Pro Picks: Wheeler Lake - Major League Fishing
Pro Picks: Wheeler Lake
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Pro Picks: Wheeler Lake

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May 6, 2005 • MLF • Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit

Tournament site

After a yearlong hiatus, the Wal-Mart FLW Tour is returning to the familiar confines of the Tennessee River in northern Alabama. While anglers will be launching from Decatur on Wheeler Lake, the same river pool that hosted Aaron Martens’ FLW win in 2003, this tournament is going to have a different complexion. For starters, it’s a month earlier than it was in 2003. Postspawn fishing should dominate, but don’t be surprised if a few straggling spawners come off a bed or two. Most importantly, though, everybody’s talking about Guntersville Lake, the next pool upriver from Wheeler. Two years ago, Guntersville and its vaunted bass fishery were off-limits. This year that’s not the case. The field will get to stretch out along the river as far as they want, and tour pros are licking their chops at the prospect of locking up and tapping into the 20-pound-plus limits that the Big G has to offer. Flats, grass, flipping and pitching – this is going to be garden-variety TVA river fishing for the FLW, only with a big twist this year. Martens, Larry Nixon, Rick Clunn and Randy Howell have all won FLW events on this part of the Tennessee River, but none of them did it with Guntersville in play.

Hot picks

The pros – surprise, surprise – like Dave Lefebre and Clark Wendlandt the best at Wheeler. They both garnered three picks apiece. (And both of them happen to be pundits, as well. Coincidence or supernatural phenomenon? You tell me. For whatever reason, however, this time the other pro pundits – Blaukat, Dudley and Svebek – couldn’t shore up their alliances to finagle enough picks for mention. And Zona’s off doing TV or something, so there’s no accounting for him.) So the only other multiple vote-getter was Tennessee river rat Andy Morgan, who was next with two.


Wal-Mart FLW Tour stop No. 5

Wheeler Lake, Decatur, Ala.

May 11-14

Randy Blaukat
FLW pro
Lamar, Mo.

Record: 3-1
Points: 2,830

FLW pro Randy Blaukat
FLW pro Dave Lefebre Dave Lefebre
FLW pro
Erie, Pa.

Record: 2-2
Points: 2,484

1) TOMMY BIFFLE .Biffle usually begins excelling in postspawn events and has a good track record on Guntersville. (Everyone who receives a check here will be locking into Guntersville.) There will be a lot of diverse flipping opportunities, so Tommy should hold his own.
2) WESLEY STRADER .A long-time TVA river veteran, Wesley has a lot of experience on Guntersville. This is a lake where experience pays off. There are a lot of subtle offshore areas that will help anglers like Wesley do well.
3) RANDY BLAUKAT .Guntersville is one of my favorite lakes, especially this time of year. I have to have two top-25s in our last two events to make the FLW Championship, so I will be all business here.
4) ZELL ROWLAND .Zell has had more success at Guntersville than probably anyone in the field. He has also fished a lot of events there in May and will go into this event with a tremendous amount of momentum from his BASS win there a few months ago.
5) DANNY CORREIA .Danny has come through for me each time I’ve picked him this season. He has a history of doing well on TVA impoundments, including a near-win at the Classic. Anytime there’s grass to flip, he is a real threat.
1) KELLY JORDON .He likes the Tennessee River lakes because they remind him of his home water in Texas. Plus, my boy finally showed signs of life again at the last E-50. Kelly has won big events on both Guntersville and Wheeler in recent years, and I think he’s due for a serious hot streak. Another FLW win sure would make an otherwise not-so-good season look quite fine. Number two for Jordon, coming right up.
2) AARON MARTENS .Put the little, tiny, weenie worms away, dude. The Drop-Shot King won’t be the Drop-Shot King at Wheeler, but he’ll crush `em anyway. He’s also won here before and has a lot of experience on Guntersville, not to mention he’s on a roll. He needs to finish the season strong in order to secure a spot in the championship. My bet is that the purple Ranger will be full of big green fish.
3) BOBBY LANE .We met at the All-American last spring. He introduced himself to me and said that he would see me on the FLW stage someday. Well, he lied. I haven’t been there yet this year. Seriously, though, it didn’t take him long to prove that he can play. He’s lighting it up and, after a slight crash at Beaver Lake, will get his stride back. He really likes Guntersville; if he gets there and gets back, I think he’ll do well.
4) PAT FISHER .He always seems to do well in the EverStarts on Guntersville. Since everyone will probably be fishing there, Pat will catch them like he always does. He’s been flying under the radar so far this season and really needs to close the year with two top-10s to have a shot at the championship. He’ll get the first one here.
5) DAVE LEFEBRE .I want more than anything to see Bobby Lane’s premonition come true. I need a top-10 or two this year and I’m running out of time. I’ve never been to Guntersville and I really don’t like fishing Wheeler. If I keep locking north, will I eventually hit Lake Erie? (It’s on fire right now, by the way.) Also, Beaver really made me mad, so I’m spending more time on this event and plan on getting it together on the Tennessee River.
Carl Svebek
FLW pro
Siloam Springs, Ark.

Record: 3-1
Points: 2,717

FLW pro Carl Svebek III
FLW pro Clark Wendlandt Clark Wendlandt
FLW pro
Cedar Park, Texas

Record: 1-3
Points: 2,703

1) CLARK WENDLANDT .He will shake this slump that he’s been in. I know that he’ll shoot to the top, and Wheeler has got to be the place.
2) TODD FAIRCLOTH .He’s a great grass fisherman, and Wheeler and Guntersville should be good for that type of fishing. He’s sitting in sixth place and has had a great year. I look for it to continue at Wheeler.
3) CODY BIRD .He’s had a good year so far and definitely wants to keep it going. I’ve got to stick with my boys from Texas for this tournament.
4) TAKAHIRO OMORI .Another Texas angler, he’s used to pulling lunkers from the grass in Lake Fork. He’ll rip `em at Wheeler.
5) MIKE SURMAN .My only departure from the Texas-themed picks this tournament. He’s my fellow Castrol pro, and I know he has to have a good tournament to move up in the standings. He’s put in some time there and will be a force to be reckoned with.
1) DAVE LEFEBRE .He does well as long as he is not on Beaver Lake. I look for him to rebound this week.
2) CLARK WENDLANDT .No more bad tournaments!
3) JASON KILPATRICK .He is fishing very well right now. Look for another top-10 this week.
4) CHRIS MCCALL .Chris is also fishing well. He has to catch them to make the championship, and I predict he will make it.
5) ANTHONY GAGLIARDI .I like his style. He goes about his business and just catches fish.
Mark Zona
EverStart pro
Sturgis, Mich.

Record: 2-2
Points: 2,790

EverStart pro Mark Zona
FLW pro David Dudley David Dudley
FLW pro
Lynchburg, Va.

Record: 1-3
Points: 2,742

1) CLARK WENDLANDT .I recently had a conversation with our hero. In a nutshell, the slump has him talking a little psycho, to say the least. Picking him has burned me all year, but I’m blaming Steve Bartman – the guy who screwed up the Cubs’ World Series bid in 2003 – for Clark’s cursed year.
2) ANDY MORGAN .Every pundit in the know will have Andy on his list, except Newell. He’s not that smart.
3) CHAD GRIGSBY .He’s had great finishes in the last year, and whacks `em on Guntersville. If fish are on docks, little Chaddy Grigsby will be a threat.
4) DAVE LEFEBRE .He said he wouldn’t let Beaver stump him, but it did. But this ain’t Beaver. Jigs + grass = Lefebre $$$$.
5) ALTON JONES .It kind of looks like he’s got the wheels rolling again. Plus, it’s his time of year to get loony on spawn and postspawn donkeys.
1) ANDY MORGAN .I don’t know his stats, but I do know that, whenever this dude is somewhere on this chain, he’ll be in the top half of the field.
2) RICK CLUNN .He has always done well on the lakes that he will have access to here, but he had a pretty ponytail the last time he caught them on this water. I think he’ll overlook that issue and still catch them.
3) DAN MOREHEAD .I am picking him because of his ledge-fishing experience. With the lakes he can access, he will find them. Plus, he is powered by FLW jigs and lures.
4) GREG PUGH .I feel he will fare well here since he lives in Alabama and knows a lot of people in the area. I heard he has started eating Pedigree dog food, and it is helping him catch fish better.
5) DAVID DUDLEY .We finally get to another tournament over the 50-degree temperature mark. I like the lakes that we’ll have access to.


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