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PhilTickelson

First time at the Rainy River

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PhilTickelson

Hey there everyone, I'm new to the site and definitely enjoying the wealth of info I've found on here. I do have a few questions for you Rainy River Rats though smile.

I think I am heading up to LOW mid october, probably either the weekend of the 15th or the 22nd with a friend or two. We are staying at a friends cabin on the lake, but we won't be taking a boat up with us. As such, we were probably going to try and rent a boat each day from a resort up there like Ballard's, or somewhere in Baudette as that's close to the cabin.

Here are my questions. How hard is it to navigate the river up there? I would be a little leery to take a rented boat(probably a 16' lund or something with 25 horse) out on the big lake. I've read dozens of these rainy lake threads and all the talk of border patrol on the river has me a little worried. Is it easy to stay on the Minnesota side of the river, even on a small boat and possible strong current?

Second question is a fishing question. What would you recommend we fish for at that time of the year. From what I gather the walleye fishing is kind of up in the air depending on if the shiner's have run into the river yet or not. I would be thrilled to catch a sturgeon, but having never fished for them I would be worried we'd fish in the wrong areas and get skunked. We would love to hook into a bunch of walleyes with a possibility of bringing a few big ones in the boat, and it appears there is ample opportunity on the river. Would we have to travel far from Baudette to find some walleye(of course this depends on the conditions of the lake/river, but on a 'normal' year, is there good fishing close to baudette in the river)?

Lastly, like I said I've read dozens of these Rainy River threads, but I never see any mention of pike fishing. I know there is big pike in LOW and in Rainy Lake, so I can only assume there is some in the river. We all love pike fishing so would that be a good option in the river at that time of the year?

I guess to sum it up, how would the experts answer this question: "If I wanted a memorable weekend fishing trip on the Rainy River in the middle of October, I would spend my time fishing for _______"

Thanks for all your help guys! And if any of you have top secret info or anything I can give you my email , I'd love to trade fishing stories/tips. Although admittedly my tips might not be all that valuable to you!

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fishuhalik

welcome to hso phil!

its pretty easy to stay on the us side, the rainys a pretty lazy river right now. just be sure to give yourself the benfit of the doubt and stay well inside the us half.

as you stated, eye fishing can be hit or miss, but if you hit it right (which you could given those dates) it will be the best eye fishing of your life.

personally, i LOVE sturgeon, and they're alot more predictable. if you want some spots you can pm me.

pike are definitely in there, but they carry a smaller average size in the river as opposed to the lake.

to sum it up, theres always something in the rainy that time of year that will make your trip. just check with the resorts and they'll let ya know whats active.

a final word of caution: be careful with those sturgies, once you fight a 60+lb fish that fights like an angry sub, its hard to go back to catching walleyes!

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PhilTickelson

Thanks for the welcome and the reply fishuhalik!

My friends and I have been walleye-centric the last few years, but if the odds of catching something like a sturgeon are decent, then I would definitely put a weekend's worth of work into catching one. I was originally hoping to go up there and try and catch a PB walleye, but I can feel the call of the sturgeon. Of course that could just be me looking at all these sturgeon pictures in these other Rainy River threads! I think you are right with your comment though, if I were to land a 50 lb+ sturgeon, those 4-5 lb walleyes are going to feel a little inadequate!

Maybe we will fish sturgeon early morning until lunch, then focus on walleyes or something until the evening and switch back on to sturgeon. Of course if we are just throwing big bait balls on the bottom there's decent odds of hooking into something besides a sturgeon I would think right?

And I'll definitely send you a pm in the next couple of weeks once I figure out more about our trip. We have to decide if we want to go the weekend of Oct. 15th or the 22nd. Hmmm decisions, decisions. Thanks again for the help though, you've put my mind at ease about the border at least, I had a picture in my head like elementary school capture the flag: a line in the middle of the river with Canadian border patrol playing tug of war and pulling people across the line and putting them in jail haha.

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fishuhalik

one thing to consider is sturgeon bite just as well, if not better, at night. chase walleyes all day then get yer dinosaur after dark. and its not really a question of if youll get one, more like how many. smile

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tacklejunkie

The boat sized you mention would be no problem on the lake itself if conditions are right. I've seen 14 foot rowboats with a 15 horse trolling out on the big lake if conditions allowed. Oct weather can be fickle, though.

I've never fished sturgeon on the river but I have caught some big pike during the fall.

Watch this thread and you will find out when the shiner run happens. Although water temps are more important for the shiner run than a date on a calendar, most of the time the Oct dates you mentioned are about right for the run. You don't see the shiners in the river at daytime but if you shine a flashlight in the river at night you see tons of them.

Jigs and frozen shiners..best bait for river walleyes IMO

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Brian-Mn

I guess to sum it up, how would the experts answer this question: "If I wanted a memorable weekend fishing trip on the Rainy River in the middle of October, I would spend my time fishing for _______"

If after talking and sending messages you have any doubt where to go......hire a guide for a half day. 2 OR 3 guys it is only going to cost 50 - 80 dollars. If he puts you on fish for the weekend and makes it a fun trip I think it's well worth the money. If you are one of these guys who likes to find their own fish thats cool to. You just may not find them. If that makes it a "bad" trip for you then hire a guide.

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PhilTickelson

one thing to consider is sturgeon bite just as well, if not better, at night. chase walleyes all day then get yer dinosaur after dark. and its not really a question of if youll get one, more like how many. smile

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fishhound

These trips cost money. Always more than you intend. Gas. Tackle. Food. Booze. Then "Breakage"... What always amazes me is that when we get up there, we "sit on our wallets". We never buy enough bait and talk ourselves out of hiring a guide. When you're talking about renting a boat, it wouldn't be that much more expensive to hire a guide and use his boat. I spent my whole life fishing fly in lakes with a map that's been marked up by the lodge owner. When I hit LOW and now Rainy things changed. I was shocked at how much a guide helped me figure out how to fish the lake. If you have time, you can figure almost anything out on your own. But a guide is a great investment for the area you're talking about. They can help you with technique too. Not as may boats in the water then for people to give you tips on how to do it. Figure this lake / river out and you'll never go anywhere else ever again. It's a great lake. Good luck

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fishuhalik

paul, i rented one of those for the sturgeon excursion this past april. we had 9 guys and 2 boats, and since i was the only guy with experience in big waves, i got to man it the entire weekend. i learned a couple things during that miserable, cold, windy, snowy weekend.

1. a small 16' boat with a 25hp motor is NOT the ideal rig for 4'+ waves. matter of fact, its downright terrifying. we had 20mph+ winds coming off the lake all weekend, and since the current that time of year was unfishable we were stuck fishing the bay.

2. when big waves going in one direction hit big current going in the opposite direction, it makes for really big, really unpredictable breakers

3. the rentals dont have lights. you can find clamp on lights at any sporting goods store, and they arent too expensive.

4. when its too cold and windy to take your gloves off to feel the tiny tap, tap, tap of a sturgy, you might as well go home!

5. dont stay up til 4am drinking/breaking up fights (sorry for my buddy wwg!) when you have a big weekend of fishing ahead of you

thankfully the motor ran flawlessly (hats off to wheelers for taking care of their customers and rental equipment, ill never stay at another resort!) because if that motor woulda died while going out/coming in, i probably wouldnt be here...

with all that being said, have a great trip!

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tacklejunkie

Alot of water out there to have a motor quit on you.

One year while up for the late fall river fishing, we went out to the main lake just for the heck of it. saw a couple boats either going or coming back from duck hunting but otherwise it was pretty quiet out there at that time of year. Hate to be stuck out there

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PhilTickelson

Yes I would be very worried venturing out far onto the main lake, especially on a smaller boat. I got caught out on Eagle Lake in Ontario during a pretty bad storm, had 3-4 foot waves on our little rented boat with a 25 horse motor. It was definitely a scary situation. Especially with how rocky the lakes are up there, if there are waves like that it's easy to not notice exposed rocks and stuff.

My trip is now in jeopardy :(, my buddy I was going to travel up north with is trying to back out on me. Wish me luck in convincing him that a weekend trip to Rainy is a better use of a vacation day than the day before a friends wedding(why do you need to take the day before someone else's wedding off?).

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PhilTickelson

Alright, friend A is out, friend B is in! The trip is back on! It looks like we will be up there October 14th-16th, I'm unbelievably excited!

I will be checking the rainy river fishing reports semi-religiously over the next couple weeks, and reading through the dozens of old threads to find out what to buy/use for the sturgeon and walleye in that time period.

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DRAGFOOT

I am heading up thursday night the 13th to fish friday and saturday, hope we hit it this year...Tried the last 2 years and fishing was just ok. Beautiful weather last year, but the year before we were in snowmobile suits in the wind on the lake!! I keep hearing about how they are almost jumping in the boat that time of year, but not for us, at least not yet.

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PhilTickelson

Dragfoot, make sure you post back here with how you do and I'll do the same. That way even if you don't catch a lot, you will feel better about yourself after hearing what I caught(or didn't).

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iceman16

there is a chance ill be up there from the 3rd-7th. if i go i will report tater temps and fishing conditions. all depends on the fishing. im off that week and will be fishing mille lacs to start hopefully LOW and then ending on leech.

iceman

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PhilTickelson

Wow, that sounds like a heck of a trip iceman, be sure to let us know how you do on the Rainy.

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PhilTickelson

I'm getting pretty excited about my trip, I just got a new pair of bibs and boots to bring up there for the cold mornings, and have been stocking up on some fishing gear.

Has anyone had luck using plastics for walleye on the river? I got a bunch of munchies ringworms on sale for $.50 a pack, soooo I might have bought one of every color blush, otherwise I have a small assortment of other plastics. I've just been getting into plastics a bit more so it'd be cool to try them out on a place where I could catch some decent fish. I'm thinking of using live bait first and once(if) I locate some fish, switching to the plastics to see if they'll take em. I guess I'm not 100% sure how to use them for walleye, frown. I think I've always worked the baits too much when I try it, I feel like I have to make it look alive or something. But I've had some luck with senko's and trigger X's lately where I just let them fall and sit on the bottom and that seems to work better than doing all sorts of crazy junk. That was while fishing for bass though, which I think are a whole 'nother animal.

Also, I've seen a lot of people mention using frozen shiners, where do you acquire such beasts? Are you buying a few dozen shiners at a bait shop and then sticking them in a ziploc and stuffin them in the freezer?

Phew, so many questions so little time! Thanks again for everyone who's replied in this thread, you've been mighty helpful! Maybe we'll see some of you out there in two weeks!

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Northlander

I have had great luck on Bass assassin paddle tails in white with red or pink tails, pearl with green or red tails and I think its a grey with chart tail. Also gulp smelt and shiners have done well as has power shiners and smelt. At times I tip with a minnow but when they are hitting good I just drift the plastics. Its great when they are in poppin plastics because your hands stay much warmer than diggin in minnow buckets or frozen shiners.

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PhilTickelson

Thanks for the info Northlander, it's good to know that if conditions are right I could try out the plastics.

One week from now I will be fishing and hopefully reeling in a nice fish. I will remember, 11:07 next Friday I better be catching something! I couldn't be more excited though.

Has this warm weather had an adverse effect on the fishing? I can only imagine water temps have either stalled or gone up with this 80 degree heat we've been seeing. It's supposed to drop back down a bit next week so hopefully that helps!

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DrStizo

personnaly i feel you will be there to early for the river, be prepared to fish the lake. So do a little homwork before you go and have a plan B.

With the water level so low i also think we will see a much tougher fall fish. I'm not 100% sure but if my memory is correct we typically dont do well in the fall if the water is way down, almost like the shiners dont run as far up and the walleye swarms dont make it much further then the gap, either way i'll be up there over opening Deer Season and mother nature cooperating last wknd in November.

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DRAGFOOT

Anyone have any imput as to the walleye bite after dark on the river? I know the lake bite shuts off after dark. I have to postpone my trip this weekend to friday evening arrival instead of late thursday night so I will miss all day friday but still would like to fish as much as possible since I need to head home on sunday. The pontoon is sitting at the dock in the bay so I can be on the water in a hurry once I arrive, hopefully by 8pm.

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PhilTickelson

I'm hoping the weather report is wrong for next weekend, it's predicting NW winds which looks like it would make fishing the bay a little sketchy, especially out of a little boat.

I guess if the wind is real bad we will be stuck in the river, then maybe we'll just focus more on sturgeon, or are they sticking in the bay too?

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fishuhalik

sturgies are in the river all year long. no need to go in the bay for them unless current's too bad

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tacklejunkie

Anyone have any imput as to the walleye bite after dark on the river? I know the lake bite shuts off after dark. I have to postpone my trip this weekend to friday evening arrival instead of late thursday night so I will miss all day friday but still would like to fish as much as possible since I need to head home on sunday. The pontoon is sitting at the dock in the bay so I can be on the water in a hurry once I arrive, hopefully by 8pm.

My experience is even in the river, the walleye bite does shut down after dark.

When the shiners are in the river, you don't see them during the day. But at night, walk down to the rivers edge and shine a light in the river and you see tons of them

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PhilTickelson

Alllllright, T-minus ~6 hours until I'm leaving Minneapolis and heading up to the river! I'm hoping to fish all day Friday and Saturday and a half day Sunday. I'll report back with how we did and where we caught everything(if we catch everything). Wish me luck!

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