Walleye Tournaments​ and  Fishing  Articles  

July 23, 2011  by Brett Carlson
OCONTO, Wis. - Steve Paulsen is no stranger to either Green Bay or tournament walleye fishing. He's competed in several national team events and years ago fished the Wisconsin Division of the FLW Walleye League. But up until this week, he'd never fished a National Guard FLW Walleye Tour event. Fast forward three days and the Peshtigo, Wis., native is the talk of town after a $55,000 win.

Paulsen, who operates the Walleye Madness Guide service, entered the third qualifier of the year with one location in mind. That spot, located 25 miles northeast of Oconto, is a proven producer in mid-to-late summer. But with this year's cold spring Paulsen was worried he would miss his window of opportunity. 


Pro Stephen Paulsen holds up his trophy for winning the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour event on Green Bay.

Despite not catching a single fish there in practice, he turned his boat north at the last second Thursday morning. A half hour later he reached a series of six mid-lake rock humps located in a 1/4-mile area. The humps come up to
12 feet of water and slope off into 25 feet.
"I had been fishing with a mess of boats for almost two weeks down in Geano's and I knew I didn't want to fight with that group anymore," he said. "Usually they really start biting there this time of year."

Paulsen characterized the spot as wind-driven. For the fish to bite, there had to be a chop of two feet or better. The rougher the water got, the stronger the bite got. 
On day one, Paulsen sacked a 27-pound, 10-ounce limit and finished tied for 10th. On day two he caught a mammoth 32-pound, 5-ounce stringer to catapult into first place. Then he slammed the door shut Saturday with a 32-pound, 6-ounce limit, the heaviest creel of the entire tournament.

To catch his fish, Paulsen trolled spinners with night crawlers at speeds of 1.2 to 1.3 mph. The pro winner used 1-ounce snap weights and his best blade colors were greens and golds. While his presentation was fairly standard, his spot was the difference maker. "The fish would come up and then back off those humps. That's when I'd get bit. It wasn't fast and furious fishing, but the average size was much better than down south. And the best part about it was not seeing a single boat all week. The bite up north is just getting started and should only get better as time goes on." 

Paulsen boxed a 4-pounder early this morning. His big fish, a 9-pounder, bit at 9 a.m. on his third pass. The next two fish were in the 6- to 7-pound class. At 1 p.m. he played it safe and boxed another 4-pounder. And a half hour later he caught another 7-pounder to finish his day and take an easy ride back to Oconto. 

"This is a thrill; it's a dream come true. That trophy is going to look good on the mantle."

For a three-day total weight of 92 pounds, 5 ounces, Paulsen earned $55,000. His margin of victory was nearly 12 pounds. 

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Peshtigo, Wi 54157

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Fishing the Midwest with Bob Jensen and Captain Steve Paulsen

Our group and Bob was fishing out of Oconto County with Steve Paulsen. Steve runs a guide service on the Bay and does an outstanding job of putting folks on fish. Check him out at walleyemadnessfishing.com

Wisconsin allows three lines per angler, which means you can experiment with lots of different variables. We started off pulling spinner/crawler rigs behind planer boards. The boards enabled us to spread our lines and effectively try different colors and running depths. On Green Bay, the active walleyes are usually off the bottom. We caught most of them about 10 feet down over 14 to 18 feet of water. We found Mr. Walleye Crawler Harnesses spinners in the firetiger color to be very productive.

Captain Steve is very knowledable fishing a variety of ways. Later in the day, we switched to No. 7 Flicker Shad crankbaits. This was when the wind was blowing a bit harder and the bite was improving. We started out with six different bait colors. The first several walleyes came on black/gold Flicker Shads so we switched a couple more lines to that color. As the bite improved, color became less of a factor.
What helped us to fish more efficiently was the tattle flag on our planer boards. We're seeing more small walleyes on Green Bay, which is a good thing. However, small walleyes can be difficult to detect on planer boards. The Tattle Flag revealed every small walleye that bit. Without them we might have pulled small fish around, which decreases the opportunity to catch bigger ones.
The Bay of Green Bay is one of the most diverse fisheries around. There are many, many trophy walleyes and smallmouth bass, and there's probably a world-record musky swimming around in there also. Perch and big catfish are other common catches. If you want to get in on some outstanding fishing, consider a visit to Oconto County on the shores of the Bay of Green Bay. But wherever you chase walleyes, give spinners and crankbaits behind planer boards a try.

Green Bay Isn't Just Football

by TJ Maglio, OutdoorChannel.com

There are folks who probably don't know the "Bay" in "Green Bay" actually refers to a 1,626-square mile basin off Lake Michigan's western edge, which provides championship level walleye fishing.

Lake Michigan's top spring walleye destination

PESHTIGO, Wis. -- Many folks outside the Upper Midwest probably wouldn't even know that Green Bay exists if it weren't for the Packers, one of the NFL's most storied franchises.

In fact, there are folks who probably don't know the "Bay" in "Green Bay" actually refers to a 1,626-square mile basin off Lake Michigan's western edge. Although "Titletown" is so named because of the football teams on-field accolades, the name could also work for the bay, which provides championship level walleye fishing.
Because Green Bay is relatively shallow (less than 50 feet deep) compared to the rest of Lake Michigan, it has ideal habitat for warm water species like walleye, musky, and smallmouth bass. The bay also has an abundance of offshore structure, which combined with a healthy baitfish population makes the walleyes grow not only quickly, but to some pretty staggering proportions.
A trip with Capt. Steve Paulsen, owner of Walleye Madness guide service and one of the best walleye fishermen on the water, serves to highlight the magnificent spring walleye fishing in Green Bay.

The Walleye Run
Each spring, in response to nature's urges, Green Bay's walleyes head to the numerous rivers that dump into the bay for their annual spawn This creates not only one of the best times to get a feel for the unbelievable number of walleyes in the bay, but also one of the best times to hook the walleye of a lifetime.
There are a number of rivers that feature a phenomenal walleye run, most notably the Fox River in the city of Green Bay, the Suamico, the Oconto, the Peshtigo and the Menominee. Paulsen likes to focus on the Peshtigo, Oconto, and Menominee rivers in the spring because they don't receive fishing pressure like the Fox does being in a populous area.

"I know there are a ton of huge walleyes being caught in the Fox, but I think the other rivers can be just as good," Paulsen said. "And you're not gonna be playing bumper boats the whole time you're on the water."
According to Paulsen, the walleyes actually stage for their spring run in the late fall, moving to reefs and structure near the mouths of rivers to feed and wait for the increasing water temps and flows of spring to trigger their spawn.

"We actually start seeing fish show up near the mouths of the rivers in November, and guys will catch them around the same areas through the ice all winter," he said.
Once the water temps in the rivers start getting consistently into the 40s, you'll see fish start moving into them to spawn. Not coincidently, you'll also see anglers show up to target them.

Options Galore
Paulsen has been fishing Green Bay's spring walleye run for many years, and explains that there are three predominant patterns for catching them once the spawn starts.
"Guys usually fish them one of three ways; jigging, casting rippin raps, plastics, stickbaits, or trolling the mouths of the rivers, and any of them can be absolutely dynamite if you hit the bite correctly," he said.
Since the bay is often still ice covered when the fish begin to move in, the first fish are usually caught casting stickbaits or jigging in the river. However, once fish get finished spawning, the trolling action heats up as fish move back out into the bay and feed to recover.
Paulsen cautions that although the fishing in the river can be unbelievable, it pays to be conservation minded when catching spawning fish.
"At times you have a tendency to foul-hook fish while in the river," he said. "There are just so many fish and they are up so shallow, so that's why I like to get them once they're done."

The Catch
Due to a late spring, this year's walleye run came on in a hurry, and we hit the run slightly after its peak. By the time we got there, the majority of the fish were post spawn, and aside from a couple hours spent jigging the Menominee, we had our best success trolling stickbaits for post spawn fish at the mouths of several tributaries.
Paulsen actually prefers to troll for fish coming back out of the river because you can get some of the best action that way. "Once those fish come back out into the lake, they really need to feed to recover from the spawn," he said. "If you get around the right areas you can really knock their lights out."
And knock their lights out we did, as over two days we caught countless fish, with an unbelievable average size of more than 25 inches long. Paulsen trolled over rocky structures in 10-25 feet of water located within a mile or so of the river mouth.
One of the things Paulsen recommends anglers target at the mouth of the river is the plume of stained water that each river produces.
"The fish will typically be located somewhere in that stained water," he said, "because it is usually a couple degrees warmer, attracts baitfish and their eyes make them more effective predators."

The Gear
He generally runs six lines while trolling and employs Church tackle TX-22 planer boards to get his lures out to each side.
While trolling, Paulsen tried an assortment of stickbaits and crankbaits each day to dial the bite in. The majority bit Storm Thundersticks, Berkley Flicker Shads, Vibrations Tackle Echotails, and Reef Runner Ripsticks.
Paulsen's boat is also an integral part of the trolling experience, as like any of the Great Lakes, Green Bay can get pretty nasty at times.
"As a full time guide, my clients need to know that they're fishing out of the best and safest boat out there, which is why I run a Ranger 621 powered by a 250hp Mercury ProXS," he said.

The Area
The walleye run in Green Bay typically begins in early April and is over by the end of the month, with the southern-most rivers picking up fish before the northern rivers. There are an abundance of great lodging options located in towns like Marinette, Peshtigo, Oconto, Suamico, and of course, Green Bay.
There is also great food and attractions in the Green Bay area, chief among them being Lambeau Field and the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, a destination that even non-Packer NFL fans should make a point to visit. As great as the area is, it's the walleye fishing that should be the star of your trip as the fishing is great all season long.
Capt. Steve Paulsen operates Walleye Madness guide service starting in early April, and can be reached at www.walleyemadnessfishing.com.   

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