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Jeff Gustafson - Livewell

Preparing to do battle on Lake Tohopekaliga

After several months of planning and preparation, the bass tournament season is set to kick off for me this week on Lake Tohopekaliga down in central Florida.

The first FLW Tour event of the year starts tomorrow (March 5) and based on the predictions of some anglers, the records could be in jeopardy as giant female largemouth bass move up to spawn.

The all-time professional tournament one-day catch record was set at Toho by Dean Rojas in a Bassmaster event back in 1999, when he brought a five-fish, 45.09-pound limit to the scales.

‘Snowpocalypse’ made for rough trip

For a guy from Kenora getting to travel around the southern U.S. to fish bass tournaments on the FLW Tour, I truly can say I’m getting to live one of my dreams.

Last week, I left home for Florida to get ready for my first tournament of the season at Lake Toho, just south of Orlando, which takes place the first week of March.

Over the past three years that I’ve been travelling across the U.S. to fish these tournaments, I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve not had to travel through too much bad weather, nor have I experienced any mechanical breakdowns with my equipment.

Back on the road again

After several months off from fishing out of a boat, I’m back on the road this week—heading to Florida to get ready for the 2015 FLW Tour season which starts the first week of March at Lake Tohopekaglia.

After the Arctic blast that hit us across Sunset Country over the past weekend, the opportunity to head south could not have come at a better time.

As has become a tradition over the past few years, the first event of the FLW Tour season is taking place in Florida.

Learning to trap hard work

Growing up around Lake of the Woods, I’ve been fortunate to experience nearly all of the outdoor activities available to us around Sunset Country over the years.

I’ve spent many hours fishing, hunting, looking for shed deer and moose antlers, hiking, and camping.

But one activity that I haven’t been exposed to is trapping, which has a long history in our area. In fact, many of the communities across our region originated because of the prosperous fur trade industry centuries ago.

Trout derby a good time

Despite some cold weather, 68 anglers showed up for the 23rd-annual Crystal Harbour Resort Lake Trout Derby on Saturday in Sioux Narrows.

I wrote about this one-day, catch-and-release event in my column last week and figured I would share the results with everybody this week.

A group of eight of us went down from Kenora and stayed at Crawford’s Camp on Friday and Saturday nights. We were up late both nights, and had fun socializing and playing dice games.

Somebody brought fireworks and there were a few drinks to be had. A great weekend at a cabin on the lake!

Trout derby slated

Over the past three years, I’ve been fortunate to be down in Florida in late January getting ready for the FLW Tour season to start up.

For the past few years, my first tournament of the year has taken place the first week of February.

It’s been great to get to fish in the boat in February in Florida, but I’ve missed out on what was a tradition since high school with my buddies in Sioux Narrows: participating in the annual lake trout derby on Regina Bay.

Putting perch on the ice

Growing up in Kenora and on Lake of the Woods, it was ingrained in me at a young age that you don’t keep perch.

I think many of you reading this could say the same thing—that you would not get caught dead with a perch in your livewell or bucket.

In my experiences, there are several reasons for this. First off, we have great walleye fishing (they are bigger than perch and generally are thought of with more regard).

Gadgets big help for ice fishing

As a young kid who had an extreme interest in fishing, I was very lucky to have parents who were able to give me the opportunity to go fishing as often as I could.

I also was fortunate that we lived just one block away from Gord Pyzer, who was at the time—and continues to be—one of the most well-known anglers in Canada. He always has been on the leading edge of new products in the fishing industry.

Frigid weather causes woes

After rolling through December with some nice, mild weather, we have been welcomed into the New Year with some real Canadian winter temperatures.

It’s been so cold over the past few days that I’ve been getting flashbacks to the “polar vortex” we experienced last year.

Fortunately, the long-range forecast is looking decent, with some average temperatures coming down the pipe. I can live with that.

Gearing up for trout opener

Since I was a little kid, there always has been one day that I look forward to fishing more than any other in the winter and that is Jan. 1—and most ice anglers probably would say the same thing.

This is the annual opening day for lake trout season, which will remain open until Sept. 30 across Sunset Country.