Steve's Lucky Bait
Steve's Lucky Bait

Did you know?


Did you know not all shiners are created equal?  There are hundreds of different types of shiner minnows.  Lets talk about the top four most commonly sold as bait up here in the north country.  Also, what is the best bait for Lake of the Wood Walleye.   



First, the Common Shiner.  Typically ranging in length from three to six inches, but can grow as large at eight inches long.  This bait fish is best suited for fishing Walleye, Northern Pike and, Small Mouth Bass.


Second is the Emerald Shiner.  This bait fish grows up to four inches in length.  This is the Lake of the Woods Walleye's food of choice.  Live or frozen.  YES,  I said frozen. Emerald Shiners run up the Rainy River and other Lake of the Woods tributaries in the fall of the year.  This is when licensed bait dealers harvest them.  They are then tested for VHS* and processed for either live or frozen sale.   During the freezing process the oil gland ruptures turning them into a sort of stink bait if you will.   All species in Lake of the Woods find the Emerald Shiner a tasty meal.  From Lake Sturgeon and Walleye, to Northern Pike and Burbot.


Third on the list is the Golden Shiner.  Most commonly found in size ranging from three to five inches.   They are a wide-bodied minnow with a silver to golden color with larger sized minnows being more golden.    They are one of the most pond cultured minnows in North America.  Which, in my opinion, makes them the least appetizing bait for a Walleye.  They are tamer and have little fear.  Walleye like food that runs scared.  Bass, however, think the golden shiner is the best food on the market.


Lastly, the Spottail Shiner.  Ranging in size from two to five inches, they look a lot like an Emerald Shiner.  The major difference being the spot on their tail, hence the name Spottail.  Walleye and many other species find these delicious, live or frozen.  Red Lake Walleye really like Spottail Shiners.  


Which is the best for Lake of the Woods Walleye?  We say the Emerald Shiner.  This minnow is the natural prey of choice here. Live or frozen.  With the water being as stained as it is here, using frozen shiners is sometimes more effective than using live.  So when planning your trip to Lake of the Woods, make sure Emerald shiners are on the list of bait to bring, frozen or live.



Why frozen?  

     Because of the stained water and the Walleyes' amazing ability to smell.

How do you hook them?  

     On a jig head; through the mouth, out the gill, and back into the meatiest portion of the minnow.  On a jiggin' spoon; in the mouth out the top of the head.  Sometimes only using heads and tails.

Do they get mushy?

     We have a freezing process that helps prevent them from becoming mushy, but they do need to be kept cold.  Refreezing can cause them to become soft, so only thaw what you plan on using for the day.

Can I use them on other lakes?


What's the deal with the label?

     Emerald shiners are susceptible to VHS* and need to be tested according to MN state law. All frozen shiner packaging must be labeled stating they are VHS free with dealer information.  This label must be kept with the minnows while fishing.


Have more questions?  Feel free to email them to:



     Viral hemorrhagic septicemia is a deadly infectious fish disease that causes hemorrhaging of their internal organs, skin, and muscles.  Leading to death.  Walleye are also susceptible to VHS, however NO cases of this disease have been found in Lake of the Woods, Rainy River, and Rainy Lake. 





1222 Main St. E

Baudette, MN  56623
Tel: 1-218-634-1019


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