Walleye are abundant in Lake of the Woods. In the spring time walleye will take almost any bait or lure, but may be more challenging to catch through the summer months. Fall often brings another peak of walleye feeding activity. Walleye are readily caught through the ice, usually on jigs, jigging spoons or minnows. They prefer weed, wood and rock cover, and therefore fishing is generally best on cloudy or overcast days. Try casting or trolling with spinners or minnow-imitating plugs. The best live bait includes minnows, earthworms, and crayfish.
Bass concentrate around shoreline rocks and points as well as offshore shoals, often in deep water. Popular baits are: crayfish, minnows, hellgrammites, and leeches. Small, deep-diving plugs and lures, and surface lures (in early morning and evening) are effective. But soft plastic lures in the form of crayfish imitations, twister tails and small worms or tubes are among the best smallmouth baits. These are often fished deep, in combination with a jig.
Less than one per cent of the world’s fresh water holds the mighty muskellunge. This highly prized trophy fish can be caught in Lake of the Woods. The muskie is usually found concealed among aquatic plants at the sides of channels, or off shelving rocks and offshore shoals in lakes and rivers in summer. In the fall, it moves into shallow water. Because of its large size and fighting qualities, the muskellunge is one of Ontario’s most renowned game fish. Heavy casting tackle is used because of the great strength of this fish, which can reach weights of over 22 kg. (50 pounds). Large wooden plugs, spoons, combination spoon and feather, bucktail baits, surface lures, and large bass plugs have been used with great success.
The black crappie can be found in the clear, weedy lakes and slow rivers. The white crappie are found in the mouths of tributary streams or weedy, sheltered bays. These fish are quite abundant in Lake of the Woods and make a delicious shore lunch. Lake trout are found near the surface in spring and can be taken on a fly rod, or with spinners, spoons and plugs. As the water warms up they go deep and special deep-water tackle — wire line, lead-core line, downriggers, diving planers, etc. must be used. Large spoons, spinners and plugs are good summer trolling baits. Jigging, or still-fishing with large, dead minnows in deep water, are sometimes effective in summer. Ice fishing for lake trout is often done with minnows or lake herring, or, by jigging with spoons and jigs with bait attached.
In a lake environment pike prefer weedy bays, estuaries and shoals as spring and summer habitat. During cool autumn days pike are most likely to seek deeper water. Pike are aggressive feeders through spring, summer and fall and continue to be caught through the ice during the winter months. Pike will take just about every kind of live and artificial bait, including very large streamer flies. For trolling or casting try: spoons, bucktail spinners, crankbaits, topwater lures, spinnerbaits, and, buzzbaits. Live baits include large chubs and shiners.