People often ask me what my favorite fishing lake is. And every time I have to think about the dozens of favorites I have and quickly process why I covet my choices so I can give a straight answer. Typically, I first begin to think of the various areas of the state which I fish on a weekly basis. These areas consist of the Gull Lake area, the Leech Lake/ Park Rapids area, the Ottertail Lake area and of course the St. Cloud/ Alexandria Lakes area. Yes--I do get around, about 20,000 miles worth pulling a boat each summer. Anyone wanna buy a GMC suburban? Anyway, all of these areas employ my skills in order to help others create "fishing memories" or "trips of a life time". But there is another lake/area that is dear to my heart-- Rainy Lake. And I can't get there enough.
The first thought that comes to mind when I think of Rainy Lake is the awsome fishing. My next series of thoughts include great north woods scenery--the towering pines (and the smell of pine), gorgeous rock formations, endless protected bays and coves, large expanses of water just waiting to be explored, and of course the numerous sightings of black bear, deer, grouse, bald eagles, and even moose. I then immediatley reflect on the many dozens of trips to Canada and I come to the conclusion that there really isn't much of a difference between Canadian fishing and Rainy Lake fishing --as far as an easy "drive in fishing" trip is concerned. Not to mention, it's much more affordable, no border/passport hassles, etc etc. Now granted, Rainy does reach into Canada, but I am mainly referring to the Minnesota side of the Lake.
One of the most angler friendly features of Rainy Lake (verses other large bodies of water ((like the Minnesota side Lake Of The Woods)) is the endless amount of quality fishing spots found in wind protected areas of the lake. What I mean is, the odds of wasting half of your fishing trip getting "blown off" the lake due to wind is very very small. Another positive of Rainy is that the lake seems to have far less boat traffic/ crowds etc because of the large amount of "fishing spots" distributing the boats all over the lake. There have been many trips to Rainy in which I have fished all day and hardly even spotted another boat navigating anywhere. I know that's hard to believe, but it's true--no motor noises or wakes rocking the boat all day! And talk about the fishing--it's as good as it gets.
With basically the same fishing regulations/slots as Lake Of The Woods, the fishing on Rainy Lake in my opinion in fish caught per hour (with the effort factor in mind)--is just as good--if not better! Traditional fishing techniques (jigging/rigging) will fill the live well every time. And plan on catching a ton of 20"-26" walleyes in between the "eaters". Planning a shore lunch? Don't worry--you'll catch it. In other words--leave the hot dogs at home. What about lodging? That's covered.
There is no "resort row". To my knowledge ( I may be wrong, and I'm not counting the house boats) there are only three resorts/lodges on the American side of the entire lake--that's one of the reasons the fishing pressure is so low per acre. The three resorts I am most familiar with are: Island View Lodge, The Thunderbird, and Sha-Sha (pronounced "shay shay"). My personal favorite is Island View Lodge for a variety of reasons. The location is awesome and like the name says--it has one of the best views of a Minnesota lake to be found. Ya gotta be there!
In short, if you are looking for the Canadian "up North feel" fishing trip with the Canadian style fishing available to any angler, stay in Minnesota, and find your own secret fishing spot-- Rainy Lake. Rainy Lake is a good option for you! P.S. don't forget the endless supply of 40" pike along the way. Good Luck, Capt. Josh www.minnesotaguideservice.com