Live now : PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE 2020 Indian

3 Keys To The Next Cup

3 Keys To The Next Cup
Wheeler Lake

It’s almost always too early to preview a fishing tournament. Even this year at the Forrest Wood Cup, Brad Knight probably wouldn’t have told you that he knew the winning spot on Lake Ouachita once practice was over. Fishing is just too hard to predict.

Nonetheless, Huntsville, Ala., and Wheeler Lake will host the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup next August, and someone will earn the biggest payday in fishing. With everything that’s at stake, it makes sense to get some background on the lake and run through some of the possible patterns.

 

Wheeler Lake Details

Type – Tennessee River impoundment

Size – 60 miles; 67,100 acres

Cover/structure – offshore ledges and brush, shallow wood, creeks, flats and current

Species present – largemouth, smallmouth and Northern spotted bass

Primary forage – shad

 

1. Fish shallow

Day one leader George Kapiton lands a keeper. His 18 pound limit on day one virtually guaranteed that he would fish day three.

Though Wheeler Lake is situated just downstream of Guntersville and only Wilson Lake separates Wheeler from famed Pickwick and Kentucky lakes, we aren’t fated to see a ledge-fest like the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour stops on Pickwick and Kentucky will certainly provide. Both 2014 FLW Tour Rookie of the Year Jason Lambert and local FLW Tour co-angler Luke Dunkin say that the shallow bite might be a key player.

“As early as it is going to be [Aug. 4-7], I would say the ledge bite will still be a factor, and with where we are putting in [Ditto Landing at the upper end] a bunch of guys will go to the tailrace at the dam and that will be a factor,” explains Lambert, 2016 host of The Bass Dr. “But there will be a lot of shallow water in play. I would say half of the top 10 will be fishing shallow – like 3 feet or less shallow.”

“I 100 percent think it could be won shallow,” adds Dunkin, who also predicts that the shallow-water anglers will outweigh pros fishing brush and ledges in the top 10. “Wheeler fishes shallow 70 percent of the year. There will be a lot of pressure on the deep stuff, and it gets really hard to catch them in August. You’ll get a huge migration of this year’s shad fry in August and the fall, and it will become a shallow deal.”

 

2. Catch more than largemouths

There is no question that Randy Haynes will be one to beat at the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on Wheeler Lake. The TVA master weighed 17-10 on day one and is 8 ounces off the lead.

Besides the chance for a really strong shallow pattern, one of Wheeler’s other oddities is a very healthy population of smallmouths that could tempt and challenge the field. How much smallies will factor in is a debate we won’t settle until next summer.

“There are some random schooling smallmouths that exist that time of year, and somebody could catch a few,” muses Dunkin. “Wheeler’s smallmouths are like ghosts for me. It has a ton of big ones – I mean, it has a bunch over 5 pounds – but they are hard to count on.”

“I wouldn’t say anyone will have a smallmouth-specific pattern, but it will be a mixed bag for sure,” adds Lambert. “They play a much bigger role on that lake than on Pickwick and Kentucky. I would venture to say that whoever wins that tournament will weigh 60 percent smallmouths. I think he might have three solid smallmouths with a couple of big largemouths every day.”

While Dunkin doesn’t believe smallmouths will be a key player in the win, he does think spotted bass could be a player. Guntersville has some pretty big spotted bass just upstream, and he says they aren’t uncommon below the dam and down to the Highway 65 Bridge in the upper reaches of Wheeler.

 

3. Fish it like a river

The tailwaters at the base of the Guntersville Dam and the true river portion of Wheeler Lake around Ditto Landing, collectively, figures to be a popular area even though it isn’t the place to be historically.

“Going out of the river, it’s going to be a run to get down to some of the other areas in the lake,” explains Dunkin. “That run is a huge X factor in this deal. If we get wind, it could turn that into a nightmare. For locals, the end of the lake near Ditto Landing is almost not considered part of Wheeler Lake.

“I think you’ll see a pretty equal split of where guys in the top 20 are fishing, but I think it could be won in the river,” he adds. “There are a ton of bass up there. I think that a lot of people will spend time practicing up there and realize that the fishing is really good. There are backwaters, creeks and the main river. I wouldn’t be surprised if half the top 20 fished above the 65 bridge. When the fishing is tough, time is such a big deal. If it’s a grind, I’d take my chances up the river.”

Four or five years ago, the story on Wheeler would have been the big grass flats around Decatur, but due to their disappearance that is no longer the case. While there will be some offshore fish and brush piles to tap, this might shape up a bit like the most recent Cup on Ouachita (perhaps a reason why Brad Knight likes his chances), where a shallow pattern or area wins out. With both Lambert and Dunkin projecting a winning weight somewhere between 50 and 60 pounds, we could be in for another very interesting and very tight Forrest Wood Cup.

 

More details

Official location announcement

Details page

Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Tags: wheeler-lake  jody-white  pre-tournament  2016-08-04-forrest-wood-cup 

Lake Eufaula Midday Update – Day 2

Lake Eufaula Midday Update – Day 2

Fishing is good, but it’s not easy today at Lake Eufaula on the second day of the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event. Well, that’s only part of the story. READ MORE »

Illini Division Ready to Roll

Illini Division Ready to Roll

Competition in the Illini Division of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine will kick off at Lake Shelbyville on June 20. With some prespawn, spawn and postspawn fish to be found across the lake, local BFL standout Michael Black believes this should be a solid derby. READ MORE »

Big Bags Expected at Eufaula

Big Bags Expected at Eufaula

Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine competition in the Bulldog Division picks up again with a weekend doubleheader June 20 and 21. READ MORE »

The Top 5 Limits of All Time

The Top 5 Limits of All Time

Catching 25 pounds in a single tournament day is a pretty rare feat, and catching five bass for 30 pounds in a tournament has been done fewer than 200 times in FLW history. Knowing just how special those giant limits are, we decided to dig into some of the top bags from years past. READ MORE »

College Fishing Returns June 14

College Fishing Returns June 14

As the tournament season begins to ramp back up across the FLW tournament platforms, Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI is also getting ready to get back in the swing of things come June 14 on Smith Mountain Lake. READ MORE »

Mixed Bags will Play at Neely Henry

Mixed Bags will Play at Neely Henry

Winding north to south on the Coosa River in Alabama, Neely Henry Lake is one of a number of Alabama impoundments famous for feisty spotted bass that love the current. Neely also has largemouths, and depending on where you’re at in the lake and river, there is plenty of grass and wood to fish. READ MORE »

Great Lakes Division Fires Up on Wolf River Chain

Great Lakes Division Fires Up on Wolf River Chain

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Great Lakes Division is preparing to get underway on June 13 on the Wolf River Chain of Lakes, and it promises to be a derby predicated on catching good numbers any number of ways. READ MORE »

Angler’s Delight at Eufaula

Angler’s Delight at Eufaula

Kicking off the Southeastern Division of the Toyota Series on Lake Eufaula should be quite the show. Early June at Eufaula offers anglers the chance to catch bass any way they like, from shallow to deep. With as many 4- and 5-pounders as this Chattahoochee River impoundment holds, there should be plenty of fireworks to watch. READ MORE »

Summertime Patterns Taking Over at Dardanelle

Summertime Patterns Taking Over at Dardanelle

Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine competition is returning to Arkansas when the Arkie Division picks up competition with a weekend doubleheader June 13 and 14. READ MORE »

6 Super Tournament Story Lines

6 Super Tournament Story Lines

The expanded field list for the new Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournaments brings with it some very fun matchups and the potential for some record chases to reignite. Because many of the newly added Major League Fishing anglers have had longer careers than those at the top of the Pro Circuit, they’re in a unique position to chase down some records that otherwise may not have been touched this year. In other cases, it’s simply going to be a pleasure to watch the best of the best duel on some epic bodies of water. READ MORE »

Pickwick Will Produce in a Big Way

Pickwick Will Produce in a Big Way

The second stop of the Toyota Series Central Division ought to be a really good one. Set for Pickwick Lake in late May, the offshore bite ought to be in full swing, with plenty of shallow fish as well. READ MORE »

Anglers React to Super Tournaments

Anglers React to Super Tournaments

When the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit season picks back up, it will be with a new schedule, some new anglers and a lot more money in the pot than originally planned. READ MORE »

Pros’ Favorite Baits for May

Pros’ Favorite Baits for May

Across the country, May is a great time for fishing, with tons of bass in and around the spawn and a lot of baitfish species spawning as well. With warming water, it’s a great chance to throw a topwater for the first time, or really to do just about whatever you want in some parts of the country. READ MORE »

How to Make a Buzzbait Squeak

How to Make a Buzzbait Squeak

One of the key aspects of buzzbait fishing is the sound, and Bradley Dortch modifies his with a file and some pliers to get the most squeak he can. READ MORE »

Throw Bigger Swimbaits in Tournaments

Throw Bigger Swimbaits in Tournaments

Fitting larger swimbaits into a tournament arsenal is a goal that a lot of anglers never hit. Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Kurt Mitchell has gotten it done, and actually earned a lot of money with some of the more specialized and larger swimbaits over the past few years. READ MORE »

Bryan Thrift’s Greatest Hits

Bryan Thrift’s Greatest Hits

Thrift had a superlative career while climbing the ranks in FLW and competing on the FLW Tour. With more than $3 million in earnings in basically 15 years, Thrift has been on the leading edge of the technical side of fishing and an overpowering competitor since the start. READ MORE »

The Ultimate Clear Water Jerkbait Mod

The Ultimate Clear Water Jerkbait Mod

Schooled on tough Western fisheries with clear water and smart bass, Wade Strelic knows a thing or two about getting the most out of baits. One of his favorite modifications for super-clear water is to add a strip of holographic tape to each side of his jerkbaits. READ MORE »

Review: Berkley Frittside

Review: Berkley Frittside

Berkley’s take on a flat-side crankbait is the Frittside, a plastic bait that is designed to have the same action and attraction as balsa baits. Designed in part by David Fritts, who is one of the best crankbait anglers of all time, it seems to be a good bait at a good price. READ MORE »

Swimbait Experiments in Florida

Swimbait Experiments in Florida

In his time guiding in Florida, Brent Anderson has learned a lot. From adding standard Florida techniques to his arsenal to adapting his topwater program to the Sunshine State’s bass, he’s intentionally broadened his horizons a fair bit. Picking up big swimbaits was a bit of an accident. READ MORE »

Review: Outkast Tackle Perfect Ned Head

Review: Outkast Tackle Perfect Ned Head

There are a ton of different Ned heads on the market now, many of which are quite good. The Outkast Tackle Perfect Ned Head was designed by Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit angler Josh Douglas, and having used it pretty extensively this spring, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. READ MORE »