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Jeff Gustafson - Livewell

Rainy River bite is heating up

If there is one place in Northwestern Ontario that I wished I spent more time fishing when I was younger, it certainly has to be the Rainy River in early April.

Every spring, thousands of walleyes from Lake of the Woods make a run up the 137-km river in pursuit of their annual spawning ritual—providing one of the best fishing opportunities in North America when it happens.

A week to remember

Last week was one that I’ll remember for a long time down at Lake Hartwell in South Carolina.

The second event of the 2016 FLW Tour took place last weekend on the 60,000 acre reservoir and things went my way en route to 4th place finish, my best yet in one of these pro bass tournaments.

In my column last week I mentioned that I was happy with my three-day practice because I had several options for catching fish. I had several shallow areas located where largemouth bass were preparing to spawn and I had a few deeper areas that were holding large schools of spotted bass.

Checking in from South Carolina

The March thaw is one of my favourite times of the year around home.

The late-season ice fishing is great because we catch some of the biggest walleye, pike, and lake trout of the year (while the ice is still safe, of course) and it’s simply a nice time of year to be outside.

While I’m missing some of the hot ice-fishing bite going on back home, the good news is I’m fishing out of my boat this week down at Lake Hartwell in South Carolina getting ready for the second FLW Tour bass tournament of the year.

Rattle baits on ice

Over the past several years, the explosion of the winter walleye fishery on Lake Winnipeg has led to the development of new techniques for catching these big, aggressive fish.

At the forefront of this “revolution” is using lipless rattle baits for catching walleye under the ice.

While Lake Winnipeg certainly can’t compare to our lakes here in Sunset Country when it comes to all of the scenic beauty we have, it does have a mega population of large “greenback” walleye.

Boat show weekend one of my favourites

As a youngster, one of my favourite weekends of the entire winter was when my parents would take me to Winnipeg for the annual Mid-Canada Boat Show, which has taken place over the first weekend in March for years.

I used to save up as much money as I could to spend on fishing tackle at the show, where I could find some good deals on the newest rods, reels, and lures.

Five ways to eat local fish

Throughout the open-water fishing season, I like to catch whatever fish wants to bite although but my focus is on bass fishing more than anything else.

I live for competing in tournaments and spend a lot of my time chasing bass around—looking for new spots and different ways to catch fish that might help me one day in a tournament.

On the ice, it’s all about catching fish to eat for many of us, with exceptions for trophy pike, lake trout, and walleye that always should be released.

Off to good start

The first event of the 2016 FLW Tour took place last week down in Clewiston, Fla. on Lake Okeechobee.

Some 170 anglers are fishing the Tour this year, which features six events across the U.S. and wraps up in June at Lake Champlain in Vermont.

Last week, I wrote about the tough pre-fishing I had over my first couple days on Okeechobee (we get three days to practice for these events, followed by a day off before the tournament starts).

Resort stages great ice derby

For ice anglers from Sioux Narrows and surrounding areas, the last weekend in January has grown into a tradition with the annual Crystal Harbour Ice Derby on Regina Bay.

Once a two-day event that was started in the early 1990s, it has evolved into a one-day competition where anglers can fish wherever they want on Regina Bay and try to bring in the largest fish they can to the scales (alive, of course).

After the day of fishing, Crystal Harbour Resort in Sioux Narrows puts on a great steak dinner and there is always a good party after that somewhere in town.

A long drive to Florida

This week, my column is coming from down in Florida as I prepare for my first FLW Tour bass tournament of the season next week at Lake Okeechobee.

Lest anybody feel any jealousy that I’m down south, I can’t write that it is warm and sunny here right now.

The ride down was a workout, too, as we narrowly beat the worst winter storm of the year that hammered much of the U.S. Fortunately, warmer weather is on its way—and hopefully some better fishing!

Plenty of chores to stay busy indoors

After a mild start to the winter, we finally got a taste of what some real Canadian winter weather feels like over the past week or so.

When wind chills dip the temperature below minus-30 C, outdoor activities really star to lose their fun.

We have issues with everything freezing, our equipment breaks with much more frequency, and the cold wind on our face or hands gets very uncomfortable.

Over the past week, I had some friends visiting from the U.S. to wolf hunt so I got to experience first-hand all of these things.