Wheeler Lake Top 5 Patterns Day 1 - Major League Fishing

Wheeler Lake Top 5 Patterns Day 1

Shallow or deep, it’s all in play at the Cup
Image for Wheeler Lake Top 5 Patterns Day 1
Bryan Thrift Photo by Jody White. Angler: Bryan Thrift.
August 4, 2016 • Rob Newell • Archives

For proof that fishing was all over the place at Wheeler Lake on day one of the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, look no further than the top five.

While John Cox took the early lead by getting as far back into a feeder creek as possible, the other four pros atop the leaderboard are doing a little bit of everything – and anything that will earn them a bite.

Day 1 leader story


Brandon McMillan

2. Brandon McMillan – Clewiston, Fla. – 14-14

While it might sound strange, Brandon McMillan has literally found a one-cast spot that produced most of his weight today. A one-cast spot as in he needs to make the exact cast every time to produce a bite.

“It’s a very, very unique spot,” McMillan says. “I’m pretty sure there is nothing like it on the rest of the lake. And I can only use one lure to make this exact cast. If I miss the cast, I won’t get a bite, or I get hung up. It’s just crazy. I wish I had another bait I could get in there, just to show them something different, but it’s literally one cast with one lure. I caught eight of my nine fish there today.”


Bryan Thrift

3. Bryan Thrift – Shelby, N.C. – 14-7

For third place we go from a one-cast spot to pretty much everywhere with junk-fishing master Bryan Thrift, who, as only he can do, fished “all over the lake.”

For summer events like this, Thrift is not interested in patterns or dialing in any kind of specific cover or lure. He used between 10 and 15 lures today to make some 25 to 30 stops that ranged from 6 inches deep to 15 feet deep.

“I’m just running down the lake fishing whatever looks good at the time,” Thrift says. “I’m actually fishing a little slower than I normally do, just trying to finesse the fish a little more than usual. And if I get a bite, I’ll hang around a few minutes more to see if I can coax another one into biting. The most fish I caught off of any one spot today was two.”


Joseph Webster

4. Joseph Webster – Fulton, Miss. – 14-2

The Bass Federation National Championship winner Joseph Webster spent almost 50 days scouting Wheeler Lake during pre-practice in an effort to find deep fish for the Forrest Wood Cup. So far, that homework has paid off. Webster says he fished just three of his primary spots to amass his 14-pound, 2-ounce catch today.

“I’m fishing deep. That’s what I like to do,” Webster says. “I’m throwing traditional deep stuff – crankbaits, big worms, drop-shots – stuff like that. I caught four fish off one spot. That might not sound like much, but these schools are really small. They’re not even really schools at all, just little wads of fish with maybe five or six fish per group.”

Webster says he has several more deep spots he has not hit yet and is intentionally saving them for later in the event.

“With the fishing this tough and the little groups so small, I really have to manage these little places carefully,” he adds. “I only hit three spots today, and I have 10 or 12 more to go to later in the week … hopefully.”


Mark Rose

5. Mark Rose – West Memphis, Ark. – 13-15

Mark Rose is known for his deep-fishing prowess, but he says Wheeler’s ledges have been so stingy to him this week that he had to retreat to shallower waters.

“I did catch one about 10 feet deep, but the rest came shallow,” Rose says. “I can see them [with electronics] down there [in deep water], but I just can’t catch them. I don’t know what the deal is. On the second day of practice I finally gave up on the deep stuff and went shallow.”


Complete results


Top 10 Pros

1. John Cox – DeBary, Fla. – 16-11 (5)

2. Brandon McMillan – Clewiston, Fla. – 14-14 (5)

3. Bryan Thrift – Shelby, N.C. – 14-07 (5)

4. Joseph Webster – Fulton, Miss. – 14-02 (5)

5. Mark Rose – West Memphis, Ark. – 13-15 (5)

6. Bill Chapman – Salt Rock, W.Va. – 13-08 (5)

7. Shinichi Fukae – Palestine, Texas – 13-07 (5)

8. Shane LeHew – Mooreseville, N.C. – 13-03 (5)

9. Matt Arey – Shelby, N.C. – 12-08 (5)

10. Cody Meyer – Auburn, Calif. – 12-01 (5)

Complete results


Day 1 Stats

Total limits: 39

Average bag: 9 pounds, 0 ounces

Average number of fish: 4

Total catch weight: 451 pounds, 14 ounces

Total number of fish: 225


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

Format: All 50 pros fish Thursday and Friday. The top 20 pros based on two-day cumulative weight make the cut to fish on Saturday. The top 10 anglers based on three-day cumulative weight make the cut to fish on Sunday. The winner is the angler with the heaviest four-day cumulative weight.