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A squeaker at the FFCBC!!!

My fishing buddy John Peterson (Bemidji, MN) and I had some fun again this past weekend on Rainy Lake when we won the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship for the second year in a row.  After finally winning last year the pressure was off for this year's go-around, but we still wanted to give it our best shot!  
With Rainy Lake being four or five feet higher than it was last year, it was basically a different lake.  Though we fished some of the same areas that we did last year, I don't think we caught any fish from the same spots as last year.  

After a couple of tough practice days we figured out that there were enough big fish shallow to be competitive in the tournament.  We're talking really shallow, like five feet and less.  In the event I don't think we caught one deeper than four feet.  
We basically covered ground with hardware (topwaters, spinnerbaits) trying to hunt down single fish living around rocks surrounded by weeds.  In practice when the wind was blowing we caught them pretty good on spinnerbaits but in the tournament it was fairly calm every day and topwater baits were best.  

I think 11 or 12 of our fish came on topwater poppers.  The one I threw was the Jackall SK Grande.  It's a relatively small bait, yet it's heavy enough to cast accurately into the holes in the weeds.  We caught a few on a tube and hair jig as well.  

A big crowd always shows up for the weigh-in on the final day at the FFCBC!  Everyone watches intently as the final weight is called for our buddies Bryan Gustafson and Brandon McMillan, who we narrowly slid past on the final day thanks to our 20.20 lb catch.  

Rainy is a beautiful lake, certainly right up there with Lake of the Woods as my favourite!  It's remote for the most part with endless miles of shoreline and bays to explore.  And there are smallmouths everywhere!  And walleyes, pike and muskies.  Here is a little river flowing in that we found...There is no place I'd rather be in July!  
Many thanks to all the great volunteers that make this GREAT event happen every year!  The anglers have a lot of fun!!! 

Top 10 Standings:

1 1 Jeff Gustafson John Peterson 18.76 18.22 20.2 57.18
2 21 Bryan Gustafson Brandon McMillan 20.29 19.47 17.2 56.96
3 58 Rene Cadene Morgan Cadene 17.93 17.25 19.18 54.36
4 24 Dennis Barnard Scott Gobeil 17.52 19.26 16.92 53.7
5 41 David Doty Troy Ostby 16.99 20.78 15.89 53.66
6 3 Troy Norman Jay Samsal 16.79 18.16 16.84 51.79
7 20 Chad Johnson John Janousek 16.09 18.87 16.36 51.32
8 19 Steve Sandberg Scott Sandberg 15.82 16.99 18.48 51.29
9 10 Glenn Leroux Trevor Zimak 16.64 17.06 17.15 50.85
10 51 Jason Pavleck Bill Walls 18.21 18.61 13.62 50.44




Busy, busy back in Sunset Country

It was nice to get my boat and all of my fishing gear home a few weeks ago after the last FLW Tour event of the season.  Our summer here in Northwest Ontario is short but I love it, the weather (though it has not been great this year!), the fishing and just being out on our awesome lakes.  I have been staying busy over the past couple of weeks with some guiding, fished a tournament and even filmed a couple of TV shows for the 2014 season of Fishing with Gussy.  

Chris Savage and I had some good luck at the Shoal Lake Bass Classic last weekend and won the tournament.  We have fished this tournament for many years and this was our third time winning it (2001, 2009).  

We basically fished "Okeechobee" style in this tournament, fishing shallow weeds.  I spent most of my time flipping, while Chris caught some casting a frog or a spinnerbait around.  The weather was tough so we did not catch a lot of fish but we did get some good ones.

1 10 Jeff Gustafson / Chris Savage 4.82 18.44 3.98 15.64 34.08  
2 3 Scott Cook / Pat James   17.32   15.44 32.76  
3 24 Terry McClymont / Tim Strempler   15.78 3.78 15.24 31.02  
4 12 Stuart / Diane Neniska 3.68 16.50   14.42 30.92  
5 7 Jay Samsal / Scott Dingwall   15.66   15.02 30.68  
6 62 Joe Pritchard / Hiram Archibald   14.70   15.68 30.38  
7 52 Matt Rydberg / Brian McNanny   14.68   14.10 28.78  
8 9 Blake Lundin / Brennen Dubchak   14.68   13.48 28.16  
9 17 Brad Harlos / Rob Reznoski   14.24   13.56 27.80  
10 58 Paul / Cole Forsyth   13.56 3.92 14.00 27.56  

Here are my buddies Dave and Aaron with a nice largemouth that Aaron caught.  We spend a day fishing every year and always have a good time!  

Also last weekend I had the pleasure of fishing with Don Logan (holding the bass) and Bruce Akin from Bassmaster.  Don is one of the owner's of BASS and Bruce is the CEO.  They got a little break from the heat is Alabama and caught a bunch of smallmouths on their trip.  

A highlight of the trip for many people when they visit Sunset Country to go fishing is the shorelunch.  Here my dad is cooking up some top-notch Lake of the Woods walleyes.  

A couple of happy customers!  

The results of a successful morning of fishing!  

Getting ready to head out for the day with Bob and Al.

Al with a big walleye he caught on Lake of the Woods.  The walleye fishing has been really good over the past couple of weeks and I'm sure it will stay that way all summer long! 


Good finish to the FLW season!!!

Over the past month I fished the last two events of the 2014 Walmart FLW Tour season and I am pretty happy to have ended things on a good note!  After a rough start, with two triple digit finishes to start the year I had my best pro-level finish to date in early June at Pickwick Lake in Alabama (17th), then finished up with a 40th place finish this past weekend at Kentucky Lake.

The highlight of the Pickwick event was leading the tournament after the first day thanks to a 24-8 limit that was anchored by the biggest bass I have ever caught, a 10-12 giant!  I was leading the tournament after day one and it felt pretty awesome!  The field of anglers that fishes these tournaments is very competitive!  

Over the course of the next couple of days I had some good fishing on Pickwick, but I was not able to keep up the big pace that I set the first day and ended up in 17th place.  I caught my fish there on a variety of baits including a 3/4 oz football jig, deep-diving crankbaits and swimbaits.  It was a great experience!  

My practice at Pickwick went pretty good, it was a fun lake to fish.  Here was a five pounder I caught in practice on a Jackall Muscle Deep 15 crankbait.

I was eager to get to Kentucky Lake after getting home for a week or so between events because it has a reputation as one of the top bass lakes in North America and it would fish much like Pickwick.  Lots of using the the Humminbird Side Imaging to search for fish on offshore structure.  

My Dad came down to Kentucky Lake with to prefish and help me out with the big drive home after the event.  We had a great time together.  Though Kentucky Lake is not known for it's smallmouths as much as Pickwick, it has some good ones in it, evident by this nice one my Dad caught in practice.  

Though it didn't work as good as I hoped in the tournament by far my best bait in practice for this tournament was a 1/2 oz homemade bucktail jig.  It's a good shad replica and it was working awesome prior to the tournament.  In the tournament, I caught most of my weigh fish on the football jig.  

I was fishing both the bucktail jig and the football jigs on the same rod - a G. Loomis NRX model.  It was a 7'3" MH (873C).  These are very high end fishing rods, but they are the best and for fishing jigs where sensitivity is important, they are worth it.

It felt great to end the season on a good note and now I'm looking forward to getting the tournament season rolling around home in Sunset Country!  Happy bassin'... 


Beautiful British Columbia

A couple of weeks ago, my wife August and I travelled out to Canada's west coast to spend a few days fishing and filming episodes of Fishing With Gussy.  It was the trip of a lifetime to say the least!  We spent some time on Vancouver Island at Painter's Lodge where we caught some salmon and we fished on the mighty Fraser River where we caught some white sturgeon.  The scenery in this part of the World is top-notch, with mountains in the background of every shot.  

The highlight of the trip was the big sturgeon that August was quite a battle but she got it in the boat!  

This was the view from our room at Fraser River Lodge...pretty awesome!  If you want to catch a big fish, this is the place to go, top-notch from top to bottom!

August got a workout bringing in that fish!  

Here is a smaller sturgeon...they are pretty fish!  

Painter's Lodge on Vancouver Island (Campbell River) is a great place!  World famous salmon fishing all summer long and the accomodations and food were amazing!  One of the most beautiful places on earth! 

August put a lickin' on the salmon as well!  They're pretty!

We flew in a small plane from Vancouver over to Campbell River...we loved the view of the landscape from the air!  


All in all it was a great trip, we had a lot of fun!  Shelley Bujold travelled with us and we filmed a good TV show at each place!  



Sturgeon Bay Open

After a few weeks spent at home in Sunset Country, it was back on the road in early May to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin to fish a couple of smallmouth tournaments.  Dave Bennett and I have been fishing the Sturgeon Bay Open since 2006 so it's been an annual event for us for several years.  I missed the tournament last year because of an FLW Tour event taking place the same weekend in Alabama.  

We fished an NABC (North American Bass Circuit) tournament the weekend before the Open and had a good derby, bringing in a five fish limit weighing 26-12, good enough for 5th spot.  The winners of that event, Chris Cox and Jason Stangel had a gigantic 30-00 limit for five smallmouths!  That's sick!  

Here are the full results from that event:

After that first tournament we had a few days to practice and fine tune the bite.  The fishing was a little bit tougher than it's been in the past because the water temperatures were so cold.  The fish just weren't spread out all over in the bays yet, but if you got into a wad of them, you could catch some big ones!  

The highlight of my week was catching this magnum smallmouth, my personal best, a 7.60 pound KONG!  

There are so many big smallmouths at this place, it's a lot of fun.  I changed trolling motors on my boat for this event, switching from a Minn Kota Fortrex to a Terrova, so we could use the handy "spot-lock" function to hold us on specific offshore structure.  It worked really well!  I highly recommend it for Great Lakes smallmouth fishing.  Some of the best smallmouth guys I know - Derek Strub, Caleb Colwell and Mark Raveling are all running these motors.  

We had a great tournament this year and started things out with a STOUT 33.42 pound limit on day one that landed us in fourth place.  We caught a bunch of big fish that day and had a blast!  

Our big fish of the day was just a hair under seven pounds.  Caught on a Northland Impulse Tube (Green Pumpkin).

The fishing got a lot tougher for everybody on day two because of the calm winds...which are nice for traveling but don't help the fishing.  The water is so clear that the fish can see you coming from a long ways away.  We had a solid limit the second day weighing 29.52 pounds that actually boosted us up in the standings for a 2nd place overall finish!  

Congratulations to our friends who won the tournament, Scott Ourado and John Allan, local anglers who have fished the event since the first one took place 24 years ago!  They have fished the Kenora Bass International and Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championships many times over the years as well.  

A complete listing of the standings can be found here: