Humble Beginnings

Our First Fishing School

      (20 years ago!) 

      Mark Martin & Shawn Schuld

We've Come A Long Way!

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Eagle River Sunset House on Lake Superior


Capt. Mark Martin is the 1990 Professional Walleye Trail WORLD CHAMPION.  Mark won the first PWT Tournament of Champions held at International Falls, Minnesota netting him $30,000.00 - the highest cash prize in history for a walleye tournament at that time. As a result, it has earned him the disctinction of being the ''Original Champ".


Today Mark works hard as a fishing promoter and travels extensively throughout the U.S. and Canada. He participates in tournaments, TV Shows, Outdoor Writer Events, Seminars, and teaching walleye wisdom - especially leading kids fishing clinics. He also has published various books and videos to help walleye affiiciendos get more 'eyes in the net.

In his home state of Michigan he’s been called “Mr. Walleye at Night”, averaging more than 600 walleye per season in the 6 to 12 pound range.  The key to Mark’s success is a history of walleye fishing developed over three generations of Martins.

Mark is constantly working on perfecting established techniques and developing new ways to catch walleye.  He also works at finding new and interesting spots to bring the media walleye fishing so as better to educate and inform the country’s walleye fishing public.

One of the most popular top Walleye competitors in the world, you can learn more about him at

Don Leuenberger - Pro Staff
I have been fishing with Mark Martin an awesome guy, for sixteen years. I also help him with the fishing school, that he has on the ice every year on Saginaw Bay.  It's a very good place for all these guys to learn more about the technique of walleye fishing. I've been fishing the Saginaw Bay for sixty years. The Mark Martin Inland ice fishing in Cadillac this past January 2012 was wonderful. I would like to thank all the writers that were there. I fished with some and just visited with others. While we were here in Cadillac we went to Mittchell Lake and caught crappies, perch, and walleye's.

Tim Long - Pro Staff -

My name is Tim Long, my wife Sarah and I own the Timbers Resort located on the North end of Lake Gogebic. I am a United States Coast Guard Licensed Captain, a member of the Nation Professional Anglers Association, Chairman of the Lake Gogebic Chapter of Walleyes For Tomorrow, V.P. of Lake Gogebic Area Chamber Of Commerce, and of the B.O.D. of the Lake Improvement Association.  I have fished many different Professional Walleye circuits, including The PWT, FLW Tour, FLW league, MWC, and various other venues. Mark and I have known each other for a number of years prior to my wife and I purchasing the resort. Mark and I competed against each other in some of those Tournament circuits mentioned above. I invited him to visit The Timbers Resort and go fishing on Lake Gogebic, and we had success catching Walleye, Jumbo Perch, and Northern Pike. At that time we came to the conclusion that it would be a great opportunity to bring his Ice Fishing Vacation School to the Upper Peninsula.

Jeff Sowa - Pro Staff

At present time I work as a electrical Lineman for the power companies for the past 30 years, but what I truly like to do is fish. I have been fishing in Michigan both open water & Ice for over 50 years. It doesn't matter what season or species mastering the methods & the electronics to find active fish is what I like to do & teach. That is why I have been on the Mark Martin's Ice Fishing Vacation Pro-Staff for well over a decade, working with students & outdoor media alike. Looking forward to helping everyone better understand their electronics & how fish react to different methods. 

Ernie Plant - Pro Staff -
Sporting Goods Buyer - Frank's Great Outdoors
My experiences gained while fishing walleye tournaments for over 15 years have taught me the importance of location and presentation and those same principles learned on soft water also apply to hard water.  I’ve been involved in the ice schools for 5 years now and every trip is a new and exciting adventure.  I have more fun sharing my knowledge and experiences to the students and helping them become a more successful ice angler. I’m fortunate to have grown up with Saginaw Bay in my back yard. Having a world class walleye fishery so close has allowed me the opportunity to try many old proven techniques as well as develop a few new ones as well.  I’ve found these same techniques can also be applied to the inland waters time and time again.

Eric Plant - Pro Staff 

MDNR Fish Technician

I've been fishing since I was 10 years old, and having been a Pro-Staffer for the Ice Fishing Vacation School the past 7 years. If ice fishing is new to you and you want to learn more about how to do it and be more successful, then I would highly recommend the Ice Fishing Vacataion School. The information shared and gathered from the professional walleye anglers and experienced pro staff, is second to none. The comraderie among the students, pro-staff and fellow professional anglers is unique, as we are all out to have fun, with the main goal of being safe. You'll walk away having learned many new techniques for one to use in the future on your next trip out that will hopefully put a few more fish on the ice. You'll learn how to properly use your GPS, graph, camera, learn various jigging techniques, where to locate fish, learn how to fish structure, how to rig your equipment properly and several other tips that will help you become a more successful angler. It's without a doubt the best ice school you will find!


Capt. Derek Boeger

"Walleye Thunder Guide service” -

I have been in the outdoors for many years, with a passion for fishing. I have been an tournament angler for many years, fishing most if not all pro level Walleye events. I have been guiding clients to personal bests for quite awhile. I have recently started guiding on the Great lakes, with Greenbay being my home waters.I love teaching people new tactics, and showing them in-sider trends and how to apply them.

Todd Sokolow - Pro Staff

                 I have been fishing for walleyes and anything that swims for most of my life. I started tournament fishing 5 years ago as a coangler for the PWT and AIM pro walleye series. Recently I have fished the MWC and the West Michigan Walleye Club contests the last few years.Thru these tournaments I have had the good fortune of fishing with  many of the top pros and guides in the country and in Michigan. Besides open water trolling and maybe the Detroit River jig bite,ice fishing is one of my favorite ways to catch walleyes.I really enjoy sharing and showing things I have learned out on the water or on the ice.Also being able to work with the students and staff at Mark's ice schools is something I look forward to every winter.

Randy Ritchie - Pro Staff -

Randy has joined Mark Martin's Fishing Vacation School this year to share the latest tactics and equipment on the vast water's of lake Gogebic . After many years of fishing the nation's top Walleye circuits and studying under many  Pro's like Mark Martin, Randy is able to share the knowledge he has learned with student's in the picturesque U.P. A chapter chairman with Walleyes For Tomorrow for many years and lover of the great outdoors he will share techniques for mobility and searching for Walleyes using the latest in Marcum electronics.


Capt. Steve Becker – Prostaff – WalleyeTech Guide Service

(920) 562 – 2045

I am a USCG licensed Captain and guide on Green Bay.  My success in fishing the vast waters of Green Bay can be attributed to taking an analytical approach to finding and catching fish. Maintaining a detailed fishing log, developing fishing patterns and utilizing the latest electronics are fundamental to my method. I regularly participate in local tournaments in addition to pre-fishing with Pro’s participating in the MWC, NWT and AIM tournaments held on Green Bay.  I look forward to being able to pass on this knowledge.

Capt. Kyle Buck -

Having been raised fishing the lakes and rivers of Western Michigan, Kyle Buck turned his passion into a full fledged career in 2001 when he launched Great Lakes Guide Service based in his home town of Muskegon, MI.
Great Lakes Guide Service is a full time, year round guide service offering fishing charters on Lake Michigan, inland lake charters, as well as guided river and ice fishing.Today, a licensed US Coast Guard Licensed Master Captain, Kyle runs over 250 trips a year on the lakes and rivers while operating one of the largest guide services in West Michigan. When not on the water Kyle spends time writing outdoor related articles and conducting seminars at speaking engagements across the Mid West. Kyle can also be heard talking weekly fishing reports on 107 FM WMUS in Muskegon.Buck's visibility echoes bright. Even at a young age, Buck has made his way into the local newspapers, Woods N' Water News, Fish & Game Finder Magazine, Midwest Outdoors, Great Lakes Steelhead News and also has been featured on many outdoor programs.

Nick Schertz - Pro Staff -

Nick Schertz was born and raised in Oshkosh, WI. He grew up fishing the Lake Winnebago system with his friends and family, many of which fished in local tournaments. Fishing was a year round addiction right from the start, including many hours on the ice chasing walleye and panfish. Nick’s passion for fishing and the outdoors led him to pursue a degree in Water Resources at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.  While living in Stevens Point, WI, Nick spent much of his free time on the Wisconsin River and its many reservoirs. He graduated from UWSP in 1997 with majors in Water Chemistry and Aquatic Toxicology, along with minors in Biology and Chemistry. Nick married his wife Robyn in 2003 and now has three children, Benjamin-8, Alexandra-6, and Abigail-3.  Nick began competing in tour level walleye events in 2009.  He has been successful in this venture and consistently scores in the top 10 in Angler of the Year standings.



Joe Giuliani - Pro Staff -

I have been a guide in the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario area for 25 years.  I am a Pro Walleye Fisherman that fishes the PWT, NOWT, MWC, and AIM circuits.  I was named Co-Captain of Team Canada for the 2012 AIM Bay Mills Can/Am Walleye Tournament.  I have over 40 years of ice fishing experience and will bring you new techniques on how to catch walleye and perch.  I gained most of my experience on the frozen bays of the St. Mary's River and surrounding lakes.  I have won many ice fishing derbies over the years and I look forward to the opportunity to share my knowledge with you at Mark Martin's Fishing Vacation School.  See you soon!


  Joni Martin - Pro Staff     

       Credentials: Married to and fishing partner of Mark Martin.          



Dale Hays - Pro Staff -

Born in Clearwater, FL, Dale started fishing as an 8 year old with his dad. After moving to Michigan he got hooked on Bluegill and Bass fishing . With 20 years of Bass tournament fishing under his belt, Dale has had some big name sponsors over the years, Champion Boats, Lund, and Matteson Marine where he met Mark Martin. He is now retired from Flowserve Corp. and owns All Sports Sun Ware, where he sells Bomber Floating Eyeware & Dry Hands Minnow Buckets. He runs a guide service for smallmouth fishing in Northern Michigan and also works for D&R Sports Center in Kalamazoo. Dale enjoys working with young people to get them hooked on fishing like his dad did for him when he was a kid. 


Ted Lee - Pro Staff

Mark Martin and I have known each other for forty plus years. I have pre fished in several walleye tournaments as a co-angler with Mark. We have fished several different lakes from Minnesota to Michigan. Every year I always look forward to the Ice Fishing Schools. I’ve been participating in the Ice Fishing Schools for eight years now as a pro staffer, and I’m still learning from Mark.  It’s always an adventure and a huge learning experience. Several of the tactics we use I use on the open waters of the St. Mary’s river system in the Upper Peninsula. From Rigging, to jigging, to fishing structure, these are tactics Mark teaches. Operating electronics properly is also something Mark focuses on. I believe that these tactics will help everyone to become a better fisherman. I look forward to the camaraderie between the students and the pro-staff as we are there to have fun, with the main goal of being safe.


Kurt Kossuth - Pro Staff - 

Mark and I have been friends since elementary school.  We grew up together fishing the lakes and rivers of West Michigan every chance we got. I have great memories of wading rivers for trout in the summer and ice fishing for every type of fish imaginable in the winter. I look forward to participating in Mark’s Outdoor Writer Event each October in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula where we catch walleye, smallmouth bass, pike, splake, and lake trout.  I enjoy fishing for all species of fish but find catching walleye to be especially rewarding as they can present more of a challenge, so all the more fun to master!  I look forward to being on the staff of Mark’s Ice Fishing Vacation School.


Larry Smith - Pro Staff -

I am a USCG licensed Captain and I guide on the Keweenaw waters.  Whether it be open water, ice fishing or salt water fishing I enjoy sharing my 50+ years of fishing experience with others, including children of all ages.  I'll teach techniques and promote products that are the best in the industry and will help to increase your catch.

Barry 'Bear' Drews - Pro Staff - or 906-842-3361.

Fishing, hunting and the outdoors has always been my life. Owner of Bear`s Nine Pines Resort on the southwest shore of Lake Gogebic is a perfect fit. I have fished Lake Gogebic for 30 years now and began guiding professionally about 10 years ago. I get a lot of satisfaction from teaching, guiding, and simply helping others in both the woods and on the water. What can I say? I love my job! Over the years being involved in this way of life has introduced me to many great people of the sport. Mark Martin has increased this family of outdoors friends over the years with his continued passion for the sport. From anglers to media personnel connecting in the outdoors we can all learn from each other!


Norm Thorkilson - Pro Staff - Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Canada

Home waters: Algoma district and world renowned St.Mary's River

is a Fishing Guide and charter in Sault area and also guides whitetail hunts along the shores of Lake of the Woods. He has been a tournament angler for 20+ years and took the pro plunge in 2010. Currently on tour in the Northern Ontario Walleye Trail Masters Walleye Circut and A.J.M. His wife Mandy and kids, Taylor & Hunter are his support staff. He won his first tournament at the age of 6 and he has had 'the illness' ever since, thanks to his mom & dad!


Captain Pat Bentley - Pro Staff - Great Escapes Charter Services - 


I have fished for as long as I can remember for anything that swims. I started working as a mate salmon fishing on Lake Michigan in 1991. In 1998 I received my captain's license. I have salmon tournament fished all over Lake Michigan and was on several winning teams. In 2003, I started Great Escapes Charter Services specializing in 2 person charters for salmon/trout and walleyes. I have only known Mark Martin a short time, but in that time I have become a much better angler. I attended one of his ice fishing vacation schools and what I learned there increased my catch tremendously. If you are interested in becoming a better angler, Mark's schools are a sure fire way to do that. It doesn't matter how seasoned of a fisherman you are. Mark and his pro staff will make sure you come away from the school a much better angler. I look forward to seeing you at the next fishing vacation school!

Theron Hoffman - 734-286-4200. 

My name is Theron Hoffman. I’m 31 years old and from downriver Michigan. Mark Martin has been one of my biggest influences within my fishing career. I’ve been fortunate enough to guide him on the Detroit River for his tournaments. In exchange, he has allowed me to be a guest speaker at fishing seminars. This will also be my first year Pro staffing for Mark's Ice Fishing Vacation school. I’ve been an avid angler for 15 years now. I have fished for the vast variety of species in Michigan’s Great Lakes, but Walleye is my forté. Fishing is a tradition in my family. My father taught me most of everything I know. I was blessed with a son this past year.  I’m beyond excited to be able to pass the tradition down to him. Plus, I won’t have to clean another fish again in my life. Fishing started off as a hobby for me and quickly turned into my pleasure. Yes, you read that right, my pleasure. Fishing is my pleasure—teaching and giving guidance is my passion. I'm looking forward to exchanging tips and ideas from my fellow Pro staffers and seeing what kind of tricks the clients have up their sleeves.


Brandon Stanton - Pro Staff - - (989)963-0215

My name is Brandon Stanton and I have been fishing the Great Lakes for over 30 years. Growing up ten minutes away from Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron, I could be found fishing more often than not. I am a licensed USCG captain and owner of Team Gunsmoke Sportfishing and Guide Service. I open water charter on Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and Saginaw Bay for silver fish, perch, and walleye. I also guide and charter ice fishing on Saginaw Bay for walleye. Four years ago I created my own local walleye tournament to encourage camaraderie among local fisherman. It has since  grown from sixteen boats to over forty boats, and the payouts and sponsor prizes rival the local tournament trail. I am a past board member and current vice president of the Thumb Chapter of the Michigan Steelheaders. I am a firm believer that educating people how to maintain and improve our lakes is just as important as teaching them to fish.

Casey Miller - Owner of Miller's Corner Bait Shop -

Casey met Mark three years ago when he visited Casey's bait shop, Miller's Corner in Lake City, MI. Ever since their first encounter, they have managed to keep in communication with one another.  They exchanged their mutual love for the sport and shared stories from back when they were young boys.  An instant friendship landed Casey a spot on Mark's Pro Staff for the first time on Lake Mitchell in Cadillac, MI.  He has grown up hunting & fishing his whole life, and is excited to have an opportunity to show others his techniques.

Dan Zatarga - Bear Lake, Manistee Co. -
Born and raised in Manistee during the time of the first DNR plants of salmon in Michigan my interest in fishing deepened. Having always been an avid outdoorsman fishing has been on the top of my list.
  I spent 30 years in the education field and traveled many places, most times on or near water, and I look forward to sharing my experiences with the students attending Mark's Ice Fishing Vacation School. 


Stewart Hamel - Pro Staff

My name is Stewart Hamel. I have been fishing my whole life, on open water and on ice, in Northern Michigan. I met Mark Martin two years ago in Lake City, MI, when he was in town to teach a fishing class. I volunteered to help as a local guide and anywhere else I was needed. That was when I realized how little I knew about fishing. Learning from fellow Pro Staff and Mark helped me with my techniques. I've fished with them on Missaukee and Houghton Lake. I really enjoy helping his Pro Staff out, and want to be part of the team.

Mike Russell - Pro Staff -

Like most of you I have been fishing both open and hard water since I was a youngster. I am from Lake City but currently reside in Ludington.  This is my second year on Mark Martins Pro Staff.  Not only is it a great place to teach this great sport but it is also a great place to learn from the diverse group of anglers with experience adding up to hundreds of years. As the dynamics of fishing change this is a great tool to help ice more fish! 

Eric Locke - Pro Staff

I have lived in Muskegon, Michigan all my life, my dad (Dan Locke) had a lot to do with my success as a fisherman and a hunter. He got me started at a young age and we have enjoyed many years of pursuing this together. I enjoy fishing walleyes, steelheads, salmon and pan fish. I have to admit, jigging for walleyes on The Detroit River and ice-fishing are my favorite past times. Besides fishing, I bow hunt whitetail deer in Nebraska, Michigan, and Elk in Montana. I am usually up for anything, love the outdoors, and LOVE THE RED WINGS!!! What a great opportunity it is to work with Mark Martin and be part of his ice-fishing schools as a pro-staffer. Not only do I get to share my successes and experiences with all the students but I also get to learn new techniques and success from the other pro-staffers and students as well. 

Todd Spink - Pro Staff -

My name is Todd Spink; I have a wife Shelly and two boys Sam and Joe. I professionally fish most of the pro walleye circuits, NWT, AIM, MWC, MWT tournament trails and team up with Mark Martin on the NWT circuit. I participate in the ice fishing schools with Mark also. My wife and I own Spink Insulation, and I am a member of National Professional Angles Association, Down River Walleye and Saginaw Walleye Club. I call Saginaw Bay my home waters, owning a place on Sand Point in Pigeon, Michigan. My fishing passion is locating fish, and I put a lot of faith in my electronics. I have also given seminars on the use of fish finders. You must find the fish to be able to catch them. Between my electronics and the fish education I’ve learned over the years, I can help teach you. The Mark Martin Ice Fishing Vacation School is a great deal for you; where else can you fish with a Hall of Fame fisherman and his staff for that many days at that cost!

Ralph Pike - Pro Staff - 231-821-2439
I have been fishing all my life throughout Michigan. Both open water and ice for over 60 years. I have been fishing with Mark for 35 + years. I really like teaching students and outdoor writers the art of successful open water and Ice fishing techniques. That is why I have been on Mark Martins Fishing Vacation School pro-staff for well over a decade. I hope I will be able to teach you at one of the ice fishing vacation schools soon!

Bill Westerbrink - Pro Staff

I am excited to be helping with the Ice Fishing Vacation School.  I have been in the Family residential home building business for 46 years. I also spent 11 years as a Black bear hunting guide in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. I was lucky enough growing up to have a father with the patients to outlast any finicky fish and we spent no less than 2 days a week fishing somewhere in West Michigan.  We fished everywhere from the Rogue river in Rockford, the piers in Whitehall and Montague, the Muskegon river, Manistee, and St. Joe.  I’ve fished everything from Jigging for Chinook salmon to spinners for Coho,  Whitefish and Lake trout in the Grand Traverse Bay’s to Bobbing for Lake trout in lake Superior.


Matt Westerbrink - Pro Staff
After knowing Mark for more than a decade it will be a pleasure to help out during the Ice Fishing Vacation School. I have 20 years experience in the family construction business as well as 12 years as a Black Bear hunting guide In Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula.  My love for fishing has brought me to building custom fishing rods and my newest venture.  I am pursuing a need to help others enjoy what Michigan has to offer by guiding river fishing trips along with running the family construction business and filling custom fishing rod orders.


Chris Reinhold - Pro Staff - (231) 730-2296 
Hi fellow fishing enthusiasts! My name is Chris Reinhold. I live in Muskegon, MI and I am excited to be a part of Mark Martins ice fishing school and Pro Staff to share my knowledge, experiences, and to grow in the teaching of walleye wisdom! I was blessed to have a father (Raymond Reinhold) that shared his love of the outdoors with me. I have dedicated a LARGE portion of my life to fishing. If I'm not fishing, you will find me hunting, or talking about anything related to the outdoors. I am a proud U.S. Army Veteran, a dedicated Christian, on Pro staff with White River Tackle Co. I have over 35 years of hard and soft water experience, 20 of those years have been tournament angling, and honored to have been on the 2002 National Team of the Year for the World Walleye Association. 


Steve Berry - Pro Staff - 616-788-5499 -
Steve Berry is a retired walleye guide and charter boat captain. He has been fishing since he could hold a fishing pole at age two. Steve currently Pro Staff’s for several companies including, Clam Outdoors, Vexilar ,Fish Bones Custom Lures, Jaw Jacker and Church Tackle. Steve also is the first Michigan DNR Pro Staffer and does several seminars across the state every year. His passion is passing on his knowledge gained from over 50 years of outdoor pursuits.

Mitch Johnson - Pro Staff

My name is Mitch Johnson and I am thrilled to be a part of Mark Martin’s fishing school. I am the owner of Johnson’s Great Outdoors in Montague, MI and have worked in the sporting goods industry for over 30 years. My father, Gary Johnson, instilled in me a love of fishing when I was young and I’ve been angling ever since. I enjoy fishing for walleyes and have fished the Michigan Walleye Tour, Master Walleye Circuit, FLW league tournaments and the Northern Michigan Walleye Club tournaments. I love to share my knowledge of this awesome sport and especially enjoy teaching people what baits and equipment pair well with different locations and conditions. In my spare time I am usually found fishing, hunting and hanging out with my wife and 3 young boys.


Jeff Kissel - Pro Staff

My name is Jeff Kissel and I am a life long resident of Muskegon, MI where I work as a electrical contractor. My grandpa taught me to fish at a young age and that has grown into a life long passion. Whether it's on the water or through the ice, from kings and browns to walleye and perch, if it swims I enjoy trying to catch it. When I am not fishing I can be found on the golf course, in the woods hunting or watching hockey (Go Wings!!!).


Scott Jones - Pro Staff

Scott Jones, having grown up in Michigan, has been fishing for as long as he can remember. It wasn’t until his late 20’s that he truly discovered Walleye fishing, and wow, did it change his life. In his quest to boat/ice more Walleye, he met Mark Martin. Mark has been an absolute open book of knowledge and unfettered friendship. Through Mark’s ice fishing vacation school, open water skills academy, and seminars, Scott has learned more from Mark and his pro staff in 4 years than he would have in 20 years on his own. It is with great pride and humility that Scott has been invited by Mark and his staff to be a part of this team of incredible fisherman. Scott loves to teach, share knowledge and hopes to further the sport of fishing.