Lake of the Woods: Nonstop Fishing Action


Crossing Lake of the Woods off the bucket list

Nestor Falls, Ontario is a short hour and a half drive from International Falls, Minnesota. We had this place circled on our bucket list for a while and a quick phone call to my wife from Erin Gate inviting us up for a visit to Lake of the Woods set our wheels in motion. I am blessed to have an adventurous outdoor gal as my partner. It also helps to have great friends like Mike and Erin Gate, owners of Sunset Cove Resort, who invited us for a visit.

Lake of the Woods is a huge body of water and full of resorts, but a few resorts stand out as true gems on this island-filled walleye factory. Our resort was located on the far northeast corner of Lake of the Woods. Mike has been guiding these waters since he was in high school. He is also an accomplished bush pilot and flies for Nestor Falls Fly-in Outpost. If your bucket list includes a remote fly-in lake and some big pike or trout, several Lake of the Woods area resorts can offer a total adventure package. My goal was to relax, catch a few fish and watch my wife’s excitement as she hauled in some Canadian lunkers!

Home away from home

Our private cabin was large, tastefully decorated and completely set up for the vacationing fishermen. It had a large deck overlooking the water, BBQ grill, fully stocked kitchen, WIFI and satellite TV. What more could you ask for? The resort is family friendly and has a nice sand beach and swimming area, a beautiful boat house with fish cleaning facilities, kitchenette with fish fryers and a beachfront fire pit. Cabins can accommodate any size group.

We awoke to sounds of rain on our roof the first day. We thought we would have a washout to start things off, but Mike had a special treat ready for us. His cousin “Gator” lives next door and his 25-foot, fully enclosed pontoon boat would be our mobile “fishing lodge” for the day. Gator had spots dialed in on his GPS and his unbelievable boat control kept us precisely on the fish. He dropped the front and back curtains and each end had two pedestal boat seats for us to sit and fish. Nobody got wet and we caught fish all day long!

Multispecies Mecca

The next couple of days, Mike dialed up his personal tournament-rigged Lund and took us on some walleye adventures with northern pike, crappies and perch to boot. Lake of the Woods is a diverse fishery with an unlimited amount of structure and islands—it teems with gamefish. Successful anglers who know this vast lake have an unlimited amount of structure for finding fish. Veteran anglers like Mike have marked spots over the years that produce during select times of the year based on water temperature and length of day.

The average first-time angler to Lake of the Woods will do well with basic 1/4- to 3/8-ounce jigs of a variety of colors. Tipping them with minnows and vertical jigging produced lots of walleyes throughout the day. In some locations, the jig-and-minnow also caught crappies, perch and northern pike. Not missing an opportunity to use a different presentation, I grabbed my Kalin’s jig box. A 3-inch avocado green Lunker Grub on a 1/4-ounce chartreuse jig head produced the best in the stained water. While larger walleyes were the target, we sorted through many walleyes and kept several eater-size fish for shore lunch.

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Muskies on the line

Sunset Cove is on a bay known to produce trophy muskies. We had the opportunity to attend a local muskie tournament award event and watched successful “catch-video-release” videos and trophy presentations. This local club does a wonderful job promoting muskie fishing. I have it on good authority you can throw a baseball from the dock of the resort to some of the best muskie waters on the lake.

One morning, Mike took me out on my first-ever muskie hunt, trolling some of the waters in adjacent coves and around nearby islands. I did manage a couple of mid 30-inch northern pike and one other serious attack. Mike landed a brute of a musky better than 50 inches long. I was excited just to net the monster fish. Mike carefully slid the massive fish back into the water and revived it to swim away. I have definite plans to visit that cove next year and pay a personal visit on that very same muskie!

Not just fish

While fishing, we watched a bear with cubs take a stroll along the shoreline and curious whitetail deer drinking on the shoreline. We experienced spectacular views from our deck while enjoying our morning coffee. We watched seaplanes flown by expert bush pilots that make daily flights to remote lakes wing by the resort. The highlight of our week was a beautiful evening campfire shared with Mike and Erin and other guests. We enjoyed fresh side pork from Wisconsin and delicious Canadian walleyes and pike cooked over an open campfire. Impressive sunrises and sunsets, watching eagles swoop down to grab a fish off the water–a Canadian experience offers things that you don’t get every day at home. Here, one experiences nature’s beauty every day.     MWO



Lee Haasch is an Algoma charter captain with more than 40 years of Great Lakes fishing experience. He’s been writing and giving seminars for 30 years. For current fishing reports or information on charter fishing in the Algoma area, check out Haasch’s report page at Sign up for periodic newsletters. Call 888-966-3474 to book a charter.