It was late spring in 2011. I’m able to remember the general time frame for a couple reasons. First, the BFL All-American had just been held on Cross Lake in early April and I was tasked at the time with interviewing the winner.
Secondly, after the interview had wrapped up and we started talking about FLW’s College Fishing trail. I had recently competed in the 2011 National Championship, finishing 3rd for the second year in a row and the interviewee was picking my brain about his options. He was trying to figure out how to best leverage his BFL All American win and which trail to fish the next year.
The angler I was interviewing was none other than bass fishing phenom Jacob Wheeler.
At the time 11 years ago, he had yet to become the Jacob Wheeler everyone knows today.
Being a fan of the sport, he had watched the previous two seasons of FLW’s College Fishing closely and was at a crossroads where he could either go to school and fish the college trail or try his hand at the pros. As weird as it sounds today looking back, Jacob Wheeler was asking for my advice, knowing I had fished the college trail and had done well in it. I told him emphatically that he’d be crazy not to go the college fishing route.
The College Fishing trail was competitive, but it was still in its infancy as well, with only two seasons under its belt. With a berth into the Forrest Wood Cup as the grand prize of the college fishing world at the time, there was no easier way to get there in my opinion. A guy like him, with some recent tournament success and who was obviously a pretty good angler, he could fish the college fishing circuit and do really well for himself.
Well, obviously Jacob didn’t take my advice and what a difference that made. He chose to fish the FLW Tour and just the next year at the ripe old age of 21, Jacob Wheeler won the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup. He’s gone on to win time and time again and has had a big hand in completely changing the industry in a lot of ways. So yeah, I was a little off on that one.