A Rainy Lake fishing trip has been a tradition for our group for more than 15 years. Although we go into the event with the mindset that every year is going to be a little different, with the historic flooding on Rainy, we knew this year would be a challenge.
Once in the vicinity of the big lake, it didn’t take long to see the effects of the flooding. Driving into the resort proved interesting as they had built up the main highway with gravel to get above the waterline. Stoplights had been set up to help control traffic on the one lane road.
Once at Island View Resort, we could see the massive wall of sandbags that had been put in place to try and control the flooding. Although the water was still very high, it had dropped about four feet from its peak.
Even with the devastating high water, everyone at the resort was in a surprisingly good mood. The flood event had been challenging but they had successfully stayed open the entire time.
According to the fishing report, fish were shallow. However, with the lake levels dropping, we knew the walleyes would be transitioning to more normal locations in deeper water. This meant the first few days could be a serious challenge for finding fish.
Not only did we struggle with catching fish to begin with, Rainy Lake lived up to its name. The first four days found us dodging storms that would blow up quickly in the unstable atmosphere. We spent a lot of time in the cabin. I am willing to fish in the rain but not lightning.
The good news is that the weather did clear and the walleyes started to show up on the reefs where they normally are at this time of the year. Fishing was quite memorable during this time and all of our boats caught impressive numbers of fish each day.
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Even though we had to make some adjustments to our fishing, it was nothing compared to the devastation the locals were dealing with. The flood had caused extensive damage to docks, boat lifts, cabins and other shoreline structures.
It will take a long time for life to return to normal on Rainy.