Wheeler Lake

Feature Story

Wheeler Lake Preview with Ryan and Fisher Anaya

By Jason Duran

The Alabama Bass Trail North Division is currently making its third stop at Wheeler Lake, located in Decatur, Alabama. Anglers who participate in the ABT are known to catch impressive weights year after year at this location. The Last time the ABT was here in April was 2021, the winning weight was recorded at 25.43. The team that emerges as the winner will receive a cash prize of $15,000, plus bonuses, and qualify for the ABT Championship to be held in October. The grand prize for the Championship is $50,000. Ryan and Fisher Anaya, who are a father-son team, have been practicing this week and have shared an update on how things are going.

The Typical pattern for Wheeler in April is the water is warming so it could be a little bit of a mixture of a shad spawn and bass spawn. The shallow bite up on the bank and in pockets will be good. Teams have a good chance at catching fish that are spawning. Usually post-spawn fish can be caught leaving the pockets. Those fish will be staging on points and headed back out to the river bars. 

When asked to break down the lake, Fisher and Ryan shared that anglers can break down the lake into a few areas. Upstream and towards the dam, they will find chunk rock banks and bluff-style fishing with lots of current breaks. Teams fishing in this area could use a jig and a DT6 to catch spawning spotted bass and smallmouth. In the mid-lake area, known as the Decatur Flats, teams will find a flatter and shallower area. The key to finding fish in this area will be to locate shell beds that make the bottom hard. Fish will spawn in these areas, so teams should also pay attention to little indentations. There will be lots of spawners and post-spawn fish in this area. Heading to the downriver part of the lake, teams will find the Elk River, which has deeper shell bars. In the Spring Creek area, teams could find some grass to swim a jig and fish a chatter bait. While it's still too early for the shad spawn, the bait is becoming more active, and teams are following it up to the boat.

The current health of the lake seems good at present. However, we have noticed a decrease in the amount of grass compared to previous years. Two years ago, one could go out to the flats and find plenty of it. This year, it seems to be scarce. Typically, during wintertime, when the water level drops, the grass dies. When the water level rises, the grass grows and becomes abundant in the summertime. This time of the year, we can usually find grass in the ditches, but there seems to be less where we have been. It looks like the lake levels are fluctuating, with levels being high earlier this week and falling all week, but now they are rising again. Unfortunately, there might not be much current on the tournament day, which would have been helpful.

Teams have a good chance of success this week, regardless of which stage they fish in. There are fish available both in shallow waters and in the deeper parts of the river. Although the water temperature is around 64 degrees, it is still too early for the shad spawn, but it could still be a factor. Ryan and Fisher said that they anticipate that a weight of 22 pounds will be required to win the event. To achieve success, teams should have a few baits tied on, including a Carolina rig, a chatter bait, a swim jig, and a football jig. Additionally, they expect that a weight of roughly 14 pounds will be enough to get a check. Despite the lake's size, it fishes small, and those who find fish will likely catch a lot of them.

Blast Off & Weigh In is April 27, 2024 at Ingalls Harbor, 802-A Wilson Street NW, Decatur, AL 35601. The Pre-Tournament Briefing was held via Facebook and YouTube on Monday, April 22, 2024, at 6:00 P.M. There is a replay available. Friends and family are welcome to attend this event, bring lawn chairs, and see some of the best bass teams in the country cross the stage. Everyone can watch the live weigh-in and over 4 hours of on-the-water live coverage on the ABT Facebook page, YouTube, and the ABT website.

The 2024 Alabama Bass Trail Sponsors Include: Phoenix Boats, AMFirst, Landers - McLarty Chevrolet, McGraw - Webb Chevrolet, Rapala, VMC, Crush City, Buffalo Rock, Academy Sports & Outdoors, Jack's, Garmin, Alabama State Parks, Halo Fishing, Snag proof, NetBait, Bait Fuel, TH Marine Supplies, Power-Pole, Pro Guide Batteries, American Trailer Rental, Yamaha, Anheuser-Busch, Big Bite Baits and FishAlabama.org