Tournament Series Feature Story
Wheeler Lake preview with Tim Trockenbrot and Josh Bragg
By Jason Duran
The Alabama Bass Trail North Division is ready to take on Wheeler Lake. Wheeler covers 67,100 acres and has produced winning weights of 22.70 and 23.43 the past two times the ABT competed there. Recently the fishing has been tough, but, like most of the time when the ABT shows up, teams tend to do well making key decisions in tough tournaments to help bring home the win.
One of the biggest decisions for a team to make when fishing Wheeler will come at blast off Saturday morning… Do we turn left or right coming out of Ingalls Harbor? The team of Tim Trockenbrot and Josh Bragg believe it “will probably be about a 70-30% split with 70% turning left.”
Teams that turn left will fish areas mid-lake like the well-known Decatur flats which is full of scattered grass vegetation. The primary target here will be fishing baits like jigs and worms in the grass, crankbaits on grass edges and possibly a topwater in the morning. Some of those teams that turn left will make the long run down to Elk River where they will find various types of cover. Patterns here could include targeting shallow water. Josh said, the “fish are in a post spawn pattern headed to their summer pattern. Some of those fish will head out deep, but a good many will still be up shallow and can be caught in 2 feet of water this time of year.”
According to Josh, “Wheeler is not your typical Tennessee river lake like Guntersville or Pickwick where the fish will stack up on the ledges this time of year. There are very few ledge type areas on Wheeler, but when fish get on those places, guys have really good bags. So, the guys who have an early draw and can get on those places can possibly do really good.”
Those that take a right will find more of a river style fishery with some good current. Well known creeks like Limestone and Cataco can provide the backwater pattern some like. From Josh’s experience, “Wheeler tends to fish like a shallow Coosa River Lake with fish tending to stay shallow in the water willow and the buck brush.”
In recent years, some teams have made the 30 mile run to fish the Guntersville dam which produced a win. This area tends to be more of a current based bite. While fishing here, anglers tend to use swimbaits and jigs as they target smallmouth and mean mouth.
Tim described Wheeler as fishing tough lately saying, “it has been a fun little deal trying to figure them out. It’s almost decoying a little bit because you can catch them any way you want just not consistently. The shallow bite has been good early and late in the day the deep water bite has been productive. It’s kind of one of those things you have to watch out for because you feel like you’re on a pattern and then it changes a little bit.”
Whichever way a team decides to turn, Tim and Josh both feel anglers can fish their own style and be productive at catching fish.
This tournament will continue to operate with social distancing guidelines. All anglers should make sure they have checked text messages and emails for the latest information and changes made to keep everyone as safe as possible during this time. There will be no pre-tournament meeting for this event, but there is a virtual meeting on the ABT Facebook Page that was posted Monday, June 8. All friends and family are welcome to attend this event as Ingalls Harbor is a great location to watch a weigh-in providing plenty of space for social distancing. Tune in to the live weigh-in and on the water coverage on the ABT Facebook page and the ABT website for updates throughout the day. The launch and weigh-in location is 802-A Wilson Street in Decatur, AL. Take off will be at safe daylight, and weigh-in begins at 2:30.
Download and listen to the ABT Podcast on your favorite Podcast app by searching for “Alabama Bass Trail Podcast.” The Podcast is released each week on Tuesday.
The sponsors of the 2020 Alabama Bass Trail include; Phoenix Bass Boats, Bill Penney Toyota, Garmin, Academy Sports & Outdoors, America’s First Federal Credit Union, Sweet Home Alabama, Alabama Tourism Department, Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, T-H Marine Supplies, Wedowee Marine, Strike King, Buffalo Rock, Mountain Dew, Jack’s, Fish Neely Henry Lake.com, Alabama Power Company, Lew’s Fishing, Berkley, YETI, Power Pole, Big Bite Bait Company, E3 Apparel and Hydrowave.
For information about Alabama Bass Trail and for complete tournament standings visit www.alabamabasstrail.org.