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Wheeler whacks 21-15

Wheeler whacks 21-15
Fatheadz pro Jacob Wheeler racked up an early lead of over 5 pounds on day one of the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Lanier.

DULUTH, Ga. - Everyone expected the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup to be a drop-shot fest for spotted bass. But for many of the 46 pros, it was anything but on day one. Overcast conditions opened a window for schooling fish and also ignited a shallow-water largemouth bite. Count pro leader Jacob Wheeler among those who capitalized on the conditions.

While most assumed Lake Lanier would fish better than it did in 2010, no one expected a 21-pound, 15-ounce stringer. After catching the second-heaviest Forrest Wood Cup weight in history, even Wheeler himself was stunned.

"Every decision I made today was the right decision," said the youngest competitor in the field. "I was so blessed with the big bites that I had. I can't even comprehend it; it's unbelievable."

Wheeler's day didn't begin as scripted. After quickly sampling his primary area, the Indianapolis, Ind., native didn't like what he saw and immediately went to a different area. Soon after the crush session Jacob Wheeler on the move after putting 14 pounds in the boat early on day 1. was on.

"I caught a 5, a 4 1/2 and a 3. Then I knew it was going to be a good day. My practice was good the last two days, but not this good. I had one of those days you live for."

All total, Wheeler boated 11 keepers, seven of which came from shallow water. While he weighed all largemouths, he did catch some spotted bass out deep. Overall, he plans to fish the conditions and constantly move around. In terms of his presentation, Wheeler was tight-lipped but said he's using three different baits. Despite his young age, he's keenly aware that largemouths might not go the distance. In fact, he's planned accordingly.

"This is just the first quarter. Now I've got to be consistent. I've got to get to the fourth quarter to win this thing. I'm shooting for 15 pounds a day."

Wheeler's 21-15 gives him a 5-pound, 6-ounce lead, the largest lead after day one in Cup history.

"What I like about leading is that it might cause others to swing. I'm just focused on being consistent. I've got some areas that I saved and I'm going to fish some new water too."

Canterbury pleased with second-place sack

Straight Talk pro Scott Canterbury shows off his second-place catch during the opening round of Forrest Wood Cup competition.In second place is Springville, Ala., pro Scott Canterbury, who caught four spots and a largemouth worth 16 pounds, 9 ounces.

"I was really blessed," said the Straight Talk pro. "I only caught seven keepers, but I caught the right ones. I had some good bites in practice, but I didn't expect to catch 16 today."

Canterbury said he's running and gunning with 14 rods on the deck and his five best keepers all came on different baits. He hit over 30 spots on the day and even ran some new water; that's where he caught his 5-pound kicker.

"They really bit late for me. I'm going to try to hit a bunch of places again tomorrow - hopefully I can get a few more largemouths. Coming into this, I was thinking 12 pounds a day would be good."

Hibdon, Meyer tie for third

Tying for third place with 14 pounds, 15 ounces was Dion Hibdon and Cody Meyer. While their weights are identical, their styles couldn't be more different. Hibdon abhors drop-shot fishing while Meyer absolutely loves it.
Dion Hibdon shows off a quality largemouth he caught on day one of the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup.
"I'm over my head when I have to fish with a sinker below my bait, so I'm not doing that," said Hibdon, who is aiming to become the first two-time Forrest Wood Cup champion. "I'm doing what I like to do. I'm not looking at my graph all day. I like casting; I like to throw under and around stuff."

Hibdon caught four keepers off one spot this morning and that reinforced his assessment of the bite.

"I caught that 6-pounder and two casts later my partner caught a 4-pounder. He's leading it on the co-angler side so I think I know where they're standing."

Hibdon weighed three largemouths and two spotted bass. While he prefers shallow-water fishing, two of the five he weighed came from out deep. In fact, the one deep spot he fished produced seven bites on seven consecutive casts.

"I also broke two fish off on boat docks. I should've had one of them 18- or 19-pound days. Wheeler had one of those days. I had two or three of those days in eight days of practice. I'm really confident because I don't know if there's anybody out there that can fish shallow water faster or better than me."

Meyer picked up right where he left off from the 2010 Cup on Lanier. While most of his practice was Cody Meyer tied for third place overall during the opening round of Forrest Wood Cup competition.poor, he discovered a few key brush piles Tuesday that made all the difference.

"I love summertime fishing and clear-water reservoirs," said the Auburn, Calif., pro. "This is how I grew up fishing. My practice wasn't that great so I'm very pleased. I didn't lose any fish and I was even able to pull a 3-pounder out that went into the brush."

Meyer said he's fishing the same area of the lake as 2010 but the specific spots are not the same because the lake is 7 feet lower. He's targeting the gaps between the brush and timber in the 30- to 40-foot range with a drop-shot, 5-pound test line and a Jackall Cross Tail shad (morning dawn color). Several of the fish he weighed were suspended off the bottom.

"I really think I got more bites on the shad than the worm because it's something they haven't seen a lot of. But I'm watching them on my graph. A lot of guys are letting their drop-shot go by them and not getting bit. I'm watching my graph, and I can tell when one is coming up. I'm toying with them and keeping it away and getting them to bite.

"I need sunshine and we're not supposed to get so I don't know if I can do it again tomorrow."

With two more successful days, Meyer will make his fourth-consecutive Forrest Wood Cup top 10.

Bird fifth
Cody Bird finished the day in fifth place overall during the opening stanza of Forrest Wood Cup competition.
Cody Bird led the PAA tournament on Lanier last year and he's not far off the pace at this year's Cup. The Granbury, Texas, pro caught a 14-pound, 11-ounce limit to finish day one in fifth.

"I'm fishing both shallow and deep," he said. "I'm basically junk-fishing. I weighed in three spots and two largemouths and I had a big one of each."

Bird said he caught his fish in as shallow as 2 feet of water and as deep as 18 feet. He's using topwaters (mainly a Spook) and drop-shotting a Kicker Fish Hightail Holeshot.

"I had some largemouth water that provided some key bites in practice. That's where I caught that 4-pounder. I culled a few late today and that really helped me too."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros at the Forrest Wood Cup after day one:

6th: Scott Martin of Clewiston, Fla., five bass, 14-9
7th: Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., five bass, 13-12
8th: David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., five bass, 13-11
9th: Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky., five bass, 13-1
10th: Luke Clausen of Spokane, Wash., five bass, 12-5

Tomorrow's takeoff is scheduled for 7 a.m. Eastern time from Laurel Park, located at 3100 Old Cleveland Highway in Gainesville, Ga.

Tags: brett-carlson  headline-story  2012-08-09-forrest-wood-cup-lake-lanier 

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