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Jeff Gustafson - Livewell

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.

Plan a dream fishing trip

When most of us think about going on a fishing trip, it usually means stepping out the door, driving to the boat ramp down the road, and heading out for the day.

Right across Northwestern Ontario, we are blessed with some many great bodies of water that offer some of the best fishing in the world.

It is for this reason that people travel from all over Canada and the U.S. to visit our area for their dream fishing trips. Across the region, we have hundreds of outfits that offer accommodations on a variety of waters.

Spoon-feeding walleye works great

When I was a youngster, I had quite an appetite for absorbing as much fishing information as I could.

My Grandpa used to have subscriptions to a few different fishing magazines, so I always was excited about trips over to his place in case he might have a new issue or two.

One of the techniques I read about from the U.S. magazines was using jigging spoons for walleyes when ice-fishing.

Growing up in Northwestern Ontario, the only technique I had ever seen anybody use for ice-fishing for walleye was putting a minnow on a jig and letting it down to the bottom.

An update on ice conditions

Over the past few days when I looked at my social media pages, I couldn't help but notice all the fish pictures that my friends have been taking on the ice-all across Sunset Country and in neighbouring areas.

While I haven't been fishing on the ice yet, I'm going to start getting out over the holidays.

Even though I haven't been fishing, I spent a few days last week moose hunting up around Red Lake, and my friends and I travelled across several lakes to get to some of the areas that we hunted.

High school fishing coming to our area

Some good news broke last week in Fort Frances when high school teacher Jason Cain announced he is moving forward with starting a high school fishing team.

South of the border, high school and college competitive bass fishing has emerged as an extremely popular extra-curricular activity, so it makes sense to bring it north of the border, as well.