Ron Hustvedt

Ron Hustvedt is an outdoors writer and photographer who covers a broad array of experiences, individuals and events centered on hunting and fishing. He is also a professional educator. Please visit his website at

Posts about Fishing

Time for annual ‘running of the bulls’ on your favorite bluegill lake

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: June 25, 2011 - 4:55 PM
True bull bluegill have that classic hump by their head

Some people don’t like it when bass are called “bucketmouths” or muskies are called “water tigers” but that’s a different argument for a different day. Those same folks might not like it that big bluegills are called “bulls” but I know how to change their mind.

Let them hook into one and try to battle it.

Big bluegills defy the term “panfish” because they exceed the size of your average pan. I’m talking trophy fish in the 10-inch and above range. The kind of bluegill that has a big bump on its head and looks almost freakish compared to the small ones that tend to hang out at every dock in the summertime.

"When these massive creatures turn sideways after a solid hook set, the term “bull” makes complete sense," said Bryan "Beef" Sathre of Fathead Guide Service in the Bemidji and Cass Lake area. Sathre is a bluegill trophy hunter who loves to tie into big bluegill, wrestle with them for awhile, snap a quick photo, then watch it swim away to fight another day.

"Pound for pound, bluegills are the toughest fish in the freshwater world. I tied into one the other day and swore I’d hooked into a pike until I got it closer to the boat," he said.

Right now is one of the best times around for catching big bluegill, Sathre said. That's because this is the time of the year when they are sitting on their beds and are extremely aggressive. It’s also the time of the year when they are at their most vulnerable state.Be sure to release that big bluegill to fight another day For that reason, if you go after these bull bluegills, please be sure to practice catch-photo-release. "If you want a meal of sweet-tasting bluegill fillets then keep a few smaller ones for the frying pan. Anything 10-inches or larger should quickly be released in my boat. It’s a good rule to consider in yours too," Sathre urged.

He fishes for them like they do for tarpon in coastal areas, "We’re sight fishing a lot of these bluegill locations. What I look for are transition points in the bottom in shallow bays and flats. My Costa del Mar polarized sunglasses help me find their nests that stand out as sandy holes." This is the result of the bluegill fanning out a nest that they guard very vigorously.

Another fantastic location is in the six to eight foot emerging cabbage beds or reeds adjacent to this deeper water. This is where they stage before spawning and hangout as they recover and is a fantastic secondary location. Big bluegill are a blast to catch "I’ll move in with the trolling motor until I’m 20 to 30 feet away and then cast to them with a slip bobber and small jig tipped with a waxworm or panfish leech. An ultra-light rod makes everything so much more fun and I really like the castability of the Bionic panfish line in four-pound test. It has low visibility but is strong enough to handle the largemouth, smallmouth, crappie, perch, pike and rock bass that are bound to hit your lure in these locations," Sathre said.

For lure selection, Sathre said he likes a 1/16th to 1/32nd firefly minnow or small jig. "If it’s windy I’ll go with the larger size. You don’t have to worry about spooking them with the cast or getting right on top of them. Get it close and they’ll come to you," he said.

Another great tactic is to go baitless and throw panfish Slurpies tubes on a float system. Case it up there, let the jig sink, reel it in a few feet, wait for the jig to catch up, pause, and repeat the process. Author with a high quality bluegill "Super pro bobbers from Northland Tackle do a great job in all conditions. If it’s windy then I use the weighted bobbers. Either way, balance the bobber so that you can detect a subtle bite. The other day I had it so my bobber was barely above the water making for very little resistance once a bluegill hit my jig," he said.

Where does Sathre pursue these massive bluegill? Most anywhere in the state has the potential for big bluegill waters. Around the metro they are a well guarded secret but go ahead and try asking your local baitshop. Lake Minnetonka or Waconia might be the best bed in the west metro while Bald Eagle Lake and the Mississippi River backwaters might be the best choice in the east metro.

"In my neck of the woods up here in Bemidji I like lakes such as Turtle River, Rabideau, Grace, Wolf, Andrusia, Grant, Irving and Blackduck," Sathre said.

Just remember to catch-photo-release these trophies so they can continue to raise the next generation of bulls.

Bryan Sathre with an impressive bluegill

What is your favorite baitshop? Be sure to frequent your local Mom and Pop baitshop this summer

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: April 30, 2011 - 10:59 PM
The May/June issue of the “Lake Country Journal” arrived in the mail today and I was very excited to read an article within about Mom & Pop Baitshops. I was absolutely stunned by the layout of the article and how well the art director did with the layout of the article. It really captured that old-time feel that you can only get from a good-old fashioned Mom & Pop Baitshop. In the interest of full disclosure, I wrote the article and took the photographs that went along with it. That said, writers don’t usually get to see the finished piece until after it’s published so it’s always fun when a publication really does a good job utilizing the writing and photography you worked hard on. I’m not writing to brag up the article, however. I’m writing to encourage everybody to visit the Mom & Pop baitshop nearest their fishing area this summer. These locally owned stores have their fingers on the pulse of fishing in the area. They also have a great supply of bait and are more than willing to set you up with the best information for having a great day on the water. Some of their prices might not be as good as the local big-box chain store, but throw some business to the little guy. These local baitships are a dying breed and they will not survive without angler support. In the article I wrote I included two of my favorite baitshops in northern Minnesota—S&W Bait in Brainerd and Bluewater in Bemidji. The owners of these shops are first-rate and know their stuff. On multiple occasions they have provided me with the right insights for a successful day on the water. Please use the comments section of this blog and post your favorite Mom & Pop baitshop. Don’t forget to mention the town it’s in and some of the best lakes nearby. I’m going to do some fishing around my home this week so that means stopping by Marv’s Minnows in Zimmerman just off 169.

City Limits Fishing comes to Minneapolis

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: March 24, 2011 - 9:20 PM
Watch a sneak preview of the show at Bass angling professional Mike Iaconelli has his "City Limits Fishing" show on the Versus network and he does around six shows a year in a major metropolitan area. He's bass fished a ton of cities, gone deep sea fishing off the Miami coast and gone after other species in other cities around the country. It's a good show and reality-based in that he has only eight hours of fishing to try and get a limit as established by the host angler at the beginning of the show. He came to Minneapolis this past winter to shoot a show on the ice, and have his first time ice fishing ever (on or off camera). There was an angler from Chicago who was originally going to host but that didn't work out. I was called by the show’s producer back in early December and asked to help out but couldn't due to my full-time gig. Iaconelli's producer found a local guide to do the show but then one of our monumental blizzards this winter shut the entire country down and they had to cancel the shoot. After they rescheduled the shoot and it didn't work for the other guy they came back to me and asked if I could. I had been kicking myself for passing it along and this time it worked into the schedule. Iaconelli, his producer and a cameraman from Florida arrived the night before we were to fish. Locally, a cameraman and one of my best friends, went along as well. There were two cameras on us at all times, one following Iaconelli and the other following me. My buddy drove the chase vehicle that provided some of the driving shots as we moved from place to place. When we filmed the show, there were only about 10 hours of sunlight and I had to choose an eight hour window to fish. I wanted to fish the sunrise, but knew that might not work out both for lighting and it’s not the best way to introduce a bunch of rookies to the sport. I settled on fishing from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. to see if the evening bite would kick in earlier than usual for us and possibly pop a few panfish during the day or even a pike. We fished the morning and early afternoon on Calhoun and then hopped to Harriet for the end of day bite. The show is true to its deal. No canned fish. Nothing pre-rigged to look good for the camera. What you will see on the show is what happened true to the timing of how it happened. My only complaint is that while they say 8 hours of fishing, it works out to much less than that because of all the filming that has to be done a certain way to get the angles and perspectives they want for a cool, rapid-fire, kind of show. Let's just say we were on the ice for an hour before a single hook hit the water! It's a fishing show, but it's more a show about fishing opportunities in the middle of a city. Catching fish is good, and we caught lots of fish, but it's not your typical fishing show where "canned" fish are often the star of the show. That's the inside scoop. I don't know how much of that will come through in the show. I know none of what I just wrote will be in the press releases that are circulating about the show. It was a lot of fun. It was cool to do. I still say this was THE TOUGHEST bite I had all winter and it just had to be for national television! That's the luck but when I last spoke with the producer of the show he was absolutely giddy about the show. As a city kid, born and raised in South Minneapolis, riding my bike several miles to Nokomis and the Mississippi with my tackle box bungee corded to my bike and holding my fishing rod with my handle bars it was a great experience. Fishing in the city is a concept I believe in firmly and have written about a lot...I hope that it comes across on the show the way it was for Iaconelli and myself. We had a blast!

Jumbo perch time is upon us

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: March 10, 2011 - 11:05 PM
By Ron Hustvedt, Jr. It’s tough to beat a good jumbo perch bite. Unfortunately, a lot of ice anglers never bother to chase after these green and yellow ice-fishing trophies. Right now is the prime time for pursuing jumbo perch on Minnesota’s finest lakes including Mille Lacs, Cass, Lake of the Woods, Bemidji and Gull. Not to be confused with their pesky little brothers, true jumbo perch are difficult to catch and require just the right combination of location and presentation. Just to be sure, a jumbo perch is one that’s over eight inches on most bodies of water. There are a lot of lakes in Minnesota, however, where a jumbo doesn’t earn that title unless it’s over ten inches. Northern Minnesota fishing guide Bryan Sathre of Fathead Guide Service said that jumbos require a different approach because they tend to act more like walleye than perch. Locations vary In most winters by the time early March rolls around the perch are relating to deep water locations. “Right now they are usually in 25 to 35 feet of water but they’ll begin to move shallower as the temperature raises—it really depends on the body of water,” said Tony Roach, a guide on Mille Lacs. Sathre said that he’s normally fishing over deep water for perch but added that this winter has been out of the ordinary, especially for perch. “I haven’t been fishing deeper than 17 feet this winter and normally I’m out there really deep by now,” he said. Fish are being caught out deep as well, he added, but he hasn’t had to move around the lake as much this year as in year’s past. “I just have to find a transition area such as where a soft bottom of mud meets a hard bottom of sand or rock,” he said. Sathre just finished running the annual Kid’s Perch Derby up on Lake Bemidji last weekend and 847 kids endured a snowy afternoon on the ice yanking perch through the ice. “The great thing about jumbos is that they are plentiful enough for the kids to have a blast but offer enough of a challenge for the true giants and peskier eaters that adults have a great time catching them too.” Methods of presentation The location of the perch might vary greatly this winter, but the typical presentations are holding strong said both Roach and Sathre. Both agreed that there are three primary methods for catching jumbo perch: vertical jigging spoons, a short shank jig and a float system. When used with a minnow or pinched off minnow head, each one can be deadly under different conditions. Jigging spoons do a great job of getting the bait into the strike zone and you should either abruptly jig it or hold it steady to trigger a bite. Both prefer using large crappie minnows or fatheads with spoons and pinching the head off between the gill plate and dorsal fin. “That extra bit of skin gives it a bit more flash and seems to really out perform a minnow head pinched off at the gill plate,” Sathre said. The float system approach can be done one of two different ways depending on which expert you ask. Sathre said he prefers a shiner on a glowing eyedropper jig. “You can catch a nice eelpout with that same rig so watch out,” he added. During Roach’s “Perch School” last weekend, he had 25 guys on the ice all doing a great job of catching jumbos through the ice using Live Forage spoons tipped with eurolarvae. “The realistic color brings the perch in to take a look and the eurolarvae is all they need to take a bite—there are so many bugs coming up through the mud right now those perch are puking it up in the keeper bucket,” he said. Additional considerations Both Roach and Sathre employ the use of a flasher as well as a camera and say the two are invaluable tools when used together. Not only are they used to locate and identify fish; they are also critical for reading a strike. “People are used to average sized perch which are known for hitting your bait several times before taking it while jumbo perch tend to inhale the bait and then slowly swim away—that’s something you want to see so you can set the hook,” Sathre said. Roach said the camera is also a good tool for really keying in on transition areas like where sand meets mud. Often, jumbo perch are belly to the bottom this time of year so electronics are essential for determining what’s a fish on the bottom and what’s a rock. Both anglers said a rod with a rod tip that will help show these subtle strikes are best but it also needs to have a firm backbone to quickly reel in a jumbo once its on. “You aren’t going to feel the strike a lot of time but you can see it by carefully watching the tip of your rod—once you feel it, there’s not time to waste, reel in quickly or set the hook with the rod because that perch isn’t going to chomp on your hook forever,” Sathre said. Besides making for some terrific fishing action, perch make for a tasty meal. A meal of perch fillets after a day on the ice is tough to beat. Those looking to partake in Roach’s Perch School are in luck this year since he added a second weekend. Beginning March 18 at 6 p.m. and running through to Sunday, March 20, the perch school is run through Hunter’s Point Resort. The guides, food and lodging are all part of the cost that will run $395. It features a Friday evening class, a full-day of fishing Saturday and half a day of fishing on Sunday.

Sportsmen must pay careful attention this political season

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: August 26, 2010 - 11:55 PM


Candidates squared off in an "Outdoors-Issue" based debate at Game Fair in August

Candidates squared off in an "Outdoors-Issue" based debate at Game Fair in August


         Sportsmen and women have traditionally been a pretty apathetic group of voters over the years. Oh sure, we’ll show up in droves to pass various amendments geared at hunting and fishing, but when it comes to picking the best people to protect our natural resources, we have a problem.

            Who is the best choice for Governor? Good question. It’s for you to decide.

            Doing that can be difficult, especially with so many different issues going on, but I recommend that you give it some consideration.
            At the gubernatorial candidate debate, held last Saturday at Game Fair, four candidates for Governor gave their views on the outdoors. Let’s face it folks, nowhere else, the remainder of the campaign, will the outdoors be the focus of the candidates.
            Listen to what they said about the issues important to you. Post your comments here at and on the specific video.
            Let’s start a rigorous discussion this campaign cycle so that the next four years are good ones for sportsmen and women. Let’s select somebody who will help move Minnesota forward and will not only defend and protect our natural resources, but will be a visionary leader who appoints visionary leaders to do their part.
OR click the links below...
Part One—Introductions and Opening
Part Two—Shoreline Development
Part Three—License Fees
Part Four—Outdoors Amendment
Part Five—Governor’s Deer Opener
Part Six—DNR Commissioner
Part Seven—Lessard Council Members
Part Eight—Government Efficiencies
Part Nine—Public Lands
Part Ten—Firearms Issues
Part Eleven—Waterfowl/Duck Management
Part Twelve—Invasive Species & Wolves
Part Thirteen—Farm Legislation
Part Fourteen—Walk In Access
Part Fifteen—Treaty Issues
Part Sixteen—Candidate Questions and Closing


Moving water the key for hot, late-summer smallmouth bite

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: July 29, 2010 - 9:59 AM


Author Ron Hustvedt with a quality St. Cloud smallmouth

Author Ron Hustvedt with a quality St. Cloud smallmouth


No matter what the advertisements might say, there is no official end to summer. Labor Day is the marker for most while the more meteorological types wait until the autumnal equinox. Whatever your definition, summer is on the decline but there’s still plenty of time to take advantage of a terrific late summer fishing pattern for smallmouth bass.

For some reason, a lot of anglers think summer fishing means hitting the lakes and ignoring the rivers. River fishing is great in the spring and fall it is also a great place to fish throughout the summer and especially in late summer when weather patterns are known to be unstable. Rivers just seem to have a more consistent bite and cold fronts don’t impact them as much.

The smallmouth bite can be hit or miss and the fish are very temperamental making it tough to get a bite some days—the bass are easier to find in the river or any reservoir system.

One of my favorite stretches of river is found close to my home in Elk River north to Monticello. I also really like the stretches around Sartell and the one between Royalton and Little Falls.

These are known as world-class smallmouth waters but are often devoid of fishing boats, even on the weekends. Pleasure boaters can be found on these stretches throughout the weekend but they receive very little fishing pressure for the quality of catch they produce. The patterns on these stretches for smallmouth bass can be applied to any similar body of water around the state such as the Rum and St. Louis.

The places to look are where you find the fastest current, big boulders and sporadic weeds. The river flow is like a continuous buffet line and the smallmouth sit in these stretches just waiting for food to come down the current into their mouth. 

Ginger Hustvedt with a chunky smallmouth bass

Ginger Hustvedt with a chunky smallmouth bass

On the Mississippi River’s Sartell stretch, the water is the deepest and slowest of all the pools with steep banks, lots of shoreline with overhanging trees and slow moving water. River stretches like this are ripe for fishing weightless plastic lures with an oversized hook.


The reason for an oversized hook is because it acts as a weight for the plastic allowing an angler to twitch the lure under the surface of the water in a walk-the-dog retrieve.

Sometimes the fish on these stretches are not in an aggressive mood so a slower approach is best. A 1/4 to 3/16 ounce jig tipped with a plastic trailer such as a football jig and a crawfish style plastic like a crawpappy. You want something where the pinchers flutter really nicely whether you fish it fast or slow and I prefer solid plastics to the hollow ones in these situations.

Using a large piece of plastic on a smaller jighead is beneficial because it allows the angler to have more control over the lure and creates a more natural look because it allows the current to work it.

On a tough bite a slow retrieve works best with this presentation. When the bite is hot you can burn that same jig and plastic rig over the weeds and rocks. It’s tough to beat burning a jig in the heat and you can easily stall your retrieve in some areas and poke a fish that’s sitting there waiting for food to swim by its face.

The north end of the Sartell stretch features faster flowing water much like you’d find further south around St. Cloud and Elk River. In that skinnier water try dropshotting green-colored tubes with a 3/0 hook Texas-rigged on a drop shot with a quarter ounce weight and 12-inch dropper,

Cast the drop shot to the rock shelf and work the big boulders. Face the boat upstream if you can and run the trolling motor so you are just gaining on the current and covering new water as you most slowly upstream. Casting upstream, use a steady retrieve stopping to pop the lure off the rocks and maintain contact with the bottom. Crawfish style lures with a good pincher-flutter once again work great in these locations.

Mark Westerman with a late August smallmouth and plenty of beautiful scenery

Mark Westerman with a late August smallmouth and plenty of beautiful scenery


Fishing upstream is the best on the river because you are always bringing your lure down with the current, which is a more natural presentation because the fish are already facing upstream. If the fish are active they won’t care as much. When going upstream is not possible due to current or depth, consider quartering the river or going cross-current and focus in on corner breaks like gravel flats one to four feet deep.

Clam beds are easy to spot because you can see the open clams sitting on the bottom—this is a good place for a top water walk the dog lure because the smallmouth often feed here. Anybody who has spent some time on a river knows what eelgrass looks like. As the current flows over the eelgrass it pulsates in the current like wind flowing over a field of grass. You’ll see schools of minnows on the edges of these weeds and the smallmouth are close by hiding out in the pockets of the eelgrass.


Crankbaits like this lipless version work great on river systems

Crankbaits like this lipless version work great on river systems

If the topwater approach doesn’t catch them in those eelgrass locations just run a weightless plastic under the surface and get ready for a big hook set. Crankbaits are also great along that deep break most rivers have where the shallow bank drops into the river channel. Smallmouth bass often hang off the edge of the break and have a hard time resisting a crankbait swam their way.


Before the summer leaves us for a few months, get out to your nearest smallmouth river and try these techniques. Hit those upper stretches of the Mississippi if true tackle busting action is what you like.


River fishing in late summer is definitely worth checking out for hot smallmouth bass action

River fishing in late summer is definitely worth checking out for hot smallmouth bass action




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