About the Lake
Lake of the Woods is on the U.S./Canada border in northern Minnesota, with more than two thirds of the lake being in Canada. This is one of the most scenic lakes in the country with over 65,000 miles of shoreline, pristine wilderness and tons of wildlife. This lake is so big that we have it broken into 7 different section. There are 3 main areas in the United States and 4 in Canada. Each one of these areas is like a separate tourism destination as far as businesses in the area and the areas that you’ll be fishing.
Kenora, Ontario is the most popular part of Lake of the Woods. This is where you are going to find the most services, the most people and basically everything you will need for an ideal fishing vacation. The downside is that you will see more people fishing here than on other parts of Lake of the Woods, but with a 15 to 20 minute boat ride, you can easily find some water all to yourself. This is an amazing part of Lake of the Woods that gives you the feel of being around everything while also still feeling like you are getting away from it all. It’s an awesome destination and anglers catch smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, muskie, perch, crappie and largemouth bass.
The Morson area is an awesome part of the lake to fish. It may not be as scenic as some of the other parts of the lake, but the amount of fishing opportunities you have are ridiculous. Fish big water, sheltered water, bays, islands, points, rocky shorelines or vegetation. Big fish are here and you can catch lots of them too. You will see plenty of boats here, but if you take a 20 minute boat ride, you can find plenty of places to have for yourself. Anglers catch muskie, northern pike, walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, perch and crappie.
Nestor Falls is located south of Sioux Narrows and Kenora. For some visitors, this is the preferred destination on Lake of the Woods because the drive isn’t too bad when you’re coming from the U.S. It’s only about an hour and fifteen minute drive from International Falls, Minnesota and the fishing can be very good here. You will find plenty of services here to plan an awesome trip, but don’t expect to have all the conveniences that you will find farther north in Kenora. You will definitely see lots of boats in this area, but you can drive north and fish Whitefish Bay or take a boat ride west to get to Sabaskong Bay where you will see less fishing pressure. You’re still going to see boats, but you can easily find some places for yourself. Anglers catch everything in this area such as smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, muskie, crappie, perch and northern pike.
The Northwest Angle is a very unique destination. It is located in the United States, but you have to drive through Canada to get here. The border crossing is different here, so we recommend a quick online search to see the latest information for crossing the border here. Most people come here to fish and the fishing is very good in the Northwest Angle. Anglers catch so many species of fish here and with a little experience, they can usually catch big numbers of fish here too. You can catch smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, muskie, perch and crappie.
Sioux Narrows is an awesome vacation destination. Located in between Nestor Falls and Kenora, you will definitely find some areas where you won’t see another boater. However, you will still see some boats and people in this area. It’s not nearly as popular as Kenora, but it does get fished quite a bit. The Sioux Narrows area is known for its very clear and deep water. You will find cooler water temperatures here than many of the other areas on Lake of the Woods. You will also most likely need to downsize your line or fish with fluorocarbon line for more success due to the water clarity. Anglers catch lake trout, muskie, northern pike, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, perch and crappie.
The South Shore of Lake of the Woods is open water fishing. It is an awesome area, but the winds can definitely blow here and the waves can making fishing difficult. Bigger boats in this area are the norm, however, when the waters are calm, smaller boats do fine here too. This is a very popular walleye destination and maybe one of the best parts of the lake for catching good numbers of big fish. Anglers also catch northern pike, perch and some smallmouth bass here too.
Lake of the Woods Walleye Fishing
The walleye fishing is tremendous on Lake of the Woods. You can catch walleye throughout the entire lake. In Minnesota, the Rainy River is a very popular spring and fall fishing destination. The spawning run in the spring is unbelievable and the fall migration back into the river can also be very good. The South Shore is big water fishing and it is known for some of the best walleye fishing on the lake. Plan on fishing the reefs and humps in open water. The Northwest Angle gives you many options. You have big, open water and islands, points, bays and rocky shorelines where you can find walleye throughout the seasons.
In Canada, there will be endless amount of islands, rocky shorelines and points where you can target walleye. You can catch them in Kenora, Morson, Nestor Falls and in Sioux Narrows. If you can find them, you can get good numbers of walleye with some trophy fish mixed in too.
Lake of the Woods Northern Pike Fishing
Northern pike are found throughout the Lake of the Woods. You can do well for them in Minnesota and in Canada, however, the fishing tends to be better in Canada, especially if you want to fish the vegetation in the bays.
In Minnesota, let’s start on the South Shore. Here, anglers report some very big northern pike while fishing for walleye in deeper water. Fish up to and above 40 inches are possible here. The Rainy River will hold some pike too, but when the river is best, the river is loaded with walleye and most anglers come here to fish for walleye not pike. The Northwest Angle gives you a lot of options. You have some big water to fish and then plenty of islands, rocky shorelines and bays to fish if you venture into Canadian waters.
In Canada, you will find pike every on Lake of the Woods. Some anglers prefer the Sioux Narrows and Nestor Falls areas when fishing for pike, but you will find them in Kenora and Morson as well. Find the weeds and you’ll find some pike. If you can’t find the weeds, fish the drop-offs near points and rocky shorelines and you will find some pike mixed in with the walleye and smallmouth bass.
Lake of the Woods Muskie Fishing
The muskie fishing can be very good on Lake of the Woods. While you can find muskie spread out throughout this entire lake system, you will do better for muskie if you fish the following areas:
Most anglers like to get a guide when they first visit this lake to target muskie, however, there are more muskie willing to bite here than most other places on Planet Earth. If you know how to read a map and you know how to fish for muskie, you will most likely have some success here if you put in the time and hit as many good-looking muskie spots as you can. Multiple fish days are possible and trophy muskie are here in good numbers.
Lake of the Woods Smallmouth Bass Fishing
The smallmouth bass fishing is world class on Lake of the Woods. You can catch them in numbers and some big fish are here too. While you can find smallmouth bass throughout the lake, if you are looking to target them, we recommend these destinations:
Lake of the Woods Panfish (Crappie & Perch)
Perch and crappie can be a little harder to find after the spawn on Lake of the Woods, however, if you look for them and you know how to fish for them, you will probably put some of these fish in the boat. Anglers report better success in the following areas: