In home stretch

When the FLW Tour fishing season started back in early February down at Lake Okeechobee in Florida, I couldn’t count down the days fast enough until it was time to hit the road.
Getting a break from winter was welcomed, and the opportunity to put the boat in the water and go bass fishing after a three-month break was pretty nice.
With five of the six tournaments on the season now in the books, the end is in sight—and I’m looking forward to it. Getting to fish for a living, specifically fishing bass tournaments, long has been a dream of mine.
Back in high school, I used to follow all of the pro bass tournaments by watching and taping the TV shows of the events, as well as studying every picture that was posted online and the quotes from the anglers who did well in the tournaments.
It’s something I’ve been passionate about since I was a little kid.
This season has gone extremely well for me. My results have been consistent and I’ve been very fortunate to have cashed a cheque in every tournament.
Now in my fourth year fishing the FLW Tour, I think the experience of getting my butt kicked plenty of times has helped me get better. My preparation for the events is better and having some familiarity with the different lakes we visit around the U.S. has helped.
Heading into the final tournament of the season this week at Lake Champlain on the New York/Vermont boundary, I find myself in third place in the Angler-of-the-Year standings with a decent shot to win this prestigious award.
We get points based on where we finish in each tournament and they are tallied up throughout the season, and whoever has the most at the end wins.
Andy Morgan, the Angler of the Year winner in both 2013 and 2104 and arguably the best angler in the history of the FLW Tour, is the current leader.
Morgan is about as consistent as it gets in pro bass fishing. He seldom has a bad tournament so all of us who are chasing him definitely have our hands full.
That being said, I’m not feeling a lot of pressure—it’s very humbling to be in the mix so we’ll see what happens this weekend.
As I drove up to Lake Champlain on Saturday after spending a few days visiting my uncle, Brian Gustafson, in Utica, N.Y., I found myself pulled over on the side of the road a couple of times to take pictures of the scenic landscape of the Adirondack mountains and the small rivers that were carved out along the way.
It’s pretty and really reminded me a lot of being at home.
Lake Champlain is located in the northern part of New York state (in fact, part of the lake is shared with Quebec) so it’s a lot different than the southern reservoirs that I’ve been fishing all season.
It feels similar to Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake. It’s a big natural lake with healthy populations of both largemouth and smallmouth bass.
My strategy heading into the tournament is to try to catch a good limit of smallmouths in the morning, then try to catch a kicker largemouth or two in the afternoons—much like the strategy many anglers employ at the KBI tournament on Lake of the Woods.
Hopefully, a few of the good areas that I’ve found kick out some fish and my plan works!
After the tournament, I’m going to start on the long 24-hour drive home to Kenora. I’m excited to get home, for sure. To be clear, I’m not complaining about what I get to do for a living but the long weeks on the road, lonely nights in hotels, and restaurant dinners are not all they’re cracked up to be.
So it will be nice to get home to sleep in my own bed, and see all of my friends and family.
The tournament on Lake Champlain starts tomorrow (June 23) and you can follow along online at flwfishing.com

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