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Jeff Gustafson - Livewell

Crappie time is the fall

While fishing in bass tournaments keeps me busy throughout much of the year, I truly love to catch whatever wants to bite and I always have an appreciation for big fish of any species.

The good thing about fall is the bass tournaments eventually finish up, opening up a bunch of time to target other species.

It’s a great time of year to catch just about everything that swims in our lakes as fish bulk up before the long winter.

A great grouse weekend

As a kid, I was very lucky that my dad introduced me to hunting at a young age because since I was old enough to get my hunting licence, this activity always has been something I look forward to each fall.

Those early memories are all about hunting grouse on the dirt roads and old logging trails around the Kenora area.

He used to take my brother and sister and I, along with any of our neighborhood friends who wanted to come along. He taught us to follow the laws and that gun safety always was the most important thing.

Stewners win at Whitefish Bay

In what has become a bit of a tradition with these fall bass tournaments, the husband-and-wife team of Ted and Louise Stewner won yet another one this past weekend at the Whitefish Bay Fall Classic on Lake of the Woods.

Now in its eighth year, the Stewners already have won this tournament once—to go along with multiple fall tournament wins on Rainy Lake, Shoal Lake, and other Lake of the Woods tournaments over the years.

Area fishing tourney report

Three fishing tournaments took place over the weekend on Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake, keeping competitive anglers across Sunset Country happy before the long winter ahead.

Down on Rainy Lake, LaBelle’s Birch Point Camp put on a one-day, three-fish bass tournament on Saturday. The International Falls father-and-son team of Van and Jason Pavleck took first place with a total of 12.74 pounds.

Those are three big smallmouth bass!

Jason also won the tournament last year with partner Bill Senter.

Go catch a trout

While the fishing season for most species remains open through the fall and winter seasons, anglers who enjoy catching lake trout only have about a week left in the season before it closes from Oct. 1-Jan. 1.

Lake trout spawn in the fall, in the coming weeks, on shallow, wind-swept rocks that are clean of algae and sediment.

After spending the summer in deep water, the cooling temperatures allow lake trout to move throughout the water column. They spawn in relatively shallow water compared to where they spend the rest of the year.

Weights better at ‘Bassin’ for Bucks’

The 19-annual “Bassin’ For Bucks” tournament took place over the weekend in Sioux Narrows.

Started way back in 1996 by local bass anglers Chris Bell and Mel Geisbrecht, this event has stood the test of time and is sold-out with a full field of 120 boats year after year.

Early on, two of the greatest women I’ve ever met took over running the tournament and they continue to do a great job today. Barb Salvador and Debbie Ducharme, with the help of a great team of volunteers, make this one of the most popular events in the region.

Hunting season right around the corner

After the great weather we’ve had over the past week here in Sunset Country, it’s tough to even begin thinking about the upcoming hunting season.

However, we all know that a change in the weather is coming soon and before long, some of us will be hanging up the fishing gear and hunting season will be in full swing.

Across Sunset Country, those of us who enjoy hunting are quite fortunate because of all the great opportunities we have just outside our door—from birds to big game. Although things could be better for deer and moose, they could be worse, too.

Father-son team claim crown

The 11th-annual International Falls Bass Championship took place this past weekend and it was the father-son team of Travis and Jace Peterson who bested the full 60-team field after two days of fishing on the Rainy River and the U.S. side of Rainy Lake.

Since the second year of this event, it always has had a full 60-team field.

The popularity of this event is due to the excellent community support the tournament receives locally from International Falls and the unique format that puts anglers on two different bodies of water over the two days.

Walleye fishing hot across region

After chasing bass for much of the summer, it was nice to change things up over the past week and spend some time fishing for some of the other species we have available to us across Sunset Country.

Without any bass tournaments on the schedule, I was able to fit in a few guide trips and spent some time fishing for walleye and lake trout on Lake of the Woods.

River fishing offers fun challenge

When most folks think of all the great fisheries that we have here in Northwestern Ontario, it’s the big lakes that usually come to mind first.

Lake of the Woods, Rainy Lake, and Lac Seul all are great bodies of water with a variety of great fishing opportunities.

Of course, there are countless others.

But there also are some great rivers across our region that offer excellent fishing options for most of the species that we like to fish for here (except maybe lake trout, which need deep, cool water only found in lakes to survive our warm summers).