Reige: Angle in on fishing

Published 11:01 pm Wednesday, August 25, 2010


The Northwest Angle is located in Minnesota. It is actually the northernmost point of the United States conterminous forty-eight states and it is the only point in the United States, apart from Alaska, that is north of the 49th parallel. It is attached to Manitoba and is only accessible from the United States by boat across the Lake of the Woods or through Canada by small secondary and gravel roads.

The Northwest Angle was partitioned by the Treaty of Paris, which divided U.S. territory and British territory. The treaty set the boundary to the north to run “through the Lake of the Woods to the northwestern most point thereof, and from thence on a due west course to the river Mississippi.” This boundary was set based on the Mitchell Map, a map that had several inaccuracies, including showing the Mississippi River extending too far north. The Treaty of 1818 determined that the boundary would be drawn instead from “a line drawn from the most northwestern point of the Lake of the Woods, due south, then, along the 49th parallel of north latitude.” This treaty created the Northwest Angle. Locals know the Northwest Angle as “The Angle.”

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As we met our guide Gonzo on the dock at Angle Outpost in the Northwest Angle we could hear the wind blowing in the trees. The tops of the trees bent slightly as if bowing to the onslaught of the wind. Other fisherman were standing around the dock area anxious to get out and enjoy a day on the water, but the forecast was for lake advisories and many of them were starting to second guess what might happen as the day went on. (Gonzo at 112 5th Ave S.E, Baudette, MN 56623 218-634-2781 or Cell 218-244-2299.)

We knew that our boat, Gonzo’s Skeeter could withstand the waves and the wind because he had made the trek across a wide expansion of Lake of the Woods from Baudette to the Northwest Angle. He slipped a life vest on and made sure that we had done the same.

Walleyes in the wind are not a subject that you read about everyday. Most fishermen probably won’t go out on windy days because they can’t control their boats or they can’t feel the jig on the bottom. You cannot fish alone on windy days and catch a lot of fish. You have to have a partner who can run the boat and who is an accomplished angler. Without that you virtually have a mess of twisted lines, a boat crashing into shallow water and hazards, eventually giving up and packing it in like all the rest.

The wind can and does produce walleyes and sometimes the best walleye fishing comes when it is windy.

Wind also has an effect on light penetration. The wind creates waves, and waves cut down on light penetration. That’s why you’ll find walleyes on a shallow reef on a bright day if it’s windy. Take the same reef on a bright, calm day, and frequently it will be devoid of fish.

We generally start looking for walleyes on the wind-blown side of the lake, and the wind-blown side of a structure. Walleyes will usually be most active on the side of the lake or reservoir that the wind is blowing into because that’s where light penetration is reduced. On a given piece of structure the same will hold true with baitfish being disorientated because of wave action. This is a key area, because the predators will congregate at the outside edge and feed on the baitfish. Walleyes are opportunistic fish and they will go where the meal is the easiest to catch.

As we rounded the point from the landing area we saw white caps marching towards us like some imaginary army. Wave after wave came towards us, but we didn’t run scared. The waves were crashing into the face of the adjacent shore so Gonzo wheeled the boat around and started looking at his Lowrance depthfinder. We noticed that the fish were suspended off the bottom and occasionally we would see them running shallow. Shallow would probably be about 10 foot or less of water.

Starting at fishing opener in mid-May the Walleye seem to be closer to shore and actively feeding on baitfish in the sandy areas. Jigging is a popular method at this time of year, whether it is anchored or drifting presenting live bait in 6-18 feet of water is generally the best tactic.

In June we start to move a little deeper and try different presentations. Usually we will switch to a spinner rig; generally a 30″ snell is used. Minnows, leeches, and crawlers are all effective and some days one of them is better than another. We either fish in sand or rubble areas, or try some of the rock reefs that hold walleye.

Toward the beginning of July a large number of the walleye are in the deeper water (30-36 feet). This is a great time of year to work different types of plug baits. There are also many walleye in the reef areas, as the rocks tend to hold a cooler water temp. This can be great for drifting with the spinners or even trying some slip bobber fishing.

We hadn’t gone ten boat lengths when Ginny set the hook on a nice walleye. As Gonzo kept the boat on a straight path I netted Ginny’s four lb. walleye that was very aggressive. We continued marking fish where we caught the last one. Suddenly it was my turn. I nearly had the rod ripped out of my hand. I recovered from the initial jolt and I asked Ginny to get the net. I fought the walleye up to the top of the waves keeping constant pressure on him as he shook the bait in his tightly clenched jaws. I struggled with the walleye until she netted it and I removed the hook. This walleye was a 22-inch fish. I quickly admired the fish and Ginny took some quick snap shots before I released the walleye.

Here we were catching fish like crazy when some of the other fishermen were packing it in to fish another day. Windy, wavy days can and do produce walleyes.

So with the beginning of school, our angle on fishing is the Northwest Angle. Here you can find world class walleyes, northern pike and musky on windy reefs and sandbars and it is right here in Minnesota. Hope to see you on “The Angle” this fall.