UPCOMING EVENT: YETI College Fishing - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir


Watch the Ledges and the Banks at Wheeler

The Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division finale is slated for Wheeler Lake on May 12-14 and will be a fitting end to the Strike King Angler of the Year race as the 70-plus-mile-long lake should offer plenty of options. Stretching along the Tennessee River from the Guntersville Dam down past Decatur, Ala., to it’s own dam, Wheeler is home to big smallmouths and largemouths and plenty of shallow cover and deep structure.


Covering every base

Luke Dunkin is a rookie on the Walmart FLW Tour, but he’s got a wealth of experience on Wheeler. Unfortunately, he’s not able to fish this event – he says he’s eaten up about it too – but that makes him a great source for everything Wheeler.

“I think you’re going to be heading into primarily a postspawn bite,” says Dunkin. “There will still be a few on the beds, but with the way the weather is this year, the majority will be getting done. There will be a lot of fry guarders around, and it could easily be won out offshore or on a shad spawn pattern.”

Dunkin was also cautiously optimistic about the ability for the tailrace below the Guntersville Dam to produce winning bags.

“A lot of the fish in that part of the world will have already spawned, and they should be eating,” he says. “That tailrace is small, and there are only so many spots. But it could be a player, especially for smallmouths.”

Despite the myriad options, Dunkin figures that zeroing in on the midsection and lower parts of the lake and keeping an open mind might be the best strategy.

“For me, I feel like the Decatur area is the place. Flipping bushes there is always a bite to watch depending on the water level, and the offshore bite from Decatur all the way down to the dam will be a factor as well,” he says.

Despite not having milfoil and hydrilla like in years past, there is still plenty of shallow cover to fish. From shoreline grass to pads, bushes, laydowns and docks, the options up tight are plenty diverse. On the offshore side of things, Dunkin says that during the summer there’s no such thing as fishing too deep at Wheeler, but this time of year the shallower ledges and structure less than 20 feet deep and even in the creeks are likely to be the prime spots.


Baits to watch

From standard ledge-fishing baits to shallow stuff, a little bit of everything should be in the boat for pros and co-anglers alike.

Zoom Swimmer – “You better not be on the Tennessee River without a swimbait,” says Dunkin.

Strike King 6XD – Dunkin’s second deep option is a standard crankbait in tackle boxes across the country.

3/4-ounce Dirty Jigs Tour Level Football Jig – The final of Dunkin’s deep baits, a big football jig should be on hand for offshore fish.

Dirty Jigs Swim Jig – For running through pad stems or to chuck around spawning shad, a white swim jig is a Tennessee River killer.

Zoom Z-Hog – If the water is up and the bushes are in play you can’t beat a flipping bait. For Dunkin, a Z-Hog gets the call.


Tournament Details

Format: All boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 6 a.m. CT

Takeoff Location: Joe Wheeler State Park, 4601 McLean Drive, Rogersville, AL 35652

Weigh-In Time: 2 p.m. all three days

Weigh-In Location: Joe Wheeler State Park


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Tags: wheeler-lake  jody-white  pre-tournament  2016-05-12-wheeler-lake 


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