LINWOOD, MI -- The Saginaw Bay is one of the best walleye fisheries in North America, according to pro fisherman Mark Martin.
And that's why he keeps coming back.
Martin held his 25th annual Ice Fishing Vacation School on the bay off Linwood Beach Marina. It began with an off-ice seminar Sunday, Feb. 8 and included 30 hours of ice fishing and 10 more of discussion beginning Monday, Feb. 9 and running until the afternoon of Wednesday, Feb. 11.
"The water is so much clearer and there are so many more fish in the bay," Martin said. "The water is up; there's more food in the bay. They're coming in earlier this year."
The class consisted of 14 anglers from across the state and a pro staff of nine fishermen to provide one-on-one instruction on how to set up equipment, where to go and how to safely traverse the ice.
"The fishing is so good here and it's easy to teach people about fishing and safety," he said. "And the community really welcomes all of us with open arms.
"With the clearer water, I think these fish are becoming more vision oriented so you have to prove your (lure) presentation 5-to-6 feet off the bottom. They can see it from a distance and come in to investigation.
Students received a tackle package with the basics, but they also received decades of knowledge on how to call in fish and get them to bite.
"You pound the bottom," said pro staff member Brandon Stanton of Bad Axe. "Sometimes you have to downsize your bait and rod, even your minnow to have a better change as landing a bite."
Martin and his staff have been coming to the Saginaw Bay for 13 years with the school, and at 25 years is the longest standing school of its kind in the country.
"Conditions are always different," Martin said. "But people have a reasonable chance to catch fish here."