Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rainy River anglers not deterred by frozen water

(April 28, 2008)

The Fishing Shack

Scores of eager anglers flocked to the Rainy River this spring despite having to push their boats across the ice to get to open water. They came to take advantage of the extended walleye season, which ended April 14, along the Minnesota-Ontario border waters.

“These walleye anglers are a tough breed,” said Doug Easthouse, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Big Bog State Recreation Area park manager. “They camped in tents at Franz Jevne State Park in 20-degree weather and shoveled snow to do it.”

According to most, it was worth it. As one fisherman put it, “the water clarity and river currents were ideal for a hot and furious walleye bite and the catches were excellent.”

“Anglers come to the Rainy River each spring not only for the high catch rates, but for the opportunity to catch large pre-spawn walleye,” said Phil Talmage, DNR Baudette area fisheries supervisor. “The current status of the Lake of the Woods walleye fishery is good. Walleye abundance and fishery health indicators show that we have a strong population on the lake.”

According to Talmage, angling pressure on the Rainy River can be quite variable, with weather and water levels impacting river access and angler success.

Annual spring creel surveys conducted between 1990 and 2005 indicate an average of about 56,000 hours of fishing effort per year, while the spring walleye harvest during that same period averaged about 11,000 pounds per year. This harvest represents less than two percent of the annual walleye harvest from the U.S. waters of Lake of the Woods. The spring walleye season on the Rainy River typically lasts two to three weeks.

For more information on the Rainy River, fishing seasons and regulations, or Minnesota’s state parks, visit www.mndnr.gov.

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