One of the best-kept secrets in the world of trophy fishing is Lake of the Woods in northern Minnesota on the Canadian border. But fishermen in the know, and their families and friends, travel from all over to stay at Ballard’s Resort and be taken out onto a body of water that is itself a trophy.
A fishing paradise year-round
Lake of the Woods is 90 miles long and its shoreline extends to the Canadian coasts of Ontario and Manitoba. No doubt it takes a lake this size for the real lure of a luxury fishing vacation at Ballard’s Resort. Lake of the Woods is the Walleye Capital of the World, home to an estimated 10 million fish (on the Minnesota side of the lake) that are highly prized by anglers for their size, beauty and delicate flavor.
Here, trophy walleyes grow to 30-inches with an average weight of 10-pounds. The lake is also filled with monster musky, explosive smallmouth bass, and wicked northern pike.
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Ballard’s Resort makes vacation planning easy. They have lodging, fishing and meal packages to choose from that are perfect for families with kids, friend reunions and corporate trips. Dock slips are available to rent, if you’d like to bring your own boat.
“The mystique of trying to catch a 10-pound trophy walleye drives guests to come back here year after year,” says Gary Moeller, managing partner of Ballard’s Resort. “They know that when they come to Lake of the Woods they have a legitimate shot at catching the fish of a lifetime. It’s the one,” Moeller adds, “that didn't get away!”
Ballard’s Resort, which has been in operation since 1961, has 30 guest cabins. Family-sized cabins accommodate up to six guests, plus there’s a main lodge, restaurant and bar on the Minnesota side of the lake. An additional five cabins and a smaller lodge (Ballard's Black Island) is located on the Canadian side
From mid-May to mid-October, Ballard’s licensed guides take guests out aboard 27-foot charter boats outfitted with medium-action rods and state-of-the-art gear specifically made for walleye fishing.
During ice-fishing season, which typically runs from mid-December to mid-March, a fleet of restored bombardier snow buses shuttle guests to 50 ice-fishing shacks on the lake.
“When you set the hook on a 10-pound walleye, you’re going to know it,” says Moeller, “and you’re going to get some fight.”
Walleyes over 19 inches long are released after being measured and photographed (on the Canadian side, it’s 18 inches) to preserve the trophy fish population. Customized replicas of trophy catches can be made from photographs that the resort takes for guests. Smaller fish — as many as four walleyes and two saugers, a walleye cousin — can be kept for eating. Resort staff is available to clean the catches onshore.
“Walleyes are arguably one of the finest-eating fish,” Moeller says. “To have the fish you’ve just caught cleaned and prepared for a traditional shore lunch or dinner in the lodge is something that each of our guests really looks forward to.”
To book a fishing vacation at Ballard’s Resort or for more information, visit ballardsresort.com.