Rainy River Fishing

Posted at: 04/14/2014 7:53 PM
By: Laura Kennedy

While most Minnesotans count down the days until fishing opener, some anglers have already dropped their boats along the border.

Patrick Halbakken made the trek from Ely. He and his dad camped out near the Birchdale boat launch.

"This is what it's about. Open water this time of the year, walleyes in the river," Halbakken said.

He says spring weather here can create a perfect storm for fishing.

"All the Lake of the Woods fish, they run up here to spawn each spring and it's on the border of the U.S. and Canada," Halbakken said. "There's a population of trophy sized fish in here and it's just a unique situation."

By Monday, the water on the Rainy River got to be pretty murky so anglers weren't having much luck. But late last week, fishermen were hauling in up to 100 walleye a day.

"Today we caught 15 fish," Halbakken said. "I think the biggest one was about 26 inches but the last couple of days have been real good. On Saturday, trucks were backed up a mile all the way to the highway, hundreds of boats out on the river here. Everybody comes up and whatever landings are open that's where they've gotta put their boats in."

On the last day of walleye fishing, Chris Newberg drove to Rainy River from Detroit Lakes and came up empty-handed.

"Not a bite. Not a bite," he said. "Just how cold it is the water is freezing on your rod guides. I'm not a river rat like a lot of people are. If you come up here when the fish are active and the water is clear you can have tremendous luck and the walleyes can be big."

While this trip offered no reward, Newberg says he'll be back to chase those trophy walleye next year.

"Just because we got shut down this time doesn't mean it would happen again," he said. "That won't keep me from coming back. I'm a Minnesotan."