Making a trip to the NW Angle on Lake of the Woods has been on my “to do list” for a few years. The promise of walleyes, sauger, jumbo perch and slab crappies that are readily caught in an absolutely incredible setting had me chomping at the bit. Having spent some quality open water time in the Angle area already there was no doubt of the beauty, the only question was; “Just how good is the fishing?”
My posse and I had a late season trip cancelled just the winter before because of an unseasonable warm up but it all came together last March and I was able to make it up there no problem. There’s more than one way to get there and includes a Bomber ride from Sportsman’s Lodge, using your own transportation (which I did), or driving up the west side and getting on the ice at Young’s Bay where they actually plow a road to the resort. If you choose to get there on your own there’s a marked and groomed snowmobile trail that runs from the mouth of the river at Wheeler’s Point out of Baudette all the way to Oak Island which is part of the Angle and where Sportsman’s Lodge is located. If you’re lucky you can get on a freshly groomed trail and haul you know what on the way there and back. If not; it’s going to take a little more travel time but it’s definitely worth the effort.
Having finally arrived at my much anticipated destination it was surprising to see how much activity there was this far north. In fact the rows of big houses on prime areas looked a little like some of the more popular bars or humps on Mille Lacs. The majority of big shacks belonged to Sportsman’s and was where many of their customers were working on their limits. They were shuttled to and fro by Bombers and some fancy track vehicles including a Chevy Blazer. My transportation included a Polaris 4stroker and my shack was a comfy Eskimo 350 Escape. That combination provides the ability to be mobile and drop a line wherever you want but isn’t absolutely necessary, at least not up here, not if you’re after walleyes sauger and perch. Here the house anglers do just fine thank you but being a control freak means I’m going mobile. It also opens up an opportunity for catching twelve to fifteen inch plus crappies which you can find in the Canadian water and where there isn’t houses or transportation provided.
The walleyes and sauger that we caught came off of some deeper bars and offshore humps and there was plenty of good structure to go around. In fact a lot of what we fished hadn’t even had a hole drilled anywhere close which was a real surprise this late in the season. The key to finding it all was using a GPS like my Humminbird 385ci which is part of a combo including the Ice 55 flasher, along with a LakeMaster electronic high definition map. The map showed all kinds of structure, (some of it in close vicinity to a major trail) with nobody having yet drilled a hole. Much of the good fishing ground was within a few miles of Sportsman’s and I didn’t have to spend much time between firing up the sled and doing some serious pole bending.
There were some slow times, especially during the middle of the day, but the early morning and late evening action was incredible. The walleyes were nice and chunky and most of them were outside the protected slot and could be kept. There was also plenty of sauger to be caught including fish in the fifteen to sixteen inch range. Lake of the Woods perch run big meaning most of them were pushing a pound or more and were more numerous than anything I’ve found in the south end of the lake. The crappies in the Canadian water didn’t disappoint those that made a slab run and were just as big and plentiful as advertised. If you decide to cross the border for some red hot crappie action you’ll need an Ontario license and a border crossing permit all of which you better have in possession before you head for the Angle. Sportsman’s Lodge was clean, comfortable and plenty modern including the availability of Wi-Fi for those that can’t give up their Facebook pages for a few days. The guides and all of the hired help were extremely personable and it was easy to see that customer service is an important part of the Sportsman’s Lodge policy. It’s a good idea to set goals and one of mine is to get back up there and maybe spend a little more time working on those Canadian Crappies. See you on the ice.