Wheeler Lake Day 1 Coverage - Major League Fishing

Wheeler Lake Day 1 Coverage

Check-in time is getting near
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Scott Martin Photo by Kyle Wood. Angler: Scott Martin.
August 4, 2016 • MLF • Archives

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Day 1 Takeoff Gallery

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More About the Cup

2016 Forrest Wood Cup Roster

The Cup at Wheeler Lake – A Preview

Forrest Wood Cup Promo Video:


3:15 p.m.: Final update

Check-in time is 4 p.m. for the first flight. Weigh-in begins at 5 p.m. in Propst Arena at the Von Braun Center.

Minus any last-minute heroics, it appears that the consesus estimates from the field were right on: It's going to take in the mid-teens each day to be in the hunt.

By our estimations, a dozen or more anglers are already over the double-digit mark, but estimates are only so accurate, and half the field might crack double-digits.

There are some big-name hammers at the top: Shin, Martin, McMillan, Arey, Rose and Cox. There are also some newcomers up there: Joseph Webster, Brandon Perkins and Jeff Hippert among them.

Tune in to FLW Live at 5 p.m. to see who gets out in front with three long, hot days of fishing left to go.


John Cox

2 p.m.: Day 1 Midday Weight Estimates

1. Brandon McMillan – 13.5

2. Joseph Webster – 13

3. Matt Arey – 12.5

3. Shinichi Fukae – 12.5

5. John Cox – 11

6. Jeff Hippert – 10.5

7. Chris Johnston – 10

7. Charlie Weyer – 10

7. Jeremy Lawyer – 10

10. Mark Rose – 9.75

11. Todd Auten – 9.5

11. Shane LeHew – 9.5

11. Darrel Robertson – 9.5

14. Scott Martin – 9.25

14. Bryan Thrift – 9.25

16. Jay Kendrick – 9

16. Dan Morehead – 9

16. Brandon Perkins – 9

19. Cody Meyer – 8.5

20. Jamie Horton – 8

20. Andy Morgan – 8

20. Jeff Sprague – 8

23. Greg Bohannan – 7.5

23. Ray Hanselman – 7.5

23. Troy Morrow – 7.5

23. Michael Neal – 7.5

27. Bill Chapman – 7.25

28. Terry Bolton – 7

29. David Dudley – 6.5

29. Clark Reehm – 6.5

31. Brian Holder – 6.25

32. Stetson Blaylock – 6

32. Scott Suggs – 6

32. Jim Tutt – 6

35. Jacob Wheeler – 5.75

36. Brandon Cobb – 5.5

36. Jeff Gustafson – 5.5

36. Wesley Strader – 5.5

36. Tyler Suddarth – 5.5

40. Denny Brauer – 5

40. Clark Wendlandt – 5

40. Dave Barnes Sr. – 5

43. Brad Knight – 4.25

44. Nick Prvonozac – 3

45. Bryan Schmitt – 2.5

45. Hampton Anderson – 2.5

47. JT Kenney – 1.5

47. Jimmy Reese – 1.5

49. Scott Canterbury – 0

49. Cory Johnston – 0


1:50 p.m.: TBF champ chasing the dream

TBF National Champion Joseph Webster qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup as part of TBF's Living the Dream package, which includes paid entry into the FLW Tour and a spot in FLW's championship. Webster is making the most of the Living the Dream opportunity by chasing the dream of being Forrest Wood Cup champion. His early weight estimate is 13 pounds, which puts him less than a pound behind our unofficial tournament leader Brandon McMillan.

We're hunting Webster to learn more about his magical day. Stay tuned in a few minutes for a full report on the 50-angler field.


Video update: Shin is power fishing in super-skinny water


Ray Hanselman

1 p.m.: Weather changes have produced an afternoon lull

Fishing was as hot as the weather for a few hours on Wheeler Lake, but this thunderstorm has rolled in and seems to have put a damper on the action. Catch up dates have really slowed down.

Still, more than half the field has a limit, and there's a race to catch the pros at the top.

Check back in about an hour and we'll post a full estimated standings for the entire top 50.


Matt Arey

12:15 p.m.: Storms and logjams at the top of the standings

A thundestorm has rolled over the western edge of Wheeler Lake, bringing with it rain, wind (much appreciated in this heat) and shady relief from the hot sun. There's a significant logjam at the top in the 11- to 13-pound range. Among those at the top are John Cox, Jeff Hippert, Shin Fukae, Brandon McMillan and Matt Arey. The rest of the field seems to be piled into two groups: guys without a limit and guys in the 8- to 10-pound range.

We'll have to wait and see what the effects of the weather will be. Will the shallow bite turn on, or will the offshore fish school up? Time will tell.

The most significant development in techniques or patterns is the schooling bite, which has turned on in the last hour or so. Most of the baits have stayed the same: soft jerkbaits, topwater, crankbaits and shaky heads.


Watch local favorite Jay Kendrick in action


Todd Auten chases schoolers on day 1


11 a.m.: The unofficial top 10 UPDATED

1. Brandon McMillan – 13 1/2

2. Matt Arey – 12 1/2

3. Shin Fukae – 11

3. John Cox – 11

5. Joseph Webster – 9

6. Cody Meyer – 8 1/2

7. Brandon Perkins – 8

7. Jamie Horton – 8

7. Scott Martin – 8

10. Todd Auten – 7 1/2



10:40 a.m.: The schoolers are getting active

It's weird how fish seem to turn on at the same time all across the lake. The phenomenon is happening on Wheeler. FLW's marshals and reporters almost simultaneously reported that several anglers had gotten into a group of schoolers, and a lot of the fish they were catching were smallmouths. For sure, Scott Suggs, Jimmy Reese and Matt Arey are in on the schooling bass action.

Elsewhere, the shallow bite has slowed down a little bit, save for a few areas with vast beds of lily pads where a half-dozen pros are mining out their bites. The offshore guys are waiting on some current to ignite their schools. It's hot, but the fish are still biting.


Cup Comments

See what Cup Host Byron Velvick thinks will be the five critical factors for this week's Forrest Wood Cup – CLICK HERE


Shinichi Fukae

10 a.m.: Shin is charging

Tour veteran Shin Fukae went on a little tear and is nipping at Brandon McMillan's heels with a limit that'll go between 10 and 12 pounds. He's the unofficial runner-up behind McMillan.

Shin's best keeper is a 4 1/2-pounder.


OTW Photos

To see the entire On The Water gallery, click on the link above. Here are a few of our favorites so far:

Brandon Cobb

Scott Martin

Matt Arey

Stetson Blaylock

Michael Neal


9:40 a.m.: Nine limits so far

Hunt and peck. That's the best way to describe the approach that most anglers are using on day one at the Cup. The Twitter feed has featured a nonstop parade of 1- to 2 1/2-pound fish, with just a few kickers being reported.

Scott Martin has the hot hand lately. He's only up to 8 pounds, but he caught his five keepers pretty quickly. His marshal says that Martin is focused and working hard. The guy's a straight hammer who gets it done in these tough-bite tournaments.


Matt Arey

9:10 a.m.: Finesse, cranking and topwater in play early

It's typical late-summer tactics that are in play at the Cup on Wheeler. Finesse baits have produced the most keepers so far, but topwater is working too. The topwater list includes buzzbaits, frogs, toads and walking baits. Soft jerkbaits are working too, and a few pros are cranking.

Target areas range from offshore brush to ledges on the deep side to fishing shade, shallow cover and inflows on the shallow side.


9 a.m.: The early top five

Here's the unofficial top five early:

Brandon McMillan – 12 pounds

Jay Kendrick – 8 pounds

Todd Auten – 7 1/2 pounds

Jamie Horton – 7 pounds

Troy Morrow – 6 pounds


Jamie Horton

8:40 a.m.: McMillan out in front; Morrow and Horton with limits

Brandon McMillan is the early leader on Wheeler Lake. He's got a limit of about 12 pounds, including one really nice chunk. He's in the shallow crew and stayed mid-lake, but that's about all the info he's willing to reveal.

Most of the pros remain at the lower end of the lake. Frogs and toads are in play already, and the sun's not even all the way up.

Troy Morrow and Jamie Horton are the only other two pros with limits. Scott Martin has a 3 1/2-pounder to go with a 1 1/2. Jeff Hippert's big bass from the previous post is still big fish of the day. The rest of the keepers checked in have all been 2 pounds or lighter, and there have been a lot of them.


Jeff Hippert

8:15 a.m.: Topwater and finesse to start the day

Most of the pros have started off the morning either with a spinning rod in hand or throwing topwater. The topwater guys are covering water quickly, looking for an active fish. Topwater will be in play most of the day for schoolers, for bream-eating bass (frog fishing, baby!) or for lone wolves set up under shade.

Jeff Hippert has the first quality keeper in the boat. It's a skinny girl, but looks to be about 5 pounds. He's in the photo above.


Cup Fact

No one has ever won the Forrest Wood Cup twice. There are six former champs in the field this week, including Jacob Wheeler. Can he become the first two-time winner on his "namesake" lake?

Here's the full list: Jacob Wheeler, Brad Knight, David Dudley, Scott Martin, Darrel Robertson and Scott Suggs.

Jacob Wheeler


7:35 a.m.: Most of the field is focused on the lower end

Out of 50 boats, only three headed upstream toward Guntersville Dam from the Ditto Landing takeoff site. The rest ran downstream. At least 20 ran past the Decatur Flats area toward the far lower end.

Rumor has it that the best quality fish in practice were being caught from deeper water down there. At the least, that's the best place to find a school of fish.


7:30 a.m.: The Forrest Wood Cup has begun

It’s hot. It’s muggy. It’s August in the South. It’s the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart. And it’s game time.

We’re underway at the year’s biggest event on Wheeler Lake, and in four days someone is going to be crowned the Forrest Wood Cup champion and earn $300,000.

This will be no easy tournament to win. In fact, Wheeler has proved to be quite the challenge this week in practice. Some pros report getting few bites, and quality is tough to find too. But not every pro is singing the blues. A few have managed to tap into schools of fish offshore, or have tracked down a solid shallow bite.

The weather forecast calls for a high temperature of 93 degrees, with the heat index approaching triple digits. Expect a grueling, exhausting tournament – the kind that will produce a worthy champion.

You can follow along with all the action via FLW’s on-the-water Twitter feed here.


Conditions – Five-Day Forecast

Temperature at takeoff: 73 degrees

Forecast high: 91 degrees

Sky: hazy at takeoff; clear throughout the day; cloud cover forecast to build late in the day

Precipitation: 40 percent chance, with possible afternoon thunderstorms

Wind: W at 6 mph


Tournament Details

Forrest Wood Cup Takeoff Show: 6:30 a.m. CT at Ditto Landing, 293 Ditto Landing Road, Huntsville, Ala.

Takeoff: 7 a.m. CT at Ditto Landing

Weigh-in: 5 p.m. CT at Von Braun Center (Propst Arena), 700 Monroe Street SW, Huntsville, Ala.

FLW Expo: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4:40 p.m., at the Von Braun Center – More info: Seminars and Celebrities and Giveaways and Contests