UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Living the Dream: Wheeler Lake, Part 2

Living the Dream: Wheeler Lake, Part 2
TBF Living The Dream winner Dave Andrews shows off his catch at Lake Okeechobee.

-------------------------------------
Editor's note: This is the second piece in a series of journal entries from Dave Andrews, winner of the 2007 TBF National Championship, detailing his second stop on the 2008 FLW Series Eastern schedule. Entries will be published at FLWOutdoors.com throughout the course of the season. As winner of the "Living the Dream" package, offered by FLW Outdoors through The Bass Federation, Andrews had his entry fees paid to test his club skills on the pro tour with the use of a fully wrapped boat and tow package. Andrews will chronicle his adventure in pro bass fishing, having most recently competed on Alabama's Wheeler Lake. After Andrews has submitted his journal following each FLW Series event, segments will be posted approximately weekly. (Read Part 1) (Read his Okeechobee journal; this links to the final entry, which provides links at the top for each preceding part)
-------------------------------------


Wal-Mart FLW Series BP Eastern Division
Stop No. 2: Wheeler Lake
March 26-29, 2008


Official practice: Day one

I flew out of Boston on Thursday afternoon, March 20, and arrived in Huntsville, Ala., early in the evening. I had a buddy, Glenn Chappelear, pick me up at the airport and bring me to the hotel we were staying at for the week in Decatur. My friend Chris Gist delivered my boat and truck to me later that evening.

I've met so many fine people since winning the TBF National Championship and embarking on the "Living the Dream" year, it really is amazing and one of the best parts of this very special experience. I got my equipment squared away and enjoyed a fish fry that evening with a bunch of the anglers staying at my home for the next week, the Hometown Suites.

Friday morning was the first official practice day, and I planned to fish by myself. I launched the boat at Ingalls Harbor in Decatur. Ingalls Harbor is the tournament headquarters and launch site: What a beautiful facility! There is a 10-lane launch ramp and parking for literally hundreds of trailers. It is easily the best tournament facility I have ever seen. Back home in New England, we feel fortunate to pay $20 for a broken-down ramp to launch our boats, and the biggest lake in New Hampshire (Lake Winnipesaukee) doesn't have a viable public facility to even have a small tournament on.

When I was home in Massachusetts following my prepractice, I swung by Northern Bass Supply in Brentwood, N.H., and picked up a bunch of fresh Rat-L-Traps. I also bought a couple of Daiwa TD Zillion (100 SHA) bait-casting reels. These reels feature a smooth drag system as well as a 7:1 gear ratio and should be perfect for Trap fishing. I spooled them with 14 Gamma Copolymer and outfitted them with a 7-foot medium-heavy rod.

The morning was cool but sunny and would eventually warm into the mid-60s. Lake temperatures had risen to about 60 degrees on the main lake and warmer in the backwaters. I drove several miles south toward the bluffs where I had found fish in prepractice. I was obviously anxious to see if the fish were still there or had moved toward the creeks in preparation for the spawn. I started on one of my better sections of bluffs and was pleased to see no other boats in sight. I worked a Trap down the shoreline and soon had a nice keeper smallmouth in the boat. The bite was slow until the sun got high enough and some wind got on the bank.

This solid largemouth, caught by Dave Andrews, fell for a Gambler Flappy Daddy pitched up tight along a rock bluff.Suddenly the bite got hot, and I whacked several nice fish on the chartreuse Rat-L-Trap. After a couple hours going down the bluffs, I was satisfied that the fish were still right where I left them, and I figured I didn't need to hook any more.

I ran south a little way and went up the Elk River. I spent about four hours there, noticing the water was cooler and had much more color than the main lake. I flipped a black Gambler worm and also a 1/2-ounce black-blue jig around wood and rock cover and boated a couple of small keepers.

I ran out of there and headed to Spring Creek, which was close to the dam. There were dozens of boats in Spring Creek, and I picked a small cove and cranked the first breakline without success. I saw a small pond that wasn't accessible during my prepractice trip and worked my way in through the narrow entrance into the pond. The water was stagnant and muddy in here, but had warmed to 68 degrees. The only signs of life back in the pond were big gar that were cruising the sun-warmed shallows.

The afternoon turned into evening as I abandoned Spring Creek and began working my way back north toward Decatur. I was hoping to get a jerkbait bite going as it appeared conditions were perfect for it, so I committed the rest of the day to working a Lucky Craft Pointer 78 in chartreuse-shad along the points and cutbacks of the main lake. The evening bite was slow, but I did pick up two 4-pound bass on the jerkbait before loading my boat just before dark. I wound up with 14 or 15 keepers, and the best five would have gone about 15 pounds.

Official practice: Day two

My longtime tournament partner Scott Leppanen had flown in from Boston and would join me for the remainder of the practice period. Scott was fishing the co-angler side of the event. We decided to trailer down to Spring Creek and launch there and check out the creeks south of where I wound up the day before.

The parking lot was full of tournament trailers when we arrived. There were a couple of local tournaments on this part of the lake, and combined with the 200-boat FLW field and the fact that it was One of the other competitors works the stump rows of the famous Decatur Flats.a warm Saturday, the boat traffic was nearly unbearable. We figured there were easily 350 boats on the southern end of Wheeler Lake this day. This really hampered what we could do, as we literally had to wait in line to fish a point or pocket. We fit in where we could and spent a lot of our time in little, out-of-the-way main-lake pockets trying to find unpressured fish. The day was pretty uneventful, as we would occasionally bump into a keeper on the Giggy Head worm or crankbait. The biggest fish of the day, a nice 3 1/2-pound largemouth, grabbed a green-pumpkin Gambler Flappy Daddy pitched up tight to a rock bluff.

Being from the northern part of the country and used to clear natural lakes, I really liked the water clarity close to the dam. The creeks offered 3 to 4 feet of visibility in some places, and I felt comfortable here. But having learned from Lake Okeechobee, I anticipated that they would be very popular come tournament time, and I really prefer not to have to fish in a crowd. The water temperatures ranged from 61 to 64 degrees, and I thought I would see fish cruising the shallows looking to spawn, but I never saw any fish along the bank. Considering the pounding that this area was taking, I decided I likely would not fish the tournament down here and would concentrate the remaining two days of practice closer to Decatur. The total score for the day was only six or seven keepers between us.


-------------------------------------
Editor's note: Stay tuned for Part 3 of Andrews' adventure on Wheeler Lake, in which he'll write about the second half of his official practice period.
-------------------------------------

Tags: dave-andrews  article 

Make a Tiny Swimbait Your Winter Go-To

Make a Tiny Swimbait Your Winter Go-To

Wintertime and late fall fishing can be super fun, especially up north, when smallmouths are often fat and fairly grouped up. However, it’s not the time of year when you want a ton of rods on deck, and having a confidence bait or two is a must. For Casey Smith, the go-to winter weapon is super simple: a little bitty swimbait on a jighead. READ MORE »

2019 BFL AOY Winners

2019 BFL AOY Winners

The T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) has long been one of the hardest-fought grassroots tournament circuits and the breeding ground for future pros and local legends. With five tournaments in each division, anglers have to contend against the best in their local area, often fishing against full-time guides or local anglers with dozens of tournament wins to their name on a given body of water. As such, winning the season-long Angler of the Year title in one of the 24 divisions is a monumental feat, something that only a couple BFL anglers have done more than a few times. READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Jeremy Lawyer

Check-in Time: Jeremy Lawyer

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with Missouri pro Jeremy Lawyer.  READ MORE »

Adrian College Wins School of the Year

Adrian College Wins School of the Year

The bass-fishing club at Adrian College is the best in the country, capping off the 2019 YETI FLW College Fishing season in first place overall with 2,350 points, and earning the team the title of 2019 YETI FLW College Fishing National School of the Year.  READ MORE »

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 4 Airs Wednesday

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 4 Airs Wednesday

Join FLW for a watch party for the premiere of Episode 4 of Rapala Varsity Bass presented by General Tire. The episode will air Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. CT. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Costa FLW Series Championship

FLW Live Schedule for Costa FLW Series Championship

FLW Live is back for the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland in Burnside, Ky. The event will feature daily weigh-in broadcasts, as well as the full FLW Live studio broadcast, with live feeds from top anglers' boats, on the final two days. READ MORE »

2020 FLW Series Schedule and Details

2020 FLW Series Schedule and Details

Major League Fishing (MLF) and Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) recently announced the expanded 2020 FLW Series details, schedules, rules, entry fees and payouts. READ MORE »

2020 T-H Marine BFL Schedules and Details

2020 T-H Marine BFL Schedules and Details

Major League Fishing (MLF) and Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) recently announced the 202 BFL details, schedules, rules, entry fees and payouts. READ MORE »

2020 FLW Series and BFL Details

2020 FLW Series and BFL Details

Major League Fishing (MLF) and Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) announced today the expanded 2020 FLW Series and T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) details, schedules, rules, entry fees and payouts, highlighted by lower entry fees in both circuits and an expanded FLW Series schedule, along with upping the FLW Series Championship payout to $200,000 for first place and adding a $10,000 bonus for the highest-finishing pro from each of the eight U.S. FLW Series divisions and the International Division. READ MORE »

Ebare Eyes Strong Finish

Ebare Eyes Strong Finish

Ebare loves to fish. A lot. And he’s fished in 20 FLW events so far in 2019. His 21st will be the Costa FLW Series Championship at Lake Cumberland at the end of October, at which he hopes to earn his first win in FLW competition. READ MORE »

Floyd Cashes in on Guntersville

Floyd Cashes in on Guntersville

Last weekend, Floyd added to his already lengthy list of accomplishments with a T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Regional victory on Lake Guntersville – the tournament was presented by Mercury – with a 44-pound, 15-ounce three-day total, and it all came down to consistency and some really good decision-making. READ MORE »

B. Lat, MDJ Win Pan Am

B. Lat, MDJ Win Pan Am

Brian Latimer and Mark Daniels Jr. are best friends off the water, and it looks like they’ve got the makings of a deadly team on the water. Weighing five smallmouths for 21.16 pounds in the first session and 23.92 pounds in the second session, the pair totaled 45.08 pounds to win the individual competition in the Pan American Bass Championship on Lake St. Francis. READ MORE »

Canada Wins Gold at Pan Am

Canada Wins Gold at Pan Am

Though Team USA locked up the top three places, Team Canada placed six teams in the top 10 and averaged 38.98 pounds to win the Pan American Bass Championship on Lake St. Francis. Results were tallied based on the average weight brought in by each team in the two sessions of fishing, which almost guaranteed an extremely close finish. Earning a silver medal, Team USA finished just a hundredth of a pound back with a 38.97 average. READ MORE »

Canada Leads at Pan Am

Canada Leads at Pan Am

The first session of competition in the Pan American Bass Championship on Lake St. Francis was a roaring success. After the morning weigh-in, Team Canada is leading with an average of 21.16 pounds, Team USA is in second with a 19.6 average, Team Akwesasne First Nation is in third with 18.62 and Mexico had an up and down morning to accrue a 17.24-pound average. READ MORE »

Do you need a generator for bass fishing?

Do you need a generator for bass fishing?

Austin Felix has been running a generator for a few years now, and his primary use is during the spring in the North, when he’s spending mega-days on the water practicing for tournaments that feature bedding smallmouths. READ MORE »

Day 1 Delayed at Pan Am

Day 1 Delayed at Pan Am

Because of steady rain and hard winds at around 20 mph or more, day one of the Pan American Bass Championship has been canceled. With gusts up to 40 mph in the forecast, the organizers have decided to fish two sessions on Friday instead. READ MORE »

Pan Am Gets Underway in Canada

Pan Am Gets Underway in Canada

With the official training day in the rearview, the Pan American Bass Championship starts Thursday, Oct. 16, on Lake St. Francis in Cornwall, Ontario. Teams from Mexico, the Akwesasne First Nation, Canada and the United States will be competing the next two days for glory and country, but also to help along the movement to make bass fishing an Olympic sport. READ MORE »

How to Find Big-Water Smallmouth in Fall

How to Find Big-Water Smallmouth in Fall

The key to finding smallmouth bass on big water in the fall is to know where they’re coming from and where they’re heading, then connecting the dots in between. Swimbaits, blade baits, ChatterBaits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, drop-shots and Ned rigs all put bass in the boat. READ MORE »

Morris Locks up Central Division AOY

Morris Locks up Central Division AOY

It’s not often an angler wins a Strike King Angler of the Year title in a Costa FLW Series division by chance, and while skill is what carried Jake Morris to his first Costa AOY title, chance definitely brought him to the opportunity. READ MORE »

Umbrella Rigs for Great Lakes Smallies   

Umbrella Rigs for Great Lakes Smallies   

The days of catching seemingly infinite bass on an umbrella rig are mostly gone, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't fish with one. The rig is a great tool for catching fall smallmouth bass on the big waters of the Great Lakes and elsewhere up north. READ MORE »