Stren Series Championship preview: Wheeler Lake

For most, autumn means a refreshing change in weather temperatures and a chance to marvel at nature's beauty when the leaves turn to orange and brown. But for Stren Series competitors, cooler weather brings the Stren Series Championship, returning for 2006 in its typical post-Halloween time slot. While trick-or-treaters are scouring the neighborhoods for Snickers bars and other candies, 400 championship contenders will be gearing up for top pro and co-angler awards of $140,000 and $70,000, respectively. The playing field this year is Alabama's Wheeler Lake, with the tournament going out from the host city of Decatur. The Alabama Fab Four - lakes Wheeler, Pickwick, Wilson and Guntersville - are often favorite tournament destinations because the impoundments are simply loaded with bass. But for this event, fishing will be limited to Wheeler Lake - no locking through to Guntersville or other fisheries in the Tennessee River chain. Pro William DavisPro William Davis hails from north Alabama, and the one tournament win on his resume came on Wheeler Lake in Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League competition in 2005. Davis will compete in the championship by virtue of his eighth-place ranking in the Stren Midwest Division, and he says Wheeler Lake does house a significant bass population. And while Davis expects good numbers of fish to be caught during the event, weights, however, will be another story. "It will be tough," Davis said. "There will be a lot of fish caught, but it will be tough. A 20-pound bag is very capable of being caught, but I look for 10 to 12 pounds a day to be good. I think 11 to 14 pounds a day could win it." Weather a big factor Making the competition challenging is quite simply the time of year. In Alabama in early November, it's not yet cold, but it's not hot, either. The in-between makes the fish a little harder to figure out. Mother Nature could create conditions more favorable to fish-catching, though, if she just dumps a little rain on the area. "If we have some rain, it would help," Davis said. "It would be clearer. But it's usually tough." Temperature also plays a role, with Davis explaining that the colder it gets, the hotter the fishing. Fog delayed competition for about 30 minutes on day two.Competitors can also expect a fog delay, practically a given when visiting lakes in the Tennessee River chain. Davis said typical temperatures in northern Alabama in early November reach into the 60s and 70s for a high and down into the 40s for a low. The Flats are back One advantage Wheeler will provide, though, is a lot of water for 400 competitors to fish. Davis expects the lake to fish big, though the fabled Decatur Flats are likely to draw a crowd. Those who go there, though, better look out - it will be a rough ride. Falling water levels this time of year on Wheeler Lake make navigation difficult. "Especially on the Decatur Flats and upriver in the creeks, you will definitely need to watch what you're doing," Davis warns. "On the lower end, it's not so much of a factor, but from midlake up, it's a big factor. On the Decatur Flats, you don't want to run anywhere in that area because there are stumps everywhere up there." But you can bet a lot of anglers will be stump-dodging, because according to Davis, the Decatur Flats still provide the best chance to catch hefty bass on Wheeler Lake. Note the word hefty - the bass can be caught all over the lake, but the big ones are often found around the Decatur Flats. Anglers make their way toward the open waters of Wheeler Lake.And as for the bass, Davis says that while the lake does have a decent population of smallmouth bass, he expects the largemouths to dominate the tournament. "Someone could weigh in a good sack of smallmouth, but it will most likely be won with largemouth," Davis said. And whether you like to fish shallow or deep, Wheeler has it all. Davis said the hotter bite will probably be shallow, but he predicts a competitor or two could come in with a good sack caught deep. Fall patterns predominate As expected, the bass will be well into their typical fall pattern, and while Davis couldn't say for sure what he thought they might respond to, he made a few educated guesses. "It could be won on a top-water, it could be won flipping a jig, or it could be won cranking," Davis said. "I'd say those three things and a spinnerbait, though a lot of people throw a Shaky Head." Anglers cruise past sailboats moored at Joe Wheeler State Park.And when the Wheeler bass are in their fall pattern, Davis says they can typically be found in one type of place. "It should be a back-of-the-creek, typical fall pattern," he said. "They will more than likely be caught in the creeks, but there will be a bite on the river, too." As for structure, Davis expects the Wheeler bass to be found on bluffs or wood, although the grass - like what is found in the prolific Decatur Flats - is good too. Whether they're shallow or deep, in the grass or in the creeks, at the end of the day, Wheeler Lake is a good place to fish because of its diversity. With such a diverse slate of competitors - the top 40 pros and 40 co-anglers from five nationwide divisions - the competition certainly fits the playing field. "Wheeler is big enough to accommodate that many boats," Davis said. "People can fish their strengths and do what they want to do, whether it's fish deep or fish the grass. They can fish up the river, below Guntersville Dam - they can do whatever they want to do on that lake and catch fish." The four-day tournament begins Nov. 1 in Decatur.

Tags: pre-tournament  jennifer-simmons 

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5 Pros to Watch at Lewis Smith

The second stop of the Walmart FLW Tour season rolls to Lewis Smith Lake – or “Smith” as most refer to it – which is located in northern Alabama. It offers a stark contrast to the first event held on Toho, as the fishery is a clear, deep impoundment with little grass to speak of. Traditionally spotted bass have dominated this tournament due to their abundance and better average size. That will likely be the case again this week, however, largemouth may surprise some people since water temperatures are prime for them to swarm the bank. Smith Lake is often overshadowed by its neighboring lakes of Guntersville and Wheeler but has pumped out several world-class spotted bass over the years. In fact, back in the 1970s and 1980s several world record spots were produced in Smith, and the current 8-pound, 15-ounce Alabama state record was caught from here. READ MORE »

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Spotted Bass Reign Supreme at Smith

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Last Time at Lewis Smith

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College Open will be a Record-Setter

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Guntersville Setting Up to be a Slugfest

With the water warming rapidly from the 40s, that side of the big-bass equation seems to be taken care of. However, grass content and water clarity are other matters. Known as a grass lake, Guntersville was obviously grassy until quite recently. READ MORE »

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Toho: 5 Factors to Consider

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Toho’s Mojo

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5 to Watch at Toho

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Tour Opener Timed Right for Florida Spawn Fireworks

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Toho’s Place In Tour History

The start of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Toho is less than two weeks away. Official practice starts in just six days (kind of makes you wish you lived in Florida, huh?). READ MORE »

/news/2014-10-28-rayovac-flw-series-championship-pros-to-watch

Rayovac FLW Series Championship Pros to Watch

Keystone Light pro Casey Martin isn’t fishing in the Rayovac FLW Series Championship this week on Wheeler Lake, but he was still more than capable of breaking down how the lake should fish. Perhaps more than anything, Martin emphasizes that this Tennessee River impoundment doesn’t fish much like the legendary bodies of water that bookend it. READ MORE »

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2014 Rayovac Championship Preview

Two weeks make a big difference in the life of a bass lake. In early October, it seemed that north Alabama’s Lake Wheeler would present more of a challenge than most contestants in the Rayovac FLW Series Championship that begins Thursday might have preferred. Now, however, the 68,000-acre impoundment is laying a generous table for the 140 pros and their co-anglers who’ll participate in the three-day event. READ MORE »

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The Tennessee River grand finale begins

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4 Keys to tailrace success

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Big Mac attack

BENTON, Ky. – It took three days, thirteen rods, at least five different kinds of lures, and countless miles and gallons of gas for Curt McGuire to claim the EverStart Series Central Division title on Kentucky Lake, and he claimed it in decisive fashion, leading the event wire to wire before closing the deal today with a 7-pound, 6-ounce margin of victory. READ MORE »

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Randy rules Kentucky

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EverStart Series heads to Potomac River

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FLW College Fishing Western Division headed to Clear Lake

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