Welcome to our Rainy Lake Fishing Home Page

Rainy Lake is located along the border of Minnesota and Canada near International Falls.  A large portion of the lake surrounds Voyageurs National Park.  Rainy Lake is a popular vacation destination for people that enjoy the outdoors.  There aren’t a ton of places to stay here, but there are just enough to service the people who come here for a vacation.

Primary Species of Fish

Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, Walleye

Rainy Lake has some excellent fishing opportunities for northern pike, walleye and smallmouth bass.  All 3 species of fish are here in good numbers and trophy fish are available too.

Secondary Species of Fish

Crappie, Sauger, Perch

Some anglers do target crappie and perch on Rainy Lake.  Anglers usually catch some sauger mixed in while fishing for walleye.  These fish are here, but don’t expect to consistently catch them unless you know how to target them.  There have been some very nice reports of some unbelievable crappie fishing here, but you have to do your homework to score big here consistently for crappie.

This Lake is Huge

Rainy Lake is gigantic.  Whether you are fishing the Minnesota or Canada side, you have so many good places to catch fish.  Knowing where to start may be difficult for first time visitors.

Find a Pattern & Replicate It

If you want to do real well here, the key is to find the pattern and then replicate it so you can present your baits in front of as many active fish as possible.  For example, if you are targeting pike on the deeper weed edges in the bays, you may be able to find 20 to 30 spots like this where you can just keep moving spot to spot.  By the end of the day, you might end up having an awesome day by catching more than 30 pike.

Pick a Small Section & Pretend You Are Fishing a Smaller Lake

If you don’t have the boat to run all over the lake or are just a little intimidated by running all over the lake, try to pick a certain part of the lake and pretend you are fishing a smaller lake.  If you are in a decent size bay, find the shallow areas, drop-offs, deep water, weeds, rocks, etc.  By trying to master a smaller area, you can also do really well here without having to run all over the lake.

Fish the Bays

Rainy Lake has tons of bays.  Most of them will have some weed growth somewhere in the bay.  Finding the weeds is important to finding crappie early in the season and of course northern pike.  While walleye can often be found relating to the rock on Rainy Lake, you will also find some walleye around the deeper weed edges too.

The bays are great for the spring time when you can catch every species of fish.  From northern pike to smallmouth bass to walleye and crappie, during the spring, fish move into the bays to find warmer water.  In the summer and fall, the fishing may be better in deeper water, however, the bays will hold some fish through the entire open water fishing season.

The biggest thing with the bays on Rainy Lake is whether or not they are going to hold more weeds or more rock.  The bays that hold more rock will almost always be better spots to fish for smallmouth bass and you will most likely also find some northern pike and even some walleye mixed in too.  The bays that hold more weeds are going to hold a lot more northern pike.  If you are just looking to catch pike, just fish around the deep weeds in the bays and you’ll catch a lot of fish.  Most fish will run smaller in the summer, but in the spring and fall, you can find a lot of big fish in the bays around the weeds.

Fish the Ledges

There are many areas on the lake where you will find ledges.  These aren’t the gradual drop-offs into deeper water.  These spots resemble a cliff that is under water.  Some of these ledges that you can find offshore will hold some quality fish.  There are plenty of these ledges right along the shorelines on the main lake as well.  These shoreline ledges can be hit or miss, but you can usually find some smallmouth bass, walleye and northern pike suspending in these areas.  If you have good electronics, you can see if fish are holding in these areas very quickly.

Fish the Creeks, Spillways & Waterfalls

There are some creeks, spillways and/or waterfalls that feed into Rainy Lake.  These spots provide for some excellent fishing, especially in the spring time when fish move into the shallows.  The running water attracts bait fish which then attracts game fish to these areas.  At times, the fishing can be quite good for smallmouth bass, walleye and northern pike.  Early and late in the year, you may even find some crappie or perch around these spots.

Fish the Offshore Structure


There are so many islands on this lake that you couldn’t fish them all if you wanted to.  It would take years.  The islands may be somewhat similar in that you are going to find plenty of rocks, however, each island may be different as far as attracting fish.  The location of the islands in relation to the main lake can make a difference.  Also, the depths around these islands will dictate what you usually find around them.  All rock and no weeds and you may find more smallmouth bass and walleye.  Rock with some weeds mixed in and you will most likely find some smallmouth bass and walleye here too, however, the weeds will usually attract the pike too.  Pike will be found around the islands with just rock as well, however, the if you hit enough islands that just have rock, you’re going have a better chance of finding smallmouth bass and walleye.


Once water temperatures warm and summer patterns set in, the best action will usually be found on the reefs, especially for bigger fish.  Anglers target walleye, smallmouth bass and northern pike, but you may also catch perch and crappie in these same areas.  The deeper water will usually hold most of the better-sized fish.  Fish 20 to 30 feet down along the reefs with live baits and a variety of soft plastics and other lures and you should be able to catch plenty of fish.  However, don’t rule out the shallower parts of the reefs as well.  Sometimes, you will find fish sitting right on top of the reef in water just 3 to 8 feet deep.  During low light conditions, you may find some walleye and smallmouth bass in the shallower water around these reefs.


There are many saddles throughout the lakes with all the rocks, islands and reefs.  Some of these saddles between islands are great places to target walleye, pike and bass from summer through fall.

Fish the Points

There are so many points on Rainy Lake.  While most smallmouth bass anglers would think the bass fishing would be super easy by just going from point to point to point, it isn’t always that easy on Rainy.  There are a lot of smallmouth bass that will use the points, however, a huge number of smallmouth bass prefer the reefs out in open water.  That is most likely because of all the northern pike that roam the shallows.  We’re not sure exactly why, but many anglers do report that just targeting the points isn’t always a sure-fire way to catch bass here. At times though, the points can be very productive for smallmouth bass.

Early in the year, you can often find some good walleye fishing year the points.  The deeper points produce well in the summer and fall as well.  On Rainy lake, the one thing you can consistently find on the points is pike.  There are so many pike in this lake and they search out the points for an easy meal. While many points may seem like a perfect-looking smallmouth spot, you may find out that it is home to more northern pike than bass.

Fish the Rocks

This lake is loaded with rocks and it can be frustrating if you plan on using baits that hop along the bottom. Plan on getting snagged up quite a bit here if you decide to fish on the bottom here. Most anglers will just use presentations that keep them just off the bottom so they can still catch plenty of smallmouth bass, walleye and pike while avoiding the snags.

Weeds & Rocks

Find areas with some weeds mixed in or around the rocks and you can usually find a variety of fish. A nice drop-off would be the final piece to give you a spot that usually will hold northern pike, smallmouth bass and at times even walleye and crappie.

The Rocks are Everywhere

The islands, shorelines and reefs are loaded with rocks, so you won’t have a hard time finding rocks to fish on Rainy Lake.

Fish the Weeds

The weeds are available throughout the lake. The bays are where you need to search for them. From bulrushes to cabbage, there is plenty of green stuff to fish here. Find water in the 6 to 10 range with some weeds and you’ll find the better pike. Fish the shallower weeds and you’ll catch a lot of smaller pike. You may also find walleye, smallmouth bass and crappie mixed in the weeds as well, but you’re going to find a lot more northern pike the majority of the time.

Rainy Lake Fishing Reports


Rainy Lake Fishing Regulations

Border Waters Link

Rainy Lake MN DNR

Ontario Regulations (Rainy Lake is in Zone 5)

Rainy Lake National Park

Learn more about the Voyageur National Park here.