Most of my life I fished just to be fishing — walleye, bass, perch, crappie, bluegill, it didn’t matter. Like the majority of those who fish it was recreational, or to get a few fillets for the deep fryer. I always enjoyed the challenge that fishing presented but never thought more about it than that.
This all changed about 6 years ago when my now 18 year old son decided that bass were his favorite species to catch! I soon found myself spending 90% of my fishing trips targeting smallmouth bass on the Door County waters of Green Bay.
As his passion for bass fishing grew to the point that he was following the pro levels and naming off fishing pros like most kids name off NFL QBs, I realized I had a lot of catching up to do if I was going to be able to offer assistance as a father. So what had been a recreational pastime developed into a relationship between a father providing support for his son to follow his passion and hopefully achieve his goals and a son providing direction for a father entering the next chapter in his life.
In May of 2019 I was dealing with some warranty issues on my boat prior to a team tournament we were preparing for. As a courtesy the regional rep that I was dealing with for Lund Boats arranged for my son and I to meet one of their sponsored angler: Elite Pro Jeff Gustafson who was fishing the tournament with his partner, Elite Pro Seth Fieder.
We had a short casual conversation over dinner and as we were preparing to go our separate ways, Gussy (as he prefers to be called) said “if you ever need any advice, don’t hesitate to ask as I am always willing to help out a young angler”.
What I considered simply a kind offer by a professional athlete turned out to be much more. This wasn’t lip service but rather, as I would discover, a sincere gesture made by a young man that has his priorities in order.
Over the last year I have followed Gussy’s career not only on the Elite series but also on social media platforms as well, and I am impressed with how open he is to answer questions and share his insight with complete strangers. Any time I am researching information related to smallmouth fishing I would come across his name associated with articles written on the matter. He has been open to offering advice not only to my son but to myself as well.
So it should be no surprise when I asked him if he wouldn’t mind answering some questions so that I could help spread my message he didn’t hesitate in answering “Sure, I’d be happy to”.
In the sport of bass fishing I am sure there are many others that share the same kind of values and character as Gussy, and for sure some are more well-known names. But I can tell you from firsthand experience that if you have a son or daughter who is as passionate about fishing as mine is you will not go wrong in having them follow this young man as he proves himself on the Elite Series Tour.
I would like to add that outside of our dinner I have had no other dealings with Mr. Fieder, but knowing what I know about the character of Gussy and the fact that they fish some team events together Seth certainly is a stand up guy as well.
Part of our philosophy at Positive Fishing Power is to make a difference through our passion for fishing and the outdoors and to support those who share the same principles. This Father’s Day let’s remember those who introduced us to the joy of fishing and say thanks for the memories that were created. Together we can all make a difference, one fish at a time.
Q) How were you introduced to fishing and what kept you involved during your youth that ultimately led to you becoming a professional angler?
A) For me, growing up spending the summers at our family cabin on Lake of the Woods probably had the biggest influence on my fishing career. From an early age I have had the fishing bug and I have just always had easy access to some great fishing opportunities. I also had a father who took me fishing and made sure I had fun when I was a little kid.
Q) How much would you say that confidence plays a role in fishing success?
A) Confidence in fishing is huge, obviously. I get asked all the time about what color lure I’m using… and the answer I often have for people is it doesn’t matter what color your jig or worm is if you aren’t putting it in front of fish. Finding fish is huge… for that reason I don’t carry a million colors of different baits with me on the water. I carry the ones I have confidence in.
Then it’s important to have confidence in your equipment. Put in the time to make sure everything works before you hit the water. Finally, spend as much time as you can on the water. You will learn something each time you’re out there and that helps to build confidence as well.
Q) What do you remember most about your first Bass Masters Classic?
A) The rush of getting pulled into the arena, with the loud music, the large crowds, that was probably the most surreal moment that I’ve waited my whole life for.
I will also say I had a couple of happy tears when my name was called to blast off on the first morning and I thought about all of the people who have helped me along the way, to get where I am today. Some of them are gone now, others are still a big part of my life.
Q) During a tournament every ounce is important. How do you remain focused and stay positive when you lose a fish, especially a big one?
A) Honestly, when I lose a fish now, within five seconds of it happening, my bait is going to be back in the water and I’m over it. I do everything I can to my equipment to help prevent fish losses but it’s going to happen from time to time. That is part of the luck factor in fishing and if it’s gone, it’s gone. You’ll rarely hear me talking about fish I lost after the tournament day is finished, you just carry on and find another one.
Q) Do you have any superstitions (like a lucky hat or a certain routine you follow) before an event?
A) I once had a small stone from a bass I caught out at Sturgeon Bay, I carried that with me for a few years and I’m not sure what happened to it.
Today, I have a Canadian Loonie (our $1 coin) embedded into the carpet of my boat – the story being at the 2002 and 2010 winter Olympics, the ice maker was a Canadian who put a Loonie in the ice and Canada won the gold medal in men’s hockey at both games.
Q) Knowing us northern anglers may be at a disadvantage over southern anglers because of a much shorter open water season, what advice would you give a young angler from up here that may give them an advantage if they are looking to compete in the sport of bass fishing?
A) I can tell you that no matter if you are fishing in Minnesota, Canada, Alabama or Florida, bass of all species relate to some sort of structure or cover wherever they are and they all spawn in the spring.
Having knowledge of spawning tendencies helps to find fish in the spring, then through much of the year bass location is based on where their forage is located.
Q) Based on how the events of our recent history have affected us all, how would you suggest the fishing community can do its part to give back?
A) The current virus crisis is affecting all of us in some way or another. I think the best thing that we can all do is get out fishing when we can, follow the guidelines for staying safe and hopefully this will all be over sooner rather than later. I think the best thing the fishing community can do is to be cognizant of the situation we’re in and not be the cause of any further outbreak or ignore the social distancing guidelines, which would make us all look bad.