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Spring fishing regulations on the Rainy River

The Rainy River on the Minnesota-Ontario border offers one of the earliest opportunities of the year for open-water game fishing action, according to Kevin Peterson, fisheries manager at International Falls. "Walleye fishing on the Rainy River has become increasingly popular in recent years because of high catch rates and large fish," Peterson said.

Additionally, as lake sturgeon continue to make a successful recovery in the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods, fishing for this trophy can provide an experience unlike any other in the state, noted Mike Larson fisheries manager at Baudette. "Management of these unique fisheries requires special fishing regulations," Larson said.

The following regulations are in effect for Minnesota's portion of the Rainy River from the dam in International Falls to Wheeler's Point in Lake of the Woods. For a complete listing of the regulations that apply to the Rainy River, see the 2004 Minnesota Fishing Regulations synopsis, available at license agents and the DNR Web site

Lake sturgeon
New regulations for lake sturgeon took effect March 1. Sturgeon harvest seasons run April 24 to May 7 and July 1 to Sept. 30. Catch-and-release fishing will be allowed May 8 to May 16 and Oct. 1 to April 23. The season is closed May 17 to June 30 to protect spawning fish.
Anglers may harvest one lake sturgeon per license year. Only fish between 45 and 50 inches or over 75 inches may be harvested. All lake sturgeon shorter than 45 inches and between 50 and 75 inches must be immediately returned to the water. Also new for this year, anglers will be required to sign and date their fishing license when they harvest a sturgeon.

Because anglers are now releasing a large number of the sturgeon they catch, gaffs will no longer be allowed on the Rainy River. A gaff is a pole with a hook used to land large fish. Specifically, the new rule states person cannot possess or use a gaff while fishing on the Rainy River.

The season runs from the statewide walleye opener, May 15 through April 14, with a walleye/sauger possession aggregate limit of six, except for the period of March 1 through April 14, when the aggregate possession limit is two. One walleye exceeding 19.5 inches may be possessed from the opener through Feb. 29. No walleye over 19.5 inches may be possessed from March 1 through April 14.

Northern pike
There is no closed season for northern pike on the Rainy River. An experimental regulation for Lake of the Woods, Rainy River, Warroad River, Winter Road River and the Baudette River is in effect. The possession limit for northern pike is three. Anglers may possess only one northern pike over 40 inches. All northern pike from 30 through 40 inches must be immediately released.

Smallmouth bass
The season for smallmouth and largemouth bass is open continuously. The possession limit is six and there are no size restrictions.

Tagged fish
Some northern pike and lake sturgeon from the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods have been tagged as part of a long-term monitoring program. Anglers who catch a tagged fish, should record the tag number, location and date. Do not remove the tag from any fish released. Submit this information to DNR Fisheries in Baudette by calling (218) 634-2522 or by e-mail to (
Posted By: TON System Account
Posted On: 03/16/2004 00:00 AM
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