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Jeff Gustafson - Livewell

Finally ice-fishing

After our first good cold snap of the winter a couple weeks ago, lakes across Northwestern Ontario finally are frozen after an unseasonably warm fall.

For those of us who enjoy ice-fishing, a new season is now upon us.

Ice conditions early in the season can be tougher to predict because the ice simply hasn’t had a lot of time to form. But it is typically good, strong ice since it has not been through any melting stages yet.

It is recommended there should be at least four inches of ice for walking, eight inches for a snowmobile, and 14 inches for a truck.

Love late-season moose hunting

In what has become a tradition over the past decade for me and my friends, we took our annual late-season moose hunting trip up north last week for the last few days of the 2016 Ontario rifle season.

We like the late-season hunting because we can use snowmobiles to get around and access remote areas while the cold weather gets the moose up on their feet and moving around a little more than earlier in the fall.

What’s new in ice-fishing gear

Ice-fishing really has evolved over the past couple of decades when you consider that we’ve gone from sitting on a bucket using tree branches for strike indicators to having insulated portable shelters, power augers, and high-end graphite rods.

The annual St. Paul Ice Show took place this past weekend and it is the place to see all of the new stuff that becomes available to anglers each season.

It’s a show I’ve attended nearly every year since 2005 and one I always look forward to checking out.

Walleye fishery on Shoal Lake should re-open

Over the past weekend, I was invited out to Shoal Lake #39 to participate in its second-annual fisheries conference.

Headed by band councillor Karen Kejick, there’s a push being made by Shoal Lake #39 to open the walleye fishery on Shoal Lake for both sport-fishing and commercial fishing activities to start taking place after being closed for more than 30 years.

Making TV in Sunset Country

Other than a three-month stint working for a contractor friend of mine just out of university, and a couple of years on the supply teacher list in Kenora, the only jobs I’ve ever had have been related to the fishing and outdoor industry in some manner.

My first guide trip was at age 15 when I was working weekends at Ash Rapids Lodge on Lake of the Woods. And since then, I’ve kept the cash flow going by guiding anglers and hunters, my outdoors writing and photography, tournament fishing, and by working on promotional activities with all of the my fishing sponsors.

Deer starting to rebound

While I understand the healthy deer population in our city centres across Northwestern Ontario drives everybody nuts, especially who want to have a garden or grow flowers, it really isn’t an indication of the deer numbers outside of town, where deer took a massive hit following tough winters in 2013 and 2014.

For nearly 10 years, I spent a significant part of my fall guiding deer hunters, mostly Americans who came to Sunset Country in search of a big buck.

Duck hunting in November

As someone who enjoys participating in just about any outdoor activity you can come up with, waterfowl hunting is one I absolutely love doing but don’t have a ton of experience with.

The thing I like most about it is that it’s more social than other types of hunting because you can go with a few buddies and chat in between the action.

As well, if you get some birds flying around, then you get the opportunity to do a bunch of shooting, which is fun. We all like action.

Predator time on the water

It was exactly two years ago this week that my pal, Mike Reid, and I spent a day out on Lake of the Woods shooting a “Fishing with Gussy” episode for musky.

We fished hard all day and while we had a few follows, hooked a couple of muskies, and landed a few pike, it almost was a failed attempt to film a show until, just as the sun was hitting the trees, Mike hooked up the biggest musky that I’ve ever got to put my hands on.

Made for a great show!

Great grouse hunting this year

Every year around this time, I usually write a column about hunting—and make mention of the great grouse hunting we have right across Sunset Country.

We’re now a good way through the 2016 season and I’m going to say that this year has been one of the best I can ever remember for grouse.

These tasty birds probably are my favourite thing to eat on this entire planet and they are so much fun to hunt.

Fall crappie action usually really good

It’s no secret we have a long winter up here in Sunset Country. So like many anglers, I try to keep the boat wet as long as the weather permits.

We still have at least a few weeks of open water left before things start to freeze up—and the fall season offers some of the best fishing of the year for several species.

Since all of the bass tournaments are finished, it really allows me a lot more time to focus on fishing for other species.