Wheeler Lake doled out some lumps today in the second event of the Toyota Series Southeastern Division season. Only 14 pros managed to crack the 10-pound mark and six pros took a zero on the day.
Leading the way is Jesse Millsaps of Jasper, Ga., with five fish weighing 14 pounds, 15 ounces. His biggest bass weighed 5 pounds, 5 ounces, which was certainly the difference maker in nudging him to nearly 15 pounds in a challenging summertime grinder.
“That big one came about one hour into the day – it was my fourth fish,” he says. “Once I got it in the boat, I knew I could relax because I had the rest of the day to catch my fifth fish.”
Given the ultra-tough fishing conditions on Wheeler’s main lake, Millsaps chose to do his work in creeks today. He fished two different creeks to catch a total of eight keepers.
“I started the morning fishing topwaters and then switched to slow-dragging a worm once the sun got up,” he says. “I caught my three biggest fish in the first creek I fished. Once I got a limit in there, I decided to leave the area and switch over to another creek. I culled a couple of times in the other creek, which was a big help. After that, I left the primary areas to try to save some fish for the next couple of days.”
Millsaps noted that he picked the two creeks because both of them have a very similar type of structure.
“The two places I’m fishing in the two creeks set up almost identical to each other,” he says. “They both have the right stuff for what the fish use this time of year to feed.”
Millsaps says he will reveal more about the right ingredients tomorrow should he have another good day.
2. Kip Carter – Mansfield, Ga. – 13-5
One look at Kip Carter’s aluminum tunnel hull boat was a dead give away that he had played the creek game on day one.
“It’s no secret I’m fishing pretty shallow,” Carter says. “I’m fishing three different creeks because I couldn’t find any single one that was super hot. So I’m mixing several different creeks up to make this work, which burns up a lot of time because I have to run all the way out of one and all the way back into another one.
“I probably could use my Ranger to get where I’m going and it would be faster, but this is the boat I brought and it’s the one I’m stuck with – I’m not driving five hours home to get the Ranger.”
Carter says Wheeler is tough, but that’s the way he likes it.
“Tough tournaments are no fun but they’re the ones I seem to do the best in,” he says. “I like it when six or seven bites will get you in the top 10. Today I actually caught about 10 keepers so it wasn’t too bad. But these creeks are small, so I don’t know how much they have left in them.”
3. Lynn Johnson – Attalla, Ala. – 13-1
Lynn Johnson also plied creeks for his third place showing on day one.
“It’s summer, it’s hot, and when it gets this way, I go looking for current and cooler water,” Johnson says. “I’m fishing back in several creeks that all have cooler water. A lot of the main lake is nearly 90 degrees or even higher, so I’m looking for something that’s at least five or six degrees cooler than that. Today I actually found some that was 79 degrees.”
Once back in the creeks, Johnson is fishing a worm around small current breaks.
“Anything that gives them an ambush point in that current,” he says. “Today I had a fish coughed up a couple of those little pumpkin seed bream. That’s what they’re doing – sitting behind those breaks eating any little baitfish that come drifting by in the current.”
4. Lavoyd Lemmond – Decatur, Ala. – 13-1
The creek crew continues with Lavoyd Lemmond, who found several backwater creeks to his liking today.
“It’s all shallow, shallow fishing,” Lemmond emphasizes. “I’m mostly flipping wood and grass. It’s more about the area – it’s loaded with bait and fish. We probably caught 20 or 30 fish today – in fact, my co-angler is leading his side with 12 pounds and something. The water is not necessarily cool; it’s warm stained water, but it’s moving back and forth, which keeps a lot of bait flush in there.”
5. Andrew Johnson – Glencoe, Ala. – 12-8
Make that two Johnsons in the top five – Andrew Johnson is the son of Lynn Johnson (3rd) and both are doing well on Wheeler. Both are fishing creeks, but the creeks are on opposite ends of the lake.
“He wanted one end of the lake, so I went the opposite way,” Andrew says. “We’re probably fishing similar type water: up in a creek somewhere. We like to find that cooler water with some current, for sure. If I can find water temperatures in the low 80s, I’m happy. I did try to focus more on stained water today. If it got too clear, I moved; I actually moved around a lot, bouncing around fishing anything that looked good.”
Top 10 Boaters
1. Jesse Millsaps – Jasper, Ga. – 14-15 (5)
2. Kip Carter – Mansfield, Ga. – 13-5 (5)
3. Lynn Johnson – Attalla, Ala. – 13-1 (5)
4. Lavoyd Lemmond – Decatur, Ala. – 13-0 (5)
5. Andrew Johnson – Glencoe, Ala. – 12-8 (5)
5. Dustin Neat – Dunnville, Ky. – 12-8 (5)
7. Josh Bragg – Jacksonville, Ala. – 11-6 (5)
8. Harry Peyton – Guntersville, Ala. – 11-2 (5)
9. Kyle Glasgow – Guin, Ala. – 10-12 (5)
10. Edward Guice – Decatur, Ala. – 10-10 (5)
10. Bill Spratlin – Rockford, Ala. – 10-10 (5)
10. Logan Johnson – Tuscaloosa, Ala. – 10-10 (5)
Davis leads co-anglers
Flint Davis of Leesburg, Ga., leads the co-angler side with a five-bass limit weighing 12 pounds, 10 ounces. He fished behind fourth-place pro Lavoyd Lemmond to catch his fish.
“I mostly used a Big Bite Baits Fighting Frog to catch all my fish today,” Davis says. “I couldn’t have done it without Lavoyd. He’s a great pro partner and he is around a lot of fish. He let me cast into places a lot of pros might not have – so I couldn’t have caught what I did today without his help.”
Top 10 Co-Anglers
1. Flint Davis – Leesburg, Ga. – 12-10 (5)
2. Cal Culpepper – Hamilton, Ga. – 11-11 (5)
3. Jared Murphree – Toney, Ala. – 9-4 (5)
4. Lew Moore – Roanoke, Ala. – 9-2 (3)
5. Todd Lee – Jasper, Ala. – 9-0 (5)
6. Ryan Methvin – Leoma, Tenn. – 8-12 (5)
7. Hayden Obarr – Gurley, Ala. – 7-15 (5)
8. Jeffrey Ford – Trion, Ga. – 7-14 (5)
9. Jeff Ragsdale – Gardendale, Ala. – 7-10 (4)
10. Ryan Arnold – Gadsden, Ala. – 6-14 (4)