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Busy, busy May and June

The past couple of months have been a blur, lot's of time on the road with a couple weeks mixed in around home, I'm happy to be back around home now for a while.  

The FLW Tour regular season came to an end last week at Lake Champlain in New York.  It has been a great season for me and it was pretty cool to be in the mix for Angler of the Year heading into the final event.  A 29th place finish at Champlain landed me in 5th place overall in points, so I have qualified for my first Forrest Wood Cup and my first Toyota Texas Bass Fest event in 2017, so I'm very happy.  The Cup takes place in early August at Wheeler Lake in Alabama and will be the biggest tournament of my career by far.  I can't wait! 


I had some good friends from home who came to cheer me on at Champlain, which was pretty awesome! 
(L-R Sean Lougheed, Chad Reynolds, Laura Stasiak, Jeff Gustafson)

Champlain is a great lake with a pile of fish in it and I choose to spend most of my time smallmouth fishing.  It worked out pretty good with a 29th place finish, so I was happy!  I caught a bunch of fish each day.  

Loading up the boat after a long day of practice at Champlain!

 Kentucky Lake did not go quite as well but I was very fortunate to end up in 50th place and earned the last $10,000 cheque!  So I'll take it!  It's a great lake as well and I probably had the best practice I had all year for this one, things just didn't work out that great in the tournament.  A friend of mine made me some really nice hair jigs for this one and they worked!  

My Dad came along to practice for this one with me and caught his biggest he was jacked!

Before Kentucky Lake I was home for a few weeks and got to have some fun catching bass, walleye and crappies...I was eating good!  We have the best fishing on the planet right here in Ontario's Sunset Country Region.  

In mid-May I teamed up with my buddy, FLW Tour mega-star Cody Meyer for the annual Sturgeon Bay Open tournament and while we had a mediocre 32nd place finish, we managed to squeak into the prizes and got our money back.  We'll be back next year!  This is one of my favourite tournaments to fish every year.  

The first week of May I was at Pickwick Lake in Alabama for the fourth stop of the season and came out of there with a decent 32nd place finish.  It was the toughest fishing of the entire year so I was happy that I avoided a bomb there!  

I'm really looking forward to the upcoming bass tournaments that we have here in Sunset Country over the next few months, they are some of the best open, team tournaments in North America...I'll have my next update a lot sooner, I promise!   




FLW Tour - Lake Hartwell & Beaver Lake 

After three events of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour things have been going pretty good for me and I'm having my season by far!  After and 4th place finish at Lake Hartwell, then an 11th at Beaver Lake I'm sitting in 6th place in the Angler of the Year standings.  At the end of the six event season, the top 35 anglers advance to the Forrest Wood Cup, season-ending championship event.  As well, there is a $100,000 first place prize for the angler who lands on top of the AOY standings at the end of the season.  

The Lake Hartwell event started off really well when I caught a 7 pound giant early on the first day, en route to an eventual fourth place finish.  This fish helped A LOT! 

My fellow Canadian buddies - Cory and Chris Johnston have been having a great season as well.  All three of us made the top 20 cut at Hartwell, which was pretty awesome!  

While I did catch a few fish shallow each day at Lake Hartwell, I also found a couple of deep schools of spotted bass with my new Humminbird Helix machines and they paid off big time over the course of this event.  These are easy to use, bright, fast machines - I highly recommend them!

While I weighed mostly spotted bass at Hartwell, I was lucky to be able to mix in a few big largemouths like this one each day.  I caught my fish at Hartwell on a Jackall Dowzvido jerkbait, a Keitech swimbait and a wacky rigged Northland Impulse Dipstick®_Dipstick_Worm

In the end, Cory Johnston and I ended up with 4th and 8th place finishes at Lake Hartwell, so it was a pretty good week!  This was my best finish in a tour event and it earned me over $20,000!  

I warmed up for the Beaver Lake event for a couple days at Table Rock Lake in Missouri and had some awesome fishing.  In fact I managed to catch a four pound fish of each species one day, which was pretty cool.  There are not many lakes where you can do this all in one day!  The spotted bass on the far right was the biggest fish, coming in a 4.80 pounds. 

Fishing all of these different lakes usually requires some time to change tackle out from the boat and truck for each stop that we make.  In Florida, I was using all heavy tackle, baitcasting rods, etc., then we go to Lake Hartwell and I'm fishing with mostly light line and spinning rods.  It's all fun!  

At Beaver Lake I was planning to catch some big smallmouths like this in the tournament but things changed on me and I ended up catching nice largemouths, which was sort of unexpected!  Didn't matter to me as long as they were big!  

Here are a few largemouths from day two of the Beaver Lake FLW Tour event.  I have fished four tournaments on Beaver and the three limits I brought to the scales this year were the three best I have ever caught there, so it was great tournament!  Huge thank you to my Dad and my buddy Jamie Bruce who came down to prefish and fish this event on the co-angler side, it was fun guys! - This link is to a video from some of the best Day Three catches at the Beaver Lake event.  I have a good one on here at the 3:45 mark.  Check it out! 

If you want to follow along on the FLW Tour, you can check out some great video, photos and fishing information on their website - 



On the ice

While I did not get to ice fish as much as I would have liked this winter because of my travels south to chase bass around on the FLW Tour, we did have some good trips, fun fishing and filming episodes of Fishing With Gussy.  

The late winter timeframe is prime time to catch big walleyes and while I did not catch that really hot bite that happens over the last two weeks or so of good ice, I did catch a flicker of it in late March.  Here's a good one on my favourite ice bait of all time, the Northland Buckshot Rattle Spoon.

While we never target smallmouths through the ice, we do run into them occasionally while we are walleye fishing on main lake humps.  Here is my wife August with a nice smallie she caught and wanted a picture with.  She knows how to catch 'em!  

Late ice is also prime time for magnum sized pike and while I missed out on the best time to be out there this year, I did get a little bit of good fishing in before I left for the Beaver Lake FLW Tour event.  The absolute BEST way to catch these big pike is with a Frabill Tip-up and a Northland Predator Rig.  We'll hang a large cisco on the Predator Rig and it's deadly.  (Predator Rig Video)

While there are newer Humminbird units available for portable ice fishing, I have been using the 385ci unit for several years now and it continues to get the job done for me.  It's so nice to be able to drive around on your snowmobile or ATV with a lake map loaded into the machine.  As well, it's convenient to be able to save waypoints of your hotspots so you can get back to the exact location on your next outing.  
On the newer units I would recommend the smaller Humminbird Helix (Helix 5) machines - they are AWESOME!!!    


Ice fishing, Wolf hunting and Bass fishing

It seems like I always feel the need to apologize whenever I put up a new post on here because it always seems to take me so long to get around to doing it!  Life's busy and I guess that beats the alternative!  
Since the start of the New Year it's been a hectic couple of months.  I spent the first few weeks of January guiding wolf hunters then hit the road to Florida for the first FLW Tour event of the year at Lake Okeechobee.   I've been home now for a couple weeks and have been spending quite a bit of time on the ice catching some fish, mostly walleyes since I like eating them so much!  

Bernie Stoecker was a successful wolf hunter!  The action was really good this year overall.  There were a bunch of sightings but unfortunately not all of them turned into tags getting punched.  Still it was a fun few weeks!  Already looking forward to next year.  
If anybody has any interest in a wolf hunt next year send along a note, let me know and we can go from there.  The wolf numbers are great across the Sunset Country Region right now so it's a good time to come!  

After wrapping up the wolf hunting it was time to hit the road to Florida.  I usually try to get down there to fun fish for a week or so before the practice starts for our first tournament because I want to break in my new boat and just get fishing again.  It's nice to get a little break from winter and heck, I hadn't caught a bass since October so I had to get back in the zone!  Typically the first stop every year when I get to Florida is at the car wash so I can clean all the salt off my rig from up north!

I like to fish a variety of lakes down there and do a little bit of everything as far as playing around with different fishing techniques.  I've been going down to Florida for five years now doing this so I have sampled quite a few different lakes now, its a lot of fun.  It's amazing how much they can change from year to year because of water levels, vegetation growth, etc.  

My buddy from home Sean McAughey made the big drive down to Florida with me and spent a few days fishing.  Here he is with the biggest fish of the trip for us.  A six pounder from Lake Toho. 

I had another friend come down to fish for a couple days just before the practice started on Okeechobee.  Mike Richards plays for the Washington Capitals and had a few days off because of the NHL Allstar Game Weekend.  We had a great couple days!

The tournemant at Okeechobee went great!  Well, compared to my tournaments in Florida over the past few years!  I ended up with a 34th place finish that earned me $10,000!  So I was happy.  I was fortunate to stay at my friend Brandon McMillan's place for this event along with my other Canadian buddies Chris and Cory Johnston.  We all did well in the tournament and between the four of us we won a total of $63,000!  Pretty awesome!  It was a fun week. 

My best bait of the week was a 4" Jackall Sasuteki Craw rigged up on a 3/4 oz tungsten sinker.  I fished it on a G. Loomis IMX 954C Flippin Stick paired up with a Shimano Chronarch CI4 reel and some 65 lb. Power Pro braided line. 

Since I've been home I've been eating good...
I'll try to be a little quicker on the next update!  


A good fall season in Sunset Country

Another fall season has come and gone in Northwest Ontario.  As usual, it's went by way to fast but we managed to have some fun.  After really harsh winters in 2013 and 2014 our deer population was hit pretty hard.  I was not all that optimistic that there would that many deer around this fall but I was pleasantly surprised by what showed up on my trail cameras.  There certainly weren't as many big bucks as there were six or eight years ago but I had some really good prospects show up so I'm looking forward to the 2016 season!  

My friend Mitch Bonnema came up to hunt for a few days in late October and scored on a pretty nice eight pointer.  Mitch, his brother Scott and friend Dave Hartig have been coming to hunt in the Kenora area for many years and we always have a great time! 

This was a pretty picture from the ride back to the boat ramp one morning after dropping the guys off to hunt for the day.

The highlight of the season was getting to tag along with my wife August and her cousin Tara when they shot their first moose back in November.  It's no record book bull but it was still awesome and it's a great eater!  Congrats girls! 

This buck is no record booker either but it made my day on a Sunday in late November.  We love eating venison so this one did a good job filling up the freezer! 

Over the course of the season I captured photos of several nice bucks, you can check them all out in the 2015 deer trail cam gallery...Happy Holidays everybody!