Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson
I have been a little slow to put this blog together because the last FLW Tour event I fished at Lake Hartwell was probably the worst tournament finish I have ever had.
For three days of practice, the weather was deteriorating every day and it made the fishing tough.
Casting a Jackall jerkbait on the main lake scouting for active schools of bass.
Unfortunately I was not able to put the pieces of the puzzle together to sneak out of there with a decent finish. My strategy heading into this event was that I would try to spend my time fishing deeper water on the main lake. Brent Ehrler won a Tour event there back in 2012 doing exactly that so I thought that would be a program I would be comfortable doing. I love marking fish on my Humminbirds, then dropping something down and catching them!
Driving around looking for fish on my Humminbirds during a rainy day in practice.
I spent a lot of time over the first two days of practice doing that and just never was able to find any concentration of fish. I could catch a few fishing docks and I was getting a few bites on a jerkbait, but it was really random, one here, one there.
Gussy checks from Lake Hartwell from Krugerfarms.com on Vimeo.
On my last day of practice I went into a different area of the lake, a creek arm with some dirtier water. I ended up catching a couple of nice largemouths and better numbers of spots, fishing a jerkbait. I decided this would be a decent area to spend my time during the tournament.
The first day of the event, it rained heavily and the wind blew, it wasn’t nice. Being Canadian, it really didn’t bother me all that much, I mean I’m used to some cold weather. I caught only five fish for 6-07, probably the smallest limit I have ever weighed in. I think three were on a Jackall Soul Shad jerkbait, one on a Jackall Flick Shake and the other on a shakey head jig with a finesse worm.
The next day, with my back against the wall I really wanted to focus on trying to catch some largemouths, with a feeling that if I got lucky and got a few good bites, I could put a decent bag together. Early in the day I caught a good fish, almost three pounds and figured I was on the right program. Well, I went seven more hours without a bite and only weighed in that one fish. I can tell you, a lot of things go through your mind when you’re not catching any fish, especially on this stage where I know I have a lot of people supporting me.
Looking back, and after talking to some of my friends that fished, I probably should have just picked up that Flick Shake and hit as many docks as I could. It seemed like the other guys that didn’t have a whole lot going on did that and were able to get their shot at a limit each day and a check.
At the end of the day, I’m getting to live my dream of fishing at this level, competing against anglers that I idolized when I was a kid. It’s pretty awesome. So, I keep smiling and get ready for the next one I Sam Rayburn, Texas, coming up next week. (March 27-30)
A Big Sunset Country Pike that fell for a dead bait rigged beneath a tip-up.
While I was home between tournaments, I spent quite a bit of time on the ice in Northwest Ontario’s Sunset Country Region, where winter is still in full effect! We have an unprecedented amount of snow on the ground and plenty of ice still on our lakes (4 feet).
Fishing was still pretty good though. We had great days catching crappies, walleye, lake trout and mixed in a few nice pike.
A group from Northland Fishing Tackle that was up in Sunset Country testing new ice fishing baits for a couple of days scored on some crappies.
Jeff Gustafson is a professional angler living in Kenora, Ontario on the shores of Lake of the Woods. Outdoor writer, fishing promoter and host of “Fishing with Gussy.” You’ll see him fishing the FLW Tour representing krugerfarms.com and Lund boats among others. You can follow him on Twitter (@GussyOutdoors) and like him on Facebook (facebook.com/gussyoutdoors).