Wheeler Cruises to Group B Lead At MLF Bass Pro Tour At Edenton, N.C.

  • Wednesday, June 5, 2024
Jacob Wheeler
Jacob Wheeler
EDENTON, N.C. – It was more of the same for Group B at the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour U.S. Air Force Stage Five at the Chowan River with plenty of bass caught and beautiful scenery to enjoy. Also the same, Jacob Wheeler of Harrison took a commanding lead after one day of fishing with 18 bass for 47 pounds, 5 ounces.

Wheeler, who’s already won twice this season, has proved he doesn’t have a specific type of fishery on which he shines; in reality, it’s anywhere bass swim.
He’s a threat to win any tournament, any time. The Chowan River was a mystery to nearly everyone in the field before this week, and Wheeler appears to have figured it out fairly quickly.

He was in command most of the day and has a lead of more than 16 pounds over reigning Fishing Clash Angler of the Year (AOY) Matt Becker of Ten Mile, Tn.

The six-day tournament, hosted by the town of Edenton, the Chowan County Tourism Development Authority and Harbor Towns Cruises, showcases 78 of the top professional anglers in the world, competing for a purse of $659,000, including a top payout of $100,000 and valuable Fishing Clash Angler of the Year (AOY) points in hopes of qualifying for the General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and REDCREST 2025, the Bass Pro Tour championship.

Like his friend and roommate Dustin Connell, Wheeler easily outpaced the field after one day of Group B competition. The two have a friendly rivalry, and each has won twice this year. Both look like solid favorites to add to that winning resume. For the record, Connell led his group by 16-5 and Wheeler by 16-7, but where it matters will be how the rest of the week unfolds.

With a solid cushion over the field, Wheeler has one plan for Friday when he returns to the Chowan River.

“Practicing. That’s what I’ll be doing Friday,” Wheeler said. “My goal for today was to catch as much as possible and give myself a cushion, and I think I did that. The cut weight is a little more than half of what I had today, which takes some of the pressure off. I can come back out Friday, have fun, and I shouldn’t have to worry about catching too many of them. It feels good.”

One of the best in the sport at playing the strategy game, Wheeler is already looking ahead to the Knockout and Championship Rounds.

“Weather is going to be a huge factor in a place this big,” he said. “The wind will dictate where you can fish; if it’s calm, you can fish it all. That will be part of my plan for Friday as I look for new areas for the different wind directions.”

Wheeler did visit the Chowan River before it went off-limits, and some of that helped, but he’s looking for more recent data as he seeks yet another Bass Pro Tour win.

“I came down before it went off limits for a day and a quarter and mainly just ran around,” he said. “I covered a few hundred miles and liked what I saw, but I still didn’t know what to expect this week. Much of what I saw then and even what I found in practice becomes irrelevant because these events are so long from when we start practice to the final day. Having a cushion over the cut and a chance to look (around) Friday is a huge deal because it’s the most up-to-date information possible.”

Unwilling to give up much of the goods this early in the event, Wheeler did share that he’s fishing a large area rather than just one spot. Also, his primary technique seems to be working for both numbers and quality of fish.

“It’s a big zone of 25 or 30 miles that I’m fishing, and I feel like I can catch a lot of fish doing what I’m doing,” he said. “This event will be all about those bigger bites and won’t be won catching big numbers of 1-8 and 1-9 bass. You’ll need some mid-grade fish between 4 and 6 pounds to win. I feel good about today because I had three over 4 pounds today.”

The 39 anglers in Group B will now have an off day from competition Thursday, while the 39 anglers competing in Group A will wrap up their two-day Qualifying Round. Group B will finish their Qualifying Round on Friday.

The top 20 pros in Group B after Day 1 on Chowan River are:

1st:          Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 18 bass, 47-5
2nd:        Matt Becker, Ten Mile, Tenn., 13 bass, 30-14
3rd:        Drew Gill, Mount Carmel, Ill., 14 bass, 28-7
4th:         Alton Jones, Lorena, Texas, 10 bass, 28-5
5th:         Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., 13 bass, 27-4
6th:         Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., 12 bass, 27-0
7th:         Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., 12 bass, 26-3
8th:         Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., 11 bass, 26-3
9th:         Bobby Lane, Lakeland, Fla., 11 bass, 25-8
10th:      Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., eight bass, 24-11
11th:      Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif., 10 bass, 20-0
12th:      Keith Poche, Pike Road, Ala., eight bass, 19-3
13th:      Justin Cooper, Zwolle, La., nine bass, 17-13
14th:      Brandon Coulter, Knoxville, Tenn., seven bass, 17-1
15th:      Jeff Sprague, Wills Point, Texas, nine bass, 16-14
16th:      Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., nine bass, 16-11
17th:      Fletcher Shryock, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 16-10
18th:      Marshall Robinson, Landrum, S.C., five bass, 16-6
19th:      Takahiro Omori, Tokyo, Japan, seven bass, 16-6
20th:      Ron Nelson, Berrien Springs, Mich., seven bass, 16-0
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