Nice to be back on ice

After spending a few weeks in south Florida, it was back to reality (and winter) for me this past week.
Other than the foot of snow that had piled up in my driveway, it was nice to be home. Although this winter has been long, with no end in sight, I do like the opportunity to ride my snowmobile and go ice-fishing.
Season 3 of my TV program “Fishing with Gussy” started airing in January. We shot all of these shows over the past open-water season, but we still were a couple of shows short of a full season of 13 episodes so we’re on the ice this week playing catch up.
We tried to shoot these back in December and early January but every time we tried to make it happen, we were faced with minus-25 or colder temperatures, which makes it pretty tough to use the camera gear.
It’s simply not that fun to go fishing when it’s that cold out, either. As such, the milder weather this week has been appreciated!
On holiday Monday, my good buddy, Jamie Bruce, and I hit the ice in the Kenora area and had one of the best days of crappie fishing I’ve ever had—catching all of our fish on small jigs tipped with soft plastic minnow and invertebrate imitations.
Specifically, they were Northland Impulse baits, which are loaded up with scent that quite evidently these crappies liked!
This show will air in the next few weeks so keep an eye out for it. Jamie shares some great tips for finding new places to catch crappies on lakes around our region.
• • •
On my way home from Florida last week, I received some bad news. Chicago resident Irv Pielet, a long-time visitor to Sunset Country, passed away at the age of 77.
Up until this past year, when his health deteriorated enough to prevent him from making his annual trip, Irv had visited the Kenora area for more than 40 years to fish for smallmouth bass.
I met Irv when I was quite young and he used to fish in Echo Bay on the west end of Lake of the Woods. My family had a cottage in that bay and I used to stop and chat with all the anglers who were bass fishing there, especially if they had nice bass boats like Irv did.
Irv made it a tradition to show up on May 20 every year and head home on July 1. It was six weeks of the year that I know he looked forward to the whole time he wasn’t here.
He was a pretty interesting guy and very successful in life, owning several scrap yards amongst other things across the U.S. Midwest.
Irv loved to catch smallmouth bass on topwater baits more than anybody I have ever met. He liked to watch a smallmouth inhale a topwater lure or fly so much that you couldn’t pay him to catch a bass on a jig or sub-surface lure.
He lived for getting a bass to hit his Devils Horse topwater or his blue bug fly. He was an exceptional fly fisherman and taught me what I was doing wrong when I shared the boat with him.
Over the years, he brought many friends up with him to visit the area and hired me to guide them. Since he had such a dislike for fishing beneath the surface, he had me take his friends walleye fishing while he got everything ready for an old-fashioned shore lunch.
His impact on the Kenora area was significant. Irv was a very generous guy, supporting the Kids’ KBI for more than 20 years—donating $2,500 every year towards prizes.
He always believed in shopping local, as well, and ate many dinners are area restaurants.
He also probably hit more rocks with his boat on Lake of the Woods and Shoal Lake than anybody I know, and always had everything fixed in Kenora. He never used a map or a GPS, and believed hitting rocks was just part of doing business on these lakes.
Irv will be missed by many in the Kenora area.

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