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Hunting in December

December was a busy month that just seemed to go by like a whirlwind.  I spent the first weekend at the St. Paul Ice Show helping out some of my sponsors - Frabill and Northland Fishing Tackle.  It was a good show as usual, good crowds and some great deals for shoppers.  If you are big into ice fishing, this show takes place every year on the first weekend in December and it's great.  All of the manufacturers are there and quite a few retail outfits set up and sell fishing gear as cheap as they will all year.  
After the St. Paul trip I spent a week moose hunting with some friends near Red Lake, Ontario.  We go every year in December, at the end of our season in Ontario.  We had a pretty good hunt this year and were able to tag two moose, a young bull and a nice cow.  

Here is the young actually dropped one of its antlers when we got up to it.  

The cow was the first moose for my buddy Darrin Tacknyk.  These animals are awesome!  They are so big, it's crazy...beautiful critters.  They are great eating also!  

We get around in moose country on snowmobiles.  Thanks to the cold start to the winter that we had we were able to even get out on some of the smaller lakes to access some of our hunting spots.  I put on about 100 kilometers per day on this trip, it was fun!  

While I was moose hunting with my buddies, my wife August went on a top-notch pheasant hunting trip to Minnesota and South Dakota with her friend Mandy Uhrich.  They had a great time and got quite a few birds...August had a great time!

I have been on the ice fishing a few times but I haven't been taking any pictures...just catching walleyes to eat!  But we'll have some fishing pictures posted on here pretty soon!   



Quiet November around home...

This past month has certainly been the quietest of the whole year so far for me.  It was nice though, I've been able to hang out around home for the most part, with a few fishing and hunting trips mixed in.  I got out in the boat in early November to film my last open water TV show of the year.  My buddy Mike Reid took me out on Lake of the Woods to fish for muskies.  Though we didn't score a lot of action, we ended up landing the biggest musky I have ever had my hands on just before dark and got a really good show done.  It was a big 30 pound plus fish.  We did not have a measuring device with us that day but we rough measured it at around 50".  BIG FISH!!! 

After that trip the temperatures really started dropping off and that was my last day in the boat.  
We did get a hunting trip in for a weekend up to Red Lake to chase moose.  August and I went with some of her family and though we didn't get to use any tags, we had a great weekend staying at Five Lakes Lodge.  We did see a bull on our last day hunting but it ended up getting away on us without an opportunity for a shot.

Here are August and I huddled around a fire, warming up while we were waiting to meet up with a couple of our hunting partners one afternoon.  I'm headed back to Red Lake for five days in mid-December just before the end of the season.  I have a bull tag that I'd love to use!  

I did manage to use my buck tag last week on this little guy.  Definitely not the biggest buck I've ever harvested but I really wanted some meat for the freezer.  I love eating venison!  



Fall fun in Ontario's Sunset Country!  

Man, I've had a tough time keeping up with my website over the past few months...just to much stuff on the go!  Over the past couple of months I've been staying busy, doing lot's of fishing and a little bit of hunting.  It's been fun.  This time of year is always fun because there is so much stuff to do if you like to spend time in the outdoors.

Fall is always one of the best times to catch crappies and I have been getting in on some of that action.  In addition to a few fun trips I was also able to film a good segment for my TV show Fishing with Gussy all about fall crappies - how to find them on the Humminbird, then catch them.  

Before the lake trout season closed on September 30, Brian McNanney and I had a great day catching a few of these beauty fish on Lake of the Woods and got an awesome TV show done - look for season four shows to start airing in January.  We were catching these fish vertically jigging under the boat with a Northland Impulse 5" Smelt Minnow on a 3/8 oz Slurp Jig.  

Fall is also prime time to catch big walleyes...they get a little deeper than they are during the summer but they are usually in the mood to bite.  This one ate a Jackall Clone Fry rigged up on a Northland Slurp Jig.

After a busy summer I was busy filming TV shows this fall and got a great show done in late September catching pike with Jackall Squad Minnow 120 jerkbaits.  They get out of the weeds and on the main lakes rocks once the water temperatures start to drop and it's a great time to be on the water chasing these toothy critters.

I finally got on a good umbrella rig bite this fall and man was it fun.  My buddy Jamie Bruce turned me on to it and this was my first "double" on the rig...a couple of nice smallmouths.  These rigs don't work everywhere but if cisco are the main forage they seem to be pretty deadly.  

I fished a few tournaments in late September and early October and they went pretty good.  In this shot, my nephew Dustin Hager and my buddy Karl Engstrom hold up part of our 18 pound, third place catch in the one-day Frank McClymont Memorial tournament at Shoal Lake.  
In the Shoal Lake Last Chance tournament, Dennis Favreau and I took 2nd place, while my good buddies Scott Dingwall and Jay Samsal won.  The next weekend at the Whitefish Bay tournament on Lake of the Woods, Mike Reid and I took 2nd again while Brian McNanney and Matt Rydberg took first.  

After a couple of rough winters our whitetail deer population here in NW Ontario has been hit pretty hard.  There are still a decent number of deer around but we have lost a lot of our mature bucks, which get hit the hardest because they are so run down from the rut process in the fall.  So I have decided to take a break from the deer hunting this year.  Hopefully we'll start to get some better weather over the next couple of winters and these deer recover.  We'll see what happens.
In the meantime I have been doing quite a bit of duck hunting and grouse hunting and it's been great.  I have not really duck hunted since high school so it's been fun to get back into it.  My shooting needs some practice though!  And grouse numbers are surprisingly high after a cold spring which is usually bad for these birds.  I have had some great days grouse hunting this fall and have been eating good!  They are probably my favourite thing on the whole planet to eat!  
It's on to big game hunting now, chasing some moose and deer.  Hopefully I'll have some good pictures to post in the coming weeks!   


A busy August in Sunset Country

It's been a while since my last entry.  I have barely had a day off since early August between the tournaments, guide trips and filming some TV segments.  It's been fun but I think I kind of bit off a little more than I could chew with my time.  The next few weeks should be fun...I love fall fishing and everything has slowed down quite a bit.  Here are a few highlights from the past few weeks.  

The Kenora Bass International, our big Lake of the Woods tournament took place in early August.  Chris Savage have fished the tournament together since 2000 and have been lucky enough to win it twice.  Last year, we led the event for two days, then crashed on day three.  The same thing happened this year.  We hung on in second place for each of the first two days then things fell apart on day three and we landed in 19th.  Not exactly the finish we were hoping for!  Over the first two days we caught some good largemouths and smallmouths - flipping a Northland Slurpies Brush Beaver and casting a Jackall Binksy topwater bait.  Caught some muskies during the KBI too!  

After the KBI, i got in a few days of fun fishing and caught some walleyes and bass.  Here, Ethan Belrose and I are holding on to a few bass from Lake of the Woods.  He is one of the best young anglers I have ever seen!  

On a rainy Monday, the crew from Johnson Outdoors (Minn Kota / Humminbird) visited Lake of the Woods.  We caught a bunch of walleyes and cooked up a great shore lunch.  A fresh shore lunch is one of the highlights of the trip from many anglers that visit Sunset Country

Later in August we had the 10th annual International Falls Bass Championship on Rainy Lake and the Rainy River.  Scott Dingwall and I have fished this tournament together since it started and have had some good finishes over the years.  This year we had the toughest fishing we have ever had at this event and ended up with a 9th place finish.  I caught some big smallmouths like this one during practice but the water level dropped in the 24 hours before the tournament started and the fishing just got a lot tougher.  We'll be back to try again next year.  It's a fun tournament and very well run!

After the I. Falls tournament I headed back down to Rainy Lake for some redemption.  I got the opportunity to be on the Scott Martin Challenge TV show and we had a phenomenal day on Rainy Lake.  We caught a bunch of four pounders, it was actually one of the best days I have ever had on that lake.  Look for this show to air some time in January.  It'll be a good one!  

Last week we had the Bassin' For Bucks tournament in Sioux Narrows, also on Lake of the Woods. 
Mike Reid and I have fished this event for all 18 years that it has taken place.  It's a fun tournament that we look forward to every year.  After finally winning the tournament last year we had high expectations this go around.  We started off strong with a 19 pound bag on day one, but we struggled to catch big largemouths over the next couple of days and ended up in 3rd place.  
My wife August and her cousin Tara Savage fished the tournament as well.  They had a tough start to the tournament but ended it by catching these two big smallmouths on day three.  I wish I had those two fish in my boat!   


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