Lake of the Woods Ice Fishing: A Comprehensive Guide

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A Lake of the Woods ice fishing trip can be a great experience for anglers. This vast body of water straddles the border between Minnesota and Ontario, Canada, and covers 30 miles by 25 miles with three distinct parts, the Rainy River, Big Traverse, and the Northwest Angle, which is actually the northernmost point of the contiguous United States. The Lake of the Woods provides ample opportunities for catching a variety of fish species under the ice and is considered the walleye capital of the world with an estimated 10 million walleye in the lake, a trophy walleye fishery, and stained water that makes the walleye and sauger bite better during the day.

When to Go Ice Fishing at Lake of the Woods

The best months to go ice fishing in Lake of the Woods are typically December through February. These months provide the best chance of stable ice conditions and cold temperatures, which are ideal for ice fishing. However, it is important to always check current ice conditions before venturing out on the lake. The lake can have areas of thin ice, so it is always recommended to check with local fishing guides or the Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau for the latest information.

Where to Stay and Ice Fish at Lake of the Woods

Lake of the Woods is dotted with numerous bays, inlets, and islands, making it a great destination for ice fishing. There are many different areas to choose from; there are tons of unique ice fishing opportunities. Resorts are scattered across the lake, and some of them offer full-service ice fishing opportunities. For example, Arnesen’s offers transportation and heated fish houses with pre-drilled holes. They can provide most of the equipment you’ll need as well.

One of the best places to stay and fish is at the Southwest end of the lake near the city of Baudette, MN. This area is known for its massive walleye population and is a popular destination for ice fishing in general.

Another popular area to stay and fish is near the town of Warroad, MN. This area is known for its excellent muskie ice fishing and has a variety of lodges and resorts to choose from. There are also many campgrounds in the area that offer ice fishing packages. There are even houseboat rentals for those who want to literally stay on the lake!

lake of the woods ice fish lodge

Lake of the Woods Species of Fish to Catch

Lake of the Woods is home to a diverse population of fish species, making it a great destination for ice fishing. Some of the most popular species to target include:

Walleye: This species is abundant in the Lake of the Woods and is a popular target for ice anglers. Walleye can be found in various depths throughout the lake and are typically caught using ice fishing jigs and live bait.

Muskie: This species is known for its strength and fighting ability. Muskie are typically caught using large, live bait and can be found in the deep waters near the drop-offs in the bays.

Northern Pike: This species is found throughout Lake of the Woods and is known for its voracious appetite and aggressive behavior. Northern Pike can be caught using tip-ups and large, live bait. They are often found in shallow, weedy bays.

Crappie: This species is found in the bays and shallow waters of Lake of the Woods and is known for its sweet flavor and delicate texture. Crappie can be caught using small jigs and live bait.

Lake of the Woods Ice Fishing Options

On Lake of the Woods, there are several ways to go ice fishing, including using ice roads or snowmobile trails, day houses, or sleep-over fish houses. The resorts’ fish houses with pre-drilled holes are a popular option, though it will cost you significantly more than if you bring and use your own ice fishing tent. If you prefer a more traditional ice fishing experience, you can always venture out on your own and set up camp wherever you’d like.

Regardless of your preferred method of ice fishing, it is important to be prepared for harsh winter conditions. Warm clothing, a well-stocked first aid kit, and proper safety equipment, such as a life jacket, are essential for any ice fishing trip.

map for ice fishing LOTW
Map of Lake of the Woods

Ice Fishing in Lake of the Woods is a Bucket List Experience

Lake of the Woods is a premier destination for ice fishing and offers anglers the opportunity to catch a variety of fish species, including walleye, muskie, northern pike, and crappie. With its vast size and diverse geography, there’s a little something for everyone at Lake of the Woods. Whether you prefer the convenience of a full-service resort or the thrill of venturing out on your own, this body of water is sure to provide you with a memorable ice fishing experience.