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Jeff Gustafson - Livewell

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.

Geared up to take on Lake Okeechobee

Bass anglers across North America will have their eyes on South Florida this week as the 2018 FLW Tour season gets underway at Lake Okeechobee starting tomorrow (Jan. 25).

This is going to be my fifth time fishing a tournament at the “Big O” since 2012. I have had two good finishes and two triple-digit bombs, so my results are quite wild in my visits here.

Plenty of planning to prep for FLW Tour

With all of the cold weather that we've had over the past few weeks, I don't think I could have picked a better week to get out of Northwestern Ontario and head south to Florida to get the 2018 FLW Tour started.

My good friend from Kenora, Jamie Bruce, jumped in with me this weekend to help with the big drive.

He is going to spend a few days fishing with me and then fly home at the end of the week while my tournament seasons starts next week at Lake Okeechobee in south Florida.

Using tip-ups for ice-fishing trips

Recently, I wrote a story about using tip-ups for ice fishing for one of the Sunset Country Travel Association's websites.

It was a story aimed at anglers visiting to our region and how they should consider bringing along a few tip-ups on their ice-fishing trips.

Tip-ups basically are an evolution of the popular “willow stick” that has been used as a way for ice anglers to hang a jig near the bottom. When a fish bit the jig, the stick would fold over, indicating a bite.