Lake Okeechobee FLW Tour recap 2014

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

The 2014 FLW Tour got fired up last week at Florida’s Lake Okeechobee.  I was excited to get down to the Big O to start the year off for the third year in a row.  In 2012 I had my best FLW Tour finish in my first event, followed by my worst in 2013, so I was looking to get back there for some redemption.  The cool thing about Okeechobee is that you never know what you’ll connect with on any cast so it keeps you motivated to pay attention and fish hard.

I started out my practice checking out some areas where I’ve had good luck in the past on Okeechobee to try to get a feel for what the fish were doing.  I caught a number of fish that first day of practice, but most were not of the quality that I would need to do well in the tournament.  Over the next couple of days I covered as much water as I could looking for big bass, looking in some of the way back pockets as well as near the main lake.  My problem was I was catching some fish “in” and some “out”, but I was never able to get a solid pattern together on where I was getting to most quality bites.

A nice fish that fell for a Texas-rigged worm.  The new SPY "Gussy" sunglasses were great for being able to see the isolated clumps of grass that these fish were hanging around.

A nice fish that fell for a Texas-rigged worm. The new SPY “Gussy” sunglasses were great for being able to see the isolated clumps of grass that these fish were hanging around.

When the tournament started I spent my time fishing in the areas where I was getting the most bites during practice, basically hoping for a little luck that I would get some big bites.  This was a bad plan because I ended up catching a five fish limit weighing 10-03 on day one.  Not exactly how I wanted to start the season, buried in 130th place.  On day two I fished some different areas and did slightly better, bringing in 12-11, to end up with a 115th place finish.  Though I didn’t totally bury myself for a chance at making the Forrest Wood Cup, I did dig myself a nice hole to get out of.

As it turned out, I totally missed out on the hot bite going on last week at Okeechobee.  Many of the guys that did well in the tournament caught their fish in offshore hydrilla and eelgrass beds.  I got close to a few of these types of places but in the limited amount of time I spent fishing around them I never got lucky to connect with a good fish to kind of show me what was out there.

Big fish do live in Okeechobee, you just have to be fishing in the right places!

Big fish do live in Okeechobee, you just have to be fishing in the right places!

I spent five days fishing at Okeechobee after the tournament and finally dialed in what was going on.  The past few days have been some of the best days of fishing of my life, catching both big fish and numbers of fish so it feels good to leave on a good note.

Gussy with some big fish caught throwing a vibrating jig after the tournament on Okeechobee.  My setup for throwing these jigs is a G. Loomis NRX 7'3" medium heavy (NRX 873C), Shimano Core 100MG (6.3:1), 20lb. Sunline Sniper FC fluorocarbon.

Gussy with some big fish caught throwing a vibrating jig after the tournament on Okeechobee. My setup for throwing these jigs is a G. Loomis NRX 7’3″ medium heavy (NRX 873C), Shimano Chronarch CI4+ (6.2:1), 20lb. Sunline Sniper FC fluorocarbon.
GoPro Photo

Knowing what some of these guys were doing to catch their fish after the tournament I started covering some water with vibrating jig (chatterbait) type lures.  They go through the grass pretty good and work great for triggering strikes in the slightly stained water.  Once we found fish with the vibrating jigs we could slow down in that area with Texas-rigged worms and pluck a few more fish.

Wyatt Swartz of International Comfort Products (one of my sponsors) with a couple of Okeechobee pigs that he caught.

Wyatt Swartz of International Comfort Products (one of my sponsors) with a couple of Okeechobee pigs that he caught.

It felt good to leave Okeechobee with some confidence that I can catch fish out there and hopefully the next time we go there I’ll be a little more open-minded to cover all the options on where these fish will be.  It’s so easy to fish all the emergent vegetation there because there is so much of it, but when the weather is as good as it was for us last week, you have to know that there are going to be a lot of fish biting somewhere because the lake is full of them!

Next week I’m headed to the Bassmaster Classic in Birmingham.  I have never attended this event before so I’m looking forward to seeing the big show, then it’s on to Lake Hartwell, South Carolina for the second stop on the FLW Tour.

Stay warm!

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).

Join us this weekend at Hard Water Expo

Don’t let the cooling weather get you down, it just means ice fishing is just a few weeks away.  Get a jump-start on the hard water season by checking out all the latest and greatest ice fishing gear, houses, augers, tackle and more this weekend at the Blaine Hard Water Ice Fishing Expo.

Set the Hook at the Hard Water Expo

Set the Hook at the Hard Water Expo

Kruger Farms plans to have great deals on just about every ice fishing item they carry including the best selection of the new 13 fishing rods, reels and clothing.  KrugerFarms.com is also having a guided trip and gear away.

KF_Hard_Water_Ice_Fishing_expo_flyerLocation: NSC Schwan Center, 1750 105th Ave NE, Blaine, MN 55449.
Hours: Friday, November 1, 2 – 8 p.m.; Saturday, November 2, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday, November 3, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $10/day; Students, $7/day. 11 and under admitted free. Unlimited free parking. Go to KrugerFarms.com Fishing Facebook Page for $1 Off Coupon on Admission.

Features: ice fishing celebrities, seminars and classes, guide services, wheel houses, youth programs, travel destinations, new equipment, outdoor equipment testing.

Unique things to look for at the Hard Water Ice Fishing Expo:

Kids’ programs. Special youth activities, including a fish pond.

Krugerfarms.com and Fishing for Life will team up to provide a great way to get usable equipment into the hands of kids. Attendees are invited to drop off old rods and reels at the Krugerfarms.com booth at the Hard Water Ice Fishing Expo. Those making a donation will receive a $5 off coupon for any ice fishing combo at the Krugerfarms.com booth. Fishing for Life will then take the old rods and reels and refurbish them for kids who want to fish.

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

NWT Devils Lake Recap with Bill Shimota and Dusty Minke

DevilsLakeNWTTeamKFBoatsAfter the National Walleye Tour Sturgeon Bay event, all of our walleye anglers have landed in the Top 20 in the race for Angler of the Year.  We thought you’d all enjoy a little insight from our anglers—Bill Shimota and Dusty Minke on the final event from Devils Lake to finish the season!

Did you feel more pressure going into this tournament because it wraps up the season? How did you prepare for the event—with fishing or bow hunting to clear your heads?

Dusty: The championship is my favorite event of the year.  Typically point standings are over with and you can just let it all out and go big for the win!  I also enjoy fishing this time of the year with cooler temps and hungry fall feeding walleyes.  I prepared by doing some homework calling friends and trying to find where and what the fish were doing!  This was a strange week and a lot of things changed while we were at Devils.  Calm nice weather for practice turned into windy cooler tournament time conditions.  No Bow hunting for me, actually had to fly to St. Louis for work and didn’t return to the lake until late Wednesday night before the tournament started.  This added a little pressure being off the water for three days.

Bill:  For me, I don’t think I felt too much more pressure, if anything with just buying a new house I felt pressure to bring home some money to help with the renovations.  I did go out a few days earlier then I normally would to do some bow hunting and to spend a little more time on the water.  Devils Lake is an absolute maze, you could pre-fish for a month and you still would have time to cover it all.

How was day one of the tournament, specifically the weather conditions and tactics used?

Dusty: The first day I tried casting crankbaits for about 10 minutes and it didn’t work for me; however this turned out to be a winning tactic that I should have possibly spent more time doing.

I started in the popular area in Pelican Bay by the two sunken bridges with current where 20 other tournament boats started. Our boat was jigging #7 and #9 Jigging Rapalas along with some Northland Puppet minnows in perch colors; they seemed to work the best!

BobandD2013Bill: The weather was windy like it always is out there but I was tucked away in a small channel and had very nice fishing conditions.

I actually started snap jigging in the deeper trough as that is what worked in practice but it didn’t take long to figure out the fish were up shallower.  I went to casting #7 RS Shad Raps and VMC Mooneye jigs tipped with TriggerX plastics to catch all my fish.  I was very satisfied with my 12 pounds I brought in on day one after have a pretty tough pre-fish.

Bill_Shimota_NWT

Photo courtesy of Bear Solis Outdoors

How did your experience change on day two?

Dusty: The weather was the same, with blowing winds with cool air temps.  The bite got tough in the pressured area I was fishing, but I was lucky enough to draw travel partner and good friend Gregg Opegard.  We landed some nice fish right away in the morning and had a nice 3-4 pound walleye come off right before we could get a net on it!

We stuck with our area even after  most boats got out and ended up getting a nice keeper rigging a leech.  Then by noon we bailed and fished some rock humps in Pelican bay with Northland Live Forage Crawler Hauler in the Gold Perch color with 1 ½ ounce Rock Runner Bottom Bouncers and ended up catching three more nice fish from 17 to 20’’.

DandOppe2013DLBill: Day 2 was the death of me; I got to my spot with high hopes only to find out the water had turned to mud and the fish just simply couldn’t see our baits.  There were 3 of us in there including Chris Gillman who went on to win the tournament, and we all bailed within an hour.

I was forced to change-up and I knew it wasn’t going to be good.  I ran to about 8 spots and also back to my starting spot to see if the water cleared in the afternoon.  I caught all of 50 walleyes that day and the biggest one was 16.5 inches.

How did you all do? What place did you take, what were your bag weights, and how much did you win?

Dusty: I ended the tournament with 20-1/2 pounds for 36th place and missing the money by 5 pounds.  Just goes to show if you get every fish to the boat and make the right decisions you can always have a chance.

Bill: After a decent first day start, I fell back to 60th Place with 16.4 pounds.

Bill and Dusty, this season has been great for the entire krugerfarms.com team. What do you think has led to this success?

Dusty: I think we work great together as a team – we all bring different approaches to the table. Like anything in life, you have to work hard to be successful at the same time you also have to filter out the good and bad information.  Also one thing I like to stress is that this is life and you should always try to have fun no matter what you are doing!  We have fun as a group we also had a great team of Co-anglers that traveled with us helping along the way… Cody Lubeley – Chris Augustine – Gregg Opegard – Karl Sprengel and everyone else that helped us along the season…  I will miss you the most Karl! ; )

Bill: On top of what Dusty already mentioned;  I know our success has a lot to do with all the hard work we put into it.  We are up late every night preparing rods and tackle when most guys are already in bed.  We also give it 110% every day on the water.

Before this tournament, for the Angler of the Year standings, Korey was sitting in first place with 585 points, Bill was sitting in third place with 557 points, and Dusty was sitting in 18th place with 485 points. How did you all finish in the Angler of the Year standings after this weekend?

Dusty: Ended up in 19th overall in the standings. I think it was a good race throughout the season.  We have not seen full fields like this in walleye fishing in some time so competition was stiff! At the end of the day I’m happy ending the season being one of the Top 20 walleye angers

Bill: It was tough to see Korey fall to second place in a tie breaker.  Myself, I ended up in 6th place overall.  I was very pleased to have the season I did.  I had so much going on at home this year I had to put some of the normal preparations for these tournaments on the back burner.  Can’t wait for next year and another chance to make a run for it!

What are all of your plans for the winter and next year? Are you going to change things up or stick with the great thing you’ve got going?

Dusty:  This winter I will be working a lot around the country for North Country Marketing and getting prepared again for next season!  I think we had a great thing going this season and some fuel was put in our fire to come back strong again next season… Look forward to working with the guys and getting a game plan ready for 2014

Bill: We always have to wait and see what the schedules for all the circuits look like before we make all of our plans but I’m sure you will see the Men in Black back together again next year!    I plan to do plenty of deer hunting this fall, I already started by taking a nice doe while I was out in North Dakota!

WalleyeTam_KF

Photo courtesy of Liddle Marketing Co

Any closing thoughts about the NWT season?

Bill: I think the NWT did a great job for the inaugural season.  The participation numbers are finally back to where we want them and hopefully they can continue to offer us a good schedule to fish next season.

Dusty: It was a great year and I feel very fortunate that the NWT along with Ranger Boats – stepped up to plate and formed a competitive televised tournament circuit for Professional Walleye fisherman. The NWT did a great job in its inaugural season.

Just wanted to say big thanks to the Support from my sponsors this season without them this is not possible— Krugerfarms.com – Crown Royal – ICP – Ranger – Evinrude – SPYHuminnbird Minn Kota – Optima Batteries – Arctic Ice – Ontario’s Sunset Country- Under ArmorRapala –  Northland Fishing Tackle – Central Marine and Sports – Formula Propeller

Also big thanks to Fans – Friends and Family for the all of your support throughout the season!

Day1DevilsLake2013Also special thanks to my good friend Kari Solis from Bearsolis.com for all the great photos and coverage at all the events this season… You’re the best! Check out her newly designed website www.bearsolis.com

Shimano releases a game changer

Admittedly I have been a Shimano fishing reel junkie for years, my Dad I bought several of the original green bantam Curados when they came out in the 90’s, they were a great reel and Shimano has been reliable and good to me ever since. I even have a few of the original green Curados still in my arsenal.

NEW Shimano Chronarch CI4+

NEW Shimano Chronarch CI4+

That being said, I usually purchase and try out the newest and greatest Curados, Chronarchs when they come out and even have a Core in my lineup. The newer reels are often lighter, smoother and have a few extra bells and whistles than previous models.  That being said, I was extra stoked about the release of the new Chronarch CI4+ for this year when it was announced at ICAST 2013. I spent quite a bit of time searching around online stores looking to see who would get these reels in first.

Fortunately, KrugerFarms.com was one of the firs to have them in stock in the 150HG model, which is the right handed, high speed version.  At 7.6:1, I am pretty sure this is the fastest reel Shimano has put out yet for the freshwater market.  It is nice ordering from Kruger Farms, as I usually get my stuff in 1-2 days versus a full week from other online retailers that are often based on the West Coast. My initial out of the box impression was very impressive, the reel is super light and you can instantly feel the smoothness and quality of the reel. Once I paired it with my Dobyns Champion Extreme DX745C, it made it feel like a new rod. It made an already great rod feel even more unbelievably light and balanced.

Chronarch CI4+ on Dobyns DX745c

Chronarch CI4+ on Dobyns DX745c

Once on the water, the reel really proved its merit. As smooth as any reel I’ve ever fished, casts a mile and with the added external cast control it manages lures of all weights and sizes with just a few quick clicks. If you are in to having the best of the best in bass fishing gear, this new Chronarch is a must have! Or with Christmas around the corner, if you are looking to have your favorite fisher persons eyes light up on Christmas morning, this is a can’t miss!

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).

Forrest Wood Cup Recap: Tharp Makes his Mark on the Red

 

Photo from ForrestWoodCup.com.

Photo from ForrestWoodCup.com.

Pro-staff Contributor: Rich Lindgren

The moment FLW announced the Red River as the sight of the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup, Randall Tharp circled it on his calendar.  He knew that of all the venues that would host the Cup in coming years none would likely better align with his strengths as an angler.  Tharp is well-known for extracting big bass from shallow vegetation all over the south.  It’s not that he can’t catch them everywhere, but he is particularly comfortable on venues like the Red River—plus his nickname on tour is the Mongoose, how fitting is that?!

Sunday’s final weigh-in marked the finale of the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup, which featured 46 of the best professional bass anglers from across the country.  Tharp crossed the stage with a 5-bass limit weighing an even 14 pounds on Sunday to claim the title of Forrest Wood Cup Champion as well as $501,000 in prize money and contingencies.  Tharp, with a 4-day total of 20 bass for 53 pounds, 2 ounces, won by a 4-pound margin over the reigning Forrest Wood Cup champion Jacob Wheeler of Indianapolis, IN.  Wheeler caught 5 bass, weighing 14-3, to push his 4-day total to 20 bass, weighing 49-2—earning $75,000.

Despite the drastic cool front that greeted the anglers between the practice period and the tournament, Tharp made key adjustments that put him in a position to earn the title.  The Everstart pro said that he had several key baits this week.  His primary bait was a 3/8-ounce bluegill-colored swim jig paired with a Strike King Rage Craw, which he used to weigh several of his fish throughout the week, including his bigger bites.  He said that he boated a few keepers throwing a square-bill crankbait and his three biggest fish from Sunday came on a white-colored Spro Bronzeye 65 frog with orange tails. He had two primary areas that he fished—every day he started just north of the ramp in a small lake lined with houses until he had his limit, then would spend the rest of his time in his big-fish area looking for a few upgrades.  Tharp’s patience was a major contributor to his success, as he normally would only get one or two good bites in his afternoon area, but those were the bites that carried him to victory.

The top 10 pros finished the tournament in:
1st: EverStart pro Randall Tharp, Port Saint Joe, FL, 20 bass, 53-2, $501,000
2nd: Jacob Wheeler, Indianapolis, IN, 20 bass, 49-2, $75,000
3rd: Chevy pro Bryan Thrift, Shelby, NC, 20 bass, 46-1, $60,000
4th: Kerry Milner, Bono, AR, 20 bass, 44-7, $55,000
5th: Chevy pro Larry Nixon, Bee Branch, AR, 20 bass, 44-4, $50,000
6th: Michael Neal, Dayton, TN, 20 bass, 44-2, $45,000
7th: Walmart pro Mark Rose, West Memphis, AR, 15 bass, 43-7, $40,000
8th: Troy Morrow, Eastanollee, GA, 20 bass, 41-8, $35,000
9th: Tom Monsoor, La Crosse, WS, 20 bass, 41-2, $30,000
10th: Robbie Dodson, Harrison, AR, 19 bass, 37-11, $25,000

A complete list of results can be found at ForrestWoodCup.com.

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).

 

Photo from ForrestWoodCup.com

Photo from ForrestWoodCup.com

Tournament Fishing: Does Prefishing Really Work?

Pro-staff Contributor: Michaela Anderson

This weekend I fished in the FLW Central Division Qualifier on Pickwick Lake (a part of the Tennessee River) in Alabama and it did not go like I planned at all! Because of this I had to wonder, is prefishing all its hyped up to be?

Fishing Pickwick Lake

Personally, I do not feel comfortable fishing a tournament on a lake I have never been on.  So before the tournament, I packed up the truck and boat and went down to Alabama for four days. The FLW restricts prefishing so that the lake is off-limits during the five days prior to competition. Therefore, the first day we practiced was over a week before the actual tournament—a lot can change in a week!

Michaela prefishing for FLW Pickwick Lake College Tournament

Michaela prefishing for FLW Pickwick Lake College Tournament

When we started fishing, the river was about three feet above average level and the water temps ranged from 62˚ to as high as 70˚. We caught at least 30 fish that day by flipping Trigger X Goo Bugs in the reeds, in cuts and coves along the shore, and close to the main river channel. However, in the following days they started pulling water in anticipation of storms that were rolling in so that our successful locations became depleted of all water.  We did not want to put all our effort into one pattern so we focused on finding deeper fish on Saturday and Sunday. With these efforts, we found fish in an area that had a slight drop off leading to a shell bed and an old river channel. There were fish stacked in this location so we thought that it would stay consistent even with the change in water levels.

After returning home, I watched the water levels and weather all week. Storms had gone through the area and the water levels were almost up to flood stage, which is 18 feet above normal! This worried me because I knew it meant that all of our grass was under water. By the time we arrived at the lake on Friday the water was about eight feet above normal.  That night a storm came through and there was a big temperature drop. We decided to follow our original game plan and start deep because we figured the fish would move out with the colder weather and if we didn’t catch fish that would mean they would probably be shallow so we would then go fish the weeds we had found earlier.

Finally it was time to launch—we were boat number 44 out of 50.  We had only seen one person in our planned area during prefishing so we were not concerned about others beating us to our spot.  When we finally arrived at our spot, which was about 20 minutes away, we were shocked to see about 10 other college teams in the same area. We caught short fish on Carolina rigs and shaky head jigs but could not catch any keepers. The rain had definitely cooled down the water because it was only 64˚. After about two hours we knew we had to change patterns. We started seeking out the areas with grass we had discovered during prefishing—ruling out areas that were now under water or had another tournament boat on them. Again we could only catch short fish. We finished up the day fishing by the dam in search of some of the large small mouth bass we had stumbled upon in practice…with no luck.

Pros and Cons of Prefishing

On the extremely long 15-hour ride back, I couldn’t get the tournament out of my head—I just kept thinking about how well we had done the weekend before. Then I thought back to the last FLW Qualifier on Lake of the Ozarks when the same thing had happened to us. That made me think: is it worth it to drive that far to prefish for a 6-hour tournament? If it was an 8- or 9- hour tournament, like most others, you have time to adjust and change patterns. But during a 6-hour tournament, it is extremely hard to make adjustments if your first pattern doesn’t work.

The first day of pre fishing has always been our best and I started wondering, why? I came to the conclusion that our success was slightly due to the fact that we had no preconceived ideas or patterns. We had done research online but had no clear idea of where to start, so we just started by fishing with the best methods we knew and went from there. On both Lake of the Ozarks and Pickwick we had a solid pattern on the first day and just tried to expand and build on it during the following days.

Another shot from prefishing on Lake Pickwick.

Another shot from prefishing on Lake Pickwick.

The benefit to prefishing was that we knew where to find different structures and did not waste any time looking around. The disadvantage to pre fishing was that we thought we knew the spots that had fish.  Then when we were only catching short fish, we started to panic and fish faster than we should have so that we could try to hit all of our spots in the short 6-hour time period.

So, Will I Prefish Again?

I still think you should prefish before a tournament—otherwise you wouldn’t know what the lake looks like, where you can and can’t drive, or where to find different types of structures. When you cannot prefish immediately before the tournament, I think your prefishing should be more focused on covering water and finding as many different types of spots as possible. I think our mistake was that we focused too much on actually catching fish and not on finding a wide variety of spots. So much can change in a week, so you need to have a lot of variety to work with. Another thing I’ve taken away is that I need to go into tournaments with an open mind and to remember to fish with my tried-and-true methods.

Even after the last two tournaments, I truly believe that if you put in the effort and work hard you will be rewarded. I have learned more than I can include in two short blogs from these last two tournaments, even though we didn’t finish where we had hoped. I am very lucky to be able to do what I am doing and have these experiences—but I’m not ruling out getting a lucky rabbit’s foot, horseshoe, or four-leaf clover to help catch keepers in the future!

Michaela Anderson is a college angler fishing the FLW, B.A.S.S. College Circuits and select FLW Walmart Tour events representing krugerfarms.com, Trigger X and the University of St. Thomas. You can follow her on Twitter (@MichaelaFishing) and like her on Facebook (facebook.com/MichaelaAndersonFishing).

Boat Prefishing

4 Quick Tips to Make Your Fish Look Bigger

You’ve caught an impressive fish while on the lake, now what? Obviously catching a large fish is the first step to gaining bragging rights, but there are ways to photograph your catch for more wow-factor.  Our professional photographer has years of experience that prove that if you follow the below steps you will have a photo fit for the pros–without photoshop.

4 Tips To Make Your Fish Look Bigger

Show us how these steps worked for you. Send pictures of your amazing fish to erin@krugerfarms.com and we’ll share them on our Facebook fan page!

Sunline Fishing Line: Shooter vs. Sniper

Sunline blog
Pro-staff Contributor: Rich Lindgren

Many anglers have approached me saying, “I know Sunline Fluorocarbon is great, but how do I know when I should use Shooter or Sniper line? What is best for me?” These are great questions—when you are buying a premium fluorocarbon, you want to make sure you are spending your dollar wisely.

Sunline Sniper, in general, is softer and more manageable than Shooter. It casts very easily and performs amazingly on spinning gear. It is easy to fish with while maintaining good strength and abrasion resistance—it’s a great all-around line. Plus, Sniper is the best choice in extreme temperatures: both cold (under 45F) and hot (over 100F). In summary, it’s the best for finesse fishing, small jerkbaits and crankbaits.

The alternative, Sunline Shooter, is more abrasion resistant and even stronger than Sniper. It has extremely low stretch, allowing it to be as close to a fishing braid without actually being one. The line is very hard; transmitting superior sensitivity and sinking slightly faster than the Sniper. Palomar knots tend to fail due to this hard line, so make sure you use a slip style knot like a uni-knot or San Diego Jam knot. This line is great for fishing jigs, Texas rigs and general power fishing.

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 follow him on Twitter (@HellaBass) and like him on Facebook (facebook.com/bassinblog).

Bass Fishing in Florida

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

No matter where you’re from, if you’re an angler that enjoys bass fishing, there is no better place to plan a bass fishing trip in February than in the state of Florida. When the rest of the continent is locked in a state of cold, the sun is usually shining down in Florida.

Over the years I have been fortunate to be able to make a few fun trips to Florida to bass fish during the winter. Paired with my opportunities to fish FLW Tour events, I have been able to fish Florida lakes like Toho, Istokpoga and OkeechobeeGussy sideways bass hold in many conditions and have caught some of the biggest bass of my life.

My approach to fishing down in Florida has been to cover water with horizontal moving baits to find fish, then to slow down and try to exploit an area with flipping techniques. Lipless rattle baits, topwater swim baits and topwater hard baits have been the best options for me. We’ve caught some big fish using these tactics!

The Jackall TN/70 is a top-notch lipless rattle bait that has become my favorite for fishing bass across North America. It features a tungsten lip on the nose of the bait to balance it perfectly and create a unique vibration that bass evidently can’t resist. I like to throw rattle baits when fish are in a pre-spawn mode and staging around weed clumps in open water.

When bass in Florida start to get ready to spawn they move into heavier grass cover. Swimbaits that can be buzzed on the surface excel at covering water in these places. This was the style of bait that I used to finish 20th at the 2012 FLW Tour Open at Lake Okeechobee. I caught nearly all of the fish I weighed-in with this style of bait. Spawning fish will often eat these baits as they swim over head and if they miss the bait they will at least reveal their location so you can follow up with a jig or worm to catch them.

Topwater hard baits like the Jackall Bowstick 130 are another good option when the cover is not too thick. This is a walking-style, topwater bait that I feel really selects for big bass. This is a great bait to throw early and late in the day, yet it can still generate big strikes during the middle of the day at times.

Once I find areas that have fish, I like to slow down and fish slowly. If there is heavy cover around, I’ll get out my Shimano flipping sticks and start flipping around the thickest clumps of reeds or mats that I can find. Punching through the heaviest clumps of weeds with a Jackall Cover Craw rigged with a 1-ounce tungsten sinker is a proven technique.

If you can find a way to get to Florida this winter to experience some of the great fishing opportunities that exist there I highly recommend it! Also, don’t be afraid to employ these tactics to find and catch fish on waters across North America that have significant weed growth.

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).

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