Rainy Lake, Ontario-Minnesota Multispecies

This giant Canadian Shield lake straddling the border of Minnesota and Ontario is one of the finest drive-to fishing waters in North America. Situated about a four-hour drive from our office in Baxter, Minnesota, it has long been one of our favorite destinations to film In-Fisherman TV. Over the years we've filmed walleyes, Smallmouths, pike, and crappies, as well as lake sturgeon in the Rainy River, which flows out of Rainy Lake on it's way to Lake of the Woods. We fish it on ice and open water.

The smallmouths, which typically run from 2.5 to 4 pounds, move into sandy-rocky bays to spawn in early June, and then move onto adjacent rocky habitat during the rest of the season. There are many rocky points and reefs adjacent to deep water that hold fish. At times cabbage weedbeds also provide habitat the fish like. One of our favorite times to film is right after ice out, which typically occurs in early May. With calm warming weather, fish move onto shallow rocky structures to feed, where we catch them on jigs and shallow-running crankbaits.

Walleyes are plentiful and also get big, with some fish surpassing 10 pounds. During summer and fall, many fish hold on deep-lying rocky humps and points. At times fish also roam open water near these structures. And fish push shallow at times, where they're caught with crankbaits and paddletail swimbaits over reefs and along rocky edges.

Pike also are plentiful and get big, with some fish surpassing 20 pounds. Cabbage weedbeds are an important link to these fish during summer and fall. But they mainly use the same type of rocky structures frequented by the bass and walleyes. Pike in Shield lakes often respond favorably to wind, moving shallower onto rocky spots with waves pounding in.


Pike, smallmouths, and walleyes are found in most areas of the lake. Crappies are more area specific, with Black Bay in Minnesota, and Northwest Bay and Redgut Bay in Ontario, well-known areas to find fish. One favorite pattern is for fish to school in deep-water basin areas 25 to 35 feet deep during fall and winter.


Traditional motel lodging is available in Fort Frances, Ontario, or its sister city on the Minnesota side, International Falls. Woody's Fairly Reliable Guide Service also provides lodging in Rainer, close to International Falls. Meanwhile, Camp Narrows Lodge is on an island in Northwest Bay in the North Arm of the lake in Ontario. Both Woody Woods and Camp Narrows owner Tom Pearson are fine anglers who always know what's happening on the water. Guide Chris Granrud of RainyDaze Guide Service is another top contact who's on the water almost every day.


Contacts: Wood's Fairly Reliable Guide Service, 218/286-5001, fairlyreliable.com; RainyDaze Guide Service, 218/290-6102, rainydazeoutdoors.com; Camp Narrows Lodge, 866/294-5067.

[navionics zoom="7" long="-93.2" lat="48.6"]

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

Across the Walleye Belt, early spring is prime time to tap some of the year's best bites. Walleye

Spring is Prime Time for River Walleyes

Dan Johnson - February 22, 2018

Across the Walleye Belt, early spring is prime time to tap some of the year's best bites.

Steve Quinn talks new softbaits for bass from Berkley. Bass

Sensational New Softbaits for Bass

Steve Quinn - April 22, 2019

Steve Quinn talks new softbaits for bass from Berkley.

The range of walleye hardbaits encompasses multiple categories and a dizzying number of lures. Walleye

The Lowdown on Walleye Hardbaits

Steve Ryan - May 28, 2019

The range of walleye hardbaits encompasses multiple categories and a dizzying number of lures.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Spider Rig Crappies

Spider Rig Crappies

Doug Stange employs one of the most effective crappie systems ever.

Spawntime World Class Crappies

Spawntime World Class Crappies

Doug Stange and Brandon Fulgham illustrate spawntime crappie patterns on one of North America's most famous fisheries.

Minn Kota's Brad Henry shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead that there's much to like in the new Minn Kota Riptide Terrova saltwater trolling motor that comes with I-Pilot and an 87-inch shaft.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

'Walleyes spawn in spring and understanding spring walleye migrations, whether you live north or south, will help you pinpoint their predictable locations year after year. 

Walleyes spawn in spring, but spring may arrive in February in Mississippi, March in Walleye

Understanding Spring Walleye Migrations

Gord Pyzer - June 02, 2018

'Walleyes spawn in spring and understanding spring walleye migrations, whether you live north...

It was an August evening and I was wading the flats in Brewster, MA with my cousin. Here you can Other Fish

Must-Have Striped Bass Tackle

Rick Bach - May 04, 2017

It was an August evening and I was wading the flats in Brewster, MA with my cousin. Here you...

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate explanation from the In-Fisherman biologists. Bass

Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 22, 2017

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate...

See More Stories

More Canada

Manitoba Fly-In Fishing at Big Sand Lake Lodge. Canada

Big Sand Lake Lodge

In-Fisherman - March 06, 2018

Manitoba Fly-In Fishing at Big Sand Lake Lodge.

Whether you prefer trout, smallmouth, or carp; Lake Ontario offers options for all of them. Canada

Summer Options on Lake Ontario

Lonnie King - June 11, 2018

Whether you prefer trout, smallmouth, or carp; Lake Ontario offers options for all of them.

 Shining Falls Lodge is a fly-in fishing destination that features a family atmosphere, amazing pike and walleye fishing, excellent facilities and many comforts of home. Canada

Shining Falls Lodge, Manitoba

In-Fisherman - February 27, 2019

Shining Falls Lodge is a fly-in fishing destination that features a family atmosphere,...

See More Canada

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.