Major League Fishing wants you to get to know your favorite anglers! That’s why we’re putting together a new angler profile every week in 2018. Check our site regularly for the latest and send us your questions for the anglers.
This week, we caught up with Major League Fishing Pro Jacob Wheeler while he was fishing on Lake Chickamauga in Tennessee. Wheeler and his wife, Alicia, just moved to Tennessee from his hometown, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Wheeler says, “In bass fishing, it’s sort of nice to be centrally located because we have to travel a lot.”
Wheeler says he’s loving Tennessee because he’s a short drive from several great fisheries, and it’s never too cold to go fishing.
“It’s pretty important to be able to fish 12 months out of the year. In Indiana it might be eight months out of the year,” Wheeler explained.
Wheeler says Alicia is also enjoying the change of scenery and her new job, teaching second grade.
“Tennessee just sort of set up well for us, and we were just sort of wanting a change of pace,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler is enjoying some time off while he’s gearing up for his next competitions. When we spoke with him this week, he was fishing with a good friend and his chocolate lab, Bradley.
“He gets so excited when we catch one,” Wheeler said, “He’s pretty mellow when he’s at the house, just hanging out. But when you get him outside, and you get him in the boat, he’s a different dog.”
Wheeler says Bradley is the perfect fishing companion. However, he may be the only Labrador Retriever that doesn’t love swimming.
Wheeler said, “Normally, if it’s more than a couple feet, chest deep on him, he’s not going to get in the water.”
MLF Pro Jacob Wheeler, his wife, Alicia, and their dog Bradley
“I think, ‘That’s surprising as heck to me!’ Every lab I know loves jumping in the water.”
Right now, Wheeler says he’s trying to jump back into “fishing mode”.
“That’s really the focus right now. You’re just trying to get in the swing of things. Spring has sprung, and it’s hot as heck here,” he said.
Wheeler says he’s getting ready for his next Bassmaster Elite Series event on the Sabine River in Texas this April.
“I’m going to run down there and spend a few days on the Sabine River, looking around, getting ready for our event,” Wheeler said. “And then I got to drive right back home and get ready to get to the Classic.”
You’ll see Wheeler compete in the 2018 Summit Cup from Alpena, Michigan this Saturday from 2-4pm EST on Outdoor Channel. We shot that competition in the summer of 2017, and Wheeler says he had a blast competing and exploring Alpena with his wife.
“Alpena is a really unique fishing destination,” said Wheeler, “The town is really quaint, it’s really nice. Cute little place. It was actually one of my wife’s favorite little places. Good places to eat at there, a really cute little ice cream shop down there was actually one of her favorite places.”
When it comes to fishing, Wheeler says he loves northern Michigan because you can find plenty of large and smallmouth bass.
“Wherever you go up north you can get away from the summer heat, it’s a great place to go June, July, August. Big smallmouth, big largemouth, and it has a lot to offer. And that’s something that I really enjoy about that area,” he said.
Wheeler says 2017 was his first year as an official MLF Cup angler. Wheeler has been fishing the MLF Selects since 2014.
“That was exciting,” said Wheeler. “Obviously, first year on the Elite Series… Won an event in the Elite Series. So it’s really been a crazy last few years. You know, a lot of change. A lot of things going on. But all good, you know, and that’s the cool thing about it.”
At 27-years-old, Wheeler is the youngest angler competing in the MLF Cups. We asked if that gives him an advantage or disadvantage during tournaments.
“I don’t know,” Wheeler explained, “Fishing age, for the most part, does not matter, other than experience. And I’ve been fishing since I was really young. You know, a lot of guys started when they were maybe 18 or 19. And the learning curve, I feel like, is so much quicker these days than in the past.”
Wheeler says right now, pro anglers are performing better at a younger age. He believes that’s because there are more bass fishing clubs and teams that encourage young people to get into the sport.
“Those programs have started to give people an opportunity to learn how to catch them and compete at a young age,” Wheeler said.
When Wheeler isn’t competing, he enjoys deer hunting.
“It’s sort of my getaway in the fall to reset. You know relax, get in a tree, reflect on the season. There’s a lot of value in that for me.”
In the winter, he likes to travel with his wife when she has time off. He says they usually pick someplace tropical.
“That’s something that I really, really enjoy. So we try to pick a new place every year. I mean, the world is so big,” he said.