More News With Jacob Wheeler
Posted by jacob on April 27, 2016
(Photo: FLW LLC)
It’s been a busy month so far. We just wrapped up the FLW Tour event at Beaver Lake and now it’s on to Pickwick. I made a little pit stop to fish a Trail of Dreams event with my buddy, Whitney Stephens, in between and we were able to win the thing which was pretty cool. I just love fishing period, no matter what kind of event it is; when you can team up with your good friend and win, that makes it all the better.
Beaver Lake went pretty darn well! Both my travel partner, Matt Arey, and I made top twenty cut. We seem to always be right there with each other which helps drive one another. I caught them so many different ways at Beaver. I have been fishing there a few years now and have learned that you have to fish differently everyday if you want to do well. I mixed it up between catching some flipping a jig, a Punch Out Craw, drop shotting beds, and cranking. It was a classic lesson in junk fishing 101.
Looking back at the first part of the season I definitely have some things to build on; I’ve had some good finishes and hope to keep that momentum rolling. In fishing that snowball effect is real. When you string together a couple good tournaments oftentimes you can keep it going. I have adjusted my thought process, I always fish for a check but I’ve seen where you can get lazy doing so. You need to take it one step at a time and make the first cut and then worry about the second, but you can’t be satisfied with just getting a check if you are wanting to contend for a win or an Angler of the Year. I’ve seen in with Scott Martin. He fishes for cuts. First it’s the twenty cut, then the ten, and then the win. It’s the mindset you have to adopt to go to another level in the sport. Another thing that has helped me this year is weighing my fish. As I catch them, I throw them on the Rapala Digital Scale so I know exactly how much weight I have. I really believe it’s helped me this year.
With three events down now, I’m sitting in eighth overall in the Angler of the Year standings. I was in a similar position a few years ago when after three events I was sitting in third. That was the year that Andy Morgan and Cody Meyer ended up battling it out until the very end which was pretty epic. I’m about sixty points out of first right now which I think is really doable. There are some really good anglers like John Cox, Jeff Sprague, and Scott Martin fishing extremely well right now, but anything can happen. There is still a lot of fishing left, but I have to really have to bust them down the stretch here. The best thing is, I’m feeling really comfortable and I’m fishing confident.
I’m in Texas right now doing some videos, a photo shoot and just getting some general content for Academy. After I finish up here I’ll be headed straight to Pickwick. It’s a different time of year than we’ve went there in the past and it seems like it’s going to set up where you can catch them a lot of different ways. It’s rare that we go there and it’s not a full blown ledge deal, but I’m not complaining. I like catching them deep or shallow, but I grew up fishing a lot in shallow water and always get excited when I can fish to my strengths.
Posted by jacob on April 5, 2016
Instead of recapping our last two events, we’re going to go in a little bit different direction. We’re going to analyze the things that make some anglers consistently successful in this sport. When you really take a look at guys like Aaron Martens and Scott Martin and how they go about their jobs, you can definitely see a pattern.
One of the easiest things to see is their work ethic. Both of them spend their practice days out there from dawn until dusk. Now, let’s back up a bit to before practice even starts; these guys are spending hours studying maps and preparing tackle. By doing this they save themselves time during practice and the tournaments because they know where a laydown is way up the river or exactly where to get a quarter ounce weight from. Time is definitely money in this sport.
Scott is someone that I’ve personally learned a lot from. With three days of practice in the FLW Tour, deciding where to spend your practice time is a big deal. What he does and what he has taught me is to spend one day on the upper end of the lake and one day on the lower end to figure out which end has the most potential, then spend your final practice day there. He has also taught me a lot about bed fishing events. In my opinion, he is one of the best when it comes to bed fishing. Basically, his philosophy is to find at least one hundred bed fish for a four day event. The theory behind that is that a third of them will leave, another third will be caught by other people, and then you are left with the last third.
A lot of people think there is a lot of luck involved in fishing and while there is some, the same handful of guys always seem to finish near the top. With so many variables to control, it seems like the anglers who are the most consistent are the ones that prepare for every variable they can control and put in the hard work. Whether it’s being extremely organized or being open minded enough to scrap everything you’ve been doing because of changing conditions, the best in the sport seem to share these qualities.
The last thing that the best seem to have in common is the fact they are confident and generally very positive. I think a lot of this comes with time and knowledge of lakes. It makes sense that most guys in their prime are somewhere around the thirty to forty year old mark as well. It seems like in this age category is where your highest mental and physical peaks are closest to one another.
It’s really an interesting subject that I think about quite a bit. Just like in fishing, if you can figure out the pattern, it can lead you to success as well. I think as anglers if we all try and take a hard look at the best anglers in the sport and what makes them so great, we can learn and apply a lot of those things to our own game. -JW
Posted by jacob on February 11, 2016
I managed to get out of Florida without shooting myself in the foot. I was able to make a check at both the FLW Tour event at Lake Okeechobee and Bassmaster Southern Open at Lake Toho. I feel like I am right on the cusp of taking those twenty and thirty place finishes down here to top ten’s and potentially wins. Florida is a completely different animal than probably anywhere else in the country. There are a lot of big fish all, but getting them to bite and putting them in the boat especially when there has been a cold front or water fluctuation is a different story.
I spent a good amount of time pre-practicing for both events which definitely helped me. I have fished both lakes a few times and have had success on each. This year I decided to take it to the next level by taking a plane and flying over Okeechobee to hopefully find something off the beaten path. I found a really cool looking area with hyacinth mats that seemed to be protected. When I went there in practice I had to run through about three hundred yards of reeds to get in the area. I was able to get some bites out of the mats and throwing a swimbait around too. I even saw a ten and an eight pounder cruising around in the area. They were still very white which told me they had just moved up. I really thought I could go there and jack them on day one.
I looked around for other stuff a lot of my practice, but never found anything that I felt I could catch more than ten pounds from until the final day. I got a couple random big bites, but it wasn’t enough to go off of. On the last day of practice I went into a community hole and saw a lot of big ones swimming around which at least gave me another area I knew the right quality of fish were.
On day one, I was boat nine which I was excited about. I started at the community hole and found three or four locals sitting there. Plus, the southwest and southeast winds had churned up that water pretty good and I couldn’t see them. I had to make an audible. I looked for sneaky stuff to go to, but by 10:30am I decided to go to the area I had found flying over the lake.
I ran so far back in the reeds until they were so wrapped around my motor I couldn’t go any further. I caught four out of one mat then hooked a big one under a pennywort mat. I got her coming up and had her pinned before I went in after her, but she came unbuttoned. After that, I went to a larger 1.5 oz weight thanks to Mark Daniels Jr. cluing me in. It was taking a little bigger weight to get bit. Soon after I caught a nice one and lost another one about three and a half pounds.
No matter how prepared you are, sometimes it’s just not your day. I made adjustments, changed hooks and weights, but it just wasn’t happening. It can be frustrating, but the coolest thing about fishing is you never know. There are so many variables and things can change in an instant. I tried my hardest everyday and despite losing fish and facing adversity, you have to keep pushing on.
I ran back to a community area that my buddies Matt Arey and Scott Martin were fishing. I yelled over to Matt to see how much weight he had and he only had about seven pounds at the time. I went to put my trolling motor in the water and realized the back screw had backed out. I got my tools out and started working on it and finally got it fixed with a little bit of time left to fish. I went to flipping again with the Punch Out Craw and hooked a four and a half to five pound fish. Once again it popped off. I switched hooks, but it was just one of those days. Every fish I caught and boat flipped would pop off in the boat. I literally could have lost every fish that day, but came in with enough to stay in the hunt.
The second day I went to work again. I ended up landing seven of my ten on the Punch Out Craw and caught one helper on a chatterbait. I was able to get out of there with a solid check even though I would have liked to do better; I’m still in a great spot going into the next event at Hartwell. I really feel like I have some confidence fishing in Florida and especially in the new Punch Out Craw. Overall, it was a good trip to Florida.