Indiana pro Jacob Wheeler continues to lead the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Lanier with a two-day weight of 33 pounds, 11 ounces. His bites didn’t come as easily or as largely as they did on day one but his 11 pounds, 12 ounces was good enough to keep a solid 3-pound, 3-ounce lead over the rest of the field. The conditions changed all day on day two but Wheeler was able to grind out a limit to keep him at the top for now. However, other anglers are dialing in the shallow bite as well.
“I’m excited about this and I still can’t comprehend that this is happening to me,” Wheeler said. “I don’t care what anyone else is doing or what they are throwing. I’ve got plenty of fish down south I haven’t touched yet but I’m not sure I’ll even go down there because I’m not sure what sort of pressure the fish have seen down there.”
“I’m starting at Laurel tomorrow and going up the river. Yesterday I had all largemouth yesterday today I had one largemouth and four spotted bass. I pulled up on a bream bed today and caught a good spot off of it and then came back two hours later and caught a 2 ½-pound largemouth off of it.”
Wheeler plans to fish for 15-16 pounds on Saturday and then save his best stuff for Sunday. He wants to maintain the top position but he doesn’t want to gamble too much as he expects the weekend bite to get a bit tougher over the weekend. He caught most of his weight on day one early and today was a much tougher grind.
He’s mixing up the prop bait over bream beds with some flipping, some shallow cranking and even a vibrating jig.
“I had to work all day to get what I caught. I was fishing a prop bait over bluegill beds yesterday, and I did that some today early,” he said. “But I think the fish got used to it so I switched to an Rapala X-Rap Prop. Then I ran up the river and flipped very specific targets like wood or rock and didn’t waste any time on junk. I’m fishing small baits. I have more than 70 bluegill beds that I’m rotating around. Flipping has been most consistent up the river but on certain targets I’ve been throwing a Rapala DT Fat and a vibrating jig.”
At 7 a.m. it was cloudy, dark and spitting rain. At 8 a.m. it was sunny and bright. At 9 a.m. it was windy and scattered clouds. Then it rained and got dark and then the sun came out in places. So the day was constantly changing and it seems more mixed bags and mixed patterns prevailed today. Jay Yelas has weighed 10 bass this week and five have been spotted bass and five have been largemouth. Yelas had the big limit of the day at 18 pounds and change and that bumped him up to second place.
Here is what he and several other pros had to say about their fishing and their patterns this week.
“This tournament boils down to decisions and I found two different patterns. One was up the river and the other was down lake. The interesting thing is there are not many fish up river, so the numbers are definitely down lake. But you don’t really have a chance to catch a 6-pound largemouth down lake so you have to weigh those options. I’m definitely not going to go up river tomorrow and just die up there. If it isn’t going well in one area, I have confidence to go to the other area but there is a timing to it.
“My fish down lake don’t seem to bite very well first thing or after 1 p.m. in the afternoon. So I’ve got to do that mid-morning, if I’m going to go there. So that’s the $500,000 question. Then there is the question of boat traffic. There is no issue with boat traffic up the river this weekend but on the main lake that boat traffic will push the bait down and push the fish down and getting on spots and holding on those spots could be difficult Saturday and Sunday.”
“I had an opportunity to catch one more big one, and it just came off. I think it got the bait too good. The fish turned around and swam right back, so maybe I’ll weigh it in tomorrow. Today I stuck shallow quite a bit, and I went and tried my little deep spot but they weren’t there real good. I caught all the fish I weighed shallow. I thought 15 pounds a day would win this tournament. The two big fish I’ve weighed were on spots I’ve never seen before. I probably run 15 miles of the lake and just go in and out of these places with pockets and coves and creeks. I just kept moving and was fortunate to get in a few places that had them. It’s exciting to me to know you’re going to go fishing the next day where you’ve seen or had big ones bite.
“I had 10 keepers today. Yesterday two fish managed to get off the hook. Today only one did, so I guess I’m getting better as we go. I struggle in the mornings it seems like. At 9:30 a.m., I had one fish, but then from 10 a.m. to noon, I whacked the fish. The largemouth have come back here. Guys haven’t messed with them either. Everyone had it in their head the largemouth were gone and you need to be out there fishing for spotted bass deep. I came here with no preconceived notions, and if you put me on a lake for 5 or 6 days like I spent here in pre-practice, I’m going to figure out what the bass are doing.
“Very seldom will I fish the same largemouth water from one day to the next in the summer like this. But today I went to an area where I caught two good largemouth and lost two good ones yesterday, and I caught six keepers in there. So they were actually in there better today than they were yesterday.”
“I thought you had to fish deep to do well here this week, so I focused only on that. Apparently you needed to be shallow. It’s a classic case of zigging, when I should have been zagging.”
“I only had 6 or 7 keepers today, but I had the right quality today. I fished offshore more today but had more bites yesterday offshore fishing for only 2 hours. You’ve got to hit the spots in the right rotation. I mean if you pull up and fish a spot with a drop shot that Brent Ehrler was just fishing, you’re not going to catch them. So if I see someone in a bay I want to hit, I leave and go up to the next one and hit my spots in there ahead of the rotation.”
“I haven’t been down lake all week. I’m doing something I feel like no one else is doing and I feel real good about this weekend. I caught a lot of bass today.”
“I like to dance and I like to fish. We got two more days and we’ve had two big bags already. If I can do that the next two days I’m in this thing. I’m around the type fish to make it happen. At 1:09 p.m. I had one 14-inch spot, and then I got on a roll and caught about an 11-pound limit. But what I lost today I would have been up there. I always say that losing fish is the angler’s fault and it’s all on me. I had a 4-pounder on today, and he had four giant fish with him. I got way too excited and tried to horse him and it cost me. So I’m around the right fish to do well.
“If you go into an area and you’re not getting bit on the obvious place you should catch one, then you’re probably in a bad rotation. So if I pull up and start catching them, I know I’m in the right area. The problem is when you hook a good fish, it seems like all the other good fish with them come swimming at you and the spot is done for the day. So you’ve got to capitalize on those bites.”
“I think I started out with 12 rods on the deck this morning, and when I came in this afternoon, I had 18 rods on my deck. I only had three fish at 11:30 but then I run into one little cove and I catch those two big ones back to back. I put a lot of thought into the boat traffic. When I practiced on Sunday the shallow bite wasn’t as good as it was on Monday. The dirtied up water should make them a little easier to catch.
“I see the fish I’m catching. They sit 2 feet off the bank, and they are looking right at the bank. So they don’t see you’re there at first. I make my first cast right on top of his head because if he is going to bite, he’s going to bite as soon as it hits the water. I’ve got my trolling motor on 100, and I’m looking way ahead of the boat. I don’t Power Pole down or hit the trolling motor in the other direction. I just cast and when it hits on top of him he just bites it out of reaction.”
“There’s definitely some aspects that make this lake play a lot like my home waters, Lake Hartwell. There are more largemouth showing up here and more spotted bass are showing up there. But I’m fishing all over the place. I might hit a shallow dock, then my next stop is a deep brush pile then over to a deep dock and then over to pocket. Largemouth are real finicky and there are not many of them.
“The largemouth are real susceptible to being over fished here and they will run out on you. So I’m hoping for a lot of sun tomorrow and hoping those deep magnum spotted bass start to show themselves.”
“I watched Scott Canterbury catch a nice fish off a brush pile I was headed to next. So I go on and see Cody Meyer catch one on the next one I’m going to, so I keep going down the lake. At noon, I had like one fish. So I make a run to another area. Canterbury is coming the other way and sets down on a pile I was headed towards. So I just went onto the next waypoint, and then Cody Meyer comes out of this arm and sits down on the next one. I just got the rotation totally wrong this week. And I didn’t do a good job getting some of the big ones out of the brush.
“The only thing I would have done different was I would have spent more time up the river. I made one of those bad preconceived decisions because those fish didn’t play in 2010. So I committed deep down by the dam and didn’t spend enough of my practice up the river. It was a merry go round on the main lake.
“I had two places in 2010 where I caught big 4-pound spots out of in practice. I went to them in the tournament multiple times and never got a bite. This year I went back to them in practice and caught two giant spots out of them. I went to them both in the tournament multiple times and never got a bite. Next time we come here I’m going largemouth fishing shallow.”
“It was very very tough today, a real grind. I only had five keeper bites today. I really don’t know if I should change up tomorrow since it was so slow today. I haven’t decided yet. My legs have never been so tired from fishing a tournament. I probably lifted my trolling motor 50-60 times. I feel like I have a real chance at winning this thing if I catch a couple largemouth.”
“Today was the same as yesterday, but I caught more fish today and the quality went down. I didn’t execute very well. I didn’t lose any fish but the wind moved me off a couple waypoints and my co-angler managed to catch a couple quality fish off my waypoints while I was out of position. I had a small limit at 8 a.m. Me, Morrow and Cody Meyer have been talking and we all agree that from the first hour they bite really well and then after 2 p.m. they bite well but between that it’s really tough. I’m going to do the same thing until they send me home. I’m going to ride the horse that got me here.”
“Today was absolutely brutal. I still caught 12 to 15 keepers but my size was gone. The overcast skies make the big ones roam a lot more and they are harder to target. I’m fishing a lot of community holes and popular areas. Tomorrow I’m going to the same thing but stay all deep and not mess shallow at all because there are a lot of 3 and 4-pounders around there and it’s just hard to leave that quality of fish. The real difference was the fish were higher up in the water column. They still were chasing it but I was using a heavier drop shot weight to make them react.”
"I should be where Jacob is. Lost fish have cost me, but I feel good. I need a spark this season and this has been good for me. I'm throwing topwaters. Tomorrow I'm just going to go for broke. I want the sun so the fish will be in position. I want the most boat traffic possible because I'm catching several bass on mudlines along clay banks. I'm fishing from the north end to the south end of the lake."
Here is the top-20 cut for Saturday:
1 WHEELER, JACOB 21-15 (5) 11-12 (5) 33-11 (10)
2 YELAS, JAY 12-04 (5) 18-04 (5) 30-08 (10)
3 MARTIN, SCOTT 14-09 (5) 14-11 (5) 29-04 (10)
4 CANTERBURY, SCOTT16-09 (5) 12-07 (5) 29-00 (10)
5 HIBDON, DION 14-15 (5) 14-01 (5) 29-00 (10)
6 THRIFT, BRYAN 13-12 (5) 13-11 (5) 27-07 (10)
7 BIRD, CODY 14-11 (5) 12-07 (5) 27-02 (10)
8 MORGAN, ANDY 11-02 (5) 14-04 (5) 25-06 (10)
9 DUDLEY, DAVID 13-11 (5) 10-10 (5) 24-05 (10)
10 MORROW, TROY 10-15 (5) 13-06 (5) 24-05 (10)
11 MOREHEAD, DAN 13-01 (5) 11-02 (5) 24-03 (10)
12 CLAUSEN, LUKE 12-05 (5) 11-14 (5) 24-03 (10)
13 MEYER, CODY 14-15 (5) 8-12 (5) 23-11 (10)
14 DAVIS, CLENT 10-12 (5) 12-12 (5) 23-08 (10)
15 SUGGS, SCOTT 11-07 (5) 12-01 (5) 23-08 (10)
16 WENDLANDT, CLARK9-15 (5) 13-01 (5) 23-00 (10)
17 FUKAE, SHINICHI 10-14 (5) 11-02 (5) 22-00 (10)
18 CHRISTIE, JASON 7-14 (5) 13-08 (5) 21-06 (10)
19 EHRLER, BRENT 11-00 (5) 10-02 (5) 21-02 (10)
20 BROWNE, GLENN 10-01 (5) 10-14 (5) 20-15 (10)