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


Wheeler Lake Top 5 Patterns Day 3

Todd Auten

While John Cox still leads the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart at Wheeler Lake going into the last day, the big news of day three was Todd Auten’s big limit of 17 pounds, 10 ounces, which took a huge bite out of Cox’s lead. Auten trails by only 9 ounces. Also, Auten’s weights have increased each day, while Cox’s weights have decreased.

Schooling fish and running shallow creeks continue to be the dominant patterns at Wheeler. Here is a closer look at the patterns of second through fifth.

Day 3 leader story


Todd Auten

2. Todd Auten – Lake Wylie, S.C. – 42-12

Three-time Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year Andy Morgan has often called Todd Auten the Tour’s most dangerous summertime shallow-water angler. And today, Auten proved why he has earned those accolades from Morgan while putting himself in prime position to make a run at the Cup title.

Auten says his remarkable day was made possible by a small wrinkle in the weather this morning.

“We had a special morning due to a small front that rolled through early,” he explains. “Instead of it dawning bright, still and hot like it has been, the day started with thunderstorms in the area, which brought dark overcast skies and wind, and I think that really turned the fish in my area on. They really went to biting for a few hours.”

Auten says he fished the same exact areas on day three as he did on day two. The best area only yielded 8 or 9 pounds of his 14-6 day-two limit. This morning, however, the big ones were chewing.

“I caught those fish in about three hours, and it’s like only the big ones were biting during that time,” he says. “I really think that weather got them going because once the sun came out it was over. It got really tough.”

Not surprisingly, Auten confirmed that he is fishing shallow in his primary area.

“There are a lot of laydowns and shoreline cover in the area,” he says. “And I’m just throwing traditional shallow-water lures to it – topwaters, ChatterBaits and jigs.”


Michael Neal

3. Michael Neal – Dayton, Tenn. – 37-14

Do you think you could Power-Pole down and fish one tiny area for nine hours straight?

That’s exactly what Michael Neal did today to catch 12 pounds to hold on to his third-place position at the Cup.

Neal is fishing schooling fish, and he has committed to one spot that is about 30 yards long where fish break the surface all day long feeding on shad. Essentially, he puts his poles in the ground and waits for fish to break.

“Sitting in one spot all day like that is the hardest thing I’ve done in fishing,” Neal says. “I had what I weighed in by about 10:30, so it seemed like the day lasted forever.”

Neal says that by babysitting the fish, he has learned a tremendous amount about their behavior.

“There are two different groups that come up to school,” he reveals. “There are the small ones, which school most of the time. But then, several times a day, there are schools of much bigger fish that start breaking. I’m talking 3- to 5-pounders. Today I saw 4-pound smallmouths shoot up out of the water 2 feet, like they’re hooked.”

Neal says the difference in the two grades of schooling fish is the bait they are eating.

“Those little fish are eating that little bait that you see all over the lake,” he says. “But those big ones are chasing big shad. You can see those bigger shad being chased when the big ones are after them.”

Neal believes that the big fish lurk under all the small-fish activity, waiting for schools of bigger shad to swim by.


Bryan Thrift

4. Bryan Thrift – Shelby, N.C. – 37-13

If you want to know where Bryan Thrift is fishing this week, draw a line from Ditto Landing to the Wheeler Dam. He’s fishing everywhere in between – about 50 miles of water.

Thrift has been on the move all week, hitting 25 to 30 places per day. His stops include community holes, springs, docks, brush piles and backs of creeks. He has used a bevy of lures, including topwaters, jigs, swimbaits and shaky heads.

“I’m not looking for schools or groups of fish,” Thrift says. “I’m just looking for stuff that a fish will use for cover, and I hope to get a lure to one while it’s there. I want to throw at objects and places where a fish might set up. And the more of those I can hit in a day, the better my chances of catching them.”


Jacob Wheeler

5. Jacob Wheeler – Indianapolis, Ind. – 37-3

Wheeler has been running the back ends of creeks, hitting between four and five creek ends per day. Those who followed Wheeler for media coverage today know firsthand how hard he is to keep up with as he burns over creek flats and bars on plane to save valuable time. And while some might regard this behavior as careless, Wheeler insists that he knows exactly where he is going and how to traverse the areas safely on plane as he has idled many of them in practice.

“Time is money in this game,” Wheeler says. “If I spent the time it takes to idle into those places, I’d lose two or three hours of fishing time per day. I’ve been in all those places before, and I have marked the safe routes in and out. Yes, I might ding up a prop, but I’m not going to destroy that Evinrude. It can handle it. I carry two spare props with me at all times, so I’m prepared to put a new one on if needed. Getting in and out of those places quickly is just part of fishing that way.”


Complete results


Top 10 Pros

1. John Cox – DeBary, Fla. – 43-5

2. Todd Auten – Lake Wylie, S.C. – 42-12

3. Michael Neal – Dayton, Tenn. – 37-14

4. Bryan Thrift – Shelby, N.C. – 37-13

5. Jacob Wheeler – Indianapolis, Ind. – 37-3

6. Mark Rose – West Memphis, Ark. – 36-9

7. Brandon Cobb – Greenwood, S.C. – 35-9

8. Joseph Webster – Fulton, Miss. – 34.13

9. Chris Johnston – Peterborough, Ontario – 34-3

10. Jeremy Lawyer – Sarcoxie, Mo. – 32-15

Complete results


Day 1 Stats

Total limits: 17

Average bag: 10 pounds, 5 ounces

Average number of fish: 4

Total catch weight: 207 pounds, 6 ounces

Total number of fish: 95


Tournament Details

Forrest Wood Cup Takeoff Show: 6:30 a.m. CT at Ditto Landing, 293 Ditto Landing Road, Huntsville, Ala.

Takeoff: 7 a.m. CT at Ditto Landing

Weigh-in: 5 p.m. CT at Von Braun Center (Propst Arena), 700 Monroe Street SW, Huntsville, Ala.

FLW Expo: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4:40 p.m., at the Von Braun Center – More info: Seminars and Celebrities and Giveaways and Contests

Format: All 50 pros fish Thursday and Friday. The top 20 pros based on two-day cumulative weight make the cut to fish on Saturday. The top 10 anglers based on three-day cumulative weight make the cut to fish on Sunday. The winner is the angler with the heaviest four-day cumulative weight.

Tags: john-cox  forrest-wood-cup  wheeler-lake  todd-auten  rob-newell  headline-story  2016-08-04-forrest-wood-cup 


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