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Stories from the River

Lake Mendota is Hot

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Most area anglers know that Madison’s Lake Mendota is a very good lake for fishing with it size (over 10,000 acres). abundant structure, good weed lines and weeds, a very good forage base, deep water, rock piles, inlets and outlets, and a plentiful population of walleyes, large and smallmouth bass, northern pike, channel catfish, and all kinds of panfish. The walleye population in Lake Mendota is growing rapidly with the release of almost 100,000 6-8 inch walleyes in both 2014 and 2015 in this metro lake with depth and structure.

The state of Wisconsin is spending $1.8 on improving the infrastructure and $1.3 million a year for improving the many fish hatcheries. The state started stocking 60,000 large fingerlings and this expanded to 500,000 walleyes by 2016. The larger walleye survive much better and with good reproduction in the northern half of the state most of the larger stocking has gone into the southern Wisconsin lakes. This is why there will be a boom in the southern half of the state in the next few years.

Some of you know that I’ve had a tough fall in 2017 and the medical problems have continued into 2018. I had a stomach blockage that kept me in Sauk Hospital and UW Hospital for seven weeks with no solid food, just fed thru an IV. I then picked up two bacterial infections, more cancer in my stomach and shoulder, and now spine problems. Months in the area’s hospitals, have kept me from fishing till recently.

One of my best friends, Tony Puccio, is still guiding and fishing tournaments and invited me to go fishing last Thursday with him on Lake Mendota. I do fishing videos for Lindner Productions television show, the Angling Buzz, which can be seen on Fox Sports Television on weekends. We wanted to see how well the larger fingerlings have been doing in Lake Mendota which may get another large stocking this year too. I met Tony at Marshall Park on the Middleton side of Lake Mendota where we met my videographer, Daniel Robinson, who’s also works for the DNR.

The day was nice with some clouds and an easterly wind that can hinder fishing at times, but not today. We fished out from the Commodore Condos inside the Second Point area in 15 feet of water around a weed bed and also some nearby rock piles. Puccio had been out checking some locations to fish before I arrived.

The three of us headed out into the windy Lake Mendota and after arriving after a short ride got the anchor to hold Tony’s twenty one foot Tuffy walleye boat powered by a 250 horsepower Mercury outboard.  Puccio has the best Lowrance electronics and GPS so it was easy to find the fishing locations that we wanted and where Tony had found some large schools of walleyes and smallmouth.

The equipment and gear we used were medium light seven foot G. Loomis rods, Daiwa and Shimano reels spooled with 6 pound Fireline to a 4 foot section of fluorocarbon line, a slip bobber, and a 1/8 to 1/16th ounce Slo-Poke jig. We used live bait today, jumbo leeches and pieces of nightcrawlers. Tony and I casted out around the weeds and rocks in 15 feet of water.  We rarely could use more that one rod because the action was fast and furious. The size limit for both walleyes and smallmouth is 18 inches. Most of the walleyes were 13 to 17 inches. We did have some legal fish too. The smallmouths were bigger about 13 to 16 inches. I did catch some nice legal fish about 18 ½ inches. Though many of the walleyes were too short to keep, it was still a blast! We also saw how well the Wisconsin Initiative was doing.

I said earlier that the State and DNR had the released almost 100,000 walleyes 8 to 10 inches were stocked in Lake Mendota on two separate occasions. We caught both stocked fish and some smaller fish that may have come from natural reproduction.

The future is going to be super when the walleyes grow a little more and the smallmouth will also keep expanding their numbers The coming years should provide quality fishing for years to come. .

            Cutlines; Guide Ron Barefield with a Lake Mendota smallmouth which are exploding in numbers like the walleyes. The smallmouth are all from natural reproduction.

             Dana Ray of Mt. Horeb, Wi. with a stocked walleye from 2014.

             Ray with some legal (18 inches) walleyes from the 2014 stocking.

             Greg Horoky of Colechester, Ontario with some Walleye Imitative fish from Lake Winnebago.

             Author Gary Engberg with a Lake Mendota walleye from last fall.



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