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Jeff Gustafson - Livewell

Early-season lake trout action

I write my column this week from Chattanooga, Tenn., where I’m spending some time fishing at Lake Chickamauga—site of the final FLW Tour tournament at the end of June.

I decided to stay down south until after the next event taking place next week at Grand Lake, Okla. and figured that spending some time scouting Chickamauga before the official practice immediately prior to the event might pay off.

Tough finish on Eufaula for me

The fourth stop on the 2013 FLW Tour took place this past weekend at Alabama’s Lake Eufaula.

My dad travelled south with me for this event to help me practice, and he also participated in the co-angler division of the tournament.

After the weather got us the previous weekend on Lake Michigan, I was excited to start over and have a good tournament.

Tough to have to cut your loss

Last week, I wrote about my upcoming six-week road trip to compete in three bass tournaments south of the border.

My Dad and I got things started at Sturgeon Bay, Wis. in a one-day tournament that took place last Friday. We spent three days practising down there before the event and had some pretty good fishing for those giant Lake Michigan smallmouths this place is famous for.

Although we didn’t catch any six-pound fish, we caught a bunch of five-pounders so that was cool.

Back on the road yet again

The past couple of weeks at home were a nice break for me. It’s a quiet time of year because we’re in between the ice-fishing and open-water seasons.

I’m back on the road this week for a lengthy trip, so I’ve been enjoying quite a bit of time at home getting as much housework and office work done as I can so that I don’t have to worry about it while I’m gone.

I managed to get most of our yard raked up, except for a few areas that still had snow cover.

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Most weeks, I write about my activities and adventures in the field or on the water. After all, I spend a lot of my time outdoors during all seasons; that’s just the way I roll.

But since I returned home late last week from my most recent bass tournament in Arkansas, I’ve been almost in a state of depression with this weather!

When you compare the temperatures to mid-winter, I understand it isn’t super cold. But for late April, it’s bad! Over the weekend, we had some wind and precipitation mixed in to really make it miserable outside.

Solid finish at Beaver Lake

The third of six FLW Tour bass tournaments took place this past weekend at Beaver Lake in northwest Arkansas.

After struggling at the first two events, I had a good practice for this one and ended up with a solid 45th-place finish, which netted me $10,000.

The goal in these FLW events is to finish in the top 50 because they pay big money down to that position.

One thing I’m learning about fishing down here is that these guys are animals. It’s amazing how so many of them find big fish and figure out how to catch them.

Preparing to take on Beaver Lake

After a couple days of travel over the past weekend, I made to Beaver Lake, Ark.—site of the next FLW tournament taking place later this week.

It is my first time fishing Beaver Lake, but my initial impression after a couple of days of practice is that I like it.

It is not known for big bass, but it is home to all three species—smallmouths, largemouths, and spotted bass. I’ve also caught walleyes, crappies, and white bass in Beaver this week.

Fishing fun in the Dominican Republic

Each week in my column I generally try to include tricks and tips for my readers to help them catch more fish, mostly focusing on the Sunset Country Region.

This week I am going to talk about the basics when fishing away from home, as I just returned from a week long trip to the Dominican Republic where I had an interesting last-minute fishing experience.

The reason for our trip to the Dominican was that my friends Scott Dingwall and Joanna Ripley got married down there last week.

Prime time for ice-fishing now

For those us who like to spend time fishing, the winter in our region is always long.

We have a lot of ambition for those first few trips of the season. Once we get into January and February, however, we go because we like to be out there—though most days we really don’t enjoy the cold temperatures, deep snow, and tougher fishing all that much.

As we get into March, there is renewed ambition because the weather usually is better, the days are longer, and the fish bite better than they have all winter.

Out practising on Smith Lake

My thought heading south to Alabama this past weekend was that the weather and temperatures would be a lot nicer than in Sunset Country.

Well, there isn’t any snow on the ground down here but the temperatures are not much warmer than they are back home.

It’s been about minus-four C in the mornings when we get up and gets only a little bit warmer during the day.

The good news is there’s a warming trend coming this week. I know, nobody has any sympathy for me at home but it’s cold to be fishing in a boat.