Wheeler’s winning baits, Bassin’ between the bergs, Derpathon!!

Today’s Top 4

Ding! How J-Wheels won his first BPT.

Unless you’ve been stuck on Mars with this dude…

…you must’ve noticed that Jacob Wheeler is building a dang good career/rep/name/robot factory for himself (okay not the robot factory) because he’s a dude who’s in the dang hunt a LOT…like this year’s Bassmaster Classic, the NC BPT and the previous BPT on Table Rock where he finished 5th. Dude’s also won a few over the years, and he’s still going. Here’s his baits from this win — full pattern deal is on the BassBlaster website:

> “My #1 bait — including day 1 when I had 130 lbs — I caught at least 75% of my fish on was a 3” Storm Largo Shad (pearl) on a 3/8-oz prototype VMC jighead, 12-lb Sufix Advance Fluorocarbon [not yet out], 7′ MH Duckett signature series rod and 6.2:1 reel.

> “When you had a school of fish grouped up offshore, you could catch them almost every cast on that swimbait. You could [catch them] on a dropshot but not as many because you could stay off them with the swimbait.

> “That was the deal throughout the week, but as the pressure got to those offshore places, you had to go more finessey…so I used a dropshot the last day. I had 3 dropshots tied on.

> “Those fish were suspending on timber. The last day the biggest thing is it was so calm and still, the schools of fish on those points ended up suspending around the timber on the outer edge of the points. I figured that out at 10-11 am, and that’s how I caught a lot of my fish.”

> 4″ hand-poured (morning dawn) and Googan Baits Slim Shake (morning dawn) TX-rigged on a 1/0 VMC Neko hook. 1/4-oz VMC tungsten weight, 8-b Sufix NanoBraid to 10-lb Sufix Advance Fluoro: “I pumped [the fluoro] up to 10 because when I fired up a school I didn’t want to retie all the time. Plus I broke off a few earlier in the week on 8-lb….” Rod: 7′ 2″ MH signature Duckett Spinning Rod.

> “When the schools were acting funny and wouldn’t bite a swimbait, I tried to stay off them as much as I could. I cast a 1/4-oz VMC shakey head with a Googan Baits Slim Shake worm (blue baby) on the same dropshot setup.
> “I caught a few fish the last day on a swim-jig on docks like in the first tournament, and also a few fish on on deeper docks with a wacky Neko rig…1/16-oz VMC Neko Weight, #2 VMC Neko hook and a Googan Lunker Log (baby bass).”

5 Qs with Mr. Wheels hisself.

Was in a rush so missed my chance to ask him crazy Qs — will have to do it at later. For now, here you go:

1. How’d you get your Wheels nickname? Just your last name or…?

> “Just my last name I guess.”

[His roomie MDJ said it all comes from this vid of Jacob before he became bassin’ famous:]

2. How do you find fish so fast? Can’t tell if you’re a big-time studier or you’re the instinctive type.

> “I try to fish as freely as I possibly can because I got burnt not doing that. When I got 2nd in NC, I’m not going to say I got complacent but it got to where I was ahead a little bit and I almost fished scared with the lead. After that I realized how big a deal it was [to fish the final day].

> “I told myself that if I ever get in that position again, I would never let down no matter what the weights are…never stop hunting. When you get ahead and try to maintain, it messes you up sometimes.”

3. Does that mean you’re always learning?

> “I’m not always [learning] but I definitely try to keep an open mind.

> “I try to never dial it in in practice. It’s never a good deal if you dial into one pattern, especially over a 6-day period. A lot changes in 6 days. So I try to keep an open mind, but try to get enough of an idea of what I need to do from practice.

> “I fish multiple different patterns, and whichever develops throughout the week I continue to try to do that.”

4. What’s the difference between winning one of these vs a best-5 tourney?

> “As far as winning goes, it feels the same. Whenever you win and beat that group fo guys, it a sense of accomplishment that, Hey you’re the best that week. It’s so hard to have that happen. …each win is so special because you don’t know when your next one is going to be. It’s been almost 2 years since I’ve won.

> “For me, it’s so hard to fish this format. It makes you work harder. In the past…if I caught 4-5 big ones in the morning…I’d just pitch around and catch another big one throughout the day, and I’m good. This deal you have to continue to catch them. You’re always going. You have to be fishing for that next bite and next pattern coming up.

> “In my mind it’s more intense day in and day out — more intense for me than any other format I’ve fished by far.”

5. What’s this whole “um, ding” deal?

> “[Dustin] Connell, MDJ [Mark Daniels Jr] and I have been rooming together the last 3 yrs. It started off with us fishing on the Elites…we’ve always roomed together. We’ve always said…a ‘ding’ when we catch one that’s a good one or take the lead. It’s like Iaconelli and ‘Never give up,’ Chris Lane with ‘Pow — it’s basically our little deal we’ve always said.

> “It was an inside joke. Last year when Mark won [the Elite] in SD, he’s like, ‘Um…ding’ when he caught a big one. So ‘um..ding?’ is like a happy moment…and inside joke between all of us.”

If you ain’t derpin’, you ain’t bassin’!

Wow the derps have been pourin’ in. Lead-off basser is Jeff R, who smashed this angry Eagle Lake, MN derp on a dang 110-size Whopper Plopper (“I know it”):

‘Nother nice MN derp, this time a 4-02 Mille Lacs brown one, caught by Alex A on what looks like a pink Rapala X-Rap Deep but he says it’s a different, old Rapala bait:

Lovin’ this chunk derp Jason A dragged outta the Rocky Mountain PFA, GA on a black TX-rigged worm:

Mike C black hair-jigged this Door County, WI derp — said, “I was so pumped to finally get a good derp.” Lol heck yeah!

Kelly B fooled this KY Lake derp with a Carolina-rigged lizard (gp):

Brady H baaaaarely squeaked into Club Derp with this Lay Lake, AL specimen. Flipped him up on a Missile Baby D Bomb (gp3):

Bug-eye = burp derp? Layne E caught it in NJ (yo!!) on a Big Sexy Baits Mayhem HD (gp/black):

BEEG NEWS: Gettin’ stickerz made for all bass-heads fortunate to catch a derp and want to brag about it to the world — more deets coming but can tell you this: It’ll be the most prestigious sticker EVER in the history of bassin’.

When’s the last time you saw this?

Do you love bassin’ this much?

Wild! That’s Jason C and a bud “about 3 miles off Crystal Beach in Canada,” on Erie. The bergs “ran for about a 4-mile band towards NY side of the lake.”

Smallies don’t care about the ice mang! So they caught ’em on Freedom Tackle Football Heads with 3.8″ Jackall Rhythm Wave Swimbaits (new goby), and Set the Hook tubes (piñata):

Nice ones fellers!


1. Aaron Martens has a new color.

Apparently doesn’t have a name yet, so here’s some ideas: Aaron’s smelt it before? Aaron’s smelt for a long time? Aaron’s smelt fishy? Aaron’s BO smelt??

2. Who looks more like a llama in this pic…

…and btw how ’bout that giant square smallmouth:

3. Most popular “angler” at the Table Rock BPT = Ted.

If you’re ever around Adrian, remember that Ted is real — like talks and everything. MDJ’s a little more rational about it….

4. TX: Conroe stocked with 13K ShareLunker fingerlings.

Apparently Jordan Lee went to the tanks and talked to ’em before they were let go, not sure what he said….

5. KY/TN: Asian carp in Kentucky/Barkley will be killed……next year using a technique that goes like this, from China:

> …you block off a cove using electro-fishing gear and underwater loud speakers to corral and direct the Asian carp…until they reach the “killing zone,” at which point they’re removed in very large quantities.

> “We want to kill as many fish as quickly as we can and not hurt the native fish.”

6. Lew’s/Strike King gets bought/sold again.

Doesn’t it feel fast? Felt like about a year to me but actually Strike King was bought about 2 yrs ago by Peak Rock Capital, which had already owned Lew’s for a year and Hunters Specialties for a couple. Then it bought soft-plastics manufacturer Southern Plastics in Nov of last year. Seemed to me like Strike King and Lew’s were the pretty girls and Hunters and Southern were like a couple friends who needed dates but what do I know.

Bottom line is the whole deal is now owned/financed by BDT Capital Partners out of Chicago, which unlike many of these types of companies apparently holds onto businesses for a while. We’ll see.

Quick Google of BDT finds it’s called “one of the most secretive investment banks in the world,” founded by a dude named Byron Trott who used to work at Goldman Sachs in NYC. Search turns up ownership/stakes in these companies too: WhistlePig whiskey, Casa Dragones tequila, a commercial credit company and a golf course development, I bet among many more.

An interesting question to me is whether any of this — let’s call it “capital multiplication” — gets to the fishermen who have helped develop the products. Not saying “should” or “shouldn’t” but it’s interesting to think about here and in other similar deals.

7. Mustad is looking to buy more companies.

Just bought Tuf-Line and:

> Mustad is seeking to expand its footprint from a leading fishing hook brand in Europe and North America to a global fishing products platform. The company is seeking to continue making transformative acquisitions in the fishing space with a core focus on geographic expansion into the US market through strategic acquisitions of large and established bait and tackle businesses.

8. Bass Cat finished its facility expansion.

Word is Kevin Short insisted on a hawg trough and 3 different types of massage chairs in his office so they had to bump out the building a bit….

9. FL: Shoal bass population is down?

10. MN: Lure-maker’s favorite jighead color: chrome.

11. Bass Pro Shops sells 11 Cabela’s stores but…

…is leasing them back. So seems like they did it to get some cash, which was $324 mil….

Tip of the Day

Cody Meyer’s rig for catching giant spotted bass.

If you don’t live in CA or have spotted bass near you, NBD — this technique will work anywhere with any bass in clear water. Never been to the lake that can’t be named or the other spotted bass holes on the Left Coast, so was amazed to hear Cody say that the lakes have no baitfish (just kokanee salmon) and the big spots are suspended. Sounds tough!

Here’s his gear:

> Strike King Rage Swimmer (electric shad)

> 1/4-oz Owner Ultrahead ball head jig with 2/0 hook

> 6-8 lb Seaguar Flash Green braid (guessin’ he uses that now) to Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon

> 7′ 4″ M Daiwa Tatula Elite AGS signature Spinning Rod and Daiwa Tatula LT Spinning Reel

Quote of the Day

“…you can gain so much perspective by watching how bass are positioned and noting what different species look like.”

– Elitist Cliff “Divin'” Pirch talkin’ ’bout how he’s spending his off time, namely gettin’ his nerd on by readin’ ‘lectronics manuals and then goin’ out on the lake and just starin’ at his graph.

THAT is a fo sho Bass NERD, and once again that insane obsession with the deets is what makes these dudes so dang good. One reason, anyhow. In Cliff’s case another reason is:

Not sure why he feels so strongly that fishin’ armadillos for channel cats helps his bassin’, but hard to talk to him about it so….

Shot of the Day

Here’s former pro angler Art Ferguson bassin’ someplace that looks like the Caribbean and way up north at the same time…and wish I was there, how ’bout you:

Ya got me

Jay Kumar’s BassBlaster is a daily-ish roundup

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