Crazy Boat Landing Video: How Bad Do You Want to Catch Spring Walleyes?

You won’t believe your eyes when you see the lineup of parked trucks with boat trailers near this Minnesota/Ontario border river.

Crazy Boat Landing Video: How Bad Do You Want to Catch Spring Walleyes?

As I write this in early April 2023, all Minnesota lakes from north to south are still covered in ice. In fact, in the areas around Minneapolis, which is in the southern third of the state, the ice is still at least 20 inches thick. It will take many consecutive days (weeks?) of temperatures in the 50s and higher before anglers will be in boats across the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” and taking part in the open-water fishing season.

That last statement is true except for a select few larger rivers in Minnesota such as the Rainy River, which runs along the border of Minnesota and Ontario. Here, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources offers an early spring catch-and-release season for walleyes, and even though the air temp can be frigid, many diehard walleye anglers take advantage of the opportunity (top photo).

What exactly do I mean by “many diehard walleye anglers?”

Check out the Facebook video at the bottom of this page. What you’re about to see is the number of trucks with boat trailers parked alongside roads near one of the several Rainy River boat accesses (specifically, Birchdale Landing in Nelson Park; photo below).

Birchdale Landing on the Rainy River.
Birchdale Landing on the Rainy River.

During the busiest times (i.e. weekends), it’s not uncommon for anglers to wait up to 4 hours in line to launch their boats. And it’s a double ramp, meaning two drivers can launch boats simultaneously.

Okay, so I know what you’re asking: How do anglers get back to the boat ramp after finally finding a parking spot on the road? 

Well, some anglers pack a bike in their truck and ride it back to the river. Others walk — and it can be a LONG hike! Still others rely on kids who understand the need for a shuttle; they drive golf carts back and forth from the river. The kids work for tips, and rumor has it that they do pretty well. In fact, I read one comment on social media claiming a teenager who ran a shuttle for a couple years was able to pay cash for a new truck.

Just try to count the number of parked trucks with trailers shown in this 2-minute video, which was posted on April 3, 2023. And keep in mind the video never shows those untold number of vehicles parked alongside the road closer to the boat ramp, or in the parking lot itself. (Vehicles are allowed to park on only one side of these roads.) Watch close as the driver takes a left; if you look further up the road (straight), it's nothing but a line of trucks as far as the eye can see!

The reason you see a handful of open gaps in the parking parade: Those are anglers who decided to leave the Rainy River. They were done fishing for the day and pulled their boats.

How bad to you want to catch and release walleyes? I can speak only for myself: no thank you. I’d rather ice fish during this same period in my home state of Minnesota for sunfish and crappies.

P.S. Click to enter fullscreen for best viewing.


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