Question: What body of water has over 14,000 islands, crosses two countries, can be reached in half a days worth of driving, and contains world-class fishing for walleye, sauger, muskie, northern pike, bass, crappie, jumbo perch, and more?
Answer: The beautiful Lake of the Woods Northwest Angle (aka the “Angle”), located at the northernmost tip of Minnesota.
When you launch your boat from here, you can fish Lake of the Woods Minnesota waters as well as waters in parts of the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba.
I’ve been fishing since I was in grade school, and to say I was excited to fish Lake of the Woods would be an understatement. In March, my dad (also an avid fisherman) and I were invited to share a rental house in June with nine other guys. For four months, we planned and plotted our week-long vacation.
On an early June morning, we packed up our clothes, food, lures, heavy bait-casting rods (for trolling and casting for northern) and light to medium rods and spinning reels (for walleye—some say this is the best walleye fishing in all of North America) and hit the road. (*It is possible to catch a 10-pound northern on an ultra-light rod, as I would soon find out.)
We drove for over eight hours before arriving at our destination on Birch Island, our home for the next seven days.
There are over 60 lodging options in Lake of the Woods, some geared toward hardcore fishermen, some geared toward couples, and some catering to families. (Young’s Bay Resort, Flag Island, Spruce Island Camp and Zippel Bay all have good reputations.) If you want to camp, there are many nice, well-equipped campgrounds on the mainland.
During our stay, we fished from sun-up to sun-down, had a few fish fries and shore lunches, did a little hiking, and appreciated the weather, the scenery, the camaraderie, and the amazing fishing. I will remember this trip for the rest of my life.
If you plan on fishing in Minnesota and Canada, you’ll need a valid Minnesota fishing license and Canada fishing license (approximately $30) and Ontario card (approximately $10), available online. You can purchase these prior to arriving (so you can spend more time fishing!)
Tips for fishing Lake of the Woods Northwest Angle:
• Make sure you have a current passport. You will have to cross into Canada to get to the Angle. (You can also take a charter boat from Minnesota, but it’s faster to drive.)
• It might seem like common sense, but check to make sure your truck/SUV, boat, and trailer are in good condition before you leave home.
• Know the seasons and fishing regulations for both Minnesota and Ontario.
• Bring bug spray! The mosquitoes can be vicious.
• Be prepared for the weather and bring warm clothes, good rain gear, sunglasses, hats, and sunscreen. (A day in the bright sun can be brutal if you’re not dressed for it.)
• Invest in a good map, compass, and GPS.
• Bring back-up rods, reels, and line.
• Know the border crossing regulations when planning on fishing in Canada for the day. If you have any questions, ask the locals. They’re really knowledgeable and helpful. Since you’re already so close to Canada, I would recommend exploring their waters at least a day (if not two). The scenery is amazing. There were a few spots where we didn’t see any cabins and only one or two boats all day—very remote.
• Have fun and be prepared to possibly see deer, bear, wolves, otters, and hopefully BIG FISH!