Ice-fishing Lake of the Woods

On the trail to Oregon

It had been a couple of years since I made my last trek up for ice-fishing Lake of the Woods. I was quite thrilled to be invited to join Tourism Director Joe Henry and a group of ice team anglers on a mid-March excursion to Arnesen’s Rocky Point Resort.

Although it was my first trip to Arnesen’s, I had already heard lots of good things about this resort. It has been a mainstay in the Lake of the Woods region for years and is a top-rated destination for both summer and winter angling. Their reputation for putting guests on fish is legendary. We were all up early on the first morning of fishing. Working with the ice team crew meant there were plenty of details to take care of before we embarked onto the ice. It was barely light when we pulled off of the shore for our first day of ice-fishing Lake of the Woods.

Staying warm while ice-fishing Lake of the Woods

Since the date was late, and the ice was just starting to deteriorate, all of our fishing would be done out of portable shelters. I had never fished out of a hub shelter before, but they proved to be easy to put up and very roomy, providing a warm environment out of the wind.

Northern winters are no joke, check out our tips for staying warm: dress for success.

Targeting techniques

As is usually the case when on a fishing trip of this nature, it took a while to sort out the best technique. There seemed to be plenty of fish showing up on our Vexilars. But, refining the presentation took a little time. We eventually dialed in on the best presentation.

My best action came on a Clam Red/Gold Leech Flutter Spoon tipped with a minnow head or tail. I also caught plenty of fish on a deadstick and minnow. I found that hooking my minnow through the belly got more bites. When hooked this way, the minnow constantly struggles to turn over and right itself. This seems to trigger strikes.

A dandy fish hooked on a gold and red "Leech Flutter Spoon" used while ice-fishing Lake of the Woods.
Clam’s Gold and Red Leech Flutter Spoon was a hot bait for ice-fishing Lake of the Woods.

Multispecies opportunity

In typical Lake of the Woods fashion, we found ourselves catching a variety of fish. The walleyes were cooperative, but so were the saugers, perch and tullibees. Some of the tullibees were large and scrappy fighters. It wouldn’t be a Lake of the Woods trip without a few eelpout in the mix, too. A couple of the burbot I caught were huge and tested my 4-pound-test line to the max. Anglers have learned that these fish—though ugly and slimy—are actually very good to eat. Mine went back down the hole, however.

Lake of the Woods is an incredible body of water. It is a fish factory that produces quality angling year round, year after year. Although superb fishing can be found during any season, it has certainly become a favorite winter destination for ice anglers.

This body of water is so popular because of its diverse angling options. Those who wish to stay in one of the many resorts and fish out of heated fish houses can do so. Others who want to venture out on their own can do so.

Spectacular sunset over the ice at Arensen's Resort, a destination for ice-fishing Lake of the Woods.
Spectacular sunsets at Arnesen’s Resort are a welcome bonus to ice-fishing Lake of the Woods, free of charge.