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Jeff Gustafson - Livewell

Back on the road yet again

The past couple of weeks at home were a nice break for me. It’s a quiet time of year because we’re in between the ice-fishing and open-water seasons.

I’m back on the road this week for a lengthy trip, so I’ve been enjoying quite a bit of time at home getting as much housework and office work done as I can so that I don’t have to worry about it while I’m gone.

I managed to get most of our yard raked up, except for a few areas that still had snow cover.

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Most weeks, I write about my activities and adventures in the field or on the water. After all, I spend a lot of my time outdoors during all seasons; that’s just the way I roll.

But since I returned home late last week from my most recent bass tournament in Arkansas, I’ve been almost in a state of depression with this weather!

When you compare the temperatures to mid-winter, I understand it isn’t super cold. But for late April, it’s bad! Over the weekend, we had some wind and precipitation mixed in to really make it miserable outside.

Solid finish at Beaver Lake

The third of six FLW Tour bass tournaments took place this past weekend at Beaver Lake in northwest Arkansas.

After struggling at the first two events, I had a good practice for this one and ended up with a solid 45th-place finish, which netted me $10,000.

The goal in these FLW events is to finish in the top 50 because they pay big money down to that position.

One thing I’m learning about fishing down here is that these guys are animals. It’s amazing how so many of them find big fish and figure out how to catch them.

Preparing to take on Beaver Lake

After a couple days of travel over the past weekend, I made to Beaver Lake, Ark.—site of the next FLW tournament taking place later this week.

It is my first time fishing Beaver Lake, but my initial impression after a couple of days of practice is that I like it.

It is not known for big bass, but it is home to all three species—smallmouths, largemouths, and spotted bass. I’ve also caught walleyes, crappies, and white bass in Beaver this week.

Fishing fun in the Dominican Republic

Each week in my column I generally try to include tricks and tips for my readers to help them catch more fish, mostly focusing on the Sunset Country Region.

This week I am going to talk about the basics when fishing away from home, as I just returned from a week long trip to the Dominican Republic where I had an interesting last-minute fishing experience.

The reason for our trip to the Dominican was that my friends Scott Dingwall and Joanna Ripley got married down there last week.

Prime time for ice-fishing now

For those us who like to spend time fishing, the winter in our region is always long.

We have a lot of ambition for those first few trips of the season. Once we get into January and February, however, we go because we like to be out there—though most days we really don’t enjoy the cold temperatures, deep snow, and tougher fishing all that much.

As we get into March, there is renewed ambition because the weather usually is better, the days are longer, and the fish bite better than they have all winter.

Out practising on Smith Lake

My thought heading south to Alabama this past weekend was that the weather and temperatures would be a lot nicer than in Sunset Country.

Well, there isn’t any snow on the ground down here but the temperatures are not much warmer than they are back home.

It’s been about minus-four C in the mornings when we get up and gets only a little bit warmer during the day.

The good news is there’s a warming trend coming this week. I know, nobody has any sympathy for me at home but it’s cold to be fishing in a boat.

Fish are in mid-winter lull

Since I returned home from Florida a couple of weeks ago, I haven’t done nearly as much ice fishing as I’d planned to do.

I just couldn’t get all that motivated to head out in that nasty weather we had last week!

Over the weekend, though, I got out trout fishing on Whitefish Bay, near Sioux Narrows, and I’ve also been out a few evenings chasing walleyes.

Overall, the fishing was okay but not as good as it’s going to be in a few weeks once things start melting a little bit.

Research project underway on the Rainy River

This is probably my least favourite time of year across Sunset Country.

I love ice fishing, but right now conditions are not ideal. We have a bunch of snow and slush on our lakes, the weather has not been great, and it’s generally the slowest fishing of the whole winter.

The days are starting to get longer and soon the sun will start to kick out some heat and start beating down the snow a little bit. Once this happens, the fishing seems to pick up for all species.

Hopeful the bite heats up

If you’ve been following this column over the past couple of weeks, you know that I’ve been down in Florida preparing for the FLW Tour bass tournament I’m fishing this weekend at Lake Okeechobee.

Our official practice started Sunday after the lake was off-limits to tournament anglers for the past two weeks.

I was fortunate last year and had a great tournament, ending up with a 20th-place finish. I found one really good stretch of lily pads that gave up nearly all of the fish that weighed in.