Lake of the Woods and Musky fishing have been synonymous with one another since the late 1800's when Lake of the Woods was considered a mystical wilderness region of the north. Rumors of a gigantic freshwater predator reported by soldiers stationed at Fort St. Charles, which the Ojibwa people called the Maashkinoozhe, spread and by the 1900's people were paying the Ojibwa to be guided into this extreme wilderness region to catch these monsters. Today Lake of the Woods remains one of the top, if not the top, Muskie fishing destination in both the United States and Canada.
Oak Island Resort is located in the renowned Northwest Angle area of Lake of the Woods, which has proven to be one of the best areas for numbers and size. Lake of the Woods is a classic Canadian Shield lake with endless combinations of structure and habitat, including weedy bays and bars, saddles, reefs, boulder strewn flats, and island complexes that are ideally suited for predators and their prey. Some anglers have success making long accurate casts tight to cover, while others prefer to troll along the break and deep weed line. Both techniques can produce great results. If you prefer to cast, make sure to watch your lure and be prepared to do a figure-eight with your lure if you see a following fish. For reasons unknown, a significant percentage of LOTW muskies are caught boat side, when compared to other musky lakes.
The part of the lake surrounding Oak Island and the many other islands in the region is typically characterized as "shallower" relative to other sections of lake, although there are several areas within a very short boat ride that have depths in excess of forty feet. In theory, this "shallow" water contains higher levels of organic nutrients in the water column, thus giving the water a more "stained" appearance then other areas of the lake. Many Musky anglers believe that "stained" water fish are more willing to bite than "clear" water muskies. Of course, this is entirely anecdotal, but what I will say is that you probably have more follows in "stained" water because the Muskies are less likely to see the boat and therefore are less likely to spook, which may mean more follows and followers can sometimes be converted to biters!
Musky are fun to catch and part of the allure (and admitted frustration) is the fact that that they can be a challenge to catch. What also makes the pursuit exciting is the potential to catch "a big one", and that is always a very real possibility on LOTW. Lake of the Woods is a big lake and conventional wisdom says that big lakes produce big fish. Each year we have guests lucky enough to catch and release Musky up to 48", with a least a few that are able to crack the 50", super-trophy barrier. Personally, any day that I catch a 45" or bigger Musky is a great day in my book and one that I remember for a long time! Lake of the Woods is a massive lake and many professionals believe that it is fully capable of producing the next world record, so long as we as anglers continue to protect the resource by practicing safe, fish friendly catch and release techniques and by doing our part to be good stewards of the land.
A Brief Look at Muskie Through the Season
The Muskie season typically opens the third Saturday in June on LOTW. At this time, given a typical "ice-out", Muskie can be found near spawning areas and weed flats that also attract bait fish. Again, assuming a normal spring, smaller bucktails and bass style baits should be considered.
As the season progresses and the water warms you should start to find Muskies moving out towards main lake structures. As this happens your lure size should also start to increase. Bucktails become the norm with top-waters starting to shine, as well. But you should not overlook deep diving crankbaits, jerkbaits and big plastics either. Summer is a time when anything goes and you will have to let the fish tell you what they want from day-to-day. That is half the fun, especially if you get it dialed in!
As the water starts to cool, think trolling with big lures and catching big fish. The name of the game here is to cover water and hug the shoreline, it is also probably a good time to replace that stainless prop with an aluminum one, as not all of the rocks on LOTW are on a map, especially those in close proximity to the shore.
Lake of the Woods is famous for its Musky fishing and every year it seemingly gets better and better with guests catching more and bigger fish. We welcome you to stay with us and if the stars align, as they do for a few days each year, you just might experience some of the best Musky fishing of your life.