Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal.
WILLIAMS, Minn. | We were no more than a half a mile out from the mouth of Zippel Bay when Nick began zig-zagging over the reef below his 30-foot charter boat.
Satisfied with what he saw on the depth finder, he hit the button that released the big anchor, and we were soon holding above what we hoped would be a whole lot of walleyes.
I tipped my jig with a shiner and dropped it over the side. We fished straight down, holding the jig just an inch or two above the bottom.
The bite was light. Just a small amount of tension I could feel on the rod tip. I swept the rod back and could feel the struggling walleye below.
We were on the right spot.
Nick and Deanna Painovich, are the owners of Zippel Bay Resort. We have fished with them several times in years past. Gary Howey and I were to spend just a couple of days here before heading farther north to a fly-in lake in Ontario.
We were staying in one of their luxury log cabins facing the bay. Featuring log furniture with fireplace and satellite TV, the cabins have three bedrooms with a loft and a large deck.
While my fish broke the ice, it was not long before Gary and Nick began making contributions to the live well.
Earlier, as we left the mouth of the bay, I noticed eight boats working a reef right in front. I asked Nick about it.
“There’s a big reef right there and this time of year there are lots of walleyes on it,” he said. “It’s a good spot to fish, but with that many boats on it, I felt we’d find a spot less crowded.”
And that is easy to do on Lake of the Woods. It’s a huge lake with 65,000 miles of shoreline and 14,000 islands. When it comes to walleye, sauger, smallmouth bass, perch and northern pike, it’s a hard lake to beat.
In the spring and fall, the walleyes move to shallow water along the shorelines and in July and August they set up housekeeping on rock reefs in 20 to 25 feet of water.
Nick’s resort is the only one on Zippel Bay. Located on the lake’s south shoreline, the bay is a couple miles long and not very wide. In the spring, it offers trophy northern pike fishing as well as perch and walleye.
In the spring and fall, walleye prefer the jig and minnow and as the water warms into late June, spinners and crawlers or crankbaits become more effective.
It was late afternoon when we began fishing and we continued into the evening hours. We moved a couple of times and caught fish at each stop.
Our best fish was a 28-incher, which we released. All walleye between 19.5 and 28-inches must be released. The walleye/sauger aggregate limit is six, but not more than four can be walleyes.
From Dec. 1 through April 14, the limit is increased to eight but only four can be walleyes.
The ice fishing here is wonderful. Nick maintains a bunch of comfortable, heated icehouses on the lake and maintains a road system complete with street signs.
Zippel Bay Resort is open from May through February. It features just about everything for hard-core fishermen to corporate groups to families and children. It even has a swimming pool.
They have a charter boat service featuring comfortable, 30-foot boats and knowledgeable guides. Boats are equipped with downriggers, rods, reels and lures.
To learn more, check out zippelbay.com or call 800-222-2537.
More outdoors, information can be found at siouxcityjournal.com/sports/recreation/outdoors/