Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson
The final event of the 2013 FLW Tour season took place this past weekend at Lake Chickamauga in Tennessee. For many anglers on the tour, this was an important event, because after it was finished the 35 anglers with the most points after the six-event season qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup—the annual Tour Championship where anglers fish for a first place prize of $500,000. My chances of qualifying for the Cup were eliminated earlier in the season after a couple of bad tournaments. So I went into the event with the goal to cash a check and end the season on a good note.
I had spent a few days at Chickamauga in late May before the lake went off limits, which helped me because I had a good idea of what I wanted to do when I got back for the official practice. I planned to check out some places where I had caught fish earlier—both shallow and deep—hoping that would give me a start on things I should focus on during the week of the tournament.
Over the course of the three day practice for this tournament, I found a few different areas that held fish, and had a reliable dock pattern that would put a few extra fish in the boat after I was finished working over my “spots.” The best place I found was a small ledge that had a shell bed on it. In practice I caught a couple of big fish off of it on a ¾oz football jig.
When the event started, this ledge was my first stop and it paid off when I caught a five-pound largemouth on my third cast of the day. I caught this fish on a Jackall Muscle Deep 15 crankbait in the chartreuse shad color. I was throwing this bait on a 7’11” G. Loomis GLX crankbait rod (GLX955CBR), Shimano Chronarch reel (CH200E6) and 12 lb Sunline Sniper FC line. I could get this bait to touch the bottom in 14-16 feet, where the fish were and put a few of my biggest fish in the boat during the tournament with this set up. Over the course of the event, I also caught a few of my weigh fish on a football jig, a drop-shot rig and by pitching a jig around some docks—all using G. Loomis rods and Shimano reels.
After a good catch on the first day (18-05), I sat in 21st place. My goal on day two was to improve my position and try to make the top 20, which would have allowed me to fish another day. I ended up having a little bit of a tougher second day and brought in 13-14, to finish in 26th place—earning a check for $10,000.
Overall, my experience fishing the FLW Tour this season was awesome! I learned a lot and look forward to giving it another shot next year. I feel like the experiences I had this year, both good and bad, will help me down the road. Huge thanks go out to all of my sponsors for making it possible for me to fish the FLW Tour this year, as well as all the people that supported me through the ups and downs of the season. It’s been fun!
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).