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Jeff Gustafson - Livewell

Small victory at Lake Cumberland

After a very tough three-day practice last week prior to the Lake Cumberland FLW Tour bass tournament down in Kentucky, my expectations were not that great heading into the event.

However, I was confident I would be able to put something together in the tournament and find a way to have a good finish if I just put my head down and worked hard.

Unfortunately, on the first day of the tournament last Thursday, things went about as bad as they could have gone and I ended up with a small five-fish limit weighing 6.12 pounds, landing me in 156th place in the 180-boat field.

Tough days of practice

My column is coming in late this week because I just finished up the three-day practice for the Lake Cumberland FLW Tour event this week in Kentucky.

It probably has been the toughest practice I've had since I started fishing these tournaments back in 2012, and the dark-to-dark fishing had me physically and mentally exhausted this week.

So I forgot to get my column done when I normally do.

Will winter ever come to an end this year?

As I lifted a walleye out of my hole in the ice over the weekend, I decided that would be it for me for the day.

It was my fourth “keeper” fish of the morning, making my limit, so I had accomplished what I had set out to do—catch a few fish for dinner.

A couple of friends had called earlier in the morning about going out fishing, so I said I would go (although to be honest, the four feet of ice we still have and the freezing temperatures kind of had me feeling like staying in the house might be a better idea).

Fisheries conference a learning experience

Growing up, fishing has always been the activity that I have been most interested in since I was six or seven years old.

I was fortunate that my family had a camp out on Lake of the Woods, in Echo Bay, on the west end of the lake.

The camp was in close proximity to Shoal Lake and the Clytie Bay Landing at the north end of Shoal Lake was only a five minute drive down the road so in addition to getting to fish on Lake of the Woods, I was introduced to Shoal Lake and the excellent fishing out there at a young age.

Prime time for ice-fishing

Since I returned home to Canada last week after a few weeks of bass fishing in the southern U.S., I wasted little time before getting on the Sunset Country ice to catch some fish.

Before I left on this last trip, I had booked several guide trips for ice-fishing over the last couple weeks of March, so I've been fishing almost every day, catching walleye, pike, lake trout, crappie, and perch.

Loved fishing Lake Lanier

Fishing is a pretty humbling sport. One day you can do no wrong, catching fish is easy. But the next day, everything can change, leaving you wondering if there are any fish in the lake.

This challenge is part of the appeal to fishing, I think. If it always was easy, it probably would not be as much fun.

After a great 2016 season fishing the FLW Tour bass tournament circuit, last year was a real grind. I piled up the mediocre finishes and did not accumulate very much in the winnings department, which is my main source of income through the winter and spring months.

Moving north for next stop

After a great week in Florida, I made the trek to the Atlanta, Ga. area last week to get ready for FLW Tour stop #3 this week at Lake Lanier.

My tournament last week in Florida was special because it was my best finish in one of these pro events and it worked out really well that my girlfriend, Shelby, was there for that tournament.

We were able to enjoy the great Florida weather for a couple of days after the tournament before heading north. Shelby since has flown back home from Atlanta but it was really nice having some help for the drive!

Off-the-wall baits work for ice-fishing

When it comes to choosing your lure or presentation for ice-fishing, there certainly are some proven options for most species of fish.

The traditional jig and minnow for walleye, the white tube for lake trout, and a small spoon for whitefish, for instance.

But experimenting with lures, and finding new ways to catch fish, adds to the excitement fishing for many of us—that challenge of figuring out how to trick a fish into biting your lure is a rush.

When it's cold out, fish inside

After a couple of weeks in Florida, all this cold weather over the past week since I returned home has been kind of rough of me!

As someone who loves to go fishing, anywhere, anytime, even I'll admit that the thought of heading out in windy, minus-25 degree weather is not that appealing.

Fortunately for ice anglers, we can fish out of a variety of shelters to protect us from the elements on winter's worst days.

Tough weekend on Okeechobee

The 2018 FLW Tour season kicked off this past weekend on Lake Okeechobee in south Florida. The full field of 187 anglers fished the first two days before it was cut to the top 30 on Day 3 and then the top 10 for Day 4.

Over the course of the three-day practice last week, the fishing was okay for numbers of bass but I struggled to find the big fish that Okeechobee is famous for.

In the last two hours of practice, I stumbled into an area and caught several nice fish, including one over six pounds, so I was very excited for the tournament to start.