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Jeff Gustafson - Livewell

Why not catch your own bait?

If do much fishing in Northwestern Ontario, you probably like to catch walleye because they are very plentiful across the region and they are great to eat.

And if you fish for walleye, you probably use live bait because minnows, nightcrawlers, and leeches are proven fish-catchers.

While it's convenient to hit the local bait shop to get live bait for your fishing trip, if you have some time this summer, catching your own bait actually is pretty easy.

Disappointment at Lake Cumberland

The fourth stop of the 2017 FLW Tour took place this past weekend at Lake Cumberland, Ky. and I now find myself in a little bit of a slump after these last couple of events.

After cashing a cheque in nine-straight tournaments, my 72nd-place finish gives me a pair of middle-of-the-pack results (in the 70s) in the past two events.

While they aren't terrible bombs, I don't consider it a very good tournament if I don't make some money so I'm disappointed, for sure.

Gearing for next stop on FLW Tour

After a couple of weeks at home, and some quality time on the ice, I'm back in the boat this week down south at Lake Cumberland.

Located in Kentucky, Cumberland is the ninth-largest lake in the United States but it has not held very many high-level bass tournaments. So for many of us fishing there this week, we don't know a whole lot about it.

What I did learn before I got here earlier this week was that Cumberland has populations of smallmouth, largemouth, and spotted bass, which is nice because it gives us options on what species we want to fish for.

Packing up ice gear

It's been really nice to be home for the past couple of weeks after spending much of February and March down in the southern U.S. fishing in bass tournaments.

I've spent nearly every nice day that we've had on the ice chasing walleye, pike, lake trout, and crappies—basically getting in my ice-fishing fix.

In the past couple of columns, I've mentioned how much I love this late March timeframe for ice-fishing for the nicer weather, the longer days, and generally because the fishing is a lot better now than it is earlier in the winter.

Late-season ice action hot

At this point in the winter, it's always exciting for those of us who live in Northwestern Ontario to think about another great summer that's just around the corner.

I'm certainly looking forward to the summer. But if you're like me and you enjoy ice-fishing, the latter part of March is one of my favourite times of the year because the longer days and warmer weather make it so pleasurable to be outside—and the fishing is as good as it is all winter for virtually every species.

I've caught some of my biggest walleye, lake trout, crappie, and pike all during this timeframe!

Tough time in Florida

The third stop of the seven-event FLW Tour took place this past weekend at the Harris Chain of Lakes down in Florida—and it wasn't the tournament I was hoping for.

My results in Florida over the past six years that I've been fishing these pro tournaments have not been great. While I love fishing down there in the nice weather, and the shot at big fish, I seem to be missing something.

I've had a couple of good tournaments and a few really bad ones. Last week was one of those bad ones as I ended up with a 77th place finish in the 165-angler field.

Getting ready in Florida

The third stop on the 2017 FLW Tour takes place this week at the Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida.

Located in central Florida, this chain of more than a dozen lakes is well-known for big bass, although it does not have the numbers of fish that Lake Okeechobee has—another Florida fishery the FLW Tour has visited several times since I have been fishing these tournaments since 2012.

Ice-fishing in Sunset Country

After a month of travelling the southern U.S. to fish for bass out of a boat, it was nice to spend the last week at home and get some ice-fishing in.

While we're still not in that late-season timeframe when the days are long and the fish seem to bite as well as they do all winter, the weather over the past week has been pretty decent so it was good to be out there.

While I wish the fishing report was a little better, the fishing was not as good as I expected the few times I got out over the past week. My feeling was that the weather made things a little bit tough.

Good week for me in Texas

The second FLW Tour stop of the season took place last weekend at Lake Travis in Texas.

After a decent three-day practice period, where I had the help of my brother, Ben, I was able to grind out a pretty solid 13th place finish on a lake that was fishing tough.

Early on in the practice period, I committed to fishing deep water, which was something I felt comfortable doing.

And it was evident during the practice that much of my competition was focused on beating the bank and fishing shallow, so I liked that I would have most of my spots to myself.

Getting tuned up at Lake Travis

After a week of fun fishing in Texas between the first two stops on the 2017 FLW Tour, it was back to the grind for me at Lake Travis in south-central Texas before the second tournament of the season starts later this week.

The FLW Tour has strict rules regarding who we are allowed to pre-fish with during the three-day official practice before the tournament starts. We only are allowed to be in the boat with co-anglers who are registered in the event or immediate family members.