Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Meeting the 2024 Canadian Angler Hall of Fame newest inductee Gord Ellis

Representing the north has served him well

By Luigi De Rose 

Turning one’s passion into a career has burned deep within many of us. Thunder Bay’s golden child Gord Ellis, a journalist, fishing guide, musician and conservation advocate has been one of the lucky ones. Through dedication and grit, Gord has made a career of writing and preaching the merits of pursuing adventure in the outdoors particularly in Canada’s north. 

At the Spring Fishing and Boat show at the Toronto International Centre in Toronto, on Friday, February 16, 2024, members of the Canadian fishing industry honoured Gord Ellis by inducting him into the Canadian Angler Hall of Fame. 

Flanked by his wife Cheryl, Ontario OUT OF DOORS Editors Ray Blades and Jason Bain, and past inductees, Gord looked back on a career in fishing media spanning over 38 years. 

Beginning with an article in Angler and Hunter Magazine published by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) in the late 1980s. Those first years saw Ellis expand his craft while being published in numerous popular magazines. 

“I was writing quite a bit back then. I got $350 for my first cover on a magazine and I was like WOW! That was a lot of money for a kid back then.” recalls Ellis 

Soon after his career shifted gears when he was granted a position on the masthead of Ontario OUT OF DOORS Magazine in 1992.  He leap frogged seniority quickly and became Senior Editor in the early 2000s, a position he continues to hold. Ontario OUT OF DOORS Magazine has been a jewel in his crown but Gord continues to actively write and his work is published in various magazines across North America. 

Monday, February 26, 2024

Wheeler out-duels Rojas on Santee Cooper, lands seventh BPT win

Jacob Wheeler claimed his seventh career Bass Pro Tour event win on Sunday.
Photo by Garrick Dixon

By Mitchell Forde


Presented by Fenwick, the Santee Cooper lakes that had churned out chunky bass all week simply shut down. At one point, the 10 pros duking it out during the Championship Round went 45 minutes without boating a scorable bass. They combined to catch just 18, none breaking the 4-pound mark, during the final frame.

The one angler who managed to manufacture consistent action – Jacob Wheeler. Wheeler accounted for five of those bass, which combined to weigh 14 pounds, 2 ounces and boosted his final-day total to 47-4, lifting him past Dean Rojas by 5 pounds for his seventh career Bass Pro Tour victory.

Bucking conventional Santee Cooper tactics by fishing offshore with a jighead minnow, Wheeler did what he’s done for the past six years, seemingly willing bites into existence. He started the third period 2-8 back of Rojas but promptly took the lead with a 3-12 largemouth. A little more than an hour later, with everyone else at a standstill, he boated three fish over 2 pounds in about 10 minutes. After Rojas closed within 2-6 in the final 30 minutes, Wheeler ran across Lake Marion to hit one more spot, where he added a 2-10 to all but seal the victory.

“I stuck to my game plan this whole week, and I stayed out offshore and I tried to fish isolated stuff,” Wheeler said. “It really came down to just keeping my head down and keeping my rotation going. I tried to make other tactics work, but those last two periods really came down to throwing that Freeloader, locking it in my hand. I’ve got so much confidence in it; I know it’s going to generate the bites if they are going to bite at all.”

Here’s how the Top 10 pros finished the Championship Round. Complete results can be found here.

  1. Jacob Wheeler — 47-4 (15 bass)
  2. Dean Rojas — 42-4 (17)
  3. Jesse Wiggins — 29-14 (9)
  4. Matt Becker — 19-10 (4)
  5. Dylan Hays — 18-12 (5)
  6. Casey Ashley — 16-8 (6)
  7. Dave Lefebre — 15-5 (5)
  8. Cole Floyd — 11-5 (5)
  9. James Watson — 7-13 (3)
  10. Justin Lucas — 4-8 (1)

If an instruction manual for fishing Santee Cooper existed, it would probably read

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Kyoya Fujita Wins 2024 Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend Day with 100-13lbs!

Canadians Chris Johnston 7th & Gallant 8th!

BASS Press Release

MANY, La. — Kyoya Fujita’s ultimate goal for 2024 is to win the Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year award.


Winning the first tournament of the season is certainly an impressive way to start that campaign.


With 100 pounds, 13 ounces, Fujita claimed the victory at the Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend. Along with the coveted century belt — an exclusive award given only to those who catch at least 100 pounds of bass in a four-day event — the Elite Series sophomore earned the $100,000 top prize and a blue trophy. 


“I was surprised,” Fujita said with the assistance of a translator. “I am looking to make every Championship Sunday this season. But winning tournaments are really hard things to do. I have been champion in Japan, but I know how hard it is to do. I’m happy with how it worked out. It’s a very good start.”


Entering the day 6 pounds behind Wisconsin pro Pat Schlapper, Fujita made a furious comeback in the final round by catching 28-13 — a bag almost entirely made up of 6-pounders and a total he wasn’t expecting after struggling the previous day.


“I thought there was a chance for me to win if Pat caught only 16 or 17 pounds and I could catch 22 or 23 pounds,” Fujita said. “If I can locate the bass, I am confident I can catch those bass. In my brain, my tactics, my fishing and my heart, I believe in myself.”


This win only adds reinforces his hard-earned nickname “Prince of Japanese Angling.” This is Fujita’s second Elite Series title in 10 events, with the first coming at Lake Champlain last August. Before coming to America, he won four Angler of the Year titles in Japan as well as six major tournaments.


Most of the week, Fujita stayed in one offshore spot in the mouth of Housen Bay and targeted prespawn bass suspended in deep standing timber. As the fishing pressure from Elite anglers and locals began to build, the bite began to suffer.


When that spot began to fizzle on Day 3, he moved to the creek right above Housen and caught suspended bass in 10 feet of water using his forward-facing sonar in the mouth of that creek. That spot produced multiple 6-pounders the final two days, several of which he believed to be postspawners.


“I practiced there and found some 3-pounders, but nothing special,” he said. “I think because of the wind situation (on Day 4), the bass came up there.”


In both areas, Fujita used a Jackall Drift Fry and a Deps Sakamata Shad and rigged them on either a 1/8-ounce or 3/16-ounce Keitech Super Round Jighead. When he located a bass on Garmin LiveScope, he would cast to it and then lightly shake the bait in front of the bass until it bit.


He rigged both baits on a 6-foot, 5-inch medium-light Daiwa Steez Real Control spinning rod paired with a Daiwa Exist reel which he spooled with 30-pound Daiwa braid main line and 16-pound fluorocarbon leader.


Fujita took the lead on Day 1 by catching 31-3 — a five-bass limit that earned him $2,000 for as the Rapala CrushCity Monster Bag of the Tournament. He fell to second after a Day 2 bag of 24-3 and then to third after catching 16-10 on Day 3.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

2024 Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend Day 3: Schlapper Retains Lead!

Canadians Chris Johnston 7th, Gallant 9th, Cory Johnston 13th & Gustafson 23rd.

Wisconsin's Pat Schlapper maintains the lead on Day 3 of the Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend with a total of 78 pounds. (Photo: BASS/Andy Crawford) 

BASS Press Release

MANY, La. — Before this week, Pat Schlapper had never led a day of Bassmaster Elite Series competition. The Wisconsin pro has now led two-straight days of the Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend and will hold the pole position heading into Championship Sunday with a three-day total of 78 pounds.


Schlapper caught 22 pounds, 7 ounces on Day 3 to add to his 27-4 and 28-5 marks from the first two days. Japanese pro Kyoya Fujita follows in second with 72-0 and Tennessee rookie Robert Gee is third with 69-7. 


“I’m very thankful to have the bag I got. I worked hard for it. I’m happy to be in the position to have a chance,” Schlapper said. “It feels really good. I want to win so badly. It is so hard to get into a position to win.


“Last year, I had one opportunity on Seminole and I had a bad first day. So, I’m trying to concentrate and fish to the best of my ability and win. That is all that’s in my mind.”


Throughout the week, Schlapper has targeted bass roaming offshore on a warming Toledo Bend using his Garmin LiveScope, with one particular spot producing the bulk of his weight. He found that spot during his pre-fishing trip last month and then dialed in an exact pattern during practice this week.


The majority of his bass have been caught on one bait in 15 to 30 feet of water.


“Where I am at, a lot of fish are just passing through there,” he said. “So, every day I see new fish. I don’t think I’ve casted at the same fish in three days. They are constantly moving around, or they’re buried in the grass and then come out.”

Friday, February 23, 2024

2024 Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend Day 2: Schlapper Leads by 3 ounces over Fujita!

Canadians Chris Johnston 6th, Cory Johnston 20th, Gustafson 22nd & Gallant 27th

Wisconsin's Pat Schlapper has taken the lead on Day 2 of the Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend with a total of 55 pounds, 9 ounces.  (Photo: Andy Crawford/BASS) 

MANY, La. — With the help of an 8-6 largemouth, Pat Schlapper caught 28 pounds, 5 ounces on Day 2 of the Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend to jump into the lead with a two-day total of 55-9.


The pro from Eleva, Wis., holds a 3-ounce advantage over Day 1 leader Kyoya Fujita, who is second with a two-day mark of 55-6. Tennessee’s Robert Gee is third with 51-10.


“There were some really fun moments today,” Schlapper said. “It was tougher than yesterday, honestly. I didn’t get that many bites, and the bass are either leaving or getting picked off. I still had three really good bites.”


After finding a rhythm late in the day Thursday, the three-time Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Classic presented by Jockey Outdoors qualifier returned to one of his most productive areas and targeted roaming bass in 15 to 30 feet of water. He used the same bait he caught the majority of his bass on yesterday with the help of his Garmin LiveScope.


Despite the increase in boat pressure in the area, Schlapper immediately started catching bass and filled out his limit around 9:30 a.m. before landing his biggest bass of the day.


“I saw the bass on LiveScope, but it looked too big. I made a good cast and it came up on it, bit it and I missed it,” Schlapper said. “I cast up there again; the way it came up I thought it was a bass. Then, the way it fought, I knew it was a bass. I was lucky I (that) missed it the first time and then (it) ate it again. It was awesome.”


Late in the day, he returned to that same area and caught another kicker bass, a largemouth that weighed just under 8 pounds.


2024 Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend Day 1: Kyoya Fujita Smashes 31-03lbs!

Canadians Cory Johnston 27th, Chris Johnston 32nd, Gallant 45th & Gustafson 51st

By Christopher Decker

BASS Press Release

MANY, La. — Before the start of the Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend, Kyoya Fujita’s personal-best bag of largemouth weighed around 24 pounds.

But after anchoring his bag with an 8 1/2-pounder Thursday, the Japanese pro shattered that mark and claimed the Day 1 lead at Toledo Bend with a 31-pound, 3-ounce bag of largemouth.

Known as the “Prince of Japanese Angling,” Fujita holds a 2-3 advantage over Elite Series rookie Robert Gee of Tennessee and nearly a 4-pound advantage over Wisconsin pro Pat Schlapper.

Fujita had never been to Toledo Bend before he pre-fished here in January. He said the lake has changed a lot since then, particularly the water levels, which are much higher now.

Using Garmin LiveScope, Fujita targeted prespawn bass located in 30 feet of water around standing timber in a popular area of Toledo Bend. Two baits caught the majority of his bass in one specific spot he found the last day of practice.

It only took about three hours for Fujita to reach his total for the day, as he landed the 8-pounder around 8 o’clock. During one particular flurry, he threw back a 4-pounder and then a 5-pounder. While the day was warm and sunny, the wind kicked up across the lake, making things more difficult.

“It’s getting tougher and tougher,” Fujita said through a translator. “In the morning, it was easy fishing. Afternoon, no bites. I don’t like rough water.”

Fujita said 30 pounds is the goal for tomorrow, and believes there are the bass in the area to repeat that performance.

“I will go to same area and same spot. (I’ll do) the same fishing,” he said. “I’ll try for 20 pounds. But if tough conditions, I’ll go to the next area with 3-pounders and 4-pounders and change tactics.”

Gee fished the St. Croix Bassmaster Opens presented by SEVIIN in 2023 and suffered his worst finish of the season at Toledo Bend. But he took the lessons he learned from that event and applied them this week to catch 29-0 Thursday.

“I beat the bank the whole time [in 2023] and from that moment on it changed my outlook on the way I needed to be fishing,” Gee said. “I dedicated myself to working on my offshore game ever since that tournament and it paid off today.”

He caught plenty of bass on Day 1, including a stop that produced two 5-pounders and several more quality bass to increase his total to 20 pounds around midday.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Jeremiah Kindy Wins 2024 St. Croix BASS Open on Lake Ouachita with 52-03lbs!

Canadian Evan Kung finishes 9th!

Christopher Decker

BASS Press Release 

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Jeremiah Kindy has bass fished on Lake Ouachita since he could walk. In fact, he caught his first jig bass as a toddler around a set of islands 2 miles from Brady Mountain Recreation Area fishing with his dad and brother.

It was the Benton, Ark., native’s first Bassmaster Open appearance since the 2002 Central Open, which was also held at Ouachita.

“This is definitely the most important tournament I’ve ever won,” Kindy said. “It means the world. Just being able to compete and have so many family and friends here. Even if I wouldn’t have won, it would have been awesome. But to get this win is freaking amazing. For three days, I was the best angler on this lake. That’s pretty important.”

With bags of 19-7, 16-5 and 16-7, Kindy outlasted fellow Arkansan Matt Baker, who finished second with 46-13 and third-place Andy Newcomb who finished with 45-12. Although he isn’t currently signed up for the next two Opens in Division II, Kindy plans on fishing both of them, which will make him eligible for the 2025 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Classic presented by Jockey Outdoors, scheduled for March 21-23 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Since he began fishing tournaments as a teenager, Kindy has earned a reputation from fellow anglers as one of the best anglers on Lake Ouachita. With nearly 200 of the best anglers in the country coming to his home lake, many of whom planned on LiveScoping out deep, he knew he would have to do it his way if he wanted a shot at the win.

“The only way I thought I could win this tournament was to fish to my strengths, and that’s what I did,” he said. “I knew I couldn’t compete with the guys out in the middle of the lake. It set up right. The way we had them two warm days, some females moved up and I got fortunate enough to catch enough of them.”

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The 2024 Spring Fishing and Boat Show Starts this Friday!


Join Jamie Bruce, JP DeRose, Joey Di Cienzo, Brian Latimer and Joey Teofilo, with special drop ins by Bob Izumi and Dave Mercer for the annual Bass Talk presented by @fishcsfl on Saturday, February 17! Reserve your spot today by purchasing your ticket on - limited seats available!

Monday, February 12, 2024

Drew Gill Wins 2024 Stop 1 Presented by Power-Pole MOVE on San Rayburn!

 Young gun Gill takes down Rayburn

Drew Gill's Day 3 total of 26 pounds, 3 ounces, earned him the win with a three-day total of 69-6. Photo by Rob Matsuura. 
By Jody White

Invitations Press Release

BROOKELAND, Texas – Drew Gill has been on a heater for a while, and it was only a matter of time before the LiveScope whizz closed out a high-level win. Today, after sacking up 26 pounds, 3 ounces on Championship Sunday, Gill took home the title at Stop 1 Presented by Power-Pole MOVE on Sam Rayburn Reservoir with a 69-6 total. 

Gill topped fellow electronics master Jake Lawrence (second, 67-15), and had enough to overcome local Marshall Hughes’ (third, 67-4) megabag on Day 2, which put him more than 6 pounds ahead of the pack initially. For the win, Gill pocketed $80,000, and locked up his 2025 REDCREST qualification early. 

Though still a fledgling circuit, Gill is now the youngest to win an Invitationals event, setting the mark to beat at 21 years, 8 months. Historically speaking, when you factor in FLW Tour stats, Gill slots in between Stetson Blaylock’s win at Lake Norman in 2009 (21 years, 7 months) and Jacob Wheeler’s 2012 Forrest Wood Cup title (21 years, 10 months).

The consensus favorite for Fishing Clash Angler of the Year in the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals, Gill has started the season about as good as you can. Just last week, he finished third in the Bass Pro Tour season opener on Toledo Bend, and, for good measure, the 21-year-old also finished 19th in the Abu Garcia College Fishing National Championship with partner Evan Fields back in January.

Nothing is a really a long time coming when you’re 21, but getting over the hump for the W was a big deal for Gill.  

“Any year you can do consistently well and have a lot of Top 10s is a win in itself,” Gill said. “Goal No. 1 every year is always Angler of the Year. Goal No. 1 is not to win an event. However, that is a very close goal No. 2, and to be able to accomplish that in the first event of the Invitationals season after having a third at Toledo last week, I could not be more stoked for how fishing is going right now.”


Adam Rasmussen Wins 2024 Mercury BASS National Qualifier on Lake Eufaula

Christopher Decker
BASS Press Release
EUFAULA, Ala. — After some anxious moments in the morning hours, Adam Rasmussen caught a limit weighing 18 pounds, 13 ounces Friday to win the Mercury B.A.S.S. Nation Qualifier at Lake Eufaula presented by Lowrance with a three-day total of 62-5.

Along with the trophy, Rasmussen earned $9,728 and a berth in the 2024 B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.

“Obviously this is what we all strive to do in this sport. We want to win,” he said. “So, you put your head down and work as hard as you can and try to do it every time. There’s a lot of good anglers that fish this and I am humbled to win it on a lake that hasn’t been very nice to me in the past.”

Alabama’s Kenneth Grover II finished second with a three-day total of 51-12 while Brock Belik finished third with 50-15.

Anglers were welcomed to Lake Eufaula by a major rain storm, which dirtied up a lot of the lake at the beginning of the week. Rasmussen made a concerted effort to scan almost the entirety of practice in cleaner water, trying to find as many sweet spots as possible so he didn’t run out of areas to fish in the tournament.

“I looked for as much stuff as I could. I probably laid down 400 icons (on my graph),” said Rasmussen, who notched an Opens victory on Alabama’s Wheeler Lake in 2023. “I always seem to run out of stuff halfway through Day 2. I pretty much had the attitude that I was going to find as much as I possibly could so I didn’t run out. And I didn’t. There’s still more that I didn’t even get to.”

Friday, February 9, 2024

2024 Mercury BASS National Qualifier on Lake Eufaula Day 2: Adam Rasmussen Leads!

Christopher Decker
BASS Press Release

EUFAULA, Ala. — Adam Rasmussen’s string of good fortune in the state of Alabama continued on Day 2 of the Mercury B.A.S.S. Nation Qualifier at Lake Eufaula presented by Lowrance as the Sturgeon Bay, Wis., native caught 24 pounds, 7 ounces and jumped to the lead with a two-day total of 43-8.

After landing in second the first day with 19-1, Rasmussen anchored his Day 2 bag with the Big Bass of the Tournament thus far, a 7-9 largemouth he caught on his second cast of the morning. Texas angler Shaine Campbell is second with 35-14 and Jess Beihoffer is third with 33-6. 

Rasmussen won the St. Croix Bassmaster Open on Wheeler Lake last May, and with time to kill between the Lake Okeechobee and Lake Ouachita Opens, he decided to sign up and search for redemption on a lake responsible for one of his worst finishes of 2023.

“I wanted some redemption on the lake so I spent a day and a half of practice driving around and graphing,” he said. “I found a few schools of fish and didn’t know any of it was going to go down like it did.”

During his day and a half of practice, Rasmussen committed to scanning offshore structure for schools of bass and discovered a broad area that has produced most of his weight so far this week. A jig paired with a Rapala CrushCity Craw has been his best bait along with a Rapala Mavrik jerkbait. 

Thursday, February 8, 2024

2024 Mercury BASS National Qualifier on Lake Eufaula Day 1: Canadian Jamie Bruce Secures Lead!

BASS Press Release

EUFAULA, Ala. — Jamie Bruce got a taste of redemption on Day 1 of the Mercury B.A.S.S. Nation Qualifier at Lake Eufaula presented by Lowrance by catching a limit weighing 20 pounds to lead the field of 152 boaters.  

Bruce has a 15-ounce advantage over his Wisconsin roommate Adam Rasmussen, while Alabama’s Allan Glasgow is third with 18-7. Glasgow also landed the Big Bass of the Day, a 6-6 largemouth. 

It was a beautiful day, but the fishing was stingy, as just 43 limits were weighed in by boaters and only 11 limits were recorded by non boaters. Temperatures will continue to rise during the tournament with calm conditions expected for Day 2. 

Lake Eufaula was responsible for Bruce’s second-worst finish of his Bassmaster Opens Elite Qualifiers slate in 2023, an event that likely kept him from punching his ticket for this year’s Bassmaster Elite Series. With a baby on the way, Bruce knew he couldn’t compete in the EQ race this year, but he wanted to make a trip south to give him a break from the cold Canadian winter. 

“I had never really missed the boat on anything that much before that tournament,” Bruce said. “I fished that one with no LiveScope. It was broken and I couldn’t get a replacement. So I fished that one with no front graph, went shallow and got my teeth kicked in.