Bassmaster Classic Preview

The 2015 Bassmaster Classic is now just a few days away.  Rewind the clock about 12 months and you may vaguely remember a Central Open held on Lake Amistad.  KrugerFarms.com angler Andy Young won that event in early February of 2014 and was the 2nd angler to qualify for this year’s classic on Lake Hartwell, he qualified even before the defending Champion Randy Howell.

Andy Young Hoisting the Hardware!

Andy Young Hoisting the Hardware!

After the long year wait, Young is finally getting his shot at bass fishing’s biggest crown.  If you are not sure who you are pulling for in this year’s Bassmaster Classic, you will not find a more likeable angler in the whole field then Andy Young.  Beyond that, Andy is one heck of an angler and on top of that he has been putting in his time to take him to the next level.

Andy_Young_Fishing_Boat2

Andy spent a few weeks on Lake Hartwell this winter before the cutoff and has been touring the Southeast part of the country in the mean time fishing different southern fisheries fine tuning his skill set and at the same time prepping for the 2015 FLW Tour Season.

Andy_Young_Fishing_Boat

Starting now and all season, make sure to Follow Andy Young’s Fishing Page as well as the KrugerFarms.com Fishing Facebook pages to see what Andy and the Coor’s Light – KrugerFarms.com wrapped Ranger are up to all season!

Good Luck Andy!

Kentucky Lake FLW Tour Recap

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

It seems like just yesterday that I was hauling my boat down to Florida for the first FLW Tour event of the season at Lake Okeechobee.  That was early February and now six events later, a bunch of practice days and thousands of miles traveled and just like that, the season is over.

The last tournament of the 2014 season went down at Kentucky Lake, out of Paris, Tennessee.  After a good tournament at Pickwick a few weeks earlier, I was eager to get out on Kentucky for the three-day official practice.  Kentucky Lake has a reputation as being one of the best lakes in the United States, with big numbers of quality fish.  And it fishes much like Pickwick, where offshore structure fishing is the primary pattern.

My Dad with his first Kentucky Lake bass on the first morning of practice.

My Dad with his first Kentucky Lake bass on the first morning of practice.

After Pickwick, I left my boat at a friend’s place in Memphis and flew home for a week and a half.  My Dad returned with me to practice for the tournament and help me out with the big drive back to Canada.  He had signed up to fish the tournament on the co-angler side but was too far back on the waiting list and never ended up getting into the event.  We had a great time prefishing and exploring the lake together though!

A nice bass that fell for the bucktail jig

A nice bass that fell for the bucktail jig

Over the course of the three-day practice period I managed to get a look at about 70 miles of this gigantic lake!  I spent the first day in the south end, the second day in the north end, near the dam and on the third day of practice I ended up fishing relatively close to Paris, TN where the tournament would launch out of.

My Dad with a nice Kentucky Lake smallmouth in practice.

My Dad with a nice Kentucky Lake smallmouth in practice.

For the tournament, I made the decision to spend my time fishing close because I had found three or four good schools and I would be able to maximize my fishing time.  Each day I found a few good schools of fish but I actually felt like the ones that I found near Paris were the least obvious and might not get as much pressure from other anglers.

Throughout the practice I used a lot of the same baits that I used at Pickwick – a ¾ oz football jig, deep-diving crankbaits and 5-6” inch swimbaits.   I added one other bait to my arsenal that proved to be effective as well.  The weekend before our tournament at Kentucky Lake there was a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on Lake Chickamauga, another lake farther up the Tennessee River.  It was revealed online that several of the top finishers in that event were using bucktail jigs to catch their fish.

When I got down to Kentucky Lake I made up a few ½ and ¾ oz bucktail jigs of my own and throughout the practice they were by far my best bait.  It was pretty cool.  I was casting them out, letting them sink to the bottom in 10-25 feet of water and “stroking” them back to the boat.  The fish were smoking them!  I was fishing them on a G. Loomis NRX rod (7’3” MH 873C) with 12 pound fluorocarbon (Sniper FC) and a Shimano Chronarch CI4 reel (6.4:1).  This is the same rod that I fish my football jigs on and it is just very versatile, a pleasure to fish with really.

Bucktail jig/bass

Bucktail jig/bass

When the tournament started, the bucktail jig bite kind of died on me.  It was like the fish were not as aggressive.  I caught a couple of my weigh fish each day on it, but I probably caught more fish in the tournament on the football jig.  I ended up having two solid limits (17-7 and 18-4) and ended up finishing in 40th place, which earned me $10,000!

One of the fish from my Day One catch at the Kentucky Lake FLW Tour

One of the fish from my Day One catch at the Kentucky Lake FLW Tour

After a tough start to the season in those first couple events, it felt good to end on a strong note, cashing a check in the last four tournaments.  I ended up finishing 64th in the Forrest Wood Cup points race, which was pretty good considering I had a big hole to get out of after those first two derbies.  I’m looking forward to getting back out there again next year with my goal being to qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup!

Huge thank you to my all of my sponsors who make it possible for me to live my dream and get to fish the FLW Tour, it’s been fun!

Hanging out with my buddy, Minnesota angler Jim Moynagh at the rules meeting for this event.

Hanging out with my buddy, Minnesota angler Jim Moynagh at the rules meeting for this event.

Giving legendary angler Jay Yelas a ride to his boat the morning of Day One of this tournament.

Giving legendary angler Jay Yelas a ride to his boat the morning of Day One of this tournament.

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).

Big Bass on Pickwick Lake

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

The fifth stop of the season on the FLW Tour took place last week at Pickwick Lake, out of Florence, Alabama.  After a week and a half at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin for the annual Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament, then a week out in British Columbia with my wife to tape a couple of TV shows for my program, Fishing with Gussy, I showed up at Pickwick ready to wrap up a month on road.  I was hoping for a good tournament before I could head home to Sunset Country for a little break before the last event the last week of June at Kentucky Lake.

GoPro: Over the course of the three practice days, my buddy Brian Partak and I put in some long days, fishing from dark to dark.  Most of the guys fishing in these tournaments do that.

GoPro: Over the course of the three practice days, my buddy Brian Partak and I put in some long days, fishing from dark to dark. Most of the guys fishing in these tournaments do that.

Pickwick Lake is part of the Tennessee River and is a well-known bass fishery, much like Chickamauga, Guntersville, Wheeler and Kentucky Lakes, also part of the same system.  In my experience, fishing on these lakes is usually really good.  They all have a lot of bait and good numbers of fish.

A big 5+ that I caught in practice on the Jackall Muscle Deep 15 crankbait

A big 5+ that I caught in practice on the Jackall Muscle Deep 15 crankbait

Heading into this tournament, the predictions were that it was going to be an offshore, ledge fishing tournament so my plan was to spend as much time graphing around with my Humminbirds as I could in hopes of finding a few schools of fish.

Over the course of the three-day practice period I was able to find a number of schools of fish but the problem was that most of them were on high-profile, obvious spots that many other anglers in the field found as well.  I spent quite a bit of time looking for less obvious spots and did find a few that I thought had some potential, but the biggest schools I found were on the community spots.

Preparing to blast-off on Day One of the Pickwick Lake FLW Tour event. - FLW Outdoors

Preparing to blast-off on Day One of the Pickwick Lake FLW Tour event. – FLW Outdoors

I drew boat number 165 the first day of the tournament, not exactly a great start number in a tournament where getting on one of the popular community spots early was a good bet for cashing a check.
My strategy was to just fish whatever was open out of all the spots that I had found.  My first few spots produced a few smaller keepers (15” at Pickwick).  At around 10am I pulled up to a point facing into the current that I caught a couple of decent fish on in practice.  There was a shell bed on the point where it dropped from six to twelve feet of water.  I was throwing a ¾ oz football head jig on most of the spots that I was fishing and it was great on this particular spot because I could feel the shell bed and that was where I was getting most of the fish to bite.

Fishing on day one of the tournament - Photo credit - FLW Outdoors

Fishing on day one of the tournament – Photo credit – FLW Outdoors

This stop changed my day quickly.  I immediately started catching fish and put a decent limit together.  About half way through catching around 25 fish off of this spot I set the hook on the biggest bass that I have ever caught.  After an intense battle that included several jumps and a power run under the boat my co-angler Ralph Logan netted the 10 pound, 12 ounce monster.

10 Pounder - My big bass from day 1 - Photo credit - Joel Shangle (OutdoorsFIRST media)

10 Pounder – My big bass from day 1 – Photo credit – Joel Shangle (OutdoorsFIRST media)

I made a few small upgrades throughout the rest of the day and managed to put together the biggest five fish limit that I ever caught in FLW Tour competition.  My 24-8 total landed me in first place after day one and ranks right up there in the fishing accomplishments that I have had to date.

Day two went okay but I lacked getting a big bite.  My limit weighing 15-15 dropped me to 12th place but I managed to make the top 20 cut to fish day three, which was my goal heading into this event.  With little pressure on day three I fished to try to catch a big limit and came up short, bringing in 12-02.  I ended up with a 17th place finish, which is my best yet on the FLW Tour.

Waiting to blast-off on day three...the field was cut to the top 20 anglers heading out for the third day.

Waiting to blast-off on day three…the field was cut to the top 20 anglers heading out for the third day.

The ¾ oz football jig was probably my most productive bait last week at Pickwick but I also caught fish on deep diving crankbaits and swimbaits.  I was using two crankbaits primarily, a Rapala DT 20 and a Jackall Muscle Deep 15.  I was using the DT 20 on the deeper edges and Muscle Deep 15 in the 10-15 foot stuff.
I fished my football jig on a 7’3” G. Loomis NRX rod (NRX 873C), a Shimano Chronarch CI4 reel (7.6:1) and 12 lb Sunline Sniper FC line.

Pickwick is known for it's big smallmouths and though I didn't catch any during the tournament, I did catch a good one after the event.

Pickwick is known for it’s big smallmouths and though I didn’t catch any during the tournament, I did catch a good one after the event.

The last event of the FLW Tour season takes place next week at Kentucky Lake, one of the best lakes in North America right now.  The fishing should be really good so I’m looking forward to it!  It will be more offshore, ledge fishing, which I’m comfortable with.  Hopefully I can end the season on a good note!

Comfort Products who I fished with for a couple days following the tournament.  We caught'em pretty good!

Comfort Products who I fished with for a couple days following the tournament. We caught’em pretty good!

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).

Back on track at Beaver Lake

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

After a decent tournament at Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Texas a couple of weeks ago I was eager to get back on the water last week at Beaver Lake for stop #4 on the FLW Tour.

Last year at Beaver I had a good tournament and caught good numbers of fish each day en route to a 43rd place finish.  I fished the clear water end of the lake, up near the dam and was comfortable throwing a jerkbait and a variety of finesse soft plastics.

We were fishing Beaver the same week that we were there last year so I expected the conditions to be very similar, if not a little behind because of the cold winter we’ve had.  I was excited at this prospect because if anything, the cool water temperatures should help keep the fish “out” and the jerkbait bite strong.

This big smallmouth ate the jerkbait in practice.

This big smallmouth ate the jerkbait in practice.

On my first day of practice I visited many of the locations that I fished last year during this event and was quite disappointed.  In fact, I did not catch a bass that first day until 4:30 in the afternoon!  Once I left the area that I fished last year I found a few stretches that were holding some decent spotted bass.
On the morning of day two of practice (we get 3 days to practice for these events), I fished relatively close to the boat ramp area and ended up catching several big largemouths in the 3 and 4 pound range on a Jackall MC/60 MR crankbait in the Crawfish pattern.  This bait is a favorite because it casts really well, rarely snags and always runs perfect.  It’s in the same profile of the famous Wiggle Wart that many anglers love throwing on these Ozark lakes.  Anyway, it’s a great crankbait.  After catching these nice largemouths I spent the next six hours trying to duplicate what I did and try to put a pattern together but never really found anything else.  That’s the tough part about Beaver Lake, you almost just have to fish and figure things out on the fly each day.

Here is a big largemouth from practice, caught on the crankbait.  I have my life jacket on because it was literally just a quick stop and I caught the fish on my first cast.

Here is a big largemouth from practice, caught on the crankbait. I have my life jacket on because it was literally just a quick stop and I caught the fish on my first cast.

Once the tournament started my plan of attack was to basically throw the crankbait and a suspending jerkbait – a Jackall Squad Minnow 115 in the Ghost Minnow color.  With these baits I could cover a fair amount of ground and hunt down active, biting fish.  Though I didn’t end up throwing it a lot in the tournament and I probably should have more, especially on the second day when the wind died, I had a Jackall 5.8” Flick Shake Worm rigged on a 3/16 oz shakey head jig.  Not that many anglers use the Flick Shake on a shaky head, but it’s a great worm to use on it.

The wind blew hard the first day and it really helped the jerkbait bite.  My limit weighing 10-14 landed me in 47th place, only a pound and a half out of the top 20, yet only a pound and a half out of the money so there was some pressure to catch a decent limit again.  These events pay $10,000 down to 60th place, so my number one goal was ending up in the top 60 and making some money.

A nice spotted bass from my day 1 limit

A nice spotted bass from my day 1 limit

Without much wind on day two, the bite was a lot tougher.  I was fortunate to catch a limit early in the morning on the jerkbait but then I think I went about four hours without catching a fish.  I did pick up the Flick Shake a couple of times but I really felt like I just had to keep burning water and find a big bite.  I was one good fish away from cashing a big check.  As well, I was getting just enough follows and “nips” on the jerkbait to keep me interested.  As time ran out, I had to get my limit in to the scales.  After a couple of late day “culls” for ounces, my limit totaled 7-13.  Not what I was hoping for.

A nice smallmouth, which was part of my day one limit.  Behind the stage GoPro photo.

A nice smallmouth, which was part of my day 1 limit. Behind the stage GoPro photo.

I headed back to the room to get my things packed up.  As the weigh-in neared its finish I watched the results intently.  It was quite nerve-racking watching myself slip down the leaderboard 55-56-57-58.  When all was said and done, I ended up in 59th spot and earned a $10,000 check!

Next up for me is the Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament over on Lake Michigan in mid-May.  Until then I get some down time at home in Ontario’s Sunset Country Region, which I’m looking forward to very much!  We’re still ice fishing this week but hopefully by next week the snow will melt off enough that we can do some shed hunting.  I’ll keep ya’ll posted!

A popular activity of the anglers at night - playing Cornhole (aka Bean Bags).  Here are super pros Jacob Wheeler and Dave Lefebre.  Lefebre is very intense with this game...and the best at it.  Wheeler and I did beat him and Blake Nick the last game we played though, so I guess that makes us the Champs until next time.

A popular activity of the anglers at night – playing Cornhole (aka Bean Bags). Here are super pros Jacob Wheeler and Dave Lefebre.  Lefebre is very intense with this game…and the best at it. Wheeler and I did beat him and Blake Nick the last game we played though, so I guess that makes us the Champs until next time.

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).

Downtime with Gussy between tournaments

After sticking around to fish at Okeechobee for a few extra days my trip back home to Ontario’s Sunset Country Region was a short one.  I was home for five days before I got back on the road last week to attend the Bassmaster Classic in Birmingham, Alabama.

While I was home I had to get a TV show done for my program Fishing with Gussy.  We caught some beautiful crappies on Lake of the Woods.  The next day I hooked up with a couple of buddies to hit the ice for lake trout and walleyes.  We battled some super deep snow to get out and fish…it was a workout!

Lake Trout Matt Peters

Matt Peters with a nice lake trout he caught on a spoon. Matt is a good friend of KrugerFarms.com and we have ice fished together many times over the years up in Northwest Ontario. Had some great trips over the years!

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Winnipeg Jets forward Dustin Byfuglien was along with Matt so he got in on the walleye action. While most NHL players went somewhere tropical over the Olympic break, Byfuglien went ice fishing at Lake of the Woods!

 

New Shimano Curado I

My experience attending the Classic was top-notch. I helped out Shimano in their booth & was on hand to witness the launch of the new Curado I baitcasting reel. This reel has gone through many transformations over the years but has a long history with bass anglers in North America. I even got to catch some bass on it at Guntersville the day after the tournament!

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The day after the tournament my buddy Blake Nick took Bob Mahoney from Shimano and myself out on Guntersville and we caught some nice fish! It was cool to get to fish on this historic fishery.

Stripers and Bass

After fishing Guntersville I traveled over to Lake Murray, South Carolina to spend a couple of days fishing with some folks from International Comfort Products, one of the major sponsors helping me to fish the FLW Tour. Lake Murray is where the Forrest Wood Cup will take place later this year so I figured it would be a good place to spend a few days before we are able to start prefishing at Lake Hartwell this weekend. We caught some nice fish there on umbrella rigs, jerkbaits and crankbaits.

This week I’ve been busy prefishing at Lake Hartwell for stop number two on the FLW Tour, follow online this weekend at FLWOutdoors.com as the tourney starts on Thursday.

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).

How Amistad Was Won

KrugerFarms.com Pro Angler Andy Young has been one of the busiest guys in bass fishing the last week or so.  Fresh of his dramatic come from behind win on Lake Amistad for the Bassmaster Central Open series.

Andy Young Hoisting the Hardware!

Andy Young Hoisting the Hardware!

He was more than 10 pounds behind runaway leader Randy Allen when the last day began, which by most accounts left the rest of the field fishing for 2nd place. Then Allen weighed-in just one fish, and Young swooped in and claimed the win with his standard 13-ish sack (specifically 13-11).

His 39-06 total held off Elite Series pro Stephen Browning by a single ounce. It earned him more than $47,000 in cash and a slot in next year’s Bassmaster Classic on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell (provided he competes in the other two events on the circuit, which he confirmed that he will).

Here’s how Andy went about it…..

Practice
Young arrived in Del Rio fairly early, he took advantage of a slow period at work and ended up with about 9 days on the water before the event.  Not all of them full days or that productive as there were many unseasonably bad weather days in that mix.

He got an early start on his first practice day and quickly caught a 4-pounder from about 15 feet of water on an umbrella rig, so he began running that pattern in different areas of the lake.

Andy didn’t get a lot of bites, but once in a while he’d catch a good one. He targeted deep flats with his umbrella rig, close to where they dropped off to deeper water. The bigger fish were usually around brush piles or trees – something for them to hold on.  He also developed a secondary game plan that involved dropshotting rocky ledges at depths ranging from 20 to 32 feet.

Tournament Days
> Day 1: 5, 12-01
> Day 2: 5, 13-11
> Day 3: 5, 13-10
> Total = 15, 39-06

Young got only six bites on day 1, and one of those was a short fish. His bag was very solid considering the conditions, but it left him nearly 6 pounds behind Allen, whose stringer was anchored by a 10-pounder.

Young managed just four bites on day 2. He’d boxed only three run-of-the-mill keepers by mid-afternoon when he connected with a 6 1/2-pounder on the umbrella rig.

On day 3, Andy had a limit by 11:30 and one of those fish was a beauty – a 7 1/2-pounder that fell for the umbrella rig. Culling two times after that and each of them was very minor – a half-ounce here and a half-ounce there. But considering the margin of victory was a single ounce, those two little upgrades were key.

Pattern Notes
Andy started each day on his deeper drop shot fish, he had 5-6 areas that he rotated through.  He started on these fish, because he felt they were more dependable and he knew getting a limit each day would be huge.  Plus having fish in the well would help him dedicate to chase bigger fish later in the day.  So once his confidence and sun were higher, he would start rotation through his three flats with the castable umbrella rig to score larger fish and he got at least one every day!

Winning_Rig

This photo taken the night before the last day of competition at the BASS Open on Lake Amistad of the actual rig Andy Young used during competition. Notice the red money jig on the center wire, one of the keys to this set up.

Depth  and retrieve was an important factor for the umbrella rig; it was most effective when retrieved within a few feet of the bottom and added a few erratic jerks along the way.  Another important factor was the color of baits and jig heads used.  Young found the fish reacted best to a mix of pearl and watermelon ghost Big Bite Cane Thumpers.  The Cane Thumpers were attached to 1/8oz Outkast Money Jigs and the center jig was one with a red head which caught most of his fish, just gave the bass a little something different to key in on and the red seemed to help them commit instead of fall the artificial bait ball.

Gear Details
> Umbrella rig gear: 7’6″ heavy-action Dobyns 766 SSM flipping stick, Lew’s BB1 casting reel (6.3:1 ratio), 65-pound PowerPro braided line, 1/8-ounce Outkast Tackle Money jigheads, 5″ Big Bite Cane Thumper swimbaits (pearl and watermelon ghost).

Dobyns_Umbrella_Rig

Dobyns Micro Savvy Flipping stick, with Cane Thumpers & Money Jigs on his umbrella rig.

> Andy prefers the Outkast heads because the 4/0, heavy-wire hooks are a little smaller than the standard U-rig offerings. “They don’t snag up on the branches and bushes as much and they hook the fish really well.”

> Dropshot gear: 7’4″ medium-action Dobyns DX743SF Champion Extreme rod, Lew’s Gold Spin 3000 spinning reel, 8-pound fluorocarbon line, 3/16-ounce lead dropshot weight (round), 1/0 Gamakatsu dropshot hook, with green pumpkin drop shot plastics.

The Extra Edge
>  “I think the biggest thing, with the weather being so bad, was me being from Minnesota and being used to it and having good Under Armour Base Layers. The cold didn’t really bother me. The other thing was having a simple game plan – I had two things that worked and I just kept doing them.”

Andy_Young_KrugerFarms

Andy with rugged shores of Lake Amistad behind him.

Andy Young is a krugerfarms.com pro angler, fishing the Bassmaster Open tournaments. You can like him on Facebook here for updates on his fishing experience.

Punchin’ big bass in Florida & FLW Tour Preview

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

It’s been a busy start to 2014 for me.  Between keeping the snow plowed out of my driveway at home in Ontario, taking care of a few ice anglers and a wolf hunter, and getting ready for the upcoming FLW Tour season, there hasn’t been a dull moment.

Across North America, the weather has been terrible this winter.  It has been the coldest I can remember back home and we have a lot of snow.  Because of the weather I have not been ice fishing as much as I normally would have but when we have been out, the action has been good for crappies, lake trout and walleye.  I had one wolf hunter in and he tagged out with a big male on his second day of hunting.

Ontario Wolf Hunt Results

Ontario Wolf Hunt Results

I have been down in Florida now for about a week, getting back into fishing mode in preparation for the first FLW Tour event of the season coming up the first week of February at Lake Okeechobee.  I came down to Florida early to break in the motor on my new boat and hopefully sharpen up my skills a little bit before I start competing against the best bass anglers in the World.  The weather at home also made it easy to hit the road a little bit early.

For the past week I’ve been hanging around the Kissimmee area, staying with a couple of friends from home who rent a house here for a couple of months.  I’ve been fishing most days, trying out a number of small lakes in the area.  I’ve had a few good days of fishing and a few tough ones, but it’s been fun to fish a bunch of new water.

IMG_0104

Gussy with a Florida Chatterbait Bass

The highlight of the trip so far was getting to see a GIANT bass that my friend Seth Feider from Minnesota caught this past weekend.  Seth fished in the BASS Southern Open on Lake Toho last week and stuck around for an extra day to fish a little lake that I really like.  Well, the luck was on his side as he caught the two biggest bass of his life in one day – a 13-4 and a 10-1.  His previous big fish was a six and half pounder from Minnesota.  Pretty awesome fish!

Seth Feider with a Giant Florida Largemouth Bass

Seth Feider with a Giant Florida Largemouth Bass

Seth caught his big fish punching matted vegetation with a heavy rod, heavy braided line, a big tungsten sinker and TriggerX Goo Bug.  The idea is to use a compact bait with the heavy tungsten sinker, generally 1-2 oz., to punch through the mats and drop the bait in front of bass that are hiding beneath them.  It’s a tactic that is proven to catch big bass on Florida lakes and lakes across North America that have a lot of grass in them.  You need the heavy tackle to pull fish back through the weeds.

Seth showing off his lunker & his punching setup

Seth showing off his lunker & his punching setup

I have caught a few good fish this week punching as well as casting swim jigs and chatterbait style baits to cover water.  I’ve been trying to spend as much time as I can fishing with baits that I think I may use when I get to Okeechobee, like the Jackall Cover Craw.  We are able to start practicing on Sunday (Feb. 2) and I’m really looking forward to getting out there.  The long-range weather forecast looks great for entire week of the tournament so it could be a major “whackfest” if the big females swarm the shallows to spawn.  My buddy, Brandon McMillan, a local stud who won the FLW Tour event at Okeechobee in 2011 told me that he thinks the fishing could be really good out there for us next week.  I can’t wait!

Gussy Prepping for the FLW Tour Opener on the Big O!

Gussy Prepping for the FLW Tour Opener on the Big O!

Look for the Okeechobee report next week and stay tune for many updates from this year’s FLW Tour!

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 Walmart 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).

Christmas Gifts for the Bass Angler

Pro-staff Contributor: Rich Lindgren

Continuing on our series of blog about buying gifts for hungers and anglers, I will cover some great gift ideas for bass anglers that you need to buy for.

Stocking StuffersFishing lures always make fantastic stocking stuffers, so here are a handful of must have baits for any bass angler:
Just about any bass angler likes to throw a wacky rigged stick worm, the Big Bite Baits Wacky Stick would be a treat for any angler, as they have molded the o-ring inside each worm for more natural and durable wacky rigging.

Square Bill crankbaits catch bass just about everywhere in the country, the new Arashi Series from Storm is definitely worth a look, with there self-tuning line tie and great fish catching colors, they are a perfect gift under $10.

Storm Arashi Square Bill

Storm Arashi Square Bill

There is no arguing that the most exciting way to catch smallmouth and largemouth bass is to land them on topwater baits.  Hard to go wrong with anything from the great topwater selection at KrugerFarms.com, pick something that fits your budget and catches your eye!

Nice listSo if you have a fisherman in your life that deserves something a little nicer then what you can fit in their stocking, here are a few items priced $50 or less.

When I fish for bass, it often means all day excursions in the boat and sometimes in extremely hot conditions, so it is important for me to have a lot of fluids packed in my boat and I like my drinks chilled.  The Arctic Ice packs are a great gift idea and they will thank you for years to come as this stuff just lasts so much longer than bags of ice and they are reusable.

Arctic-Ice-Alaskan-SetsOn those same long hot days, sun protection is as important has hydration.  To protect my neck, I rely on an Under Armour Neck Gator to shed the heat rather than constantly bathing in sunscreen that I will eventually forget to reapply.  Plus, this doubles as a nice neck warmer on those cooler days, it is a very versatile piece of gear.

Fishing line is something that should be changed out at minimum at the beginning of every season, so high quality line like Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon or FX2 Braid are great gifts as well.

very very Nice listFinally, if you need an extra special gift for somebody on the Very, Very Nice List, here are a couple if bigger ticket items!

Surprising your loved one with a new fishing rod will sure to get their attention on Christmas morning.  You really can’t go wrong with any rod in the Dobyns lineup, the have designed each rod with great attention to detail and balance.  Match your budget to the series and then pick a seven-foot rod in a medium heavy and that will be a do it all workhorse rod in their line-up.

My absolute favorite new reel of 2013 is the the Shimano Chronarch CI4+, if you have a bass enthusiast in your life this will make their eyes light up when they pull back the wrapping paper, an instant home run for sure!

Shimano_Chronarch_ci4_reelLastly, most of us bass fishermen, fish when we can, not when the conditions are perfect, so quality rain gear is a great asset for sure.  Check out the rain wear from Under Armour, all their stuff has excellent construction, very lightweight and breathes well.

Finally, hopefully this is helpful to you all and a Merry Christmas from us all at Kruger Farms!

Rich Lindgren is a tournament bass angler living in Lakeville, MN chasing bass all over Minnesota and its adjoining states. Bass blogger, podcaster and fishing promoter. You’ll see him fishing the Minnesota bass tournament scene representing krugerfarms.com and Dobyns Rods among others. You can like him on Facebook (facebook.com/bassinblog).

Christmas Gifts for the Walleye Angler

Pro-staff Contributor:  Dusty Minke

As a devoted walleye angler and outdoorsman, I know how great it is to get fishing gear at Christmas time.  Shopping for avid outdoor enthusiast can be a daunting task for many friends and spouses, so here are a few of my top picks to help you shop for your special walleye angler.

Stocking Stuffers

Lures and baits a simple yet great stocking stuffer come Christmas, so here are some of my top walleye lure picks:
Jigging Rapalas
VMC Tingler Spoons
Northland Mimic Minnows
Spinner Rigs

JIggin' Raps

JIggin’ Raps

Many of these spoons and jigging raps double as great ice fishing lures as well!

Nice listLet’s face it, there are some deserving walleye fisher people out there, so if you are looking for some out of the box gifts for those on your nice list, you probably want to step it up a little.

I enjoy using and think any Rapala tools or fillet knives make a great item to receive at Christmas. The touch screen Rapala scale is a great pick as well!

very very Nice list

Polarized sun glasses are a must for all anglers, the SPY Optics Kash Polarized would be my top pick. Often times fisherman don’t want to spend the extra $$ on shades, but once they get them for a gift and see how nice they are on the water, they’ll be thinking of you every time they go fishing until the follow Christmas.

Also I strongly suggest any type of Muck boots – when I’m fishing in extreme condition I want my feet dry so that is why I wear these boots all year round especially in the boat during fishing season…

Shimano_stradic_CI4-KF

Or a Shimano Static CI4 in 1000 or 2500 spinning reel; this is a great real that any fisherman would love to have.

Fish On …
Dusty Minke
Pro Staff Contributor and Tournament Walleye Angler

3 Keys to Fall Walleye Fishing

For starters, in my opinion, it is simply the best time of year hands down! Weather is cooling off and the views of fall colors are spectacular.

Dusty showing off a hefty fall walleye

Dusty showing off a hefty fall walleye

I like to tell people to fish like it is spring again; spring walleyes are hungry after the spawn but they are still lethargic and moody at times.  Fall walleyes are just plain hungry and that’s it!  Before winter sets in I think they feed heavier and even get bigger than in the spring. I actually like fall fishing the best.  Seems like there is less pressure everyone is hunting and watching sports.  So like spring think shallow water and the best part is, you will probably have the lake or river to yourself!

So here are my 3 keys to fall walleyes:

– Use more aggressive baits – Fall walleyes are mad! They are feeding to stock up for a long winter so if the fish are going to be aggressive use lures that you can work fast to get the reaction strike.  My fall favorites are casting crank baits or trolling them, jigging spoons/one eye’s, Jigging Raps or Puppet minnows and snap jigging minnow and jigs.  By using these aggressive lures you will put more fish in the boat.

– Grab the waders!  Often times we think that we need to be in a boat to catch fish.  The fall is the best time of the year to get a good hunt in the morning and some great mid-day fish catching.  This makes for a great surf & turf combo platter at night.  Have you ever had fresh venison and walleye or duck /grouse with walleye?  That’s what I call Surf and Turf! And keep it simple you don’t need a whole lot of gear for this strategy.  Also make sure to be safe depending on the season and dress as if your hunting (base layers are key).

– Fall wintering Walleyes do feed shallow and usually that is your best bet for ambushing them, however don’t forget to try deep!  Later in the fall walleyes can act like winter walleyes where they live in the deep water usually adjacent to shallower water humps or break lines.  Usually the best way to catch these deep fish is to jig or rig live bait using bigger profile minnows.  Also use Jiggin lures such as Jigging Raps and heavier winter type lures.  Don’t be afraid to try 30-50 feet of water; no matter where I have fished across the country fish live in both deep and shallow water…

JillnD2013CrownCanada

Dress for the Weather

Good luck and remember to pack the fishing gear on your next fall adventure

Fish On …
Dusty Minke
Pro Staff Contributor and Tournament Walleye Angler