Rainy Lake Keeps on Giving

By Jerry Carlson - August 7, 2015
This was the eighth year for our group of anglers that make an annual trek to Island View Lodge on Rainy Lake. Although every year is a little different, the one common theme that runs through the entire eight year period is the successful walleye angling we encounter.

In 2014, the high water made location patterns a little different than normal. This year, the water and fish catching was back to what we consider average. Average on Rainy means lots of walleyes being boated every single day.

Unlike many anglers that frequent this walleye factory, we prefer to do our fishing a little later in the year. Starting in mid-July and running through most of August, Rainy Lake walleyes tend to frequent the mid-lake structure that is abundant in this lake.

These rock reefs and humps top out at various depths. We like to focus on ones that have substantial real estate in the 20 to 30 foot range. These are the depths that the forage fish use during the summer months and also the depths we concentrate on for our walleye adventures.

It is important to note that summer walleyes on Rainy are very nomadic. They may be thick on a particular reef for a short time and gone within an hour. This scenario creates the need for constant checking and lots of searching.

On a typical day, our boats will put on 20 to 30 miles as we hop from structure to structure in search of active fish. We rarely will drop a line unless our sonars are lit up with walleyes.

When it does come time to get serious about catching, we have three different methods we use. Our most successful presentation is minnows, leeches or crawlers fished on a live bait rig with a five foot six-pound-test Vanish leader. We also use small hooks and a ¾ ounce sinker.

The heavier sinker allows us to fish straight down and out of the snags. Dragging weights in the rocks is going to get a person in trouble. Because of this, it is important to touch bottom and then lift the weight up a foot. We also will do some jigging when the fish are very tightly schooled.

Slow death rigs can be deadly, at times. We thread either leeches or crawlers onto the crooked hooks for this option. A two-ounce bottom bouncer will do the trick. I try to troll at .8 to 1.2 miles an hour.

There are a lot of big water lakes in Minnesota that are noteworthy fisheries. For some reason, anglers tend to forget about Rainy Lake as a big water destination. From our experience, it is an excellent location for those that love to catch walleyes.

Author Jerry Carlson
Jerry Carlson
Jerry started his outdoor career in 1987 when he began writing for Outdoors Weekly. He currently writes about a 130 articles a year for various publications in the Midwest. In addition to writing and giving numerous hunting and fishing seminars, Jerry does weekly radio shows on two St. Cloud, Minnesota stations; WJON and WWJO. He also authored a book called Details for Locating and Catching Fish. Hunting and fishing photos and articles written by Jerry, along with his email address, can be found at jerrycarlsonoutdoors.com. Jerry fishes all species but prefers crappies in the winter and bass in the summer. He also loves to hunt Canada geese in the fall.