More News with Jacob Wheeler

Hunter or the Hunted

Posted by jacob on August 17, 2017

JW Champ 2017.jpg

(Photo: Seigo Saito)

I’m currently up in Michigan after fishing an MLF event.  It’s pretty convenient as we’ll be finishing up the regular season of the Elites here at St. Clair this coming week.  It’s been as busy as ever this past month.  We got in to Michigan on Sunday night after flying out to California on Friday to fish a celebrity tournament with my buddy Paul George.  Paul played for the Pacers which is how I knew him, but now is with the Thunder.  We’ve fished together for some time now and it’s always a good time when we get to hit the water together.

It was a great event.  I don’t really get to fish in California much so that was also pretty cool.  We ended up finishing third against all the California studs.  There are definitely some really good anglers out there.  Obviously, I want to win, but I can’t complain.  The Thunder’s coach showed up and even Russell Westbrook stopped by for a bit.  We even rolled up to the ramp in Paul’s Ferrari which was pretty awesome.  Overall, it was a fun time and I was glad my fiancé was able to come out and relax for a bit.

It’s been a great month.  We kicked it off at the St. Lawrence where it was an absolute slug fest.  We had a decent tournament there, but ended up losing a few points.  Right afterwards, we headed to Champlain for another epic slugfest.  Champlain was definitely a great event as we stepped it up there.  To be in position to win an Elite Series event anytime is a huge blessing and that’s what happened in Plattsburgh.

We definitely had the opportunities at Champlain.  As is the case in almost any smallmouth tournament, fish coming unbuttoned will play a part.  The second day when we took over the lead, we ended up losing a giant that would’ve helped for sure.  On the final day, a couple more solid fish from three and a half to four and a quarter pounds came unbuttoned.  Those really stung as I had two three pounders in the livewell.  It’s a smallmouth derby and unfortunately that’s just something we all had to deal with.  My hats off to Aaron.  He did a tremendous job and I couldn’t believe how well he whacked them on the final day.

We’re well within striking distance to make a run at Angler of the Year.  St. Clair could throw a monkey wrench into things.  It’ll more than likely be a slugfest and if that’s the case it’s going to be all about a few key decisions.  Brandon is in the place where he will have to catch them and can’t really play it safe.  The chances are one of the other three or so guys behind him will make a top ten next week so that really puts the pressure on him.  With it more than likely being a slugfest, the decision to make the run to Erie or Huron or possibly stay in St. Clair will be huge.  It’s a good position to be in when you are the hunter and not the hunted in this situation.  It allows the hunter to take more of a chance because there’s less to lose in a sense.

I made it up there and to Mille Lacs to get in some prepractice before they went off limits.  I hit up St. Clair around the fourth of July just to get a look at it.  Overall, it’s very featureless and flat.  There is not a whole lot there.  It’s kind of a tough place to practice.  You kind of just have to try and find some of those bigger spawning areas or schools and hope to relocate them when we come back for the actual event.  I did fish Erie and both rivers as well to get a take on those.  I’ve got a good idea of what I’d like to fish so my time there was definitely productive.

Mille Lacs was also a productive trip.  I went up there for about a week and spent most of my time just graphing around and looking.  It seems like the increased fishing pressure is getting to them a bit.  However, there are still a lot of big ones swimming around in there.  That AOY Championship will be an interesting event no matter what. I’ve already mathematically made the Classic so that pressure is gone.  Hopefully, were in a great position after St. Clair to really make a push at the AOY up in Minnesota.  


Mid Season Elite Series Recap

Posted by jacob on June 20, 2017

Rayburn 2017.jpg

(Photo: Steve Bowman)

This past month, like most, has been a busy one.  We finally moved into our new house right near Lake Chickamauga in Harrison, Tennessee.  The Elite season has been in full swing and I just spent the past week prepracticing at the St. Lawrence River in New York for our upcoming event.  There never seems to be a dull moment, but I really can’t complain.  As busy as it’s been, it’s also been a lot of fun.

It’s been a good start to the Elite season as I’m currently only nine points out in the Angler of the Year race.  Really the past couple years have been just as good and I’ve been able to ride that wave of momentum into this one.  In this sport, momentum can be a huge deal.  When you are fishing well, the best thing to do is to never slow down.  Fish as many events as you can because you never know when that momentum train will slow down.

At Ross Barnett, we had a slight stumble.  To be honest, I really felt ok with all of the decisions I made throughout practice and the event.  For some reason, it just never really came together for me in that one.  Unfortunately, that is going to happen, but thankfully we got that momentum train rolling again quickly.

I spent a lot of time at Rayburn before the cut off.  Being that it was a mid-May event, I figured it would mostly be an offshore deal, but that didn’t end up totally being the case.  I messed around deep in practice and never really found anything I felt too excited about.  I found one little spot that I could catch them off, but the size wasn’t what I was looking for.  Actually, my first cast there after coming back, I had two on at a time which was pretty neat.

I ended up deciding to flip around shallow bushes and caught some in the three and half to four pound range.  Going into the event, I expected I could probably catch about seventeen pounds.  Luckily for me, I was wrong in a good way.  Day one I cracked twenty one pounds there and day two had over twenty three!

The third day was a bit more of a grind.  I only had one good bite all day, which ended up being a seven pounder and was able to stay in the top five going into day four.  The fourth day, the big fish bite was back on and we got our weight back into the twenties with over twenty two pounds.  That ultimately helped me finish in 3rd place which definitely helped a lot with the AOY points.

Our last derby was at Dardanelle and it was an absolute grind.  The water was high and muddy after heavy rains in Oklahoma made their way down river to us.  It took a lot of normally fishable water out of the equation.  Because of this, I knew the backwaters were going to be the deal.  I fished some offshore and up shallow as well. 

Day one I milked a shad spawn for a little over thirteen pounds.  The second day, I caught three offshore then picked up a buzzbait to catch another thirteen plus pounds.  Doing that really saved me and I ended up catching a five pounder which was key.  The third day, I stuck with the buzzbait and go a couple more solid bites which helped the cause.  The conditions changed and with that front coming in and with the humidity gone, I knew that was what I needed to do.  Lucky for me, it ended up working out very well.

Right between Rayburn and Dardanelle I flew to Columbus to meet up with my fiancé and we drove our stuff down to Tennessee.  We are really excited about our new house and the fact that it’s so close to Chickamauga is definitely a plus.  We spent a lot of time unpacking and getting all moved in before heading to Rayburn.

After getting back from Dardanelle, we headed up to the St. Lawrence River to do a little scouting before the cut off.  It’s nice to have a little bit of time to relax and spend with my fiancé.  We did a little sampling of both smallmouth and largemouth and had a great time up there.  It’s the only place left on the schedule I had not fished before.  It worked out really well that we got to use it as a little get away and get in some serious prefishing as well. 


Moving Through the Season

Posted by jacob on April 26, 2017

FB_IMG_1493242681436.jpg

(PHOTO BY GARRICK DIXON)

Tomorrow we kick off the next Bassmaster Elite Series event of the season at Ross Barnett Reservoir in Jackson, MS.  To sum up this week’s practice would be to say it was a grind.  It’s a transition time here and these fish are definitely in a funk.  Coming into this one, I expected it to be a meat and potatoes kind of event from a techniques standpoint.  I don’t really think that’ll be too far from the mark, but it’ll be all about grinding it out and getting a couple bigger than average bites each day.  We’re just coming off of a cold front and it may have been a factor in practice being so stingy.  We’re going to keep an open mind this week and get ready to grind it out each day.  I managed to stop here to check it out before off limits so I’m hoping some of that extra looking around will help out some in this derby.

Before making my way to Ross Barnett it’s been crazy busy.  My fiancé and I have been packing everything up and are getting ready to move into our new house right near Lake Chickamauga, TN.  Most people make the joke about women having too many shoes or too much stuff, but in our case my fiancé is saying that about all of my fishing stuff!  For the record, I do have a lot of stuff, but I do need almost all of it.  At any rate we got all that figured out and one POD full of fishing stuff later we’re ready to move.

Our event at Toledo Bend was crazy.  We had a really good first day and took the lead, but it was a constant struggle to keep up with them.  My deep fish didn’t seem to replenish so I had to mix it up with some bed fishing and shad spawn as well.  Just like we have this week at Ross Barnett we were in a heavy transition so multiple patterns played.  Overall, it was a cool event.  It’s actually pretty fun getting to fish so many different ways.

We stopped off after Toledo at Rayburn and Dardanelle for a few days to get in a little prepractice in for those events.  I had not been to Dardanelle before so it was good to get a few days on there and to see what was going on at Rayburn too.  We’re in the top ten in points heading into the second half of the season so I’m doing everything I can to keep that momentum train rolling in the right direction.

 


Cherokee Lake to Classic Week

Posted by jacob on March 23, 2017

untitled.png

It’s been an absolute whirlwind since kicking off my Elite Series career with a win at Cherokee Lake.  Between traveling around prepracticing for upcoming events to trying to find a new house near Chickamauga Lake with my fiancée, Alicia, it’s been absolutely crazy!  I’m settling into Houston tonight for Classic week and doing a little deal with Academy tomorrow beforehand.  It’s hard to believe we’re this far into the season already.

I just finished up some looking around on Ross Barnett the past couple days.  I tried making a trip there earlier in the year, but passed because it was basically a monsoon there at the time.  Regardless of how the fishing goes at the time, I do think prefishing really pays off at times.  I’ve seen it firsthand with a place like Cherokee Lake this season.  All of the work put in during prefish graphing helped me have a lot of probable areas to check during official practice and be much more efficient.  It allowed me to spend less time looking and more time checking which ultimately was the key to winning that event.  Now don’t get me wrong, prefishing isn’t some magical way to always do well.  A lot can change in thirty days and this particular time it did not.

When prefishing, the time of year and the stage (s) of the fish play a big factor going in.  When things are in the process of changing, sometimes prefishing may actual backfire on you.  I’ve seen the situation where fishing history can hurt you as you are chasing what was happening and not readily adjusting to what is currently going on.  Sometimes preconceived notions will mess with you in this game.  In the past when I’ve fished big events like the FLW Cup it was generally at a stable time of year which limited the change and enabled my prefishes at those bodies of water to be very effective.

At Cherokee I had about forty places where I knew I could catch a bass.  Between prepractice and official practice, I narrowed it down to twelve of those forty that I felt held the quality of fish I would need to make a run at the win.  Coincidentally, one of my best areas in the event was one I didn’t think was that good.  The first time I went there I casted to the icon that was in twenty feet of water and missed one with a swimbait.  Right afterward I saw one and dropped the now famous Damiki Rig with the VMC Mooneye Jighead on it and caught a three and three quarter pound smallmouth.  Right after bringing that one up, I dropped down again and caught anotherthe same size!  When the weights were stacked so close, those ounces meant the difference in the event.

Some of the good areas I fished also had pressure from other competitors that did well in the event like Adrian Avena, Seth Feider, and Dustin Connell.  Sometimes this would move the fish around some and specifically the last day it forced me to start looking around in the middle of a pond we all were fishing.  I finally hit pay dirt when I graphed a hard spot that dropped about a foot and then my graph started to light up with all of them.  I turned to my cameraman and said to get the camera rolling because it was about to go down.  It was truly like one of those Kentucky Lake megaschools as there was an ungodly amount of them down there.  When I made first drop, ten of them came off the bottom to get it.  After hooking up, twenty actually followed that fish to the surface.  After seeing that, I knew it was over!

There was a lot that went into my Bassmaster Elite Series win at Cherokee Lake.  Prefishing like we talked about, was extremely beneficial in that event.  Because of that extra time, I was able to have that many more areas to fish and found a few sneaky spots that ended up making worlds of difference during the event.  Also, another factor was staying out and fishing with fellow competitor Dustin Connell when my boat went out on me.  It was very classy on his part doing that and despite me calling Trip, there were a lot of people not happy about how that went down which I don’t understand.  Knowing that rule and utilizing that time to cull up meant all the difference as well.  I ended up winning by ten ounces and I know that I wouldn’t have won without having that opportunity to fish while in Connell’s boat.

Our second event of the season went to a place I’m very familiar with, Lake Okeechobee.  I got to do some very early prefishing there in January, but like most fisheries in Florida at that time of year, they are constantly in flux.  I’ve spent a lot of time down there and knew how to catch them, but took a gamble that didn’t end up paying off.  In practice I fished down around the west shoal and Uncle Joe’s cut and noticed the outsides were pretty muddy.  I still managed to get a few big bites in those areas flipping a jig however and felt like it was worth the risk. 

Once I got to the ramp day one, I was sitting with my Marshal and he pulled out his wind app.  It showed it was going to be blowing out of the west pretty hard, but I decided to go back to areas I had gotten a few big bites and go flipping.  I got a few bites down there, but for some reason the bite was funky and they would just pull my bait off.  I only caught one little one in a couple hours then ran to the east wall and started throwing a swim jig.  I had five come up and just steal the trailer off the jig so I switched to a speed worm.  Soon after switching, I hook up with a two and half pounder and it jumps off.  Something was definitely off so I regained my composure and went to an area to throw a senko and caught five little ones quick then headed back north.

I started throwing a topwater around some reeds and shortly thereafter, an eight pounder blasts it, but missed it.  I kept twitching it, but nothing.  So, I pitched a senko and deadsticked it there with the same effect.  I only had a few minutes left so I threw topwater again around and it boiled with no success.  I started out day one behind the eight ball, but as it is well known in Florida, a huge bag can turn everything around.

Day two, I figured I had two options.  I could start off flipping again or I could try some schooling areas I knew of.  I decided on the latter and went to check a few schooling areas that I’d caught them in the past.  They weren’t at any of them so I went and did what I finished the first day doing, throwing topwater on the north end.  I stuck it out and threw it all day and ended up with a much better showing of nineteen pounds.  It’s funny because I knew it in practice, but I rolled the dice on catching the big bags flipping which never panned out.  I even told Adrian and Connell who both ended up making the cut.

The past couple weeks have been filled with pulling tree stands out of the woods and getting ready to buy our new house.  I had a painter over at my current house getting it ready to put on the market so we could get that ball rolling.  I made an offer on a place Alicia and I really liked in Tennessee already, but ended up getting outbid.  It’s ok though because it left us more time to go in person and check out more together.  We’d like to move by June when there isn’t much going on during the season so our deadline is getting closer.  I’m looking forward to having everything done and being able to move in with my soon to be wife. 


Championship Week Recap on Cherokee Lake

Posted by admin on February 14, 2017

Bassmaster Elite Champion Jacob Wheeler recaps his winning strategy on Cherokee Lake February 12, 2017 - story and results


Fishing with Uncle Moe at the Big O

Posted by jacob on January 24, 2017

Uncle Moe Okeechobee.jpg

It’s been a busy last few weeks from pre-practice at Cherokee Lake to all kinds of adventures down at Okeechobee.  I just wrapped up my trip at Okeechobee after getting to spend last week with my Uncle Moe.  We were very lucky and had excellent weather which is rare this time of year.  Okeechobee is usually a great place to come to catch a lot of fish and that’s why I wanted to bring him down.  He really started me fishing and has always been a big part of my life.  He had just been given six weeks to live and decided to not do the chemotherapy.  I wanted him to get to come somewhere like Okeechobee and be able to do what he loves.

While I was down at Okeechobee, I’ve been into quite a few adventures.  The first is available to watch on my facebook page.  My buddy and I were fishing back in a little pond off the main lake and if you’ve never been to Okeechobee, it’s pretty easy to get turned around back off those kicker trails.  I told him how to get out of there, but he tried to take another route and got stuck way back in the reeds.  I tried pulling him out, but he was so far back that I couldn’t get him the whole way out.  Ultimately, it took two airboats to finally get him out of there!

The next adventure was on the way to pick up my Uncle from the airport.  I left that morning thinking we would probably be able to get on the water by ten o’clock.  Unfortunately, I flew my Uncle into Fort Myers, but ended up going to Fort Lauderdale instead after mixing them up.  He called me seeing where I was as I was waiting at the other airport.  After the small mix up, I got back on the road to Fort Myers and the two hour drive ahead.  On the way there, I felt the boat bouncing a lot so I pulled over.  Somehow, the u-bolt that holds it onto the trailer had broken so I had to tie two ropes to the cleats to secure it.  It was quite the adventure.

Before heading to Florida, I made it down to Cherokee Lake to get in some practice before the off limits period.  I hadn’t been there before, but after riding around and doing some fishing I really like that place.  There are a lot of big smallies in that lake and depending on the weather; we could have some really good weights.  Before heading down, I marked about five hundred places on my Navionics app that looked good and graphed about all of them.  Out of all of them, I ended up finding about thirty places that have a lot of potential.  There are a lot of community hole areas on the lake though and overall it could fish pretty small.  I did find some sneaky areas that I can hopefully get away from some of the crowds though.  I’m excited to kick off my first season on the Elite Series there in a couple weeks.   


Putting My Focus on the Elites

Posted by jacob on December 19, 2016

Crappie Slaying December.jpg


It’s almost time for the holidays and I’m looking forward to it.  Although it’s the offseason, I’ve been back at it getting ready for the 2017 season.  This will be my first season fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series.  I’m very excited for this opportunity, but it’s also bittersweet leaving FLW.  FLW is a tremendous organization and I truly would not be where I am now without my time there.  From winning the BFL All-American to the Forrest Wood Cup I have nothing but great memories and gratitude for all my experiences there.

This season, I’m going to buckle down some compared to what I’ve done in the past.  I usually try and fish every big event I can, but it being my first season on the Elites, I really want to focus on doing everything I can to have a great season there.  I will not be fishing the Opens like in the past and outside the Elites the only other series I will fish is MLF.

Last year was awesome and I’m really hoping to carry it over into 2017.  It was definitely my most consistent year overall.  I’m going to be spending a lot more time prepracticing for events this year.  I’ve already started by making it down to Cherokee Lake in Tennessee to poke around.  I had not been there before.  It’s good to just run around and see how it sets up even though the actual fishing will most definitely change.

I just finished up hunting a couple weeks ago.  Each year, I just enjoy being in the woods more and more even if I don’t get to harvest a big deer.  This year the biggest one eluded me, but I’m hoping he’s still around next season.

I’ve also been doing a little crappie fishing which is one of my favorite things to do outside of the bass deal.  Crappie fishing is fun and really teaches you how to hone in on reading your graph more effectively.  It’s a lot of fun seeing those crappies around some brush and getting those big slabs to bite while watching your graph.

Everyone enjoy your holidays and be safe!



The Fall Mixed Bag

Posted by jacob on November 11, 2016

Erie Fall Smallies.jpg

In the fall, one of the biggest dilemmas for me is whether to hit the water or get in a tree.  This time of year can be some of the most fun fishing and hunting.  The fish are putting on the feed bag to get ready for winter and the deer are in rut and moving quite a bit.  Truly, there isn’t a bad choice and lately I’ve been sampling a bit of both.

I came over to Ohio to chase some big whitetails, but decided I couldn’t pass up going to Erie too.  I met up with my buddy Heath Wagner around Sandusky and we went out and smashed them!  We had just over twenty five pounds with our best five and I caught a new personal best at 6.2 lbs.  This time of year they are so fat that I swear a sixteen incher could weigh four pounds.

After getting some of my fishing fix I went back to the woods and have been there ever since.  For the better part of a week, I’ve been having a chess match with a giant Ohio buck that’s about around 170 inch.  He has been pretty predictable as to where he’s going every day, but he seems to come from a different place each day.  The other day I was set up by a fence row and was watching an eight point walking around while I waited for the bigger buck.  All of the sudden, he comes running down the same trail right by where I was but keeps on going and leaps over the fence and disappeared.  The harder you work trying to chase one deer it seems like the madder you get.  They really are a lot similar to bass; I think that’s part of the fun though.

Ole Flat Top.jpg

Imagine going to a two hundred acre lake that is full of bass and trying to target one specific big one.  You might figure out what cove he lives in, but one day he might be on the bank and another day he might suspend out in the middle.  It’s definitely a challenge targeting one individual fish and deer are no different.  The difference with deer I think is that they are smarter.  You can do everything right and just never get that clear shot.  Even though it can be frustrating at times, I really like the challenge of it.

I’ll be spending a little more time trying to pin this deer down and hopefully move my chess piece to the right space and get an opportunity to take a shot.  At any rate, it’s fun to get away for awhile and chase some deer.  By the time December rolls around I’ll be hungry again to get back after some bass.


Getting Ready to Recharge

Posted by jacob on September 28, 2016

Champlain Open.jpg

I just got back to Indiana a couple days ago after spending a little extra time at Lake Champlain after the Northern Open.  With us going to Champlain for the Elite Series next year I wanted to spend some time getting ready by looking for some areas that would get less pressure.  I did the same thing last week getting ready for the Open as well.  I wanted to focus on areas that I’d never fished in the past.

I ended up spending all of my time chasing smallmouth.  I went to places like the Inland Sea and spent a lot of time graphing around looking for them.  To be honest, it wasn’t that easy.  Once you found them you might be able to catch a couple but they would almost always shut down.  I ran around and graphed probably the whole north end of the lake and had an endless supply of areas to check in the tournament.  At a place like Champlain where the winds dictate so much of where you can fish, it’s extremely important to have stuff all over the place.

Coming into the event my goal was to try and win the event and also the points.  I managed to get another top twenty five finish and finished higher in the points in the Northern’s than in the Southern’s so my Elite bid came from there instead.  Honestly, I didn’t really know how that all worked.  The good thing is because my bid came from the Northern’s, my good buddy Mark Daniels Jr. should get a bid through the Southern’s.  The only thing is that I do feel bad for Alton Jones Jr. as he’s the first man out in the Northern’s.

The Elite schedule looks unbelievable next year.  I’ve been to nearly every place on the schedule excluding Dardanelle and the St. Lawrence.  The only thing that would make it better would be to have a TVA lake like Chickamauga on there, but I’m sure there’ll be one in the near future. 

All in all, I’m very pleased with how this season went.  I never won, but I couldn’t ask for a more consistent year.  I have one more event before this season is over and I’ll be heading to the woods after that.  I’ve been getting everything ready in the woods to enjoy some time off doing the other thing I love to do which is deer hunting.  It’ll be nice to be relaxing a little bit and taking a step back to recharge, but on the other hand I’d like to keep fishing to stay on this roll.  Like we’ve talked about before, whenever things are going right you need to fish everything you can.  


FLW Finale at the Forrest Wood Cup

Posted by jacob on August 10, 2016

Jacob Kicking Up Mud Cup 2016.jpg

(Photo: FLW LLC)

I just got back home from the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup at Wheeler Lake.  It was a great event and after winning my first a few years back I’ve been hungry to be the first one to win it twice.  Although I came up a little short with a 7th place finish, it was a great event.  John Cox pulled off the win and my hat is off to him for being consistent all week and getting the job done.  With it being the dog days of summer on Wheeler, it’s a tough time of year to catch them and be consistent.  Like John, you had to be willing to put it all on the line and go where others would not in order to have a shot at $300,000.

It’s the Cup and because of that, I had a completely different mindset going in.  There are no points on the line and nothing to lose because you are guaranteed $10,000 just for being there.  I adopt the mindset of going out there and fishing to win.  Now, it’s not to say I’m not fishing to win every event that I fish, but during the regular season you have to remember it’s not a race, it’s a marathon. 

After practice, I felt like I had a few things going on.  I found schoolers down the lake that I ended up giving to my roommate Matt Arey because it wasn’t near where I was planning to fish.  I also found fish back in the creeks which seemed to be more consistent and hold some good quality too.  My game plan was to hit the most obvious main river creeks on the first day with the most potential and save the sneakier stuff for the final two days.

The first day was a grind.  I went into a creek that had some fish in it in practice and started getting bites.  I hooked up and lost three quality fish on a jig including one about four and a quarter.  For some reason they were biting funny and just swatting at the bait.  I ended up scrounging together a limit and sat in 30th after day one.

Day two, I went right back to that same area, but this time I put them in the boat.  On the same exact spot as day one I caught a four and a quarter (probably the same fish).  Then I kept working further along and popped a three and three quarter pound fish from under an overhang.  After putting together about thirteen pounds, I went looking for new stuff and culled up to over seventeen pounds a moved into a great position for day three.

Jacob Cup 2016.jpg

By the final days, I had burnt up most of my stuff.  I knew exactly where John Cox was fishing and thought about going in there day two without knowing he was there, but decided against it.  In practice I caught a quality fish near where he settled in on a frog and saw the potential in that creek.  One thing you don’t do is move in on someone when they are leading a tournament and I decided to give him space and just go fishing.  I ended up running a lot of sketchy shallow stuff in creeks and at one point set my boat down on a boulder in the back of a creek.  When winning is the only thing on your mind in a tournament like this, you’ve got to be willing to take some risks.  Throughout practice and the event I put my Ranger and Evinrude G2 through about as much as any rig can go through and was still running strong.  That final day I caught a lot of fish, but not the quality I had been and came up a little short.

Once I got home I dropped my boat off to get patched up and ready for the rest of the season.  I’ve got the final two Bassmaster Northern Opens coming up along with a Major League Fishing event.  The only event that’s up in the air would be the Open on the James River because it’ll be cutting it close for them to have my boat ready.  It wouldn’t be a huge deal to miss that one, but when you are fishing well and the momentum is going in the right direction you should fish everything you can. -JW        


Riding the Momentum Train

Posted by jacob on July 6, 2016

Wheeler Champlain 2016 w.jpg

June was a great month.  We finished up our last event at Oneida Lake and spent a relaxing holiday at Lake Champlain with my girlfriend and my buddy Ryan and his girlfriend.  I’m on my way down to Wheeler Lake to get a few days on the water before the off limits for the Cup in a couple weeks.  Believe it or not, I’ve never been to Wheeler before so I’m excited to go poke around down there.  It’s very important to save time during the short official practice period especially in the event as big as the Forrest Wood Cup.  By putting in the time to drive around now and see how the lake sets up, I’ll have a much more efficient practice in August.

We started off the past month with a solid event on Kentucky Lake which put me well within striking distance for AOY going into the final event at Champlain.  I’ve spent a lot of time at Champlain and learn more about the lake each time we go there.  Being in late June and with the water hovering around that seventy degree mark, the question was how big a player those spawning smallmouth would be.  We had a full moon leading up to the event with cool nights which made me question it even more.

Throughout practice I didn’t spend a ton of time looking for spawners.  A lot of my buddies spent their entire practice doing it and didn’t run across a lot of big ones at all.  By the final practice day a new wave pulled up.

I started off day one throwing a topwater.  On my first I cast caught one about 3 and a half.  I ran around some more and caught a few here and there before slowing down to check a couple of the bedders I had found.  I pitched in there and caught a pound and a halfer and thought to myself that definitely wasn’t the same fish.  So, I continued and pitched in to the smaller of two fish I had marked and caught a 3.43, then a 3.75.  They were both slightly bigger than I had thought.

After catching the bedding smallmouth I ran to a five pound largemouth that I had on bed.  With already sixteen pounds and a two and a quarter pound small fish, I knew that five pounder would be a game changer.  He was nowhere to be found, so I ran my stuff in the Inland Sea and Mississquoi and culled up to over seventeen pounds.  I ran into Andy Morgan and asked how he did.  He said he hadn’t done very well, something like fifteen pounds.  He weighed in over eighteen pounds!  I knew he’d be hard to catch if he kept catching them like that and he did. 

Day two I focused more on largemouth and didn’t fare nearly as well.  I ended up getting out the spinning rod and put enough smallmouth and largemouth in the boat to make the cut.  That third day I ended up catching sixteen pounds.  I needed to average seventeen a day to make the top ten, but I finished the season with another solid finish which put me in 4th place in AOY.

Things are definitely good right now.  Ending with a top five finish in the points is a great blessing.  I’m definitely fishing well right now, everything is flowing and it’s one of those periods where I can’t seem to do much wrong.  The thing about times like these is you don’t want to get too high.  You need to cherish these times because you don’t know how long they will last.  I’ve had a good season thus far, finishing top five in the FLW Tour and Bassmaster Southern Opens.  I really can’t complain.

The last event was no different as the wave of momentum continued.  During practice at Oneida for the first Bassmaster Northern Open, I didn’t really feel all that tuned in.  I actually talked to my girlfriend and thought about pulling out to go practice elsewhere.  There really wasn’t any pressure going in since I already qualified for the Elites in May.  I found about four to five different places that I liked, but really didn’t know what I had.  Adrian Avena and I shared some stuff and figured a little something out as we caught them off of one of the spots.  All of the fish were clones in length, but some were very fat while others seemed to have just gotten off the spawn.  Every fish I caught was two and a half to three and a half pounds.  I ran around shallow and caught some largemouth too, but nothing that would help. 

I ended up making the twelve cut for Saturday when I really didn’t feel like I was on much going into it.  Sometimes that’s how it is.  Some of my best events are when I don’t feel very dialed in and then just figure it out as the tournament goes on.  I’m going to keep fishing everything I can in the meantime and ride the wave into Wheeler Lake in August. 

 


Ledge Fishing Season is Here

Posted by jacob on June 2, 2016

Jacob at Livewell 2016 June.jpg

This week I’ve been a mix between pro bass fisherman and handy man.  I’ve been working hard to get everything in my house updated: from hardwood floors to countertops and cabinets.  It has been a long process, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Once I get everything done, it’ll be ready to sell quickly which was the goal all along.  Although I’ve been hard at work getting my hand man on, I did manage to sneak out to a little weeknight tournament with my girlfriend at Geist Lake.  She was extremely patient as it was a very tough bite. We only managed to boat about seven bass from offshore, but they were the right quality.  This was a great lead into ledge fishing season which is upon most of the country.

Mid May to about June is when a lot of the bass around the country transition to their offshore homes.  The few tournament anglers that can be the first to figure them out as they begin that move can reap some serious rewards.  The question I get most on the matter is why the fish head out deep at this time of year.  There are a couple reasons…

The spawn takes a toll on bass and a lot of the time fish move out deeper to places where they can sit and not have to expend a lot of energy.  It doesn’t take much for a fish to sit deep off of a point and wait for an easy meal to swim into their laps.  The other primary reason for the fish moving deeper is the heat.  As the shallow waters warm, the deep water provides cooler water refuge.  For example, a lake may have a surface temperature of 78 degrees in June, but the temperature in the twenty plus foot range could be a much more comfortable 65 degrees.

I just fished the final Bassmaster Southern Open at Douglas Lake, Tennessee where this transition was in full effect.  At Douglas this time of year there are a good deal of fish shallow and deep.  I enjoy fishing deep, but my biggest strength is fishing shallow.  My strategy going in because of the time of year was to mix it up between the two and try and find some sneaky offshore spots that wouldn’t get as much pressure.  What I looked for in this case was not your traditional obviously sloping points, but a lot of bluff ends and flat spots along channel banks that were not as much of community holes.

Day one of the event I attempted to start on what I thought was my sneakiest offshore spot, but to my surprise, there was another boat sitting on it.  I began running around getting in a rotation on the offshore spots and got on one of my spots where I caught about thirty, but they were all in the 1.5-2 lb range.  I kept trying to get on prime spots and finally was able to.  I worked the spot from different angles and got them to fire up.  I caught a 2.5 and then a 5 lber which kept me in the game with a middle of the pack beginning to the event.

Jacob Frog Douglas.jpg

Day two I decided to mix in a lot more shallow fishing.  I started on my prime sneaky spot but only caught a 14 incher before heading to a shallow area to throw a buzzbait.  I started throwing the buzzbait around near some bank grass and put a 3.5 lber in the boat.  I kept pounding away before heading back in a pocket where I had shook off a biggin' in practice.  I started heading back and saw another competitor fishing along the one bank and started idling in towards the very back.  He didn’t seem to be interested in the back and was focused on the bank, so I got on the good stuff.  I threw my Terminator Frog under a limb and a game changer 5 lber sucked it down.  I continued to put things together junk fishing shallow to jump up far enough to punch my ticket to the Elite Series.

I’ve tried for four years to make the Elites and have been close before.  Believe me, it is not easy.  It feels good to cross one goal off the list this year and now I have a lot to consider.  Ultimately, I’d like to fish both the FLW Tour and Elite Series if it worked out.  This is what I do for a living and the more tournaments the better in my opinion.  FLW has been very good to me and I am who I am because of them.  I’ve got to sit down with my family and sponsors and do a lot of soul searching before I make my decision.

Until then, we’ve still got two Tour events and a number of other events to fish this season.  Next up on the plate is Kentucky Lake and like Douglas, the ledges will be a big factor.  There was a big Triton Boat Owner’s tournament there not too long ago where they primarily caught them shallow, so by the time our event starts, it should be a full blown offshore deal.  I enjoy fishing Kentucky Lake and being in the top ten in points these last two events are very meaningful. -JW