Lake of the Woods - Unique to Ontario

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Flying over Lake of the Woods Ontario Canada










Unique to Ontario Lake of the Woods is truly a great Canadian fishing destination. Just as equal in geographic features Lake of the Woods is a popular angling heaven for many US residents with the Minnesota border crossing right through the lake. Truly impressive in size its shores distance over 100,000 kilometers and is over 100 kilometers wide. Home to true trophy sport fishing Lake of the Woods boasts popular fish species such as Northern Pike, Musky, Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Lake Trout and Perch.

Such a large body of water offers many optimum situations when fishing structure for various types of game fish. Reefs, shoals, bays, underwater islands, rock pits and weed beds make ideal cover for the thousands of fish in the area. Water temperatures also play a key role in the fish activity and post spawn during the month of June tends to be the most popular with anglers.

Lake of the Woods is part of a very special watershed that flows into the Winnipeg River and is fed by various lakes such as Shoal Lake, Rainy Lake and many other smaller rivers and streams. Thousands upon thousands of islands dot the lake and provide cover and shelter to the various game fish that congregate around them. Some of the best fishing in Lake of the Woods can be found close or near to many of these islands providing various structural hiding spots and hold ups for fish. These areas in the early summer months are prime locations for large female northern pike hungry post spawn waiting for an easy and substantial meal. Large crank baits, buck tails, spinner baits and spoons prove deadly and will net a trophy girl in little or no time. This kind of structure proves effective as predatory females will hit many different lures that it feels are invading her space. Experimenting with different lures is not only fun but very productive for post spawn Northerns. Don’t get stuck just using one bait.

Northern Pike from Lake of the Woods Ontario










Muskie fishing is also equally exciting. Get yourself a large oversized  spinner bait with some chartreuse in it coupled with a huge reflective Colorado blade and get ready for some explosive action. Muskie are extremely fast swimmers so to fish them properly you need to increase your reel speed. 30 mile per hour bursts are not uncommon with these hunters. Cast your bait along weed beds, sunken structure, rock breaks and drop offs. Let your lure sink and start your retrieve at a fast pace. Using the stop, twitch and go approach works well with these spinner baits and it’s crucial to burn these lures a foot or so above weed beds. Top water lures are also favorites and land 50+ inchers on a regular basis.  A variety of Jerk baits can also lure these monsters out of their hiding spots. Cast a jerk bait adjacent weed beds and drop offs ripping the bait with 2 – 3 foot increments or in a walk the dog pattern. Make sure you remember your figure eight pattern at the side of the boat as musky are known to hit many a lure using this technique. The longer the rod the more effective figure eights become as you have a wider turn and better control. There is nothing like watching a musky chase your lure and hit it right beside the boat!
Now that your trophy Musky or Northern Pike is in the net or cradle it’s up to you to provide a safe healthy release of these large fish.  Your fishing guide, outfitter or your self should always be prepared with a quality pair of cutters and long needle nose pliers. Top water baits and crank baits that are deeply hooked into the fish should be snipped off instead of yanked out if possible. Replacement hooks are cheap and the fish has a greater chance of a successful release. Large fish like Northerns and Musky expend a lot of energy in the initial fight so it is very important to get this big ones back into the water as soon as possible. You can find more tips on safe catch and release habits here.

Walleye from Lake of the Woods Ontario on a Stringer










Arms tired of reeling in the big ones and want something a little less strenuous? The Walleye action in Lake of the Woods is well known as one of the best pickerel fisheries in the province sporting 15-20 inch eating sized fish on a never ending basis. Various lakes depths and structure changes make Lake of the Woods a prime walleye fishing spot by anyone’s standards. Common techniques are jigging with soft plastic baits or live bait. Different sizes of jig heads and colours also play an important part and it often helps to know your water depth and adjust your jig head to get it down into the strike zone faster.

Now that you have a few good eating sized Walleyes on your stringer or in your live well you might want to change tactics and enjoy some Smallmouth Bass angling. Just like its cousin the Largemouth the ‘Smallie” is affectionately loved by many anglers for its tenacious fight and scrappy attitude. Make sure you have an abundant supply of tackle when going after this species. A good variety of crank baits for various depths in different colours like shad, bleeding bait, perch and others prove deadly around rock piles and drop-offs. Let your lure bounce off the bottom and try suspending your bait for a few seconds before you continue your retrieve. For shallow water bass we find that a variety of inline spinners produce 5-6 pound hogs on a regular basis. Tie on a variety of Blue Fox Vibrax spinners in a multitude of colours and sizes and hold on! Another favorite is the Mepps #4 Black Fury. In 4 different colours the French blade and dressed hooks prove deadly when burning them above weed beds and over sunken structure. Not to be outdone the spinner bait is also a good choice. Experimenting with different colours, weights, blade sizes and blade combinations is crucial and you will want to constantly adjust to the water temperatures, water colour, weather conditions and wind. Tubes also work well so have a few packs handy. Jig these weed less lures through brush piles, weed beds and sunken trees. If you want to get your hands smelly then you can also go the live bait route but with so many advancements in lure technology over the years we personally stick with artificial baits.

Lake of the Woods Ontario Smallmouth Bass Fishing










While visiting the Lake of the Woods area you might want to explore some of the outlying lakes in the area. Taking a day trip from your resort or lodge is a great way of seeing more of this beautiful area and will enhance your angling adventures. Lakes such as Crow Lake, Kagaki Lake and Dogtooth Lake in the eastern area have some excellent multi species fishing and western area lakes like Shoal Lake also produce consistent trophy fish.

Whatever your fancy it is common knowledge among many anglers that the Lake of the Woods area continues to be one of the top Ontario fishing attractions year in and year out.

  This article was written by the
contributing staff of OFT and its
group of amateur and pro Ontario anglers.

Copyright 2008. Ontario Fish Trips .


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