Jacob Wheeler found himself on the top of the leaderboard after each of the three days he fished the St. Lawrence. He set the Bass Pro Tour single-day and two-day records in his two qualifying days, and won the automatic bid to the Championship Round with the help of a flogger after catching 222-1.
Wheeler had a goal coming into the tournament to fish close to Massena, but didn’t find the groups of fish he thought he needed to win, so he made an 80-plus-mile run to the Clayton area.
“I started practice near Massena but quickly saw it wasn’t going to work, so put it on the trailer and headed towards Clayton,” he said. “The bigger concentration of fish were there and the fish were a little behind in spawning. The cooler water from the lake seemed to have more fish spawning, and that area always seems to have the biggest concentration of fish, even though it gets more pressure.”
Once Wheeler located groups of spawning fish, efficiency was his biggest key. He beefed up his line selection to get fish in quicker, opting for an 8-pound Sufix Nanobraid with a leader of 12-pound Sufix Advance fluorocarbon.
He had two primary weapons for his baits, a drop-shot with a #4 VMC Finesse Neko hook, ½-ounce VMC tungsten drop-shot weight, and a Googan Baits Rattlin’ Ned in blue penny. He used the same bait on a ¼-ounce Ned-style jighead and mixed in a pink Ned worm for better visibility.
“The Tokyo Rig allowed me to keep the bait right in the bed better,” Wheeler said. “I could also use heavier gear and went up to 15-pound fluorocarbon.”