The river bite continues to be the dominant pattern, well at least for the leader Jacob Wheeler of Indianapolis, Ind. He has lead the biggest tournament of his life for three days now, caught his biggest limit of bass of his career this week, set the largest opening day margin record for a Forrest Wood Cup and kept some of the best anglers at bay for three days on Lake Sidney Lanier. Not bad for a 21-year-old angler.
“I’m smiling,” Wheeler said. “It was a really good day and I’m really excited. The first day I caught them on moving baits, then second day I caught them flipping and topwaters and today I caught them topwaters and flipping. If I can get a limit early then I’ll go looking for one big. I’m fishing the river a lot. A lot of current areas. Those fish are positioned on those current breaks. I have not caught two fish off any single fish. I’ve caught three of my biggest fish within 20 feet of each other. So I’ve named that small stretch ‘the pig pen.’ If I roll up in the pig pen, ooh big mama is going to be famous. Flipping the Trigger X Goo Bug, a Trigger X Tube and mixing it up. I change the profile and the action. I had two on a topwater today. I’m throwing three or four different topwaters like a buzzbait.
“It’s a very small area. I was afraid the spectator boats were really going to hurt me today. But it’s crazy I flipped a piece of cover and didn’t have a bite going down stream. But then I turned around and 10 minutes later going upstream I flipped the same piece of cover and caught a 4 ½ pounder in the pig pen.
“I hooked a 5-pounder and lost a 5-pounder like 2 feet from the net. I knew that fish was there in pre-practice and I’ve been saving her. I didn’t run that far down on the first day because I would have been culling a 4-pounder for a 5-pounder so that wouldn’t have been smart. So I went there today and she bit, but it didn’t get in the net.
“If we go to Kentucky Lake and the big fish are schooled up and I can catch them every cast, then I will do that. I like to fish deep. But if I’m just eking out five bites deep, I’m not going to commit to that. I’m going to go figure out something else.
The weather continued to change by the hour as it has done all week but the story of the day was probably more big fish showed themselves today but didn’t get hooked up or stay on the hooks long enough to be weighed. That had the 10 pros who failed to make the top-10 cut reeling while the 10 anglers who did make it are chomping at the bit for another chance at what could have been.
Here’s what several anglers said that made the cut and are looking forward for a little day three revenge:
The only thing different from yesterday was the sun this afternoon and the boat traffic. I absolutely love the boat traffic. I’d like to have a million boats on the lake if I could. It churns up the water and gets the bait more active. This morning they were chasing on the graph not doing much, but this afternoon they were biting in the same places as they were not biting this morning.
I’m drop shotting a Jackall Cross Tail Shad in morning glory color. If I make it tomorrow I’m going to do the exact same thing. And if I don’t I’m totally content with my decision making. I caught 6 keepers today so it was very slow out there. I expect to see bigger weights tomorrow.
It was a real tough day – a grind. The rain blew out my area. I didn’t have my limit until 3 p.m. but after that I culled three more times. It’s definitely an afternoon bite here. If I make it tomorrow, I’m doing the exact same thing. I’m using a Zoom Swamp Crawler and a Zoom Trick Worm. I’m only doing one thing, so if I make it, I won’t have much gear in the boat.
Today I was two bites away from a really beautiful day. I caught seven or eight keepers, and I fished the same exact baits in the same exact area. I think the river is finally getting fished out. I may hit the river for a couple of hours but if that doesn’t work out, then I will probably run up the Chestatee River because it has similar qualities. I caught around 12 pounds up there in practice. The tournament is very wide open. It can really be won anyway. I’d love a sunny day tomorrow so I could flip.
I went down south for schooling fish this morning and that didn’t pan out so I went back up river this afternoon. No largemouth today.
I had 24 pounds on my hooks today. I lost a 7-pounder, 5-pounder and three 4-pounders. I just want to wipe the slate clean and forget about this one. I don’t have any regrets at all. I was in some great areas. These tough breaks were absolutely nothing I could control.
I caught 12 keepers today but the quality was a little off. I had probably 30 boats following me today. I’m not in any special or secret spot, but I know the big ones are around. It’s a very real possibility that I can get four or five of these big spots to bite and come in with a big bag. This tournament is still very doable. I’ve got about 50 places and I plan to hit them all tomorrow.
I caught seven keepers the first day, six keepers the second day and 10-12 keepers today. But I had two fish die today. I can’t explain it. They were hooked in the lip. I tried ice, oxygen, needle and everything but they just didn’t make it. I caught all my fish on a drop shot, a spoon and Buckeye Su-spin underspin minnow head. I changed areas today and fishing was better. Boat traffic wasn’t that bad today, but it did have a little effect on my area. But I was prepared and expecting it from being here before.
I really wanted to make the top 10 cut.
I caught six keepers today with the biggest fish at 3 ½ pounds. I’m catching my fish in very small windows on a drop shot. Five of my six keepers came in 30 minutes. I think I can have 15 pounds tomorrow and that should be pretty solid. If I can catch a decent limit of spots early, then I’m going to run straight to the bank and fish largemouth the rest of the day. I’m fishing different places every day but doing the same thing. Just running and gunning. You’d think they’d get tired of swimming up and down following your drop shot all day, but they don’t. There is probably too much bait in my areas. Why would they eat my little worm when they can eat all that bait.
I caught 6 keepers today. I’m running and gunning. I’m going to try to run even more water tomorrow. I caught 3 of my smallest fish in 10 12 foot of water in brush. I’m catching most of my fish from shallow to mid-depth range. I’m going out tomorrow with four lures on my deck and committing to those all day. Berry’s Prop Bait, a Damiki D-Pop 70, and a few others
It was a good day but it was still a big grind. I was fishing both shallow and deep, mixing it up. I’ve been blessed every day so far with a big bite and I got blessed again today. Maybe tomorrow I will be blessed with four or five of those big bites. I’ve been running a little bit of new water today and I will be running a little bit of new water tomorrow. I’m going to try to cover more new water. Conditions will be what they are so I’m not worried about that stuff anymore. I’m just going to fish as much as I can.
I only caught four keepers today but they were quality fish. I didn’t get many bites but I stayed deep for about three-quarters of the day. I should have gone shallow but I didn’t. I caught my four keepers before 11 a.m. I’m not going to do anything different because I’m pretty bought into what I’m doing at this point. I’m going to have about 10 baits on the deck and go to it. I don’t know where I will start or even where I might fish tomorrow.
It was a grueling day with not many fish at all. I lost a 2 1/4 –pound spot and 2 ½-pound largemouth that would have helped and I had one die which hurt me even more. I’m just junk fishing and scraping something together every day. I caught them all shallow today. Tomorrow I’m going to stay shallow all day and just try to move up. The shallow fish will probably bite regardless of conditions so I’m going for it tomorrow. The most realistic way to catch Jacob tomorrow is if the big spots start biting. But if they do bite then guys like Canterbury will catch them too so that’s why I’m going shallow.