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Most area anglers know that Madison’s Lake Mendota is a very good lake for fishing thanks to its size (greater than 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- to 8-inch walleyes in each of 2014 and 2015 in this metro lake with depth and structure.

The state of Wisconsin started stocking 60,000 large fingerlings and the number 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 in the next few years.

Some of you know that I had a tough fall in 2017 and 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 through 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 until recently.

One of my best friends, Tony Puccio, is still guiding and going to fishing tournaments and invited me to go fishing on a recent Thursday on Lake Mendota.

I do fishing videos for Lindner Productions' television show, the Angling Buzz, which can be seen on Fox Sports 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. I met Puccio at Marshall Park on the Middleton side of Lake Mendota where we met my videographer, Daniel Robinson, who’s also works for the Department of Natural Resources.

The day was nice with some clouds and an easterly wind that can hinder fishing at times, but not that day. 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 before I arrived.

The three of us headed out into the windy Lake Mendota and, arriving after a short ride, got the anchor to hold Puccio's 21-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 and where he had found some large schools of walleyes and smallmouth.

The equipment and gear we used were medium-light 7-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, jumbo leeches and pieces of nightcrawlers. Puccio and I casted out around the weeds and rocks in 15 feet of water. We rarely could use more than 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. The smallmouths were bigger -- about 13 to 16 inches. I did catch some nice legal fish about 18½ 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.

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.

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Contact Gary Engberg, a freelance outdoors writer from Mazomanie, at, 608-795-4208 or visit him at