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Jeff Gustafson - Livewell

In home stretch

When the FLW Tour fishing season started back in early February down at Lake Okeechobee in Florida, I couldn’t count down the days fast enough until it was time to hit the road.

Getting a break from winter was welcomed, and the opportunity to put the boat in the water and go bass fishing after a three-month break was pretty nice.

With five of the six tournaments on the season now in the books, the end is in sight—and I’m looking forward to it. Getting to fish for a living, specifically fishing bass tournaments, long has been a dream of mine.

Still in running for top angler

The fifth stop on the Walmart FLW Tour took place this past weekend at Kentucky Lake, which straddles the Kentucky-Tennessee boundary.

Hot weather and tough fishing were the two things I dealt with during this tournament.

After what I considered the best practice I had all year for one of these tournaments, I ended up having a tough event. But the final result wound up being pretty good.

My limit of 15.09 pounds on Day 1 landed me in 39th place—not exactly what I was hoping to catch but it could have been worse.

Getting ready at Kentucky Lake

The final swing of the 2016 FLW Tour is coming up over the next few weeks, so it’s back on the road for me.

The fifth stop takes place this week at Kentucky Lake on the Tennessee-Kentucky border, one of the larger bodies of water in the U.S. and one of the best bass fisheries in the country.

Then after Kentucky, we have a week off before the final event of the season at Lake Champlain in New York.

I left home this past weekend and will be logging some serious miles in my truck over the next few weeks!

Where are the walleye?

Now a couple of weeks into the 2016 open-water walleye season, conditions are changing and walleye are on the move towards where they’ll spend much of the summer.

Walleye are the most sought-after fish species across Sunset Country, evident by the fact thousands of anglers visit our region each year to take advantage of the best walleye fishing in the world that we have right outside our door.

Many local anglers target walleye, as well, because they are plentiful and they are the best-eating fish we have in our lakes.

Crappies move shallow in spring

Across much of Sunset Country, we are fortunate that black crappies have established themselves in many of our watersheds.

While they are not native to our region, it is believed they likely were incidentally dropped into some of our lakes while they were being stocked with smallmouth bass nearly a century ago.

Over time, illegal stocking by individuals likely lead to crappies being introduced to even more bodies of water and today we are where we are, with some of the best crappie fisheries on the planet.

High winds at Sturgeon Bay

The 25th-annual Sturgeon Bay Open bass tournament took place over the weekend at Sturgeon Bay, Wis.—on Lake Michigan.

Some 171 teams participated in the event this year, which is a large community-run tournament much like the KBI and FFCBC that we have here in Sunset Country.

Although the ice went out early this year, lingering cold weather kept the water temperatures cooler than normal, so the fishing this year was different than most. I have fished this event almost every year since 2006 and it has become a regular on the schedule for me if I can make it.

Angler of the Year race is heating up

The fourth FLW Tour derby of the season took place this past weekend at Pickwick Lake in Alabama and while it was some of the toughest fishing I have ever experienced, things ended up going pretty good for me en route to a 33rd place finish in the 165-angler field.

Over the course of the three practice days, fishing from dark to dark, I only was able to find a few spots where I thought I might be able to catch some fish.

On the second day, I didn’t even catch a keeper so my confidence was not exactly through the roof heading into the tournament.

Tournament week in Alabama

Back in 2014, things went my way the first time I fished a tournament on Pickwick Lake in Alabama.

On Day 1 of the tournament that year, I was fortunate to catch my first 10-pound-plus bass, as well as four other solid fish, to round out a 25-pound, five-fish limit—one of the biggest I have ever caught in tournament competition and, by far, my biggest fishing at the pro level.

It was enough to lead the tournament after the first day.

Keeping it rolling on Beaver Lake

The third stop of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour took place over the weekend at Beaver Lake, Ark. and everything went pretty good in my boat en route to an 11th-place finish.

In what has been, far and away, my best season in four years of fishing this competitive bass-fishing circuit, things were rolling my way once again last week.

My Dad and my good buddy, Jamie Bruce, travelled down to Rogers, Ark. to compete in this event on the co-angler side and it was a lot of fun having them around all week.

They did not fare as well in the tournament but they had fun.

Back on FLW Tour down at Beaver Lake

While it was nice to be home for a couple of weeks, I’m back on the road again this week getting ready for the third FLW Tour stop of the season at Beaver Lake in northwest Arkansas.

Beaver Lake has become a staple on the FLW Tour over the years—hosting a tournament in all but one year of the circuit’s 20-year history. Rogers, Ark., the host city for the event, also is home of the Walmart headquarters, which is the tour’s title sponsor.