Pro Stephen Paulsen holds up his trophy for winning the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour event on Green Bay. (Photo by Brett Carlson)

OCONTO, Wis. – Steve Paulsen is no stranger to either Green Bay or tournament walleye fishing. He’s competed in several national team events and years ago fished the Wisconsin Division of the FLW Walleye League. But up until this week, he’d never fished a National Guard FLW Walleye Tour event. Fast forward three days and the Peshtigo, Wis., native is the talk of town after a $55,000 win.
Paulsen, who operates the Walleye Madness Guide service, entered the third qualifier of the year with one location in mind. That spot, located 25 miles northeast of Oconto, is a proven producer in mid-to-late summer. But with this year’s cold spring Paulsen was worried he would miss his window of opportunity.
Despite not catching a single fish there in practice, he turned his boat north at the last second Thursday morning. A half hour later he reached a series of six mid-lake rock humps located in a 1/4-mile area. The humps come up to 12 feet of water and slope off into 25 feet.
“I had been fishing with a mess of boats for almost two weeks down in Geano’s and I knew I didn’t want to fight with that group anymore,” he said. “Usually they really start biting there this time of year.”
Paulsen characterized the spot as wind-driven. For the fish to bite, there had to be a chop of two feet or better. The rougher the water got, the stronger the bite got.
On day one, Paulsen sacked a 27-pound, 10-ounce limit and finished tied for 10th. On day two he caught a mammoth 32-pound, 5-ounce stringer to catapult into first place. Then he slammed the door shot Saturday with a 32-pound, 6-ounce limit, the heaviest creel of the entire tournament.
To catch his fish, Paulsen trolled Tommy Harris spinners with night crawlers at speeds of 1.2 to 1.3 mph. The pro winner used 1-ounce snap weights and his best blade colors were greens and golds. While his presentation was fairly standard, his spot was the difference maker.
“The fish would come up and then back off those humps. That’s when I’d get bit. It wasn’t fast and furious fishing, but the average size was much better than down south. And the best part about it was not seeing a single boat all week. The bite up north is just getting started and should only get better as time goes on.”
Paulsen boxed a 4-pounder early this morning. His big fish, a 9-pounder, bit at 9 a.m. on his third pass. The next two fish were in the 6- to 7-pound class. At 1 p.m. he played it safe and boxed another 4-pounder. And a half hour later he caught another 7-pounder to finish his day and take an easy ride back to Oconto.
“This is a thrill; it’s a dream come true. That trophy is going to look good on the mantle.”
For a three-day total weight of 92 pounds, 5 ounces, Paulsen earned $55,000. His margin of victory was nearly 12 pounds
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    2006 Oshkosh, Wi.      1st Place
    2008 Green Bay, Wi.   2nd Place
    2010 Oshkosh, Wi.      3rd Place
    2012 Oshkosh, Wi.      4th Place

    Oconto Flw 2011 day two 32.5 pounds

    2011 FLW Oconto Final Weigh In

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