Lake of the Woods

Where to Go Fishing on Lake of the Woods

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Lake of the Woods  / Buffalo Media Group

Where to Go Fishing on Lake of the Woods

By Jess Myers

As a small-town Warroad kid who loved fishing, Lake of the Woods felt like the center of the universe on a sunny June day. Four decades later, this primary entry point to the "Walleye Capital of the World" remains just as incredible as the version in my memories.

Dock and boats on a clear, sunny day on the Northwest Angle

One of the docks at Angle Inlet on the Northwest Angle / J. Stephen Conn

Straddling the border between Minnesota and Canada, Lake of the Woods is as far north as you can go without leaving the country. On any given fall, spring or summer day, hundreds of boats — from large-scale launches to low-slung boats  — can be seen across the Big Traverse  and Northwest Angle, scrambling to score another trophy. 

In the spring — when the rivers are flowing and the water is cold — fishing with jigs in the area by Warroad’s famous water tower (the one with crossed hockey sticks on the front) is generally great. As the air and water warms in June and July, I venture further out to places like 12-Mile Reef and 16-Mile Reef, where I look for fish lurking near the rocks, often by using downriggers.

Zippel Bay State Park

Zippel Bay State Park  / Buffalo Media Group

And then there are Lake of the Woods anomalies, like the red-hot fishing spots a few miles north of Zippel Bay State Park, where there’s little underwater structure but anglers still routinely pull massive walleyes using a spinner and a minnow. 

Warroad has changed a bit since my childhood. There’s now a lakeside casino and hotel (Seven Clans), a microbrewery with a view of the water (Lake of the Woods Brewing Company), and a buzzing restaurant and food truck scene. But the main draw for me — fishing — remains the same as ever.... Perfect.

Fishing at sunset

Fishing at sunset / Brady Laudon and


With more than 10,000 lakes and dozens of rivers to choose from, finding a place to catch fish in Minnesota is like finding a slot machine in Nevada.

  1. Lake Superior
    A charter fishing boat on Lake Superior in the Grand Marais harbor

    A charter fishing boat in the Grand Marais harbor on Lake Superior / Kevin Linden

    Lake Superior

    Practically a miniature ocean, the world’s largest freshwater lake boasts massive fish to match its incredible size. Take a fishing charter out of Duluth, Two Harbors, Silver Bay or Grand Marais to catch lake trout, Coho salmon and king salmon, in addition to Minnesota staples like muskies and walleyes.

  2. Mississippi River
    Fishing the Mississippi River in St. Paul

    Fishing the Mississippi River in St. Paul / Stan Borowicz

    Mississippi River

    While the Mississippi River is barely big enough for a kayak at its starting point in Itasca Park, America’s most renowned waterway is home to smallmouth bass, walleye and hard-fighting channel catfish as it passes Lake Pepin, Lake Bemidji, and other paths that point south. River fish like flowing water, and good results can be found where streams enter the channel, and downstream from locks and dams.

  3. Minneapolis
    Fly fishing in Bde Maka Ska

    Fly fishing in Bde Maka Ska, part of the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis


    Pulling in a flopping panfish with a view of the Minneapolis skyscrapers is truly one of those “only in Minnesota” experiences. Places like Lake Harriet, Bde Maka Ska and Lake of the Isles are hot spots for bluegills, crappies and even the occasional tiger musky thanks to stocking by the Minnesota DNR and a prohibition on non-electric motors.

    Learn more about Minnesota fishing and plan your trip today. 

Jess Myers

Jess Myers was raised on fresh walleye for breakfast, spending summers at his family's cabin on Lake of the Woods. He covers college hockey for The Rink Live and provides travel and outdoors coverage for the Forum Communications Company family of publications. When not at a hockey rink, he tries to spend as much time as possible piloting his pontoon.