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FryDog62

Vermilion vs. Rainy Lake for Smallmouth

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I’ve been part of a group that goes to Rainy Lake most every September.  Due to a scheduling conflict, I won’t be able to go with the group this year.  Fun trip and the Smallmouth fishing is good, but I wonder how it compares to Vermilion? 

 

Honestly, I find Rainy good for numbers but just so-so for size.  Any idea if the size structure is bigger on Vermilion?  I might still be able to go somewhere this Fall, looking at options..

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Hey FryDog,

I've spent a little time on Rainy and a lot of time on Vermil. I've had much better success on V in the past and have caught some really big smallies up to 6#.

By Sept and Oct, the shallow wood/dock bite has cooled off and most of our smallies have moved out to rocks in the 10'-20' zone. Can be tough to track em down but when you do, its game on! Plenty of 3# - 4# fish to be had, especially on the East side.

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5 hours ago, J Fitz said:

Hey FryDog,

I've spent a little time on Rainy and a lot of time on Vermil. I've had much better success on V in the past and have caught some really big smallies up to 6#.

By Sept and Oct, the shallow wood/dock bite has cooled off and most of our smallies have moved out to rocks in the 10'-20' zone. Can be tough to track em down but when you do, its game on! Plenty of 3# - 4# fish to be had, especially on the East side.

That’s good to know.  Not complaining, but we catch a ton of 14-16 inch smallies on Rainy, and the occasional 17-19 inch size.  Nothing wrong with that, but eventually you’d like to have a chance to catch a 20 inch/5 pound fish... and you can but it’s extremely rare there.  To hear that Vermilion has the potential for a 5 even 6 lb smallie is very encouraging...

 

Of the different sections of Vermilion, where’s a good place to start as a first-timer?  No coordinates needed, just wondering North or South or for instance a large basin like Norwegian, etc?  Big lake!

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Yeah, definitely some nice fish out there. My folks have a place on the west side but bass definitely average bigger on the east side. Lots of structure to pick apart in Frazer Bay, Diasy Bay and north of Pine Island. 

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I’ve fished Rainy several times from a houseboat and I spent 25 years picking apart the islands in the central part of Vermilion from Oak Narrows to Birch Point. If size is the only thing you care about, I wouldn’t make either of those my first choice. For big fish, I’d go to Chequamegon Bay out of Ashland WI, or the Sturgeon Bay, Door County area of WI.

For a vacation on a beautiful lake with smallmouth, I’d take Vermilion. On Vermilion, the hazards are marked, and there are more places to fish if it gets windy. You could spend a whole week just fishing the reefs around the hazard buoys. Big musky and lots of walleyes too if you are into that.

 

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13 hours ago, Scott F said:

I’ve fished Rainy several times from a houseboat and I spent 25 years picking apart the islands in the central part of Vermilion from Oak Narrows to Birch Point. If size is the only thing you care about, I wouldn’t make either of those my first choice. For big fish, I’d go to Chequamegon Bay out of Ashland WI, or the Sturgeon Bay, Door County area of WI.

For a vacation on a beautiful lake with smallmouth, I’d take Vermilion. On Vermilion, the hazards are marked, and there are more places to fish if it gets windy. You could spend a whole week just fishing the reefs around the hazard buoys. Big musky and lots of walleyes too if you are into that.

 

Thanks Scott.  Agreed that Chequamegon (and Mille Lacs) are best bet for biggest smallies, have fished them both.  I also try to mix in a Canadian-type (or nearby) trip each year too hence the annual Rainy trip.  But have heard Vermilion might be better for size, also don’t have to deal with the border crossing and a tad closer which is an advantage with a tight schedule this Fall.  

 

Am going to take a closer look at Vermilion dates/locations (I fished the river there before but not the lake).  May also look at other Northern lake options too as there are many to choose from in our state, but not a ton with consistent world-class size like those you suggested.  

 

Thx..

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