It’s no secret that Rainy River is one of my favorite destinations to catch trophy walleye. However, with all of the emphasis on chasing these trophies in the spring, people often overlook the hottest event of all: the fall. In fact, there aren’t many better places to be than Rainy River when you are looking for that incredible fall walleye bite.
The best part of all is that the fishing pressure is low, fish are on the move, and all you have to do is show up. That’s why I’ve compiled 10 awesome reasons why you should have Rainy River be the grand finale to your open water season this year.
1) These Walleye are Huge (& Gorging on Food)
With the shiner population in high concentration in the fall, and the feed begs in full force, these fall walleye are enormous!
In fact, one of the biggest surprises for me was just how fat these fish were. These aren’t pre-spawn, early spring walleye ( we are still a solid 6 to 7 months out from spawn at this point). Instead, these are fish feasting on the fall shiner run, full of food and made of some incredible genetics.
These fish – loaded with shiners, healthy and thick, reach incredible weights at all lengths. In fact, even a 27″ – 28″ walleye can easily break that 10 # mark. Best of all, you have the chance to catch numerous fish of this size. It’s not just that miracle one and done.
Of course, your opportunities at catching a 30″ fish will be pretty darn good too.
2) When Fish Funnel – Fishing Gets Easier
In the fall, shiners begin their expedition upriver and of course, following close behind are the predators. These jumbo-sized walleye are gorging themselves on heavily concentrated food sources. This means they are funneling through the river… chasing these schools of bait, making them easier than ever to catch. This isn’t summer when the trophy fish are scattered throughout the water column, or stacked above the thermocline. These fish are running up river, with little room to go. This makes these large fish easier than ever to target! All you need is a jig and minnow and you are ready to go.
3) There are More Fish & Less Fishing Pressure in the Fall
Rainy is much more known for its popular spring run (which you can read about here). However, the fall can often be a better time to go, marked by less fishing pressure, more flexibility, and the same trophy fishing. Unlike in the spring when anglers are stuck between ice out and the forks breaking (when the river gets deep, dirty, and unnavigable), fishing in the fall is open to everyone, everywhere. No limited launches, long wait times, or clusters of people! The entire stretch of the river can be targeted.
4) Plenty of Lodge Availability (and Sometimes Great Discounts)
The reduced fishing pressure means more availability and sometimes great discounts. Resorts are still in full swing, but between the hunting season and cooler temps, there are fewer crowds, less demand, and ultimately more opportunity to spend a week or weekend on the river. This means there are more resources for you!
5) Your Last Chance to Catch That Trophy Walleye From Your Boat
If you follow me, then you know I’m a diehard ice angler. However, that isn’t stopping me from enjoying the last days of open water before the long ice season hits. In fact, the minute I walk across the ice, I immediately start missing the freedom of my boat.
That’s why fall is a great time of year to cover ground and get your fix.
6) It’s Not Just about Trophy Walleye, You Could Catch a Bonus Sturgeon Too
Sturgeon fishing has become one of the biggest attractions of the Rainy River. Easily found in excess of 50″, these prehistoric fish are one of the toughest fighting and most exciting fish an angler can target. Best of all, they are relatively common to catch.
Whether you choose to spend a day chasing these beasts, or simply hook them on your walleye endeavors, you won’t be disappointed.
Catching a sturgeon any time is a big bonus, and can be a great way to round out a final fall fishing trip.
As a hotspot for many TV and online public figures, don’t be surprised to find some of your favorite angling professionals on the water too.
8) You Will Catch Your Limit
Although trophy fishing is the name of the game this time of year, you can catch yourself a meal too.
In fact, the first day we were out we boated over 80 walleye and sauger. They were just there to entertain us in between the multiple trophy fish we pulled out of the lake this day. Of course we kept a limit of walleye, not only to eat at River Bends, but to bring home with us too.
Regulations per the DNR website state: “The Walleye/Sauger aggregate limit is six (no more than four can be Walleye). Walleye from 19.5 through 28 inches must be immediately released. Only one Walleye over 28 inches total length may be possessed.”
9) Weather Isn’t Actually An Issue
Everyone seems to be afraid of the weather this time of year, but I can assure you it isn’t bad.
Sure there is going to be a bite in the air, but one of the best benefits of fishing the rainy (compared to any lake) is that wind is never an issue. There will never be (wind strong enough) or waves large enough to drive you off of the water.
Worried about the cold? Grab a Mr. Buddy heater and put up your bimini top (if you have one.) It’s like ice fishing, but you can move easier 😉
10) Just Show Up
Perhaps the best part of fall fishing is that you just have to show up. It’s the perfect time for any skill level to enjoy some trophy fishing. The weather isn’t that bad yet, the fish are on the move, and gorging themselves with food. Your biggest challenge is simply showing up.