Mar 10, 2015

Head North For Spring Break

By: Barb Carey

March is here and many people are thinking of vacation destinations. Kids get out of school, colleges shut their doors, and many cheese heads find themselves headed south. I too, love island vacations.  I found a place that has 14,552 islands and 65,000 miles of shoreline. To get to my favorite islands, I head north not south.

I had heard of Lake of the Woods (LOW), but only recently learned of what it has to offer. I just returned from a trip up there and if you are an angler, this place would be paradise to you.  The first time I dropped a line in the water, I had a fish within 30 seconds, and it was a nice walleye. The islands create reefs and rocky points that jet out which makes the fish easy to locate. The resorts up there cater to anglers and you can have a fully guided trip or go it alone. 

My trip was to the northwest angle of Minnesota, which is on the north side of the LOW. A trip here is a great educational experience for kids and adults alike. You have to drive into Canada and go through customs. Then you continue north and eventually cut to the east where there is a piece of Minnesota that is totally detached from the rest of the state. Its borders are the Canadian and American waters of Lake of the Woods.  This is the furthest most point in the Continental U.S. You actually have to stop at a phone booth and call into U.S. customs when you arrive at the border of Minnesota, which is also the Angle Inlet. What a lesson and experience for the kids.

The paved road ends and the ice road begins at the shore of LOW.  The ice road is marked with signs for Oak Island and specifically Sunset Lodge Resort.  (http://www.sunsetlodgeresort.com) This full service resort caters to anglers and they do a fantastic job. Early in the morning, you can jump in the heated Bombardier that was made in the 50‘s for transporting Military Troops. The round port hole windows provide views of the sun rising over what seems to be the end of the earth. They then drop you at heated ice houses already perched above prime fish structure.  You'll enjoy the rest of the day catching a variety of fish like walleye, pike, perch, crappie and tullibee. You might even have a “Bout with a Pout”. Eel pout are fantastic to eat.

There are options to fish Canadian waters for perch and crappies over 14 inches, or go to the reefs on the U.S. side for walleye and sauger. If you decide to skip the trip into Canada and stop when you get to the south shore of LOW, there are numerous resorts that can cater to your angling needs.

The wonderful thing about a trip in March is the opportunity for a trophy pike. Pike over 40 inches are caught routinely this time of year. The fish are staging in an area for spring spawn, and there is nothing more fun than tip-up fishing in the warm sunshine. A trip there in the spring could provide walleye fishing one day, and trophy pike the next. Huge crappies are also part of the experience. The full service resorts take care of all your angling needs. 

Just think of a fishing trip where you get a ride to where the fish are, fish all day, go back to the resort in time for happy hour, and have your cleaned fish delivered to your door!

Meal plan options are also available. When Wisconsin ice is going bad, March ice in LOW is still thick enough to park a house. If you decide to go it on your own, they are more than happy to point you in the right direction. A "must do" while you are there is to check out the night sky.  The stars are spectacular! The northern latitude creates quite a starlight show and if you are lucky, the Northern Lights will reveal themselves in all their glory.

They call this area the Walleye Capital of the world and for good reason. The fish are abundant with many in the good eater size and the occasional trophy. The spring pike can easily provide the fish of a lifetime. I will be going back in 2016, and I will be taking a group of women with me.

If you decide to check it out, contact Joe Henry at http://www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com. Joe is the director of tourism and can match you with a resort to meet your every wish. They produce an informative newsletter and you can follow the hot bite on their Facebook page.  If you land there on Spring Break, be sure to bring your sunscreen and sun glasses as you will be sure to get a tan, even if its only from the neck up.