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BEING A ROAD WARRIOR

For the past number of years I have been fortunate to head south in the winter and compete in bass tournaments in the United States..  This year I’ll be competing on the Bassmaster Elite Series for the second year. 

GETTING PREPPED FOR THE ROAD

Every winter around Christmas I have to get all my gear ready for another year of extensive travel. Getting the boat rigged up, packing my truck and getting my tackle ready are all important elements for being successful on Tour.  Of course, there is the research aspect of visiting new water but we’ll tackle that stuff another time. Today we’re going to talk about the gear that I’m rigging on the boat and loading into the truck.   

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 My routine year after year is similar.  At some point, usually around Christmas time I get a new boat.  For the past four seasons it has been a Lund 2075 Pro-V Bass.  It’s an awesome big water boat, that is aluminum, yet functions very similar to a glass boat.  Living in Northwest Ontario, the durability of aluminum is nice for me because of some of the guiding that I do.  I can pull the boat up on shore for lunch and I’m not going to damage anything. It’s also a much more comfortable ride in big water!  

RIGGING MY OWN BOAT (with lots of help!)

I like to rig my boat myself for a couple of reasons.  It saves some money from having someone else do it.  I know where everything is located and where potential problems could arise later in the season.  I have a few good friends who are more mechanically inclined than I am who help me out with some of the more complicated stuff like installing the Atlas jack plate and flush mounting my Humminbird Helix 10 machines.  
I added a few new items on my boat in 2019.  I’ve mounted a T-H Marine HydroWave unit on the bow of my boat.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, they are a device that mounts to your trolling motor and makes sounds to imitate various baitfish, in order to trigger feeding activity.  I have a few buddies who swear by them so I’m excited to put some time in with it.   

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T-H Marine makes a bunch of thoughtful boat parts new one that they have are the Hydra Multi-Connection Battery Terminals.  My cranking battery has a bunch of stuff connected to it so these multi-terminals separate the wires nicely.     

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GOOD ELECTRONICS CRITICAL!

Finally, on the bow of the boat I have installed the Humminbird 360 Unit, so I can get a better look at the bottom of the lake ahead of me, as I fish along.  I used one a few years ago when they first came out and am excited to have it back in my arsenal this season.  It was easy to install and after a short period of time you’ll become confident in what you’re seeing.  In our part of the World it works well for seeing boulders and weed clumps.    

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 When I leave Canada in January to head south I typically have to bring quite a bit of gear with me to be ready to fish all of the different types of waters that we visit.  We opened the 2020 season at the St. Johns River in Florida which will be all about using heavy tackle for fishing shallow grass.  As the season goes on,  it will require completely different tackle at each event.   

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I don’t usually get to bring my boat and truck home during the season because it is so far to drive from the Southeast U.S. back to Northwest Ontario. That means I often fly back and fourth between events. 

BEING ORGANIZED ON THE ROAD

Packing up my truck is an important part of the job.  I have an A.R.E. cap for my truck so I can keep the extra rods and tackle that I bring enclosed. I then I load all of my tackle into Plano Sportsmans Trunks.  I keep soft plastics in one, extra hard baits and terminal tackle in another.  Doing this, I can at least have an idea where I can find everything if I need to find something quick. 

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In the truck I also carry another trunk loaded with tools for fixing anything that could break on my boat.  My friends have had to get into this quite a few times over the years.  I have a drill, a bunch of zip ties, extra transducers, a box full of nuts and bolts and some cleaning products All kinds of good stuff!   

Other items I need on the road that get hauled around in the back of the truck include a good extension cord and extra shoes and boots. These include Simms rubber boots, which are an absolute life saver on those major rain days!    

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Don’t forget the rubber boots!

 A lot of my tackle will spend the next eight months in my boat, things that I will use everywhere that I fish.  I keep most my tackle in the Plano Waterproof StowAway boxes. They are very durable and keep your tackle dry and in good shape.   

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About Author

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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 Bassmaster Elite Pro bass circuit and as many local bass tournaments as he can find the time to enter. You can find him online through his website at www.gussyoutdoors.com.

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