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Cold weather slows ice-out progress on the Rainy River

As of Monday, only a sliver of open water was visible down the middle of the Rainy River at Franz Jevne State Park.

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In this photo shared Monday, March 28, 2022, a sliver of water was available on the Rainy River at Franz Jevne State Park about 2 miles east of Birchdale, Minnesota.
Contributed / Lake of the Woods Tourism
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BAUDETTE, Minn. – As expected, the current cold snap has slowed the progress of open water down the Rainy River for anglers hungry for their first boat fishing of the year.

The river on the Minnesota-Ontario border between Rainy Lake and Lake of the Woods was still iced-in Monday morning east of the Nelson Park boat access in Birchdale, Minnesota, Lake of the Woods Tourism reported. A sliver of open water was visible down the middle of the Long Sault Rapids at Franz Jevne State Park a couple of miles upstream, the report indicated.

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Rainy River boat accesses.
Contributed / Lake of the Woods Tourism

Curtis Simonson, a conservation for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in International Falls, said in Monday’s weekly report from the DNR’s Enforcement Division that the river has made “little progress, with the ice disappearing slowly after the cold weather moved in.”

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The final section of the book explores three renowned walleye fisheries: Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin and Mille Lacs and Red Lake in Minnesota.

The spring walleye season on the Rainy River is open through April 14, although fishing for walleyes and saugers on the river and Four-Mile Bay of Lake of the Woods is catch-and-release only from March 1 through the close of the spring season each year.

Walleye season on other Minnesota-Canada border waters, including Lake of the Woods, also is open through April 14. While walleye and sauger fishing on the Rainy River and Four-Mile Bay currently is catch-and-release only, anglers on Lake of the Woods can keep an aggregate walleye-sauger limit of six, with no more than four walleyes allowed. All walleyes from 19½ to 28 inches must be released, and one walleye longer than 28 inches is allowed.

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Sturgeon also are a popular attraction for springtime anglers on the Rainy River. Season is catch-and-release only through April 23, with a limited harvest season from April 24 through May 7 for anglers who purchase a sturgeon tag. Anglers can keep one sturgeon between 45 inches and 50 inches long (inclusive) or longer than 75 inches per calendar year. Check pages 59 and 61 of the Minnesota Fishing Regulations book for more information on sturgeon regulations.

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Boatloads of anglers took advantage of beautiful weather April 1, 2015, to fish the Rainy River near Clementson, Minnesota.
Brad Dokken / Grand Forks Herald

The Rainy River can open several miles a day when weather conditions are right, but the forecast through Friday in the border country looks relatively cool, with highs in the mid to upper 30s and lows in the teens to low 20s, according to the National Weather Service forecast for Baudette.

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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