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Mark Martin Brings the Walleye World to Northern Michigan with Ice Fishing Vacation School

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“What do you wanna be Mark when you grow up? I wanna be a fisherman dad.”
For Mark Martin, the love for fishing started early.
He’s a professional fisherman of 42 years and has been part of, and now runs, an .
“It’s a . So for some people it’s a vacation, they getting away, some people it’s an adventure. It really started 32 years ago in Lake Winnibigoshish in Minnesota,” says Martin.
Made up of 25 students and 14 professional instructors.
“We’ve taught a lot of people how to do things safely, how to catch more fish, how to use what they have…And when they leave, they’re experts.”
The ice fishing school offers a four day experience where people can sign up to three different locations — Houghton Lake, Mullet Lake, and Saginaw Bay.
Mark tells us, “There’s guys here that’s been back four times.”
“It’s a gathering of good friends on the pro part. And you get to see everybody’s view on how to catch fish. All of us fish basically the same, just minor differences in how we catch fish,” says professional instructor Ralph Pike.
We got the chance to come out to Mullet Lake in Cheboygan.
Starting the day off at 5 a.m., Mark and his crew don’t waste any time.
Out on the ice between 6 and 7 a.m. – they put up their shanties and start drilling their holes.
Even teaching me — a first timer — how it’s done.
Spending the morning on the lake, Chris Reinhold, one of Mark’s pro-staff, shows me how to set up a tip up outside of a shanty.
Reinhold says, “It’s a perfect tool if you want to sit in the shanty, you can have this tip up sitting up here.”
“We catch walleyes, northern pike, there’s musky in here, sturgeon in here, there’s burbot in here, bass in here, tullibee cisco‘s here, there’s perch on here, brown trout, rainbow trout, suckers,” says Martin.
Making my way around the lake,
I stop and check in with a few students on how they’re doing.
Noticing that they’ve been successful — already, within the first few hours.
Instructor and student, Ken Sherlock & Nate Witkowski, tell us, “We had a lot of fish coming in and looking, but this is the first one that but anything. We actually got to watch it on camera, come up to the minnow, look at it, grab the line, just gave it a little tug, and just swallowed it.”
Even running into a fellow female student…
I asked student, Patty, “‘I think you’re the only female in this group.’ I am. ‘What’s it like being the only female?'”
She says, “We had to introduce ourself and I told all the men, even though I’m a woman, I have as much passion for fishing as everyone else in this room…women can do this too, it isn’t just for men.”
And as the students of all ages learn throughout the day, they become hooked on this sport.
As for Mark, it’s really all about the progress.
Martin says, “I see them progress after the school. They’re showing us pictures and sending them to our email and our facebook, are calling us and saying hey your school brought me way out of the gutter and put me up with the guys I was always envious of. That brings joy to my heart, that’s what really keeps Mark Martin going, is people telling me stories that I’m actually making a difference in their life.”
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