Archive for Jeff Gustafson

Lake Chickamauga FLW Tour Report

Posted in Fishing Tips, FLW Tournaments, Tournament Updates with tags , , , , , on July 3, 2013 by krugerfarms.com

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

Gussy prefishing on Lake Chickamauga

Gussy prefishing on Lake Chickamauga

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.

Gussy with friend and fellow pro-angler, Blake Nick at the rules meeting.

Gussy with friend and fellow pro-angler, Blake Nick at the rules meeting.

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).

Here was the biggest fish Gussy caught at Chickamauga--it was over six pounds.

Here was the biggest fish Gussy caught at Chickamauga–it was over six pounds.

Advertisements

Grand Lake, OK FLW Tour Report

Posted in FLW Tournaments, Tournament Updates with tags , , , , , on June 12, 2013 by krugerfarms.com

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

The fifth stop on the 2013 FLW Tour took place this past weekend at Oklahoma’s Grand Lake.  I arrived in Grove, Oklahoma the day before practice started, and while I drove over a bridge on the lake I was shocked to see the high, dirty water.  There were literally thousands of logs and pieces of debris floating down the lake—a result of heavy rains accompanying the nasty storms that have gone through Oklahoma recently.  Fishing this type of water was going to be a new experience for me.

A look at the flooded shoreline of Grand Lake.

A look at the flooded shoreline of Grand Lake.

During my first morning of practice, things started out pretty well.  It didn’t take me long to start catching some nice fish by flipping a ½ oz jig in some of the flooded bushes and wood along the bank of the lake.  Over the course of the day, I caught several good fish and figured I was onto a solid program that would carry me through the weekend.  But, the next two days of practice were not as good as the first.  I wasn’t sure if I had simply found a good area on the first day or if the pattern was not as solid as I thought.

Heading into the event I figured that 13 pounds per day would likely be enough to get a check at this event, based on what I saw in practice and what some of the other anglers were saying.  But as it turns out, I was way off on that prediction.  I brought in 12 pounds the first day of the tournament and found myself sitting in 94th place.  On day two, I did a little bit better and caught 13 pounds but it didn’t help my final standings.  I ended up with a 99th place finish at this tournament.

Even though I ended outside of the money, I still had some success with my techniques.  I caught most of my fish with a jig on a 7’5″ G. Loomis GL2 flipping stick matched with a 7:0:1 Shimano Core 100 and 20 lb Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon.  I also caught a few fish with a Jackall SK-Pop Grande on a 6’8″ Shimano Crucial topwater rod  matched up with a 7:0:1 Shimano Chronarch reel and 30 lb Power Pro Super Slick line.

Gussy with a big fish he caught during practice.

Gussy with a big fish he caught during practice.

Obviously I’m disappointed with where I finished, but I am taking some positive notes from the experience.  I lost two big fish during the first day of the tournament, they just jumped off on me, so I ended up weighing a couple of small fish that day.  I’m not trying to give you the “woulda, coulda” routine, but I know that if I would have landed those two fish I would have been flirting with getting a check and a happy finish.  So I feel like I was on the right program with my technique but maybe needed to find a better location.  I’m taking the positive out of all of these events and hopefully next year when I’m faced with similar conditions I’ll be able to adjust a little more quickly.

There is one event left on the 2013 FLW Tour Majors schedule coming up in a couple weeks at Tennessee’s Lake Chickamauga.  I’m looking forward to getting on the water on Chickamauga and trying to put together a solid game plan to end the season on a strong note.

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).

Lake Eufaula FLW Tour Recap

Posted in Fishing Tips, FLW Tournaments, Tournament Updates with tags , , , , , on May 22, 2013 by krugerfarms.com

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

Stop four on the 2013 FLW Tour took place this past weekend at Alabama’s Lake Eufaula.  For me, this event was a humbling experience to say the least.

Gussy's dad, Jim Gustafson, with a nice largemouth from practice.

Gussy’s dad, Jim Gustafson, with a nice largemouth from practice.

My Dad was down with me for this event and fished his first tournament as a co-angler.  I did little research for this tournament prior to launching the boat on the first morning of practice.  My approach to fishing these new lakes is to get the boat in the water and try to break it down as quickly as possible to get some sort of pattern established.  Instead of doing a bunch of research like I usually do, I decided that for this one I would just try to fish the moment and figure it out as things were happening.  We basically launched the boat and started fishing: starting shallow, then trying some deeper water, then moving to shallow water again. We fished the main channel of the lake as well as several creek arms.

We caught a good number of fish on the first day of practice, including several in the two- to three- pound range by casting crankbaits on main lake points in three to six feet of water.  My best bait was a Jackall MC/60 MR crankbait in the Ghost Bluegill color.  My Dad was throwing this bait and was laying a beating on me so we quickly figured out that this was a lure that the fish wanted.  We probably caught twenty keepers that first day—which was a great start.

The second day of practice was tougher, we stayed with the same pattern and tried to cover a little more water in hopes of finding as many fishing spots as possible.  We didn’t catch nearly as many fish so I wasn’t sure if my pattern was dying or if I had just found a good area that first day.  I generally don’t like to fish the same places in practice because it’s so important to keep looking for new water all the time in order to find as many areas as possible.

On the last day of practice we went farther south on the lake and tried a large creek arm that I had not been into over the first couple days.  Almost immediately we started catching fish, including a couple of large four- and five- pounders.  Now I was getting excited!  I had a large area that had what seemed like good numbers of big fish in it so I was ready to get the tournament started.  We caught these fish on a wacky rigged Jackall Flick Shake 5.8″ worm.  They wanted a slow presentation and this worm was out-fishing everything else that we tried.

The first day of the tournament I caught a few fish on the Flick Shake worm in the morning and managed to catch a couple of big ones at the end of the day on a Jackall Iobee Frog.  I caught these fish during my last twenty minutes of fishing and they helped me out significantly.  My co-angler also caught a five pounder, which helped him land a tournament leading catch of 15-03 in his division.  My limit of 13-06 landed me in 38th place, which I was very happy with.  More importantly I felt like I had learned a lot heading into day two.  I was optimistic there were more big fish in the shallow grass area where we caught the big ones at the end of the day.

Day two turned out to be a nightmare.  The weather was not significantly different from day one—it was hot with a light breeze.  For whatever reason, the fish just didn’t bite. I caught a bunch of “short” fish (under 14”) and had two big blow ups on the frog which I didn’t connect with.  After a while I started running around to some of the places where I thought I could catch numbers and just couldn’t make it happen.  When you don’t have fish in your livewell the day goes by quickly, so before I knew it, it was time for weigh-in.  I fished my butt off all day long and just didn’t get the bites.

So, I’ve decided to absorb what I’ve learned here, move on to the next one and forget about this event.  Next stop on the schedule is Grand Lake, Oklahoma, June 6 – 9.

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).

A line up of the Jackall Baits that Gussy caught fish on during the week at Eufaula.

A line up of the Jackall Baits that Gussy caught fish on during the week at Eufaula.

Gearing Up for Shed Hunting in Canada

Posted in Hunting Tips with tags , , , , on April 22, 2013 by krugerfarms.com

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

Gussy's Friend with ShedWe are still buried under a blanket of snow across most of Ontario’s Sunset Country, delaying the start of our spring shed hunting season, but much of the Midwest is now clear of snow.  As soon as the snow melts it will be prime time to hit the woods in search of shed antlers across the ice belt.  This is because there is no grass hindering our ability to see freshly dropped antlers.  The snow also preserves all of the deer rut signs from the previous fall so we’re killing two birds with one stone when we hit the woods.  Not only might we find a giant shed antler, but we’re also able to see all the significant deer signs from the previous fall—things like fresh rubs, scrapes and tracks.

Hard Work Pays Off

I have put in many days where I’ve walked for 12 hours straight, through swamps, some of the thickest brush you can imagine and up big hills.  I strike out during some days and don’t find much, but many times my friends and I have found over 100 sheds in one day.

In Ontario’s Sunset Country region, we find most of our sheds on the south facing sides of the biggest hills and ridges.  We scout areas on topographical maps then make a plan for how to access them.  The best spots are more than a mile from the nearest road or the lake shoreline.  These are places that hunters generally can’t get to; so we’re walking on land that sees very little human activity.  When we find 100+ sheds in a day, these include a lot of old sheds—some of which are faded and chewed on—but when we find multiple sheds in the middle of an open ridge, we know that nobody has walked through that opening in a long time!

In the big woods that I shed hunt, a handheld GPS is critical to avoid getting lost.  It can be easy to navigate on our own during sunny days, but on cloudy days it can be almost impossible without GPS.  GPS units like the Garmin Rino 120 also feature a radio—which is an added bonus.  The cool thing about shed hunting is that there is no limit to how many people can be involved.  It’s a social activity, which is why I have so much fun doing it.  My friends and I have contests when we go for the most sheds, biggest or first find of the day.  Having a radio helps us interact and keep track of everyone’s location.

Good day for shed hunting

Finding Comfortable and Durable Gear

The most important part of enjoying a shed hunting experience is being comfortable.  That means dressing properly—from my base layers to my boots.  Walking through rough terrain all day is a great body workout so I want to wear quality boots.  Over the years I have worn several different boots and have come to rely on the Danner Pronghorn GTX for its durability and its water resistance.  The Under Armour-Armour Guard shirt is my favorite base layer because it’s not super tight fitting and it will dry quickly if I break a sweat climbing a big hill.  For my pants, I definitely want something rugged and durable because I’ll be rubbing them on all kinds of sticks and branches.  The Mountain Khaki Alpine Utility Pant is super tough and extremely comfortable—it’s the only pant I wear in the woods anymore.  It’s a top quality product!

Spring is a great time of year to get outside and enjoy time with your friends.  If you find any big shed antlers this spring, be sure to share photos with us on the krugerfarms.com Facebook page!

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).

Gussy and Friend Shed Hunting

Beaver Lake FLW Tour Recap

Posted in Fishing Tips, FLW Tournaments with tags , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2013 by krugerfarms.com

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

The third FLW Tour event of the season took place this past weekend at Beaver Lake in Arkansas. I arrived at Beaver a little bit intimidated. The tour has come to this body of water 15 times since its inception 18 years ago, so most of the anglers have significant experience fishing tournaments on this water. But even though I had less experience on this lake, I was fortunate to walk away with a solid 45th place finish.

When doing my research, I learned that there were varying water clarities in Beaver Lake. The lower end near the dam had really clear water; while the upper end of the lake featured dirty water. I decided I would likely be more comfortable fishing in the clear water, so I chose to focus on that during my first day of practice.

The Alabama Rig

I also knew that since this was going to be a pre-spawn tournament the Alabama Rig would likely come into play. This rig has been dominant on

All I could catch on the Alabama Rig were these white bass...they like it!
All I could catch on the Alabama Rig were these white bass…they like it!

lakes across the United States over the past few months but my confidence in it is low because I haven’t gotten a good bite with it yet.  I just can’t catch fish with it, it’s driving me crazy!

I had very limited success with it during practice so I did not throw it much during the actual event. As it turned out most of the top finishing anglers in the tournament threw the “rig” throughout the event. I will have to spend more time working with this rig in the future so that it can be a significant part of my arsenal next year during these winter/prespawn tournaments.

Can’t Go Wrong with a Jerkbait

I was able to get on fish fairly quickly during practice by throwing a suspending jerkbait. The Jackall SquadMinnow 115 was my bait of choice all week. It’s also the same bait that Cliff Pace used to win the Bassmaster Classic back in February. I fished this lure in a jerk-jerk-jerk-long pause cadence and was able to cover water, while still using a lure that the fish wanted to bite. It’s important when you fish a new lake and have limited time to find fish (in our case, three days of practice) that you use a lure that has the ability to cover water. Once you find fish you can then slow down and use other types of baits.

Gussy on Beaver Lake

Gussy on Beaver Lake

During both days of the tournament, I put together mixed bags of smallmouths, spotted bass and largemouths that weighed 11-7 and 10-9 respectively. I was happy with a top 50 finish because these FLW Tour events pay $10,000 to 50th place—I consider that a success!

What’s Next?

Next up on the tour schedule is a mid-May tournament at Lake Eufala, Alabama. Eufala is full of big bass so I’m looking forward to hauling the krugerfarms.com/Lund Predator down there in a few weeks! I’ll be sure to share another update on this blog after the event.

In the meantime it looks like I’ll be back on the ice when I get back to Ontario’s Sunset Country this week. We are having an extremely late spring and will have late ice out. Walleye season is closed but I can still chase lake trout, pike and 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 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).

Lewis Smith Lake FLW Tour Recap

Posted in Fishing Tips, FLW Tournaments with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2013 by krugerfarms.com

Pro-Staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

Gussy with a nice spotted bass caught on a Jackall Squad Minnow 115 jerkbait in practice.

Gussy with a nice spotted bass caught on a Jackall Squad Minnow 115 jerkbait in practice.

The second FLW Tour event of the season took place this past weekend at Alabama’s Lewis Smith Lake. 175 pro anglers participated in this event and in the end it was California angler Brent Ehrler who took home the $125,000 first place prize.  I had a great experience at this event and ended up with a 71st place finish. Though I would have liked to have finished higher, I was happy that I ended up squeaking into the money (the top 79 places were paid). At some of these events, when you have to improvise your game plan in the moment, salvaging a decent finish can be considered a success. That’s how I feel about this one.

Practice

During practice I got on a pretty good bite–catching my fish on suspending jerkbaits like the Jackall Squad Minnow 115 and the Jackall DD Squirrel 79. The water temperatures were 47-50 degrees, which just screamed “jerkbait” to me. During the practice period the weather was conducive to fishing jerkbaits because it was overcast and there was some wind. I also looked shallow for largemouths and deeper for schools of spotted bass and though I did catch some of each I felt like the jerkbait program was my best strategy for a strong finish.

The Tournament

When the event started, the weather changed–it became really bright and the wind died. However, I managed to catch a decent limit the first day that landed me in the 80th spot. I caught all my fish on the jerkbaits but I only caught six keeper fish all day. I knew something wasn’t right, because during practice I was getting 12-15 fish per day. On day two, when things got off to a slow start, I started thinking about what I could do differently to trigger some fish to bite. I moved my boat out to deeper water and kept my eyes on my Humminbird depth finder, watching for fish. Surprisingly I marked several fish immediately. After trying several baits I ended up getting some bites on ice fishing jigs that are popular during the winter months with anglers in the north. For the rest of the day I was able to use a Northland Puppet Minnow and Rapala Jigging Shad Rap to catch my fish. I only brought a few baits down with me so I was a little bit limited on color options. I fished these baits vertically under the front of my boat the rest of the day and watched them on my depth finder the entire time. I was able to mark the fish, watch my lure and watch how fish interacted with the lure as I fished it. Over the course of the day I probably had over 100 spotted bass chase my lure that did not bite. I really wish I would have gotten onto this bite in practice so that I could have fine-tuned the color that the fish wanted and found more spots that were holding fish.

In the end, I was really happy that I figured out a way to put some fish in the boat on a tougher day two. There were a lot of good anglers that were not able to put a limit in the boat that day.

I get a few weeks off now before the next FLW Tour event at Beaver Lake, Arkansas. In the meantime I’m going to be headed home to take in a couple of weeks of ice fishing up in Ontario’s Sunset Country. Late March is the best time of the year to catch the biggest walleyes, lake trout and pike so I’m looking forward to pulling some giant fish through the ice!

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).

Gussy with a big striper that fell for a jerkbait during practice.  "These things fight so hard!"

Gussy with a big striper that fell for a jerkbait during practice. “These things fight so hard!”