More News with Jacob Wheeler

What Makes an Angler Great

Posted by jacob on April 5, 2016

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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

Productive Trip to Florida

Posted by jacob on February 11, 2016

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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.    

Christmas Time for a Bass Pro

Posted by jacob on January 9, 2016

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I just got back to Florida yesterday after a great trip for the Evinrude Pro Staff meeting to Milwaukee.  It was great catching up with everyone and talking about what’s new for 2016.  The past few weeks have been crazy busy, beginning with the Okuma meetings in California.

My good friend, Matt Arey, and I went out to California for the meeting and to do a little fishing.  It was cool to see all the new rods and reel prototypes coming soon for Okuma and then getting to go out and test them on some big California bass.  The first couple of days we messed around throwing some big swimbaits and had some follows, but never connected with a bass.

We decided to hit up another lake that was tough to get a boat on since it was one hundred and twenty feet down, so the only way was to rent one at the bottom.  We decided to do a half day and started heading out.  When we got to our first stop we put the trolling motor down and found that the battery was dead so we turned around and headed back to the shop.  The guy in the shop came out and asked us what was wrong, we told him, then he sent us out in another boat.  You would think everything would be good, so we headed out again.

After driving for a short time the alarm on the engine started going off so we headed back once again.  He came out and said, “What’s up bro?  What’s going on bro?”  We told him how the alarm was going off and then he said, “Truthfully bro, that’s one of our better boats; just keep running it.”  So, that’s what we did.  Fortunately, we didn’t have any more major issues and in the three hours we jacked them up pretty good.  We caught fifteen with our best five going eighteen to nineteen pounds.  We caught them dragging a jig, using an A-Rig, and jerkbaiting with a Shadow Rap.  All in all it was a great time.  The new Okuma prototype rods and reels were sick!

Presque Isle Bay Perch with Lefebre Dec 2015.jpgI came back from California and soon thereafter headed to Pennsylvania for the holidays.  My girlfriend’s family lives in Corry so we spent Christmas there.  I also got to hang out with Dave Lefebre and hit up Presque Isle Bay to do some perch fishing.  We had a blast, catching around two hundred that day. 

After Christmas my girlfriend and I headed to Columbus to catch a flight to Cancun.  It was planned as a time to relax before the tournament season and it didn’t disappoint.  We had a great time.  It has one of the best nightlife scene’s in the world.  We went out four nights in a row to some of the best and biggest clubs in the world.  It was just what I needed to recharge and come back ready and hungry to take on the new season.

We got back home late Saturday and spent the night in Columbus before going back home Sunday.  I stopped by and saw my uncle who just had surgery, picked up my boat, and turned right back around for Lake Hartwell.  I got to Hartwell at three in the morning, slept in my truck until dawn, then hit the water to test a new prototype head spin for VMC.  I caught a five, a four, and a three and a half with my best five going about eighteen and a half pounds.  I put the boat on the trailer at eleven and headed to Florida.

I hit up Lake Kissimmee the next day.  It was different than the last time we were there for the Tour event in 2015.  The water is down about a foot and I tried to access some areas that I have fished in the past and nearly got stuck in the process.  It was good to see that and I did a lot more running around than actually fishing.  It wasn’t really conducive to either as there was a small craft advisory with heavy winds blowing throughout the day.  After a brief trip away for the Evinrude meeting I’m now back in Florida for the duration.  With the Open and Toho and FLW Tour event at Okeechobee coming up I’ve got some more work to do!

Enjoying a Busy Off-Season

Posted by jacob on December 7, 2015

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This past month was a slower one as far as obligations, but it was still a busy one.  Whether it was spending time in the tree stand, going to the Gene Larew/Rat-L-Trap writer’s conference or doing some crappie fishing, there was always something to stay busy with. 

Currently, I’m on my way to California with my good friend Matt Arey to meet with Okuma and work on some rod development.  I’m excited to spend some time out in California since I have never been there.  It obviously has some great fishing which would be great to sample, but I want to take in the sights too.  I’m going to try to get to Hollywood and do all the tourist stuff you should do in California.

In November, I spent a lot of days in the tree stand waiting for the right buck to walk across my path.  I saw one that was worth shooting.  I waited for it to mess up, but it took off after a doe and I never got a clean shot.  After spending plenty of time in the tree stand I was ready to get some time in on the water.

For Gene Larew, I traveled out to Oklahoma for a writer’s conference which was a joint effort with Rat-L-Trap.  It was good to catch up with everyone and hear stories from guys like the legendary Tommy Biffle who was itching to get to the woods in Illinois with the rut going on.  The fishing was tough at Fort Gibson and Lake Tenkiller, but it was a good time.  I got to put my new Punch Out Craw to the test and put a lot of fish in the boat with it. 


Originally, I designed the Punch Out Craw with Florida and the punching technique in mind.  However, I wanted to make the bait as versatile as possible and all it to be fished with a variety of different techniques.  It proved to be equally effective in everyday flipping situations; texas rigged or used as a jig trailer.

When I made it home from Oklahoma a lot of my focus went to chasing crappie.  This time of year, it is one of my favorite things to do.  As I talked about last month, crappie fishing is a great way to learn how to fish with your electronics.  I did a periscope last week about my set up for crappie fishing and some tips on utilizing electronics to get the most out of your fishing trip.  This is something that helps me stay sharp as well as dial in to my electronics for those Tennessee River events later in the season each year.      

Fall Hunting and Fishing

Posted by jacob on November 10, 2015

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The 2015 season is officially a wrap.  With a full season of fishing the FLW Tour and Bassmaster Opens it’s actually nice to have a little bit of down time.  The fall is the time I get to spend time in the woods enjoying my other passion.  Deer hunting is definitely a close second to fishing for me.  I always look forward to this time of year and take full advantage of it every time I get the chance to.  I’ve already gotten a couple doe, but have passed on a few bucks waiting for the right one to walk by my tree. Although I have been spending a majority of my time in the tree stand, I’ve also been out taking advantage of some fishing opportunities as well. 

At this time of year I like to chase around the crappies.  Even though it’s not bass fishing, fishing for crappie helps get me in tune with my electronics.  I don’t like to fish around the docks for them and opt to specifically fish offshore.  It really is like ledge fishing.  You are looking for very specific stuff like an isolated brush pile or stump and have to get the right cast to get them going.  It’s a lot of fun and a great way to learn how to use your electronics especially if you don’t have the resources to go to a place like Kentucky Lake.

Now is also the time to make plans for the upcoming tournament season.  My schedule is shaping up to look pretty much the same as last season.  I’ll be fishing the FLW Tour, Major League Fishing, Ultimate Match Fishing, and all of the Bassmaster Opens.  It’s going to be another year with a full schedule and there are some advantages and disadvantages.  As for disadvantages, I’d say the biggest one would be not having any time and therefore being spread very thin.  There were definitely some times this past season that was the case.  The biggest advantage to fishing a lot of events is the momentum factor though.  When you have a big tournament or string a couple good ones together, you can often ride that wave for awhile.  It’s no different than any other sport in that regard. 

The Tour schedule looks great for next season.  I’ve had some very good tournaments at most of the places we’ll be visiting so I’m definitely excited.  Throw in the fact that the timing at the places is perfect, it’ll set up for some great fishing. We’ll be starting the season at Okeechobee and if I can kill a couple big deer, I may just head down to Florida in December to start getting ready.  For now, I’m out in Tulsa, Oklahoma for the Gene Larew writer’s conference.  It’s nice to mix up the hunting with some fishing and I’m looking forward to getting back after some Oklahoma bass before getting back in the tree stand.  

Staying Positive and Grinding at Table Rock

Posted by jacob on October 5, 2015

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(Photo: Shaye Baker)

It’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish.  This past week at Table Rock was a prime example of why that rings true.  I had a dismal first day that left me near the middle of the pack, but caught the two biggest bags of the tournament on consecutive days to come up just short of catching the leader.  It just goes to show that in these tough events you are never out of it.

On day one, I targeted steep rocky banks and covered a lot of water, but never felt like I ran into them.  After coming in with a subpar bag, I told myself I was going to cover twice as much water on day two and run into them eventually.  I started off fishing those steep banks, but soon switched over to flatter banks and ran into them.  They were crushing big gizzard shad and using a three pronged topwater approach I was able to locate them and get them to commit.  I used a buzzbait and to some extent a horny toad to cover water until I located them.  Once I located them, I’d use a Rapala Skitter Walk to slow down and get those fish to commit.

I brought in a huge bag that took me from the sixties all the way up into the day three cut.  Going into that final day I knew I needed another huge bag to have a chance.  It definitely wasn’t easy to catch twelve pounds at Table Rock, so catching James Watson was definitely doable, but I needed everything to fall into place and put all my fish in the boat.  I went out and grinded out another big bag and jumped up to second, but fell just short.  I have to commend James Watson on the win, he fished great all week and earned it.

It always feels good to finish a tournament strong instead of falling off at the end.  It’s easy to look at the “what if’s”, but you can’t dwell on what might have been.  You have to take the positive out of it and focus on that.  It was a fun event.  Anytime I can put a topwater in my hand and go to work on them, I’m a happy man.  Even after a tough start I stayed positive and just focused on having fun and fishing my heart out no matter what happened.  Truly, I’ve learned that is the most important thing because you are never out of it in these type events.  It’s easy after a tough first day to throw in the towel and just try fishing for a check, but you have to have the same attitude everyday you are out on the water.

I have a friend from home that always helps put things into perspective.  When I was eighteen fishing a state qualifier I only had four pounds on day one.  I was going to just go have a good time that night hanging out with my buddies, but the old man called and gave me a hard time.  He said he could’ve caught more weight off the dock and challenged me.  The next day, I went out and caught the biggest bag of the event.  It’s no different now when I talk to him.  He’ll tell me I’ve done well, but that he’s disappointed that I haven’t won more and challenges me to fish to my potential.  In a sport as competitive as bass fishing having someone that doesn’t let you feel comfortable with what you’ve accomplished is truly a blessing.

2015 FLW Cup Recap

Posted by jacob on September 3, 2015

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(Photo: FLW LLC)

The Cup was a blast this year.  I came up a little bit short, but I know I did everything I could have done.  There is something different about the Cup than any other tournament.  It’s a completely different animal than a Tour event both mentally and intensity wise.  It’s all about winning.  Now, that’s not to say that during the season it’s not, but compared to the season which is more of a marathon, this is a sprint.  In order to make the Cup you have to be on your game all season, but once you make it, you have to ramp it up a notch further.

Ouachita was fishing tough this time of year, but I felt like I had a pretty good understanding of what the fish were doing.  After practice I figured out my game plan.  I would start on schooler’s each morning and try and get about two or three keepers.  Once I had my schooler’s I would go to the bank and look for the bigger bites throwing topwater.  Depending on the water conditions I would rotate through a buzzbait, popper, or Storm Top Walker.  I was pretty excited that I was able to catch them that way.  I feel like anytime they are on topwater that’s my deal; I understand how to adjust.

I came out of the gates leading the event.  I was able to catch four keepers off my schooling spot early on including a couple good ones then ran my bank pattern to success.  The second day was my worst one of the event.  There were shallow wolf packs of three and four pound bass on my shallower spots that would blow up my topwater, but would not commit.  I also lost a few quality fish off my schooling spot which you can’t do in an event that is tough like this one was.  The positive out of day two was that I found new areas where I knew they lived.

The third day went much better than the second as I caught a four and two and a half pounder off of the new area I found the day before.  I came in with 14-1 and jumped back up into the lead.  Day four I knew I had to do everything I could to catch another big bag.  I started off at my schooling spot, put two in the boat and then headed shallow.  I knew I needed to catch a few of those shallow fish to win.  Unfortunately, a huge storm blew through my best area.  The one thing about those shallow fish is that they do not like to come up on top in those conditions so I ran up a creek arm hoping to catch a couple.  I did find a couple little wolf packs and lost a four pounder before heading back down lake where I was getting most of my bigger bites.  After not being able to get bites there I started running a lot of new water.  I feel like I made more casts that final day than I ever have in a tournament, but came up just short.

Obviously, when you are in the hunt to win an event, especially the Cup you want to win.  It’s so hard to get in that position, but it’s not always about winning.  Even when you don’t win you learn a lot, probably more than you do when you do win.  It’s only going to help me the rest of the season and I’m already looking forward to next year’s Cup. 

James River and ICast Wrap Up

Posted by jacob on August 10, 2015

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Much of July was spent behind the wheel of my truck.  After the James, I headed to location to tape an episode of Major League Fishing and I made the ten hour drive to Ouachita in Arkansas to get some practice in for the upcoming FLW cup.  A short two and half days later I made the ten hour drive back home to Indianapolis.  I recently set out for Oneida, another ten hours spent in the car. 

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(Photo: James Overstreet)

The month kicked off with the James River Open.  It is the same old James I am used to fishing.  It's a tidal river, but any kind of river fishing suits my style.  Any place you can run around power fishing is right in my wheel house.  I keep recognizing new patterns and have had better finishes each time we fish an event there.  Day one of the event, I ran in a minute late but I still managed to stay within striking distance.  I set myself up for day two and was able to jump up the leader board.  During the event, I caught my biggest fish on a dead high tide.  I went back to an area where I shook off two fish, the one felt like a pretty good one.  I made another cast back to the same exact spot and caught two fish: my biggest and another nice one for the livewell.  It was great to get a solid finish at the James and start the Northern Open season off on the right track.

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ICAST is one of my favorite events; it is great to see everyone and the new products for the next season.  I enjoyed working with all my sponsors: Under Armour, Rapala, Gene Larew and Okuma.  This is how we pay the bills in the industry.  ICAST and tradeshows are a lot of work but they make a huge imact and are also a whole lot of fun.  This was a special one with a lot going on.  I have been working hard with Gene Larew for a while now, and we launched my signature line the Punchout Craw.  It was really cool to see the whole process come together; from ideas on paper to the final product packaging.  That was the highlight of my trip.  I worked really hard to create a bait that was versatile and could be used for many different applications.  I'm really excited about all the new products this year from my sponsors - ICAST 2015 was a great success.


FLW Tour Season Wrap Up

Posted by jacob on July 8, 2015

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(Photo: FLW LLC)

Boats breakdown, conditions change and fish can move or stop biting.  How you handle adversity often is what makes the difference between making a check and missing out. 

The FLW tour event on the Chickamauga threw a lot my way, but I couldn’t dwell on it or let it impede on what I was there to do: catch fish.  I had a great but busy practice.  There were schools of fish everywhere and I was running twenty different places a day knowing I would eventually pick up on the pattern and figure them out. 

I finished the first day in sixth place.  I felt good going into day two, I had set myself up day one with strong starting position that could allow me to make the run for win.  About three or four hours in while making a run down the lake my boat broke down.  I couldn’t fix the mechanical issues on the water and was grateful to finish up on a borrowed boat.  This boat made it tougher to catch up to the fish, it had no GPS in the back and no down scan – I just went fishing.  I lost a 4.5 pounder but was able to salvage my season and finish up the tournament in twenty second place.  It was a tough day but I was able to grind it out and give it everything I had.

I headed north to DC to fish the tour event at the Potomac – a quick change of pace to a tidal river.  I had a decent practice, but not a ton of bites.  I knew this was going to be a tough tournament.  There was heavy rain in the forecast and I knew it was going to change things up for the tournament.  I caught them off a lot more hard stuff than usual which suits my style well, but the grass beds still played a factor.

Day one I caught them pretty good.  I caught about fifteen or so keepers and finished with 12-3.  That night I knew the rain was going to blow out the creeks and change up what I was on that day.  Day two about ninety five percent of my practice spots were torn up, I had to go off instinct.  Practice is just practice; conditions can change instantaneously and change up where you’re going and what you’re going to throw. 

I knew there were a few grass beds I could get on, but I didn’t like the fifty boat crowds swarming them.  I found a little creek I was able to make my way up.  First cast there I caught one 1 ¾ pounder then a four and a half pounder came unbuttoned.  At 1PM I changed it up and ran to DC.  I tied up a buzzbait and it was a game changer.  I caught two pounder right away and then another one soon after that.  I had a fish boil on the buzzbait and threw a wacky in and caught a two plus pounder.  I ended up getting about seven bites that day.  I finished with a limit for 9-15 but not enough for a check…this time.

Going into the final two events my main two goals were to make the FLW Cup and to finish in the top fifteen in points in order to qualify for the Toyota Texas Bass Classic.  I was able to accomplish making the Cup which I am very pleased with.  The FLW Tour season is a wrap.  Although I didn’t accomplish everything I set out to do, I feel good about a lot of the decisions I made throughout the season.  I will come out next year with a fire to do better than 2015.

With the Tour season a wrap, I still have some Bassmaster Opens to look forward to.  Today is the final practice day for the first event of the Northern Opens on the James River.  I’ve fished here a couple times now and really am looking forward to expanding on everything I’ve learned in years past.  It’s been tough for most everyone, but I love these tough events because it’s anyone’s game!



Make or Break at Eufala

Posted by jacob on May 19, 2015

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(Photo: FLW LLC)

The FLW Tour event at Lake Eufaula was an example of how keeping your mind in the game every second of practice and the event can do.  I nearly missed out on a key pattern going on during the event, but I went with my gut the final day of practice and put in the time and effort in the last three hours that carried me through the entire event.

After a slow start to the season, my energy has been focused on turning things around and getting to the Forrest Wood Cup.  During practice I really tried to keep my options open so I wouldn’t overlook anything.  The guys at this level are so good that you have to go the extra mile to be able to compete with them.

I had gotten onto a shallow bite with a frog that was more of a morning deal where I felt like I could get two or three good bites.  The thing about it though, we blasted off at 6:30am each morning, so by the time I would get to the area, that bite would be all but over.  My buddy and travel partner, Matt Arey, was fishing up the river and told me I had to come up there so I went and checked that out too.  I caught fish up there the final practice day, but nothing giant.

We got off the water and got something to eat before something in my head told me that I needed to go back out and graph brush piles.  In the FLW, you have to be off the water by midnight and those nearly three hours from 9:00-11:50pm made my event.  I found about ten brush piles that I ended up weighing nine of my fish during the event off of.

On the first day of competition I tried some of my other areas and didn’t have a fish in the boat by 10:00am.  I headed to those brush piles I had marked in practice and caught all of my weight that day from them.  Although the brush pile deal was what saved me it was still a mental game.  I had caught a lot of smaller keepers from brush piles throughout the event and then would keep fishing it and crack a four or five pounder which made all the difference.  I had to rotate through a handful of baits to get those fish to bite throughout the event.  My key baits were a Rapala DT-10 on hard bottom areas and brush, along with a big worm and Gene Larew Biffle Bug.

This event was a make or break one and it could’ve easily went the other way had I not went back out on the final day of practice looking for those brush piles.  It just goes to show how hard you have to work at this level and the little things that can make a big difference.  I’m back in the cut for the Cup, hanging in the mid-20s right now.  The next event sets up very well for me.  If I had to pick out one place to call my home lake, I would pick Lake Chickamauga.  I’ve got a lot of experience on the lake and hopefully I can sift through all the acquired knowledge and put together a solid game plan to give myself a chance to do something special.

What I needed at Beaver Lake

Posted by jacob on April 27, 2015

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Anytime you can catch your personal best bag of fish at a lake and lead a tournament is a good day.  That’s exactly what happened at Beaver Lake, but unfortunately day two was filled with tough breaks that took me out of that first cut.  Even though I didn’t manage to win, which is the goal every time I hit the water, I definitely got what I needed at Beaver Lake.  I needed to bounce back from a tough event and get my season turned around after being out of the Forrest Wood Cup cutline and a 32nd place finish, a nice check, and some more confidence going into the next part of the season is exactly what I got.

I spent most of my practice looking for bedding fish, but noticed that most of the fish were getting towards the end of the spawning cycle.  They were beat up, skinny, and very easily spooked.  Looking back at the Rayovac event on Grand Lake showed that in that part of the country, the prime spawn time fishing had come and gone a couple weeks prior to us getting to Beaver.  Nevertheless, I found some quality fish on beds and that allowed me to have success on day one of the event.

Day one I went right to a few big ones that I figured would be easy to catch and sure enough they were.  I managed three in the upper three to four pound range and was able to put a couple more two plus pounders in the boat on route to the biggest sack of fish I’d caught on Beaver and a lead right out of the gate.  I purposely left some sight fish in those areas to hopefully be able to put together another good bag on day two.

With a delay because of a big thunderstorm in the morning, along with clouds and wind, it made for a tough sight fishing bite.  They were definitely more skittish than on day one, so I decided to just go fishing after losing a couple sight fish early on.  I put a flipping stick in my hand and started flipping some trash mats and hooked up with a solid two plus pound fish.  I brought it up to the top of the mat before it came unbuttoned and I watched it flip around on top of the mat for about twenty seconds before working its way back down.  Then I hooked up with another one that was a good fish (three plus) and he pulled himself right off the hook. 

It was frustrating, but I kept plugging away.  With the conditions being as they were, I figured I should be able to catch a few fishing a buzzbait around some of the bushes on the main lake.  I caught the first fish that bit which was a two pounder.  The next two that bit were in the pound and a half range, but I wasn’t able to put either in the boat.  Over the course of the day I lost six of the nine fish that bit, but that’s how this game is sometimes.  It’s what keeps me coming back for more.  You can’t always catch them every day, but it drives me to strive for it regardless.  I had the right bites in the event so I can definitely take that positive out of it.

I want to give a shout out to my roommate Matt Arey for pulling off another great win at Beaver Lake.  If I wasn’t going to win the event he was the person I wanted to see holding the trophy.  He’s like a brother, even though we argue and get on each other, we still are good friends at the end of the day.  On the final day after putting his key fob in the net, he called me all jacked up about his day and having a chance to pull off another win there.  I’m happy for him and it’s great to see him pick up back to back wins on tough body of water.

The next part of the season looks like it’s going to be an offshore fishing fest.  With Eufala and Chickamauga coming up on the schedule, I’m definitely jacked up.  The more I fish down south the more I’m liking these offshore/ledge fishing events.  The Chickamauga event is around the same time as the BASSFest event that I won last season was, so I feel really good about my chances.


Fueling the Fire at Smith Lake

Posted by jacob on April 1, 2015

Jacob Wheeler Smith Lake.jpg

Being able to catch bass nearly any way you want is usually a good thing.  But, sometimes when there are a lot of things going on it’s hard to pick the right thing, or things to do.  At the second stop of the FLW Tour at Smith Lake this week that is what happened to me.

The fish were pulling up to spawn, but there was also a lot of fish still in prespawn mode.  In practice I got caught up in the sight fishing thing which ate up a lot of my time.  I also spent some time throwing a big swimbait to see if I could illicit some strikes from some giants.  Neither of those patterns really materialized for me, but I was able to get onto a bit of a schooling bite.  I figured that I could milk that bite for twelve to fifteen pounds each day and then spend the rest of the days trying to cull up by sight fishing for some biggins.

The first day of the tournament I figured would be a good day to do some sight fishing because of the conditions.  That never really proved to be “the deal”, but I was able to scratch together a limit throwing a Rapala Shadow Rap and mixing in some junk fishing.  It cooled down significantly the next day and I figured the sight fishing would be thrown off.  Once again, I junk fished, but never truly felt comfortable and ended up with not quite enough to snag a check.

It was a tough event and the positive to take from the second FLW Tour stop at Smith is I definitely got an attitude adjustment.  In the past, when I’ve had a couple tough events it really puts a fire in my belly and this is no different.  I’m driven by the competition in this sport, not the money or fame.  I crave that competition and when I get knocked down it drives me harder to do well.  Whether it’s putting in more study for the next event or whatever it may be, I’m going to look for ways to put myself in a better position to succeed.

Beaver Lake is coming up next.  I really like fishing there as the weights have consistently been getting better every year.  It fishes a lot like Smith and it’ll be in a similar phase as Smith was this past week.  It’ll almost be a like a do-over when we get to Arkansas.  I’m going to be going back to my strengths.  I’m normally a shallow water guy and with the water up and warming, I’ll probably put a flipping stick in my hands and head as far up the river as I can. 

After the Smith Lake event I talked to a buddy from back home who has given me the nickname, Buzzbait Jig.  The reason being, in the past that was about all I threw.  If they were feeding up I’d have a buzzbait tied on and if they were feeding down I would have a jig on.  He was like, “what are you doing?  Fish your strengths and do what you know.”  That’s what the plan is at Beaver Lake.