More News With Jacob Wheeler
Posted by jacob on August 10, 2016
(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.
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
Posted by jacob on July 6, 2016
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.
Posted by jacob on June 2, 2016
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.
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