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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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).