Gussy Gears To Defend Title

Gussy Gears to Defend Title

The 2024 Bassmaster Elite Season is underway, and Northland Fishing Tackle Pro, Jeff ‘Gussy’ Gustafson is currently sitting in 37th place in the Angler of the Year standings, with a 24th place finish at the season opening event on Toledo Bend as the highlight…thus far.

Grand Lake is what Gussy has his eyes set on now, for the Superbowl of bass fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.  This is the event where Jeff is looking to defend his 2023 Classic Title, and not be on the stage the final day just to hand off the Classic trophy to a new winner.

Weather across the mid-south is trending in a positive and warmer direction, with temperatures showing to be in the upper 60’s, to low 70’s during the tournament, which kicks off on Friday, March 22nd, and concludes on Sunday, the 24th.

“The water temperatures on Grand will be getting into the mid-to upper 50’s, depending at where you are at on the lake,” said Gussy.  “There is a chance that some fish may start to move up to spawn during the event, but it is likely this will be a pre-spawn event.”

This will open the doors for the Bassmaster Classic anglers to fish the way they want and to fish to their strengths, as Grand Lake has clean and dirty water, it has shallow water cover, and deep-water structure.

For anglers like Gussy that like to fish cleaner water, they’ll be relying on their forward-facing sonar units, and using jig heads and jerkbaits to coax these bass in to biting.


Gussy will be reaching into his tackle box for his Smeltinator Jig for targeting these bass.  He noted that for this event where the water is warming, and big bass are needed, he’ll be able to use the 1/4 oz, 2/0 hook model to target those bass in that 10–15-foot water mark.

With the Bassmaster Classic here, Northland Tackle has released a new color in the Smeltinator and Smeltinator Underspin Jig, Gussy’s Shad.  “It is such a great color and works well anytime you are wanting to pair the jig with a shad color soft plastic bait,” explained Gussy.  “We designed it to perfectly match the Z-Man Gussy’s Blue Glimmer Jerk Shad, which is my go-to bait on the Smeltinator.”

A helpful forward-facing sonar and Smeltinator Jig fishing tip from the reigning Classic Champion is “that I always try to keep my bait above the fish I’m seeing on my MEGA Live, I want to make them work for it and have them swim up to my jig.”

Two forms of bass holding cover are endless on Grand Lake, boat docks and brush piles.  Both have resident bass living in and around them all season long, and then serve as staging areas for pre-spawn bass.  Being a VERY popular tournament stop of regional bass tournaments, and large tournament circuits in Oklahoma and Missouri, “Grand Lake bass see a good amount of fishing pressure,” detailed Gussy.

With this fishing pressure a finesse fishing approach to targeting brush piles and boat docks could come in to play and the Weedless Nedster rigged with a Z-Man Hula Stick will be Gussy’s choice.

“I don’t have a lot of experience on Grand but will try to fish the cleaner water since that fits my style, but I will let the weather tell me what to do,” said Gussy.  “I need to keep the bass honest in practice, so I’ll have a lot of rods out and exploring multiple patterns.”

While the above-mentioned group of anglers want the water to be clear, there is another contingent of anglers that would like some rain to move through the Grove, Oklahoma area, to put some run-off into the lake and add some color to the water.

This will help excel the mid to shallow water bite and allow anglers to rely on traditional power fishing techniques, such as spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and a jig.

Gussy Gears To Defend Title
Shallow Sunny B (Cooked Crawdad)

Grand Lake is an Ozark style fishery, and spring on these lakes means crankbait fishing for bass, and the new Northland Fishing Tackle Elite Sunny B crankbait fits the bill when targeting these pre-spawn bass.  “The Shallow Sunny B could play if the water temperatures start to climb and the bass move up,” said Jeff.  “It’s a small profile crankbait, but for sure catches bass!”

The new line of Northland Fishing Tackle Elite Pro Crankbaits includes the following models: Sunny B, Pro Sunny B, Shallow Sunny B, and the NEW Pro Sunny B Deep.

“I’m very excited and ready to defend my Title,” smiled Gussy.  “Winning it, makes you want to win it again…a lot of good things have come from last year’s win!”

Be sure to stay tuned in to Northland Fishing Tackle’s social media as Gussy Gears to Defend Title and the Northland Team will be down in Oklahoma all week during the Classic providing you updates from Gussy, along from the Bassmaster Classic Expo.

Gussy Gears To Defend Title

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