Lake of The Woods, MN Ice Fishing

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Talk about borders. Lake of The Woods, MN is right on the Minnesota/Canada border. The Minnesota portion is in the Northwest Angle, which is about six hours north of the Twin Cities, MN. The lake is about 70 miles long, with over 65,000 miles of shoreline, including islands. At its deepest point, Lake of The Woods is about 210 feet deep.

While Lake of The Woods does offer year-round recreation, my experience was limited to a long weekend in February 2018. The plan was for four days of ice fishing in sleeper houses, on the SouthWest corner of the lake, known as Muskeg Bay. On the advice of family, friends and the Internet, we went with Arnesen’s Rocky Point Resort as our outfitter.

Prepping and Pre-Trip

There wasn’t a lot of prep necessary. If you have ice fishing gear, a phone and a couple hundred dollars, you can easily pull off a trip like this with minimal notice or planning.

I called Arnesen’s in mid-January. There were six of us going so I booked two four-person sleeper houses. The reservation process was simple, and I got a confirmation, via email following. At the time of booking, there was a $50 per adult deposit required, which I provided via credit card over the phone. We also booked a night in one of Arnesen’s cabins, so we could arrive late Thursday night and get out on the ice early Friday morning.

For me, the trip to Lake of The Woods is about nine hours. Our group was meeting near the Twin Cities, so I left early, and we were en route, from the cities around noon. From where we met up, it’s about a five-hour drive to Arnesen’s. We made a few stops for food and last-minute gear and arrived to Arnesen’s around six o’clock. Check in was quick and easy, so we were in the cabin, playing cards and enjoying a cocktail by seven. A couple of us went down to Arnesen’s bar and restaurant, which was great. My steak was fantastic, and the bartender’s attempt at a classic Wisconsin Old Fashioned was noble. Arnesen’s does a nice job. The cabin was really nice, and the restaurant was great.

Sleepers On The Ice

We were up and heading out to the sleeper houses by about five AM. Again, Arnesen’s has the process down, as we brought all of our gear down to the boat landing, where everything was loaded up in bombardiers. I would guess it was 15-20 minutes out to the sleeper houses and I’m glad we were in the bombardiers. I’m not sure my jeep would have made it over the ice shelves and drifts.

The houses are nice. They have four bunks, a bathroom, four, double-hole fishing areas and a gas stove. Houses are heated by gas and have electric-solar lights. Everything you need, really.

The bathroom is a plywood box, with a bucket and bag in it. You do your business, tie off the bag and throw it out the window. It is just plywood, separating you from the rest of the cabin, so if your shy, you’re going to need to get over that. I don’t believe toilet paper (or a candle, which you should bring) was included to add that to you list of supplies to bring. Arnesen’s actually has a checklist of things to bring on their website.

Bunks are bunks. Wood and a sleeping pad. Bring a pillow and sleeping bag and your all set. Something I was not prepared for, as I had never slept out on the ice before was the sound of the ice cracking. My first night, I thought I could hear other fishermen slamming sleeper house doors all night. I was corrected in the morning, just before a big crack rolled right under us. Ice cracking is a sign of safe and healthy ice but knowing that doesn’t prepare you. It’s loud.

For food, we brought pre-planned, sharable meals. Lasagna, hot dish, etc. We also had plenty of fish to eat at night, which I’ll get to momentarily. There is no food provided so you need to bring whatever you want. Food, coffee, water, drinks, snacks, etc. if you want it, bring it. The bombardiers have plenty of room.


Arnesen’s provided us with plenty of live bait. Obviously, we were out there to fish, so we got right after it. Within no time, everyone was pulling in walleyes, saugers and perch. It happened so quick that I wasn’t even ready and my nephew, Cody, reeled in my first fish for me. We caught a lot of walleye and saugers. Mac and Paul (brother-in-law) both brough in 15+ inch perch.

We were up and fishing daily, by about 5:30-6:00 AM. We’d fish until around 9:00-10:00 AM and then take a break for cards, lunch and whatnot. Fishing started again around 2:30-3:00 PM and continued until around 6:00 PM, sometimes later. When we weren’t actively jigging, we had a rattle reel going. We hoped to catch an eelpout overnight. Those guys take the line and go so we only had 1, to avoid tangling lines.

Every night, the six of us ate fish until we were full, and we only kept about a quarter of what we caught. Slot limits were made very clear and a lot of what we caught, couldn’t be kept. It’s a real bummer to catch a 19.75” walleye and release it because you are .25” from the slot. We had plenty, without it.

Arnesen’s checked on a couple times per day. Had the fishing been bad, they would have moved the houses. They kept the bait bucket fresh and full and made sure we had everything we need. Overall, it was a great experience and Arnesen’s was a major contributing factor in that.

Leaving was about what you would expect. The bombardiers picked us up pretty early (maybe 8-ish) and brought us back, where we loaded gear into trucks, and each paid our portion to Arnesen’s. All in, it was about $250-$300 each.

For more information, check out Border Outdoors.