Tag Archives: Mike Mladenik

Early Season Walleyes

By: Mike Mladenik


The entire Menominee Rivers offers excellent opportunities for walleye anglers. On the river there is a one fish bag limit until the first Saturday in May when the regular fishing season opens. Even with this one fish bag limit it is still worth your time spending a day on the river. March and April are prime time to catch big pre-spawn walleye and action with smaller males. If you need to take home a fish, you can take one home as long as it is over the 15-inch mark. Many anglers choose to fish in Marinette-Menominee where the Menominee Rivers enters the bay of Green Bay. While there is an excellent fishery present and big fish are caught on a daily basis, I prefer to fish the upper river. The lower Menominee River is an urban environment and while catching fish, you encounter noise, boat traffic and other congestion. Sure, you can choose to troll the big water out in the bay, but here to you don’t experience the Northwood’s or solitude, especially when you troll in a pack of boats.

I choose solitude. Sure you may catch less fish, but when fishing, enjoying your surroundings is more important than the number of fish you put in the boat. In early spring I choose to fish walleyes below one of the many dams on the upper river. As I mentioned earlier there are big fish present below these dams in the spring and few anglers take advantage of this fishery. Over the years I have caught my share of 8-10 pound walleyes.

Walleyes will start to move below the dams in late fall and early winter. By early March, water levels are low and current is minimal below most of the dams. With days becoming longer and warmer, fishing can be good by mid-March. Several years back, I managed to catch several nice walleye fishing from shore below a few of the dams even though the weather did not cooperate. I had to choose my days since we did have a few heavy snowfalls during this period.

It looked like I had things under control until the bottom dropped. We experienced a warming trend and temperatures approaching 70 degrees. The fish were biting and even getting ready to spawn. However, with the warm temperatures and frost still in the ground the snow melt had no place to run, but in the river and did the river rise. I have lived in this area for 25 years and have never seen the river this high. The feed back I received form others is that the river was probably at its highest point since the dams were built.

Shore fishing is overlooked by many anglers in the early spring. In fact, in the cold water of spring, a shore angler will often out fish the angler in a boat. Once the water levels began to rise, fishing from shore is the only safe way to fish. However, with the high water, I experienced conditions I never faced before. By adapting to these conditions I was able to catch fish and learn as well.

Keep in mind that the walleye had already come close to spawning and were in a positive mood prior to the high water. Once the water began to rise they did not head back to deep holes in the river, but instead moved tight to the shorelines avoiding the current in hoping to complete spawning. As the walleye moved to shallow water, they became fair game for the shore anglers. The bulk of the fish were stacked up in the first slack water areas downstream from the dams. These areas would have been impossible to fish let alone navigate to with the high water.

Although it was a good hike to where I located the walleyes minimal tackle was needed. My tackle box consisted of an assortment of jigs ranging in size for 1/8 ounce to 3/8 ounce, some Aberdeen hooks and split shot and a few three-inch twister tails. I did have to bring along a small minnow bucket and some fatheads and golden shiners. In the spring I rely on both types of minnows. As far as a rod goes when shore fishing I like a seven foot medium action rod to maximize my casting. My favorite is a Lamiglas XMG 50 EXS 703. I spool my reels with 8 pound Yo-Zuri Hybrid Ultra Soft.

Under a normal year, the best time to try shore angling for walleye is from early March through late April. Once walleye have completes spawning, they will move and you will fare much better by fishing from a boat. By mid April, almost all of my fishing on the river is from my boat but on occasion I will still cast a few jigs from shore.

Mike has been a Wisconsin Fishing guide for 25 years, authored several books, and has his own Television Show “Fishing with Northwood’s Guide Mike Mladenik”. Sponsors include Sylvan/Smokercraft Boats, Yamaha Outboards, Zieman Trailers, Lamiglas Rods and Peshtigo River Rentals. For more information go to his website www.bigsmallmouth.com

Early Season Smallmouth

By: Mike Mladenik I cannot wait to get on the water for the Catch and Release Season for smallmouth bass! While pre-spawn may be an excellent period to catch a trophy, it can also be a tough bite. Locating big females is easy; catching them seldom is! Anglers need to take many variables into consideration,Continue Reading

Plastics for Bass

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Pre-Spawn River Smallmouth

Mike Mladenik People will often ask me when the best time on the calendar to catch big pre-spawn smallmouth is. My answer is from ice out through the first six weeks of the season. While that may         not  be the answer they want to hear, it is impossible to put aContinue Reading

Small Lakes In June Offer Action And Variety

Mike Mladenik While small lakes may not offer big fish, they can be your best bet for a big catch. By June, many anglers begin concentrating on large reservoirs and natural lakes. Scattered throughout the upper Midwest are countless small lakes with limited fishing pressure. These smaller lakes can see increased usage by mid-summer, butContinue Reading

Spring Walleyes

Mike Mladenik To successfully catch spring river walleyes, anglers need to be aware of present conditions. Water temperature, prevailing weather, current, and water levels are all critical for both walleye location and presentations. Once you establish a pattern, don’t make the mistake of getting in a rut. Spring is known for changing conditions, and asContinue Reading

Fall River Smallmouth

Mike Mladenik Being a full time guide, I spend at least 170 days per year fishing open water. Through the years, I have spent more time pursuing smallmouth bass than any other species. Like most bronzeback anglers, I feel any day on the water is a good day, but it’s even better when I catchContinue Reading

Fall Crankbait Fishing

by Mike Mladenik Crankbaits will catch fish most of the season, but they can become very effective in fall. Crankbaits come in all shapes and sizes and they will catch all types of fish. Smallmouth bass prefer thin 2 to 4 inch crankbaits with an erratic action like a Shad Rap or a Rebel Crawfish.Continue Reading