Excellent wilderness fishing is one of the primary draws of houseboating in Voyageur’s National Park. Walleyes, northern pike and smallmouth bass are abundant and sought after. Other available species include black crappies and yellow perch. Fishing is relatively easy if you have a basic understanding of how to find and catch these species.
Walleyes are found on main lake points, rocky shorelines and gravel bars. This fine-eating fish is the most sought-after species in the lake. Many people opt to hire a guide for the first day to get a feel for where and how to catch whatever happens to be biting best at the moment. Captain Dominic Ruis at Northern Limits Guiding is a great choice.
Northern pike inhabit the weedy bays and they are abundant. It’s not uncommon to catch a couple dozen in a day of fishing. Spinnerbaits or weedless spoons casted into the submerged vegetation will be readily attacked by these aggressive fish. There are plenty of “hammer handle” size fish to keep things interesting, especially for young anglers, and if you put your time in, you have a better than average chance of catching a truly big one of ten pounds of more.
Smallmouth bass are considered one of the gamest fish that swim and they are abundant in all the lakes. The average size is very good with fish of 3 to 4 pounds common. They jump into the air and fight like mad when hooked. It’s no wonder so many anglers can’t get enough of them.
Early in the summer, smallmouth bass will be found shallow, relating to logs or basketball-sized rocks. By midsummer, most smallmouth are found where there is a combination of rocks and weeds. Rocky points in weedy bays, sunken islands and trees fallen into the water should all be checked for these fish. Minnow-imitating crankbaits, diving crankbaits, tube jigs and spinnerbaits are all good choices.
The park is also home to abundant wildlife and you will see bald eagles, loons, beavers, many species of ducks and geese, and most likely deer wading in the shallows or strolling the shorelines. Wolves are abundant in this area and you may hear their howls as the sun goes down. Moose and otters can occasionally be viewed in marshy areas and many species of small mammals will be found on shore. Abundant bird life will sing you to sleep and wake you in the morning.
Photos credited to Dominic Ruis