Jacob Wheeler has a plan to win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake this week. That plan involves primarily the largemouth species, a target weight of 14 pounds per day and a lot of fish management.
Today, Wheeler surpassed his target by nearly 2 pounds with a 15-pound, 14-ounce catch that puts him in the driver’s seat at Beaver Lake, in the lead by just a scant 5 ounces over second-place pro Bryan Thrift.
“Largemouths are the way to win here at Beaver Lake,” Wheeler says. “They are the fish to go the distance here, and that’s what I’m focusing on.”
Wheeler claims to have roughly 100 waypoints signifying fish he found on beds during practice. Today he plucked just three of them and caught two “just power fishing,” and they were all largemouths.
“To me this tournament is all about fish management,” he continues, “fishing for certain ones on certain days and taking advantage of the small windows to see the fish based on wind direction. These fish have all been up for a while now, and they’re smart – extremely hard to catch. In order to catch them I have to be able to see a fish the whole time I’m fishing for it. That way I can tell how the fish reacts to certain baits because that tells me a lot about how catchable the fish is. If I’m just casting to a fish that I can occasionally see and can’t really tell where it is or what it’s doing, it’s just a waste of time. I wasted 35 minutes on one I never caught today because the wind just would not let me see what was going on.”
Wheeler has several particular bedding fish that are very protected by brush or out very deep that he is saving for later in the event.
“Those fish that have not been found and fished for by everyone are by far easier to catch,” he explains. “I had one hidden deep in a bunch of brush today, and when I finally got a bait in there to it, it bit on the third pitch. I have a few more in places like that that I could have easily caught today, but I’m saving them.”
Wheeler admits that of his 100 waypoints, probably half are now gone or might have already been caught.
“I found fish all over the lake,” he adds. “If the wind shifts a little bit, it creates new opportunities to see fish in calm spots that I could not see the day before. So that’s what I’m hoping for. This is a very conditional lake. Every time the conditions change it makes new opportunities, and I love fishing that way.”
Details on the top five to follow.
Click here for complete results.
Top 10 Pros
1: Jacob Wheeler – Indianapolis, Ind. – 15-14 (5)
2: Bryan Thrift – Shelby, N.C. – 15-09 (5)
3: Matt Arey – Shelby, N.C. – 14-14 (5)
3: Scott Canterbury – Springville, Ala. – 14-14 (5)
5: Cody Meyer – Auburn, Calif. – 14-07 (5)
6: Darrell Davis – Dover, Fla. – 14-06 (5)
7: Darrel Robertson – Jay, Okla. – 14-05 (5)
8: Brandon Cobb – Greenwood, S.C. – 13-10 (5)
9: Stetson Blaylock – Benton, Ark. – 13-08 (5)
10: Jim Moynagh – Carver, Minn. – 13-07 (5)
10: Vic Vatalaro – Kent, Ohio – 13-07 (5)
Thompkins Leads Co-angler Division
Timmy Thompkins of Myrtle Beach, Fla., caught 10 pounds, 7 ounces today to claim first place in the co-angler competition. Thompkins leads Ken Harp of Springdale, Ark., by only 4 ounces, and six anglers are within 1 pound of the leader. The co-angler competition ends Friday, with the champion determined by heaviest two-day cumulative weight.
Top 10 Co-anglers
1: Timmy Thompkins – Myrtle Beach, S.C. – 10-07 (5)
2: Ken Harp – Springdale, Ark. – 10-03 (5)
3: Cody Marshall – Cumming, Ga. – 9-14 (5)
3: Bryan New – Belmont, N.C. – 9-14 (5)
5: Hector Delagarza – Rockwall, Texas – 9-12 (5)
5: Tee Watkins – East Point, Ky. – 9-12 (5)
7: Joshua Weaver – Macon, Ga. – 9-10 (5)
8: Dustin Evans – Eads, Tenn. – 9-06 (4)
9: Kerry Barnett – Waldron, Ark. – 9-05 (4)
10: Charles Dubroc – Hessmer, La. – 9-03 (5
Bridgford Big Bass
Pro: Brandon Cobb – 5 pounds, 5 ounces
Co-angler: Scott Gibson – 5 pounds, 11 ounces