It’s been a good season

The final event of the 2022 Bassmaster Elite Series season took place this past weekend on the Mississippi River, out of Lacrosse, Wisconsin. After starting in February down in Florida, nine events later, I have got to see a good chunk of the United States over the past seven months. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, the goal each year is to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic. It’s our championship event that takes the top 40 anglers based on points they gather at each event throughout the season.

After a rough start at the first few tournaments, I’ve been on a decent little run the rest of the year and eventually ended up 14th in the 94 angler field. I’ve qualified for my fourth Classic that will take place in March of 2023 on the Tennessee River, where I actually won an Elite Series tournament last year. When the location was announced earlier in the year, it put a little more pressure on me to make it because of my history there so I’m happy it all worked out. I’m going to spend a lot of time in the coming months thinking about and preparing for that tournament.

While I didn’t have any top ten finishes this year, it was probably my best year ever consistency wise. I caught my five fish limit every day that I competed, which is a lot harder to do that it sounds. We visit a variety of fisheries, including some that are very challenging so I’m proud of that.

Jeff Gustafson getting ready to weigh in his fish at the Mississippi River over the weekend.

The tournament this week was very similar to how last week went out in South Dakota. I had a great first day, landing in fourth place, not far from the lead, then limped through day two and three, eventually ending up in 26th place. Normally, I’m happy with a finish in the 20’s fishing again these guys but it was disappointing after such a good start.

There ended up being to many other anglers fishing the same area that I did and the pressure made it a lot tougher to catch the fish. I ended up fishing mostly new water on the third day and caught some fish but just didn’t hook up with any big ones.

The fishing on the Mississippi is different, but fun. There is quite a bit of current so you are always fishing around some flowing water and the bass are shallow, usually in two to six feet of water. There is plenty of vegetation to fish around and moving baits are usually the best way to go. I look forward to going back there someday.

Brandon Palaniuk of Idaho ended up winning his second Bassmaster Angler of the Year title and the $100,000 prize that goes along with it. He is one of the superstars in bass fishing and one of the best anglers in the World. He is also a great person who a lot of the other anglers were happy to see win.

Now that the season is over in the U.S., I’m looking forward to spending the rest of the fall around home. Getting to compete in these tournaments really is the dream job but all of the travel and time away from home is not that glamourous so hanging around home is going to be nice. There are quite a few bass tournaments coming up across the Sunset Country region through early October so most of my weekends will be consumed with those, with a little bit of guiding and fun fishing mixed in during the week. Enjoy these last few weeks of the summer everybody and get out on the water.