WHEELER CONTINUES TO LEAD ON CHICKAMAUGA
Story by Matt Pangrac – Photos by Dave Rush
Dayton, TN – After Jacob Wheeler opened up a lead of over 7-pounds on Day Two of BASSFest on Tennessee’s Lake Chickamauga, it appeared as though the 23-year-old was on cruise control. Wheeler stated that he was fishing in a comfort zone and had identified the correct rotation to effectively mine inconspicuous offshore haunts for Chickamauga giants.
While Wheeler’s pattern didn’t completely crumble on Saturday, he certainly didn’t find anything to solidify his spot atop the leader board. Wheeler came to the scales with just for bass weighing a respectable 16-2 to push his total weight to 68-5. Wheeler will carry a slim lead of 1 pound, 1 ounce into Sunday’s finale.
Matt Herren jumped into the mix on Saturday by bringing his third consecutive limit of Chickamauga bass weighing at least 21-pounds to the scales. With 23-6 on the day, the Alabama pro put himself in 2nd place with 67-4 and is in prime position to battle for the title on the last day.
Like the leader Wheeler, Kevin VanDam found keepers hard to come by on Saturday. VanDam fell one fish short of a limit, weighing-in four keepers to the tune of 15-13 to slip to 3rd place with a total weight of 61-4.
Greg Hackney finished in 4th place with 13-10 on the day and a total weight of 58-7, and Terry Scroggins rounded out the Top 5 with 56-4.
2006 Bassmaster Classic champion, Luke Clausen, was the last man inside the Top 12 cut to fish on Sunday. Clausen crossed the stage with a 20-4 limit to boost his total weight to 52-6.
After making the most of the Second Chance Qualifier on Nickajack Lake yesterday by finishing in the Top 10 and earning the right to rejoin the Top 50 anglers on Chickamauga on Saturday, Tracy Adams made a monumental leap of the leader board with the heaviest limit of the day weighing 27-9. Adams finished the tournament 17th place.
In total, seven out of the 60 remaining anglers weighed-in at least 20-pounds on Saturday.
Tournament: Bassmaster Elite Series - BASSfest
Location: Lake Chickamauga – Dayton, Tennessee
Day Three Leader: Jacob Wheeler (22-6, 29-13, 16-2: 68-5)
12th Place: Luke Clausen (52-6)
Total weight separating 1st from 12th Place: 15-15
1st Place: Jacob Wheeler (22-6, 29-13, 16-2: 68-5)
Wheeler on Saturday on Chickamauga:
“I mixed up my rotation today and I tried to save some stuff. It’s a big thing to have a limit in the boat, so thinking back maybe I should have started on the place that I’ve been starting on every day. But tomorrow I could go out there and catch 16-, 17-, or 18-pounds and be right where I need to be and go catch two big ones and win this thing.
“I had 30 spectator boats following me today, and you had to be really careful about what you fished and what you didn’t. You had to save something, because a lot of people would come behind me and graph and fish. You had to be careful what you fished today. I never went to that place and it’s a morning place, so I hope that I can catch them tomorrow morning. Tomorrow, everything is on the table and you have to go after it.
“I also saved a lot of shallow water, too. A lot of dock stretches and brush piles. I really didn’t run much of that stuff today.”
Wheeler on how the clear conditions affected his bite:
“I think that the boat traffic affected (my bite) more than anything else today. There were boats all over the place and running over places. There were 30 boats watching me and there were ski boats running over the places that I wanted to fish. We had a lot of current, and I really thought that the fish would set up. I went to a lot of places where I knew good schools were, and I never did catch them or see them there. That sort of puzzled me a little bit.”
2nd Place: Matt Herren (22-7, 21-7, 23-6: 67-4)
Herren on his overall day on Chickamauga:
“I had a phenomenal day. I think that I caught 12 keepers and they were all really quality fish and I got dialed in on a pattern. If that pattern will hold – look out. I’ve had three offshore areas to myself, and I have a couple of shallow areas that I’m fishing in the morning. It’s just a matter of timing and trying to be there when they (the fish) are there.
“Today, I caught three deep and two shallow. I actually figured that all five of my fish would come deep. It just worked out to where they were the right size and when I caught my three deep fish, I quit (fishing) and I ran around and practiced when I had 23-pounds. I don’t have but a couple really good schools, so I just decided to leave them alone at around 12:00.”
Herren on the importance of the morning bite:
“There’s a willow fly hatch going on in the mornings, and my shallow bite is kind of keying around the willow fly hatch. I really dialed in on that bite this morning, and I actually lost one that was around 5- or 6-pounds, so we’ll just have to see what tomorrow holds.”
3rd Place: Kevin VanDam (22-9, 22-14, 15-13: 61-4)
VanDam on his overall day on Chickamauga:
“It would have been nice to have five, but I just kept saying that I was going to hit one spot and catch a couple of big ones and have another big day. I lived with that to the bitter end and, you know, it’s disappointing.
“I covered a ton of water and left my (primary) area pretty early this morning because it wasn’t happening for me at all. I had a lot of places that I wanted to look at where I hadn’t been at all. It’s a public lake and there was a lot of traffic out there today. With tomorrow being Sunday, hopefully everyone will go to church and that will open up the lake for us.”
VanDam on sharing water over the course of the tournament and how the areas are affected by the pressure:
“I’m sure that it doesn’t help. There were 75 boats watching us today, but they were really good. That spot gets run over (by boats) all the time, so I don’t really think it mattered that much. When I ran down lake and showed up, there were 40 to 50 boats sitting outside the channel waiting for us to get there and there wasn’t a single one of them fishing. They were out away from the spot and super courteous.”
VanDam on his game plan for Sunday:
“I’ve got a lot of places to be able to run tomorrow. With only 12 guys out there, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be able to fish a lot more places. I’ll start in the same spot in the morning, but the other places are all unique in their own way but they’re all drops. There are a lot of ledges out there, and the bass just sit on really small areas of them. You have to fish to find them, and once you can catch one, there’s a good chance that they’ll use that same spot again.”
DAY THREE STANDINGS
|Place||Name||Day 1||Day 2||Day 3||Total Fish||Total Weight|
|1||Jacob Wheeler||5||22- 6||5||29-13||4||16- 2||14||68- 5|
|2||Matthew Herren||5||22- 7||5||21- 7||5||23- 6||15||67- 4|
|3||Kevin VanDam||5||22- 9||5||22-14||4||15-13||14||61- 4|
|4||Greg Hackney||5||20- 5||5||24- 8||5||13-10||15||58- 7|
|5||Terry Scroggins||5||19- 7||5||17-11||5||19- 2||15||56- 4|
|6||Gerald Swindle||5||15- 5||5||22-11||5||17-11||15||55-11|
|7||Casey Ashley||5||16- 1||5||17- 7||5||21- 3||15||54-11|
|8||Brett Hite||5||19- 2||5||18-15||5||16- 4||15||54- 5|
|9||Russ Lane||5||14- 3||5||20-14||5||18-10||15||53-11|
|10||Jason Williamson||5||21- 3||5||17-10||5||14- 8||15||53- 5|
|11||Hank Cherry||5||13-13||5||21- 0||5||18- 5||15||53- 2|
|12||Luke Clausen||5||15- 8||5||16-10||5||20- 4||15||52- 6|
|13||Fred Roumbanis||5||20- 0||5||16-10||5||14-14||15||51- 8|
|14||Randall Tharp||5||17- 1||5||14- 3||5||20- 2||15||51- 6|
|15||Cliff Pirch||5||16- 2||5||16- 5||5||18- 1||15||50- 8|
|16||Davy Hite||5||21- 8||4||8- 9||5||20- 1||14||50- 2|
|17||Tracy Adams||5||16- 4||2||4-11||5||27- 9||12||48- 8|
|18||Stephen Mui||5||16- 1||5||14-14||5||17- 5||15||48- 4|
|19||Takahiro Omori||5||22-15||5||20- 2||4||4-15||14||48- 0|
|20||Brandon Card||5||14-13||5||18- 7||5||14- 7||15||47-11|
|21||James Niggemeyer||5||15-15||5||15-14||5||15- 6||15||47- 3|
|22||Boyd Duckett||5||16- 0||5||21- 3||5||9-11||15||46-14|
|23||John Crews||5||18-14||5||19- 7||3||7- 5||13||45-10|
|24||Nate Wellman||5||15- 3||5||15-10||4||14-10||14||45- 7|
|25||Jason Christie||5||22- 5||5||14- 1||3||8-15||13||45- 5|
|26||Andy Montgomery||5||11- 6||5||17- 0||5||15-13||15||44- 3|
|27||Bill Lowen||5||13-11||5||16- 9||5||13-15||15||44- 3|
|28||Justin Lucas||5||10-12||5||25- 5||4||7-10||14||43-11|
|29||Mike Kernan||5||16-13||3||5-14||5||21- 0||13||43-11|
|30||Tommy Biffle||5||24- 1||5||12- 0||3||7- 9||13||43-10|
|31||Jacob Powroznik||5||15- 0||5||14-11||5||13-15||15||43-10|
|32||Britt Myers||5||19- 1||5||11- 9||5||12- 7||15||43- 1|
|33||Kelly Jordon||3||7- 4||5||21- 0||5||13-12||13||42- 0|
|34||Brock Mosley||5||12-13||5||13- 4||5||15- 2||15||41- 3|
|35||Skeet Reese||5||19- 2||3||10- 1||5||11-14||13||41- 1|
|36||Gary Klein||5||13-10||5||16- 2||5||10-15||15||40-11|
|37||Michael Murphy||5||15-13||5||16- 8||3||8- 5||13||40-10|
|38||Edwin Evers||5||24- 3||3||13- 4||1||3- 0||9||40- 7|
|39||Rick Clunn||4||12-13||5||14-11||5||12-11||14||40- 3|
|40||Jeff Kriet||5||12- 0||5||18- 0||5||10- 2||15||40- 2|
|41||Alton Jones||5||13- 9||5||14- 9||5||11-13||15||39-15|
|42||Michael Iaconelli||5||25-12||3||8- 1||3||5- 6||11||39- 3|
|43||Jared Knuth||5||14- 3||5||16- 6||3||8- 6||13||38-15|
|44||David Smith||5||20- 6||5||17-15||10||38- 5|
|45||David Lefebre||5||12-15||5||15- 1||4||9- 5||14||37- 5|
|46||Brian Snowden||4||15-10||5||13- 0||3||8- 8||12||37- 2|
|47||Marty Robinson||4||6- 7||5||19-12||2||10- 0||11||36- 3|
|48||Mike McClelland||2||3- 8||5||16-11||5||15-12||12||35-15|
|49||Glenn Browne||5||12- 2||5||14- 7||4||8- 6||14||34-15|
|50||Stephen Kennedy||4||14-13||3||6- 6||5||13- 4||12||34- 7|
|51||Brandon Palaniuk||5||17-15||5||13- 3||2||2-15||12||34- 1|
|52||Skylar Hamilton||3||6- 7||4||13- 6||5||13-14||12||33-11|
|53||Jeremy Starks||4||9-15||5||18- 4||2||4-12||11||32-15|
|54||Scott Rook||5||20-10||3||11- 8||8||32- 2|
|55||Kotaro Kiriyama||5||17- 5||2||2-14||4||8-15||11||29- 2|
|57||Jared Lintner||3||13-13||5||13- 4||8||27- 1|
|58||Matt Reed||3||9- 6||5||14- 5||8||23-11|
|59||Charlie Hartley||1||2-10||2||3-13||4||11-10||7||18- 1|
|60||David Mullins||2||7- 0||0||0- 0||2||7- 0|