide that we chose was Gonzo. You can contact Gonzo at 112 5th Ave S.E, Baudette, MN 56623 218-634-2781 or Tom@GonzosGuideService.com. Cell 218-244-2299. There are many boat ramps along the Rainy River from International Falls to Baudette. The three most popular are Vidas/Clementson, Frontier and Birchdale. These launch areas are usually packed on weekends and during the week if you launch early you should have good access and plenty of parking.
On the way to the launch site Gonzo described what type of structure we should look for while fishing spring walleyes. “Basically we want to look for barriers and breaklines along the river and we should find fish tight to the bottom.”
Other spots may be structure like gravel or sand bars, shallow rocky shoals near drop-offs, wave-washed points, deserted sandy bottom beaches, or bottle necks between two different land masses. Riprap is also good, particularly where current hits the rock, such as on a windy point with deep-water access, or near a culvert where fresh water is filtering through a rock causeway.
Feeder streams funneling into a river represent yet other spots which fisherman should check out. The mouths of these tributaries often turn into fishing gold mines, especially after a heavy rain-washes fresh food and fresh water into the river.
Depending on the force of the current and the water clarity, (according to Gonzo if it is muddy the walleyes do not bite) fish may be as shallow as a couple feet, or in the bottom of a washout hole, or river channel 15 to 20 feet deep. If the current is stronger than normal, the fish probably are hunkered in a slack water area. All anglers must learn that "current" sets the rules for location and presentation when fishing rivers.
When anglers learn this simple rule they can explore the tail out area behind a sand bar or in a depression in a long stretch of river channel.
Or they may find fish behind a "break or barrier" like a point or wing dam, or a log or group of rocks. A group of fish could be scattered on a big bar (flat) on the slack-water side of the river-the side opposite an outside river bend where the channel runs against the bank.
What I have just described to you are "breaks and barriers". A "break" is anything that will slow down or divert the current. Fish will be located behind such structure as rocks, wingdams, logs and stumps. A "barrier" is anything that will stop a fish from moving on, such as, holes or depressions in the floor of the river, rapids, or a breakwater structure for harbors, or the narrowing of the river into a channel.
When fish are on the move concentrate on these structures. Fish will usually lay in ambush waiting for food to swim by. Usually fish (and large ones) will be in the warmer water less than 12 feet deep, chasing baitfish.
With all of this in mind Gonzo went on to explain, “ We are going to be forward trolling with jigs. This will allow us to use both sides of the boat for a our lines and it will give a live bait presentation with a minnow and a jig hoping off the bottom.” “Usually, I like to drift fish, but to cover a lot of territory and to stay with these schooling fish we need to forward troll with the gas motor and occasionally, I’ll slip it in neutral, then into forward gear.” We selected Northland Super-Glo jigs in ¼ ounce orange, chartreuse, and red tipped with a minnow.
The result? In a little under 7 hours of fishing we caught/released 67 walleyes. The average length was 22 inches and our largest caught by Ginny, was 29.25 inches. This was the best one-day walleye fishing we have ever experienced. We are planning to go back, not only next year, but also this summer to the Northwest Angle to fish walleyes where no passport is needed.
For more information about fishing the Rainy River contact: Jenna Walton at Lake of the Woods Tourism P.O. Box 518, 930 W. Main, Baudette, MN 56623. (218)-634-1174 or (800)-382-3474. jenna@lakeofthewoodsmn.com.

 

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Fishing the Big Lake - Welcome to Wigwam Resort

Wigwam

Staff Reports
There is a legendary lake in northern Minnesota that has produced astonishing numbers of trophy Walleye, Sauger, Pike, Perch, and Sturgeon. On that lake there is a destination that has also become a legend. Wigwam Resort, on The Lake of the Woods and at the mouth of the Rainy River, is that destination. North of Baudette, on the southern shoreline of one of the worlds’ great freshwater fisheries, Wigwam Resort is truly a gateway to an anglers’ paradise. Lake of the Woods is a million plus acres of fishing heaven dropped into the pristine wilderness that is the north woods.
At Wigwam Resort they say “there are always solutions, never problems” and they operate accordingly. Your visit is a made to order custom package. You can enjoy a day out with a guide and a few friends on one of the resort launches. The nineteen and twenty seven foot fiberglass charter boats are captained by the some of the best guides on the lake. The boats are equipped with the right tools to make your outing a success. The guides from Wigwam Resort follow the fish and know what will trigger a bite under any conditions.
You might decide to venture out in your own boat and explore more of what the lake has to offer. If you decide to take a break from fishing there are many other things to do. Water sports such as tubing, skiing, personal watercraft rentals, canoeing or kayaking up the river can be enjoyed. Several festivals and community events are held throughout the summer. There is easy access to other activities such as golfing, swimming and hiking.
Wigwam Resort has been full service and hassle free for over seventy years. They have twelve deluxe cabins. Each cabin has a full kitchen, bath and plenty of room to rest. There are also fourteen modern rooms in the main lodge. With a large lobby and a massive fireplace the lodge has a real hunting lodge appeal. Wigwam Resort also offers camping and RV sites. The sites include water, electricity and showering facilities. The RV sites also include hook ups for cable television. All of the accommodations include dock usage during while you stay.
The lodge is also full service restaurant that serves what may be the best food on the lake. Featuring live music on the weekends and three bars at the lodge, one could argue that Wigwam Resort has become a hot spot for anyone staying in the area. You’re always welcome to come in for dinner and drinks, catch some entertainment or maybe just to see how the fish are biting. The friendly, knowledgeable staff at Wigwam Resort will help to take your adventure far beyond your expectations.
Visit www.wigwamresortlow.com or call 1-800-448-9260 for reservations.

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Lake Michigan: Locating and Landing Kings

See our Lake Michigan Page

Garrett
By Garett Payne
Up until a few years ago I had always thought salmon were an ocean fish, swimming upstream in the fall to spawn then die, unless they became dinner for a fisherman or bear. Never would I have thought you would find them in the Midwest but, as I learned a few years back, this is very much true. Back in the 1960’s a fast growing predatory fish was needed to assist in controlling the alewife, an invasive fish from the Atlantic Ocean, who had invaded the Great Lakes by first bypassing the St. Lawrence rapids and the Moses dam then Niagara Falls via the new shipping canals. Alewives quickly grew in numbers because they lacked a predator. Natural resource officials decided on the Chinook (King) Salmon and in 1967 they were introduced into the waters of Lake Michigan. Salmon can be found in all waters of the Great Lakes.
At the beginning of October, I watch a local creek that empties into Lake Michigan, awaiting the salmon spawning run. It is an event that starts with a flurry of activity changing a peaceful, slow moving creek into chaos as it becomes overrun with Kings, all fighting to get upstream and answer nature’s spawning call. This is my favorite time of year as huge numbers of mature Kings gather in such small areas, even though catching one is not the easiest of tasks. The fish are no longer worried about feeding; their only concern is to reproduce and you must work to elicit a reactionary strike. Where I fish the water is shallow and you can see the fish so I pick one and continuously cast near it, hoping it will become agitated by the passing lure and prompt a strike. Also, once they have chosen an area to lay their eggs, casting near the bed usually elicits a response. I have found that a ¾ ounce Cleo works best in bright colors like neon orange and variations of chartreuse. After dark, a lure that glows produces very good results. I have also had good luck using the Rapala in Fire-tiger. As the mercury begins to fall and the spawning cycle slows I start using spawn sacks with good results, which will include an occasional brown trout. I’m sure there are other lures that yield good results but these are what I have found to produce the best.
The fall salmon run is an exciting time to put a line in the water. At first you think you hit a snag, then your pole bends and the drag begins to sing. “KING!” You exclaim as you begin to madly fight 10 to 30 pounds of fish. Fifteen to thirty minutes later, after your arms have begun to cramp, the beast begins to tire. As the “Oh my Gods!” from onlookers continue, your buddy grabs for the net signaling the fish has nearly given up. With a smooth and steady hand the fish is gently coaxed ashore as the “Ooo’s and Ahh’s” begin while you stand there exhausted, but in admiration of your prize. The fall salmon run in the Great Lakes provides an exciting time that everyone can enjoy, whether fishing or just there to watch. With rod and reel in hand and aspirations of catching the big one, remember - keep your tip up and good luck.

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