Creating Memories on the Water

0

If you have spent any amount of time fishing you surely have some good memories from all of your outings. When a trip is all said and done, it’s those memories that we carry forward and the great ones come from success finding and catching fish, getting to spend time with friends and family and from visiting beautiful places.

My decision to make my living in the fishing industry is one that I have no regrets of. I’ll likely never be rich with money but I can tell you that I am rich with all of the great memories I have from catching big fish – in tournaments, on the ice and in the boat. I have had the opportunity to spend many days in the boat with my Grandpa, Dad, brother and my wife as well as friends and even a few famous people that I would have never met outside of fishing. Finally I’ve been to some sweet places to wet a line.

 

10 pounder

Successful Fishing Trips
When I think about the most memorable fishing days that I have ever had they usually include some degree of success. One of the first that comes to mind was back in 2009 when Chris Savage and I were the first team to ever break the 20 pound catch barrier in the Kenora Bass International. We had a tough first day that year and were in 48th place going out on day two. We were largemouth fishing and stuck to our plan on day two to fish for big fish. We caught a really nice limit in the morning then around midday I caught one that went nearly six pounds on a Northland Jungle Jig that put us over 20. It’s a day I’ll always remember. To have those really great fishing days you need to go to good places where the opportunity exists to experience better than average results. Then you need time your visit during prime time when your chances are increased even more for catching both numbers and size of fish.

My friend Mike Reid caught the biggest musky that I have ever had my hands on while we were filming an episode of Fishing with Gussy on Lake of the Woods. We were fishing in late October and casting massive soft plastic baits that Mike had experimented with and knew were effective for catching big fish. We hit the lake at the best time, under good conditions and we used the right tackle to seal the deal.

The highlight of my professional tournament career came back in 2014 when I led day one of the FLW Tour event at Pickwick Lake in Alabama. I caught the biggest bass of my life that day, a 10 pound, 12 ounce monster that anchored my 25 pound limit. I was fishing deep water on Pickwick that day where the best opportunity to catch a fish like that existed and had the right rod and line combination to hook and land the fish. I ended up finishing 18th in that tournament but it felt pretty awesome to beat the best bass anglers in the World for one day!

Fishing with Friends and Family
There are plenty of fishing trips that I recall great experiences from even though the fishing might not have been all that good but the fellowship in the boat was all about having a good time.

As a kid, my Dad used to take me fishing all the time and this certainly helped to curate my love for the sport. We fished mainly for walleye and lake trout, fish you could eat. My Grandpa took my fishing interest to the next level because he used to subscribe to both Fishing Facts and In-Fisherman magazines, both the best of their time, in the 80’s. He saved all of the issues of these magazines and I used to spend hours pouring over them at our family cabin on Lake of the Woods. Grandpa used to have a tackle box full of lures and was more interested in catching bass and pike, which I enjoyed more as well when I was a youngster. One of my best memories was when he got samples of a couple of tube jigs when they first became available and man did we catch bass on those things those first few times we used them in the early 90s.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Over the years I have had the opportunity to fish with famous anglers like Bob Izumi, Jim Lindner and Scott Martin when they visited Northwest Ontario to take advantage of our World-class fishing opportunities and film TV shows. Where I live has also helped to hook me up with professional hockey, football and baseball players who enjoy fishing. Finally I’m very lucky that others in my family enjoy fishing as well. I have had a bunch of fun days on the water with my brother Ben, catching everything that swims from the boat and on the ice. My wife August enjoys bass fishing and competing in tournaments and we have been fortunate to win the Lake Despair Casting For Cash tournament a couple of times creating some great memories. Today she fishes both the KBI and Bassin’ For Bucks tournaments with her cousin Tara Savage. I’m proud of her.

If you have the opportunity to take somebody fishing who might not otherwise have the chance, get them out on the water because if you don’t they might never get to go. If there is a shot at getting out with your parents or children, go every chance you get!

Awesome Places to Fish
The opportunity to travel and fish different places has brought me to some awesome spots over the years. Back in high school my friend Marty Hanson from Nestor Falls used to line up an awesome trip every year for some friends and I. His family owns several fly-in outpost cabins and they used to let us use one for a few days every year. We had so much fun on those trips, fishing out of a small boat and just catching a bunch of fish. Across Northwest Ontario there are countless fly-in and fishing camps to rent a cabin from. These trips with friends or family are so fun.

My tournament fishing has brought me to many of the most famous bass fisheries across the southern United States, including places like Lake Okeechobee in Florida, Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Texas and Lake Eufaula, Alabama. These places are the birthplaces of tournament bass fishing so for me they are special. I have had awesome fishing days on each of these fisheries and some tough ones as well that really make you appreciate those special days .

One of the highlights for me every year is getting to visit Rainy Lake for a week in late July for the annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship. Rainy is a beautiful lake with pine-covered shorelines and the best topwater smallmouth fishing on the planet. It’s a big lake with a lot of remote areas and really good fishing. Some of my best summer memories from the past 15 years have come from these trips to Rainy. The chance to fish far from home has come up from time to time over the years and getting to see guides use completely different techniques than I’m used to is always interesting as are the chances to catch fish that are not available in central Canada. Some of my most memorable catches include catching roosterfish off the west coast of Mexico, one of the only places in the World they exist.

A couple years ago August and I took a trip out to Canada’s west coast to fish for salmon around Vancouver Island then sturgeon on the Fraser River. These were some of the most scenic places I have ever fished. The weather was not perfect for either of these trips and that hurt the fishing somewhat but we caught salmon and sturgeon, it was a great experience.

My advice is to fish every opportunity you get because you have to be on the water to make something happen. When you get the chance to plan a special trip, go somewhere with great fishing, some beautiful scenery and bring along some family or friends to create your own awesome memories!
On The Road With Gussy
As I write this I’m getting all packed up to head to Florida to start the 2016 FLW Tour campaign down at Lake Okeechobee. The Big O is one of my favourite lakes so I’m really excited to get down there and find some big bass. I have fished there a few times now with one really good finish and two poor events so I’m planning to get back on track this time around.

IMG_9992

I’m headed to Florida about a week before our three-day practice starts for the event. I have a new Lund Predator to break in and I need to get a few casts under my belt since I haven’t caught a bass since October. I also have some of the new Humminbird Helix units to play around with. I’m very excited to use these things, especially at some of the events later in the season where I’ll be looking for fish in deep water.

It took a while but ice conditions are finally pretty good across the Sunset Country Region so bring on the ice fishing! I’m looking forward to hitting the ice hard after I return from Florida.

After missing the Winnipeg Boat Show the past couple of years because of my FLW Tour schedule I’m coming back this year. I’ll be doing a few seminars over the weekend and hanging around the show talking fishing and Lund boats. If you come down check out the show, be sure to come by and say hi!

Share.

About Author

Jeff Gustafson, known in the fishing World as Gussy, grew up on the shores of Lake of the Woods in Kenora, Ontario. He took out his first guide trip at age 14 on Lake of the Woods and has made his living in the fishing/outdoor industry ever since. A graduate of the University of Manitoba, Gussy has always been self-employed as a fishing guide, outdoor writer and photographer as well as fishing promoter. Today his fishes the Walmart FLW Tour pro bass circuit and as many local bass tournaments as he can find the time to enter and he is the host of his own TV program called Fishing with Gussy, which airs across Canada. You can find him online through his website at www.gussyoutdoors.com

Leave A Reply