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Wheeler Leads Bassmaster Classic On the Tennessee River

Wheeler Leads Bassmaster Classic On the Tennessee River Wheeler Leads Bassmaster Classic tournament On the Tennessee River at Knoxville
 
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — During the early portions of tournament practice on the Tennessee River at Knoxville for the Bassmaster Classic, Jacob Wheeler discovered a pattern that he knew would put bass in his livewell. But since it seemed a little too obvious, he spent the latter portions of practice looking for something he thought no one else would find. He ultimately went back to the obvious — and it has him in position to win the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing.
 
After landing 14 pounds, 11 ounces during Friday’s opening round, Wheeler caught five bass Saturday that weighed 17-11 and sprang into first place with a two-day total of 32-6. His five-bass limit Saturday was one of the few weighed in this week that featured all smallmouth.
   
“I know this crew,” Wheeler said. “I knew they would figure out the same thing I had figured out. Even though there are miles and miles and miles of water, they were going to figure it out.
   
“I tried to move around the lake, be smart about it and just fish what looked good to me — looking for that needle in the haystack. But I never found it, so I just had to fall back to what I knew I had.”
   
No angler on earth is more guarded with his techniques than the one who leads the Bassmaster Classic heading into the final round. So Wheeler only said that he was fishing a “reaction bite” with moving baits. He said catching five smallmouth Saturday was a surprise.
   
“If you would have told me at the start of the tournament that eight of my 10 fish so far would be smallmouth, I would have said there’s no way,” Wheeler said. “It’s been so hard to catch a smallmouth — even a nonkeeper.”
   
“That is not something I thought I had dialed in at all.”
   
Wheeler, who has two career Bassmaster Elite Series victories — one on Chickamauga Lake and one on Cherokee Lake — actually relocated from Indiana to Tennessee two years ago. He now lives on Chickamauga and said the knowledge he’s gained on that fishery has played into his success this week.
   
“We don’t have smallmouth on Chickamauga, but these fish are set up a lot like the ones I fish for at home,” he said. “So that knowledge gives me a little something in my back pocket.” Wheeler earned the GEICO Everyday Leader Award of $2,500 for finishing atop the leaderboard today.
   
Wheeler’s catch was just enough to help him edge Alabama angler Mark Daniels Jr., who moved into second place with a Day 2 catch of 17-6 that pushed his two-day mark to 31-14. Daniels said he caught most of his bass Saturday on an original Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap, including a 6-3 largemouth that gave him the lead in the Berkley Big Bass competition. Daniels said he used the red crawfish-colored Rat-L-Trap and changed the factory hooks to Owner ST-56 No. 4 short-shank trebles.
  
“They’re just such a sharper hook, and I think that’s really key,” Daniels said. “When that big fish came to the top, I could see it had both hooks in its mouth — one in the corner of its mouth and one down under its chin.
  
“I knew that fish was never coming off, so I just took my time and landed it.”
  
The biggest mover of the day was Texas pro Chris Zaldain who brought in a tournament-best limit that weighed 21-12 and jumped from 28th place into third with a two-day total of 30-12. Like Wheeler, Zaldain said returning to the obvious pattern helped him on Day 2.
   
“I fished a pattern today that I didn’t get a chance to fish on Day 1,” Zaldain said. “I made a bad decision, and I ended up having to resort to some smallmouth tactics that gave me the 9 pounds I weighed in.
   
“Today, I fished the patterns, the areas and the bait that I originally intended to fish.”
   
Zaldain’s success left him feeling supremely confident for Championship Sunday.
   
“At one point today, I probably went 10 for 10 on pointing at spots on my graph and telling my marshal we were about to get bit,” he said. “Within two casts, it would happen.
   
“I’m to the point where if it doesn’t look exactly right, I don’t even stop.”
   
The tournament will resume Sunday with takeoff at 7:40 a.m. from Volunteer Landing and weigh-in at 4:15 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena. The weigh-in will culminate with the crowning of a new world champion and the awarding of the $300,000 first-place prize. The other 51 anglers will share in the remainder of a $1 million total purse.
 
  

  

2019 Bassmaster Classic 3/15-3/17
Tennessee River, Knoxville  TN.
(ANGLER) Standings Day 2
   Angler                   Hometown              No./lbs-oz  Pts   Total $$$
1.  Jacob Wheeler          Harrison, TN            10  32-06    0   $2,500.00
  Day 1: 5   14-11     Day 2: 5   17-11   
2.  Mark Daniels Jr.       Tuskegee, AL            10  31-14    0
  Day 1: 5   14-08     Day 2: 5   17-06   
3.  Chris Zaldain          Laughlin, NV             9  30-12    0
  Day 1: 4   09-00     Day 2: 5   21-12   
4.  Ott DeFoe              Blaine, TN              10  30-05    0   $2,500.00
  Day 1: 5   20-00     Day 2: 5   10-05   
5.  Michael Iaconelli      Pitts Grove, NJ         10  28-09    0
  Day 1: 5   09-02     Day 2: 5   19-07   
6.  Wesley Strader         Spring City, TN         10  28-00    0
  Day 1: 5   10-14     Day 2: 5   17-02   
7.  Roy Hawk               Lk Havasu Cty, AZ       10  27-10    0
  Day 1: 5   17-11     Day 2: 5   09-15   
8.  Justin Lucas           Guntersville, AL        10  27-00    0
  Day 1: 5   16-07     Day 2: 5   10-09   
9.  Jesse Wiggins          Cullman, AL             10  26-10    0
  Day 1: 5   10-11     Day 2: 5   15-15   
10. Jacob Powroznik        North Prince George, VA 10  26-07    0
  Day 1: 5   13-04     Day 2: 5   13-03   
11. Clifford Pirch         Payson, AZ               8  25-14    0
  Day 1: 5   16-11     Day 2: 3   09-03   
12. Edwin Evers            Talala, OK              10  24-12    0
  Day 1: 5   08-12     Day 2: 5   16-00   
13. Adrian Avena           Vineland, NJ            10  24-04    0
  Day 1: 5   12-15     Day 2: 5   11-05   
14. Brent Chapman          Lake Quivira, KS        10  24-02    0
  Day 1: 5   14-08     Day 2: 5   09-10   
15. Kyle Dorsett           Odenville, AL            9  24-02    0
  Day 1: 4   12-03     Day 2: 5   11-15   
16. Bobby Lane Jr.         Lakeland, FL            10  23-09    0
  Day 1: 5   13-04     Day 2: 5   10-05   
17. James Elam             Tulsa, OK               10  23-08    0
  Day 1: 5   12-09     Day 2: 5   10-15   
18. Dean Rojas             Lake Havasu City, AZ    10  23-05    0
  Day 1: 5   09-04     Day 2: 5   14-01   
19. Skeet Reese            Auburn, CA              10  22-15    0
  Day 1: 5   12-01     Day 2: 5   10-14   
20. Seth Feider            New Market, MN           9  22-01    0
  Day 1: 4   08-10     Day 2: 5   13-07   
21. Brandon Lester         Fayetteville, TN        10  21-11    0
  Day 1: 5   09-11     Day 2: 5   12-00   
22. Kevin VanDam           Kalamazoo, MI           10  21-06    0
  Day 1: 5   10-02     Day 2: 5   11-04   
23. Cliff Pace             Petal, MS               10  21-04    0
  Day 1: 5   10-14     Day 2: 5   10-06   
24. Brandon Palaniuk       Rathdrum, ID             8  20-09    0
  Day 1: 3   08-03     Day 2: 5   12-06   
25. Todd Faircloth         Jasper, TX               8  20-01    0
  Day 1: 5   13-09     Day 2: 3   06-08   
26. Frank Talley           Temple, TX               9  19-14    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 4   09-05     Day 2: 5   10-09   
27. Jared Lintner          Arroyo Grande, CA        6  18-13    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 1   04-01     Day 2: 5   14-12   
28. Josh Bertrand          San Tan Valley, AZ       9  18-13    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 5   11-05     Day 2: 4   07-08   
29. Casey Ashley           Donalds, SC             10  18-05    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 5   10-01     Day 2: 5   08-04   
30. Chris Lane             Guntersville, AL        10  18-02    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 5   09-09     Day 2: 5   08-09   
31. Jake Whitaker          Fairview, NC            10  18-01    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 5   08-15     Day 2: 5   09-02   
32. Drew Benton            Panama City, FL         10  17-07    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 5   07-06     Day 2: 5   10-01   
33. Derek Hudnall          Baton Rouge, LA          9  17-05    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 4   07-00     Day 2: 5   10-05   
34. Brett Hite             Phoenix, AZ              8  17-01    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 4   07-14     Day 2: 4   09-03   
35. Gerald Swindle         Guntersville, AL         7  16-09    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 5   11-15     Day 2: 2   04-10   
36. Keith Poche            Pike Road, AL            7  15-06    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 2   03-03     Day 2: 5   12-03   
37. Garrett Paquette       Canton, MI               7  15-03    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 4   08-04     Day 2: 3   06-15   
38. Randall Tharp          Port St. Joe, FL         7  14-15    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 3   06-06     Day 2: 4   08-09   
39. Andy Montgomery        Blacksburg, SC          10  14-14    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 5   09-02     Day 2: 5   05-12   
40. Jason Christie         Park Hill, OK            6  14-07    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 3   08-01     Day 2: 3   06-06   
41. Nick Ratliff           Vine Grove, KY           7  14-05    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 4   06-10     Day 2: 3   07-11   
42. Jordan Lee             Cullman, AL              8  13-10    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 5   08-06     Day 2: 3   05-04   
43. Brent Ehrler           Redlands, CA             6  12-14    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 3   08-04     Day 2: 3   04-10   
44. Gerald Spohrer         Gonzales, LA             7  12-12    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 4   07-06     Day 2: 3   05-06   
45. Brad Whatley           Bivins, TX               6  12-02    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 2   03-12     Day 2: 4   08-06   
46. Micah Frazier          Newnan, GA               7  11-10    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 5   08-12     Day 2: 2   02-14   
47. Matthew Robertson      Kuttawa, KY              4  09-08    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 2   03-05     Day 2: 2   06-03   
48. Alton Jones Jr.        Lorena, TX               3  09-01    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 2   07-07     Day 2: 1   01-10   
49. Jacopo Gallelli        Firenze ITALY            5  08-13    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 0   00-00     Day 2: 5   08-13   
50. Bradley Roy            Lancaster, KY            4  06-15    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 4   06-15     Day 2: 0   00-00   
51. Aaron Martens          Leeds, AL                4  06-05    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 4   06-05     Day 2: 0   00-00   
52. Randy Pierson          Oakdale, CA              3  04-07    0  $10,000.00
  Day 1: 2   02-14     Day 2: 1   01-09   
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Totals
Day   #Limits    #Fish      Weight
 1        30       217       501-15
 2        33       213       508-10
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          63       430      1010-09

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