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Jeff Gustafson - Livewell

Gift ideas for the hunter

Last week, I threw around some Christmas shopping ideas for anglers. So in this week's column, I'm going to do the same thing for hunters.

While hunting is not for everybody, it is part of the culture in Northwestern Ontario—and for good reason. We have more public land that anybody can hunt than most places.

Across southern Ontario and much of the U.S., by comparison, hunters that do not have private property to hunt may never be able to find a place to go.

Gift ideas for the angler

At this time of year, it is quite common for me to get messages from friends and their significant others as they begin their Christmas shopping campaign.

Usually I wait until a week or two before Christmas to write this column, but since I started getting a few of these messages last week, I figure I can throw some ideas around for everybody now since most people should be starting to think about finding gifts.

Fun with underwater cameras

As somebody who makes their living in the fishing business, I try to stay on top of all of the tools and gear that can help me put an extra fish or two in the boat.

In a tournament situation or on a guiding trip, one or two extra bites can make or break the day, so it pays for me to have the latest and greatest gear if it might help.

Time to adjust non-resident deer hunting regulations

Back in the early 2000s, Northwestern Ontario emerged as one of the top deer-hunting destinations in North America.

At the north end of the whitetail deer range, several favourable factors contributed to an explosion in the deer population. Multiple winters without major snow, low hunting pressure, and a surplus of quality forage created the perfect storm for whitetails.

Enjoy writing columns

It has been more than 10 years since the newspapers in both Kenora and Fort Frances gave me a shot at writing a weekly outdoors column.

Over all these years, it has been a great platform for me to share my passion for fishing and outdoor activities with our communities, as well as spread the word on all of the great fishing events that take place across Sunset Country.

It's hard to believe but that is more than 530 columns since I started in the summer of 2007.

Deer kicking into high gear for rut

The seasons changed literally overnight last week across Sunset Country when we got hit with a strong winter storm, which knocked out power for several days in some areas.

Heavy snow, combined with strong winds, knocked down thousands of trees—wreaking havoc on power lines, roads, and property.

For me, this storm pretty well signalled the end of the fishing season for me. I have a few friends who still are chasing muskies around and there is a good chance I'll get out on Lake of the Woods one last time to try and catch one.

Don't neglect to winterize your gear

While there still is some time to get out in the boat and catch a few fish, the open-water season is nearing its end here in Northwestern Ontario.

That means that after you're finished up with using your boat, you need to take care of it, the motor, the accessories on your boat, and your fishing tackle so that you're ready to hit the water again next spring when a new season begins.

If you are anything like me, the best idea is to bring your boat to a mechanic who knows what they are doing to take care of your motor before winter.

Sunset Country offers great fall fishing

Since the weather has been so nice across Sunset Country this week, it's only fitting that we take advantage of the excellent fall fishing we have here before things cool down.

That's not too far off, unfortunately.

Fall is a great time to go fishing because seasons are open for most species, the lakes are quiet, and the fish are biting. Except for lake trout, which closed after Sept. 30, seasons are open for all of the major sport fish in our lakes.

Perfect time for fall crappies

Aside from a few weeks in May and June when they show up in shallow water to spawn, crappies typically disappear in most waters across Sunset Country over the course of the summer.

That's a shame because they are fun to catch and great to eat.

Fortunately for anglers, they school up into large groups in the fall in deeper basins of the bays and lakes that they live in, where they will spend the winter.

Last weekend of bass fishing for me

The 2017 bass tournament season came to an end for me this past weekend at the annual Whitefish Bay Fall Classic, which took place on Lake of the Woods.

Some 31 teams signed up to fish for the $5,000 first-place prize.

Over the years, this event has seen some high-end weights and big fish brought in, including Brian McNanney and Matt Rydberg's 25-pound limit as well as Darren and Ray Marcine's 7.10-pound largemouth, both happening in 2010.

My regular partner for this tournament, Mike Reid, was not able to make it this year so I teamed up with Mike Richards.