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Jeff Gustafson - Livewell

Prepping to tackle Lake Hartwell

This is officially the worst winter ever! That is the only way I can describe it in a non-offensive way.

Over the past weekend, my parents sent me a photo of the seven-foot tall snow banks in their front yard. It’s depressing.

Down in South Carolina, where I am this week getting ready for the second FLW Tour bass tournament of the year at Lake Hartwell, we are feeling the effects of the cold weather from up north.

Really enjoyed being at ‘Classic’

After a quick week at home, I was back on the road late last week and had an eventful weekend attending my first Bassmaster Classic tournament in Birmingham, Ala.

The Bassmaster Classic is the biggest bass tournament in the world, hands down. It is the year-end championship of the Bassmaster Elite Series that includes a handful of anglers who qualify through other avenues.

It has a lot of history, and has changed the lives of many anglers over the years who have been fortunate to win the event.

Nice to be back on ice

After spending a few weeks in south Florida, it was back to reality (and winter) for me this past week.

Other than the foot of snow that had piled up in my driveway, it was nice to be home. Although this winter has been long, with no end in sight, I do like the opportunity to ride my snowmobile and go ice-fishing.

Season 3 of my TV program “Fishing with Gussy” started airing in January. We shot all of these shows over the past open-water season, but we still were a couple of shows short of a full season of 13 episodes so we’re on the ice this week playing catch up.

Tough lessons on Lake Okeechobee

The 2014 FLW Tour kicked off last weekend down at Lake Okeechobee in Florida.

After spending the past few weeks in Florida, essentially preparing for this event, my results in the tournament ended up being quite disappointing.

My three-day practice for this tournament went okay but not great. I did catch a few nice bass, but they were random and I was not able to put much of a pattern together on where I was catching fish.

All set to start season

Those of you back home reading my column probably have heard enough about all the fishing that I’ve been doing in warm and sunny Florida over the past couple of weeks, but that’s what I’ve been doing.

The first bass tournament of the 2014 FLW Tour season starts this week on massive Lake Okeechobee, so I’ve been spending my time this week trying to figure out how to catch big bass before the tournament starts tomorrow (Feb. 6).

Big bass in Florida

Since arriving in Florida about a week ago, I have been following the weather back home and it looks like things still haven’t really shaped up.

Although I’m not going to complain about the weather here in Florida, I can tell you it’s been anything by tropical here, as well. In six days, I’ve only worn shorts one day, bundling up with pretty well everything I have along on most of the others.

Temperatures also have been near freezing at night, but we’re finally hitting a warm trend now and it looks like things are going to get really nice by the weekend.

Out on the road again

The next few weeks are going to be fun for me.

After spending three long days driving over the past weekend, I finally made it down to Florida to do some fishing and prepare for the first FLW Tour bass tournament of the year at Lake Okeechobee.

After planning and preparing for this trip over the past month, it feels great to finally be down here.

Not for a minute do I take for granted how lucky I am to be able to chase my dream—fishing in these high-profile bass tournaments. There really is nothing else in the world I would rather be doing if I had a choice.

Milder weather, hotter fishing

It’s safe to say that all of us enjoyed the “tropical” weather that showed up over the past weekend. I know I did!

After nearly a month of bitter cold, it’s nice to get a little break from the deep freeze or, as some people have been calling it, the Polar Vortex.

It was evident that a lot of people took advantage of the milder weather to get out on the ice for some fishing over the past weekend because when I was in Kenora on Saturday morning, I ran into several people buying licences and bait at the local tackle shops.

Will this cold snap ever end?

It sure is a good thing that our summers are as nice as they are across Sunset Country because the cold weather we’ve had over the past month really has me questioning why anyone would want to live here.

Over the past week, I’ve had to spend my days outside after booking a multi-day ice-fishing trip with three anglers from the Hamilton area earlier in the winter.

New fishing regs take effect

Several years ago, the Ministry of Natural Resources developed zones across the province based on geographical location and similarities in characteristics of water, which they use to manage our fisheries.

In Northwestern Ontario, there are three zones across the southern part of the region, stretching from the Manitoba border to the Thunder Bay area (Zones 4, 5, and 6).

Zone 5 covers the western section of the region, including areas around Kenora and Fort Frances, while Zone 4 covers the central part.