Quick Bites: Forrest Wood Cup, Lake Lanier, Day 3
Castrol pro David Dudley took the concept of the Chicken Dance to a whole new level during the semifinal weigh-in at the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup. (Photo by Gary Mortenson)
11.Aug.2012 by Gary Mortenson
2012 Forrest Wood Cup
Lake Lanier – Duluth, Ga.
Wheeler lands counterpunch … After stunning the field with a dramatic 21-pound, 15 ounce stringer on day one, 21-year-old pro Jacob Wheeler of Indianapolis, Ind., suffered through a mediocre day two, coming back to the field with a modest 11-pound, 12 ounce bag. In the process, the young pro saw his commanding lead shrink to a shade over 3 pounds. As such, a number of big-gun pros were able to significantly close the gap. At that point, the convenient and easy narrative was that Wheeler, an FLW Tour rookie this season, would ultimately collapse from the pressure as he faced off against a loaded field that included six former Forrest Wood Cup champions and six FLW Tour Angler-of-the-Year title holders. But a strange thing happened along the way during today’s competition. After the majority of the top-20 pros struggled to bring in a significant limit to the scales of any kind, Wheeler stepped onto the stage and showed off the biggest bag of the day – a 14-pound 7-ounce sack. Not only did the young upstart not wilt under pressure, but he built his lead back up to nearly 6 full pounds, giving himself some much needed breathing room heading into tomorrow’s finals. “Of course I’ve been nervous, it’s the biggest tournament of my life,” said Wheeler. “But you need to put all of that (pressure) in the back of your mind and just go out there, keep your head down and go fishing. Once I was able to start catching fish and get that momentum back, I was really able to calm down. But having a 6-pound lead is definitely more comfortable.” Wheeler said that he’s caught keepers over the last three days on seven or eight different baits. “I’m junk fishing really,” he said. “I’m using a lot of different baits and fishing the conditions – that’s Indiana fishing. That’s what I’m used to doing and that’s what I’m comfortable with.” Wheeler said one of his primary fishing spots is something he calls the “pig pen” – a nice little stretch of real estate with some good cover that currently houses a lot of larger-sized largemouth. “I’m fishing up river in about 5 feet or less and there is a lot of cover in that area,” he said. “I’m looking for current breaks and if we get a little bit of rain that seems to help my bite as well.” As for tomorrow, Wheeler said he is ready to go. “I’m just going to go out there, fish hard and whatever happens, happens. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”