UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Lake Okeechobee

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

A Canadian Fishing in the U.S.

Jeff Gustafson

I live in Kenora, Ontario, on the shores of Lake of the Woods – one of the best multi-species fisheries in the world. Kenora is located about seven hours north of Minneapolis, so we get real winter weather. Because of that, my bass fishing is limited to a short time frame when there’s open water. As much as I love ice-fishing around home in the winter, heading south to catch bass was an idea too tempting to pass up when I first considered it. In 2013 I started fishing the FLW Tour, which gave me the awesome opportunity to fish in warm weather and on open water, and catch bass.

Even after a few years of traveling around the U.S. on Tour, I still find it funny when I’m down South and a local weather report mentions International Falls, Minn. It’s used for comparison because it’s one of the coldest cities in the country – and I live two hours north of there! We get four or five feet of snow and over three feet of ice on our lakes, which are frozen from late November to late April most years. You can drive a truck all over on our lakes during the winter.  Not exactly bass-fishing paradise, right? 

In reality, it is indeed a bass-fishing paradise throughout the open-water season. Many folks consider northern bass to be dumb, but when you’ve only got half a year to eat, it makes you smarter. While bass back home go practically dormant during the winter, when the ice breaks it’s time for them to eat. So even though we have a short season up north, we have excellent fishing for both smallmouths and largemouths on a variety of waters. That helps us be versatile anglers. 

I’ve read interviews of my pals and fellow FLW Tour competitors Chris and Cory Johnston where they say they feel their skills are fairly well-rounded because we get to fish shallow and deep, in clear water and not so clear, in grass and in rivers and lakes. When we head south in the winter, we do so having experience with a variety of techniques to catch bass. 

As a year-round fishing guide at home, I fish for several other species, which I think helps to keep me more versatile as well. We do a lot of walleye fishing, which gives me experience fishing offshore and using my electronics; we fish for pike and muskies, which gives me some experience fishing with big baits; and we ice-fish a lot where we always use sonar to watch our baits and see how fish react to them. All of this stuff helps to keep a guy sharp, for sure. 

In the six years that I have been on Tour there have certainly been some instances where I’ve been out of my element and had my butt whipped, but those situations have helped me learn and I’m getting better at avoiding the bombs, though I still manage to mix in the odd one here and there. 

Shad spawns – there’s one example of learning as I go. Where I live in northwest Ontario, we don’t have shad, which is the primary forage in many Southern waters, so I’ve had to figure out the shad spawn and some of the nuances that bass feeding on them have.

We also don’t have spotted bass in Canada, but they have many similarities to our smallmouths and I have really enjoy fishing the good spotted bass lakes that we frequent on Tour. You can always find some spots in deep water offshore and I have figured out a few tricks that have helped me have great events over the years on Hartwell, Lanier and Lewis Smith in particular.

Another major difference is that most of our lakes back home are natural, as opposed to the reservoirs where most of our events are in the South. There has been a bit of a learning curve there too, such as taking into account current that goes on and off, and fishing in standing timber and stump fields – something we don’t really have Up North. 

At the end of the day, the old saying “a bass is a bass” rings true much of the time as they are usually related to some type of structure or cover and they always display similar predictable movements depending on the time of year. So while I don’t get to be in a boat all the time or get to catch bass all year long, it doesn’t mean I’m not learning something that helps me keep up with the other guys on Tour.

Road trip with Gussy

Tags: jeff-gustafson  blog 

/tips/2019-01-18-get-more-out-of-guide-trips

Get More out of Guide Trips

Guide trips are great opportunities to learn about bass fishing and to have an enjoyable day on the water without the pressure of having to find fish and figure out patterns on your own. I highly recommend them, especially if you’re sitting around during the offseason with nothing much to do. READ MORE »

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Martin’s Final Prep for the 2019 Tour

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Life Between Seasons for a Pro Angler

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Meet the Latimers

I know everyone isn’t in the same situation, but personally, I wouldn’t want to try to be a pro angler and not have kids or a family. I got married in 2008, and I fished the EverStart FLW Series the first year I got married. READ MORE »

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Create a Base List of Go-To Baits

Every season, my garage goes from organized to absolute chaos as I come and go from one tournament to the next. By the time I empty out my boat in the fall to sell it, I wind up with a mountain of tackle that needs to be dealt with. It needs to be culled, cleaned up, organized, re-stocked or replaced so it can be packed into my new boat, organized in the garage or stowed in my truck bed camper, keeping in mind all the lakes and reservoirs the FLW Tour will be visiting from January through August. READ MORE »

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A New Plan for 2019

If you haven’t been living under a rock this offseason then you know there are going to be some well-known faces missing from the FLW Tour next year. Over the years, my brother Jared and I have run a lot with the Johnston brothers, Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson and Jeff Sprague, and now they’ve all switched to fishing other circuits. It’s like high school again. At least, that’s the best analogy I can find: You grew up with the same buddies, but after you graduate you go your separate ways. I’m really sad about it. READ MORE »

/tips/2018-11-13-you-re-not-great-at-everything

You’re Not Great at Everything

My wheelhouse is shallow power fishing, mainly with single hook-type baits such as spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, bladed jigs, jigs, soft plastics, and flipping and pitching baits. But I also really like topwater and shallow cranking, plus sight-fishing. That’s where I feel like I really excel. READ MORE »

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Fishing for a Championship

Watching the Forrest Wood Cup and the Bassmaster Classic as a kid was the source of, literally, my entire life’s motivation. I want to fish as a professional angler, and I love what I do every day, but the thought of fishing the Classic and the Forrest Wood Cup – that’s really what I want to do. I want to walk across that stage and be fishing against the top 50 guys in the world. For some guys the dream is Angler of the Year or finishing well in a Tour event or whatever, but mine has always been that big stage. READ MORE »

/tips/2018-10-02-how-to-fish-florida-in-the-fall

How to Fish Florida in the Fall

It’s been a while since my first blog, and with the season wrapping up around the rest of the country I figure it’s time to talk about Florida fishing. The big national tournaments don’t come down here this time of year, but the fishing is pretty good. It’s pretty simple this time of year, too. You just need a couple of rods. READ MORE »

/tips/2018-09-19-how-to-long-line-pressured-smallies

How to Long-Line Pressured Smallies

So, up north, what we call “long-lining” has become a popular technique. It’s not done with a crankbait, like Southern ledge fishermen do, but it’s similar. You get your bait out a long way from the boat, and then drag it over key areas. It takes a long time to reel a fish in, but you get probably five times as many bites just by getting your bait that far away. READ MORE »

/tips/2018-09-13-jumpsuits-patches-and-bell-bottoms

Jumpsuits, Patches and Bell-bottoms

These days just about everybody puts something on every square inch of their shirts. There’s even a style of jersey with elastic armpits. It’s so you can cast easier, but there’s also a place there where you can put another sponsor’s logo that shows up when you hold up a fish or a trophy. Those guys back in the day were nowhere in the same league as far as showing off sponsors. READ MORE »

/tips/2018-09-11-why-you-need-to-be-tying-the-fg-knot

Why You Need to be Tying the FG Knot

In my last couple years in Australia I learned the FG knot, which is a Japanese knot that originated from the guys fishing for giant trevally. They wanted to be able to use 100-pound-test braid with a 130-pound-test leader and be able to cast it through the guides. It’s the only knot I know that has 100 percent knot strength. The FG knot is actually stronger than the line, and it’s a plaited knot, which means the braid is woven around the fluorocarbon, so it’s super thin and there’s no curl in the fluorocarbon or anything. READ MORE »

/tips/2018-09-05-my-favorite-stop-of-the-year

My Favorite Stop of the Year

We used to have an opening weekend tournament for maybe two years. That was when the fish were at the end of their spawn, and my brother Cory and I finished with maybe 2 ounces under 30 pounds and were in third place. Both years that tournament happened it took more than 30 pounds to win. READ MORE »

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Dealing with Wear and Tear

For a while earlier this spring it looked like shoulder surgery would be the next in a long line of repair jobs. It’s no secret that I’ve had a lot of problems with my hands, arms and shoulders over the years. I had surgery on my left hand last August, and it was supposed to fix a chronic problem that was affecting my grip. READ MORE »

/tips/2018-08-22-using-chunks-doesn-t-make-me-a-dinosaur

Using Chunks Doesn’t Make Me a Dinosaur

I’m 48 years old, but until a couple weeks ago I didn’t realize that made me a dinosaur. Well, I at least felt like a dinosaur a few times while I was conducting a seminar at the Costa FLW High School Fishing Summer Camp at Kenlake State Park. My age showed again when I competed with a couple of local high schoolers in the FLW Foundation Marshall Strong charity tournament on Kentucky Lake. READ MORE »

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Need for Speed?

What I do value is torque, which is why I run an Evinrude G2. The extra torque means I get on pad faster, which adds up when I’m making 40 or 50 of those 2-mile runs in a day. That’s where I make up my time, by getting from zero to 50 mph in a hurry. READ MORE »

/tips/2018-08-17-jocumsen-s-fish-care-system

Jocumsen’s Fish Care System

The main thing is, when I first catch a fish that’s going in the box I weigh it. So when I have my five fish, I’ve got exact weights. Especially in these Northern tournaments, specifically when catching a lot of smallmouths, if I was using the old system and caught a 3-pounder I’d be going back, opening that livewell lid and putting my smallest on a balance beam. Then maybe balance beam another one, and then let one go. That’s a lot of stress on them. READ MORE »

/tips/2018-08-11-the-most-dangerous-thing-in-fishing

The Most Dangerous Thing in Fishing 

This is a blog written as a reminder to me, about how I had given myself no chance to do well in the Lake St. Clair FLW Tour event. I make no bones about it: I do not like St. Clair at all. It is the only lake I fear. I said exactly that when the schedule was announced. St. Clair is probably one of the top five lakes right now, but strangely enough, I fear it. How could that be? It all started with a bad attitude that kicked off a chain reaction that led to one of the most common mistakes anglers make – a mistake I often have to coach anglers out of in my coaching trips. READ MORE »

/tips/2018-08-01-how-i-d-get-rid-of-asian-carp

How I’d Get Rid of Asian Carp

There’s been a lot of discussion about how to get rid of Asian carp; questions about catching them, processing them, using other parts of them besides the meat to make fertilizer or turn the skins into purses and pocketbooks. The state of Illinois is paying commercial fishermen to catch silvers and bigheads, and I understand that other states are paying bounties on top of what fishermen are being paid by processors. READ MORE »

/tips/2018-07-31-it-s-cup-time

It’s Cup Time

Since I had such a short period of time to look at a lake I had never even seen before, I left the Ducketts at home. Yep, that’s correct. I went on a fishing trip to Ouachita and didn’t even take a rod and reel. I fired up the Evinrude and my electronics and did a lot of looking from one end to the other. I saw lots of stuff that I want to fish when we get back, but I never made a cast. READ MORE »