I tapped my good buddy Ben for a 4 day/ 3 night trip down to Wheeler lake in Northern Alabama. Wheeler is a TVA lake that falls between Lake Wilson and the famed Lake Guntersville. The reason for the trip is I wanted to pre fish for my partner who has a classic down there in a couple of weeks and any excuse to get away and fish I’m going to capitalize on it!
The 3 of us (couldn’t leave Toby) made great time and arrived at Joe Wheeler State Park boat ramp roughly an hour after sunrise. Hef was nice enough to loan us his boat for the trip since I was concerned about using mine with the bilge pump out on it. Things started off exciting right away when we started pitching to some trees located in “First Creek”. “We are taking on water G!” I hear from the back. I looked down to see the water gushing in so we had to power our way back to the boat ramp and put the plug into the boat. Great news was Hef’s boat received a great cleaning. After that little set back we ran over to our trees and 15 minutes in Ben flipped our first keeper into the boat caught off of a Jig. Of course this was a great start but it was the only bite we would come across for the next hour.
Our next move was to run out to the main lake and hit the next pocket up river away from the dam. After shutting down we ran into a couple of rock points with no noticeable breaks or structure but on my first cast with a crankbait down the latter point I get a taker and swing it into the boat, Ben had casted immediately in behind me and snagged one as well and both bass happened to be spots which were also keepers. We ended up staying on the point quite a while but couldn’t even get another whiff from a fish which was baffling. Ben did manage to hookup with a 7 or 8 pound drum off a tree close by but those nasty things are well left alone. We ran over to a point on the other side of the cove where the water was really clear. This point had a very nice defining break on it so I opted for the KVD Sexy Dawg walking bait. 2nd cast parallel I look to see a nice spotted bass following the bait just underneath with every move. As I approach the boat I stopped it suddenly and the fish blew up on me. It was the closest top water bite I have ever had. Ben managed to hook another drum off of the point about the same size but no more desirable fish. Later on we would get another spot put into the boat but unfortunately our limit was sitting somewhere between 7 and 8 pounds. Being in such clear water the odds did favor Spotted bass over the much larger Large Mouth Bass we would need to up our bag.
The next day we made the hour and a half drive over to Lake Guntersville since Ben had never been over there. Unfortunately after talking to the locals we were told that Guntersville had been fishing horrible the past few days due to a cold snap. We were able to confirm this ourselves as we only had 2 keepers and a ton of small fish the entire day.
Day 3 we were back on Wheeler lake with a bit of a chip on our shoulders knowing that we didn’t want to crash and burn like the previous 2 days. The plan was to concentrate on our strengths from back at home. Both of us are shallow muddy water fisherman. Ben prefers Crab Orchard, while you can put me on Rend Lake any day. You can find many review sites on the internet, but remember there is always a catch these sites may not have your best interests in mind but more a referral commission, we found numerous dog fence referral sites, the catch may be these sites are simply look for an affiliate commission boost electric dog fence reviews can be, you can find reviews here and hundreds of other sites like amazon.com.
Our first stop was the back of “Second Creek” which is the first large neck nearest to the Wheeler Dam. We ran all the way to the back and found some trees in the perfect depth of water. Running a crankbait down one I felt the bait bounce off of a tree tip and the rod loaded. A nice 4lbs largemouth came right to the boat. About an hour and a half later we were running out of trees but you could find an occasional isolated tree with some wind on it. Ben made a cast with his spinnerbait down one and loaded up on another 4lbs Largemouth. Though we had a long time in between keeper bites our weights were definitely there. As we made our way out to the main lake the water kept getting cleaner which hurt us. After a quick lunch we decided to look again for exactly what we were needing (shallow muddy water) and we found it in the Elk Creek area. We saw a bank than ran several hundred yards down which featured log jams, muddy water, and wind! I cut off my chatterbait and grabbed a black Strike King one knocker with a huge Colorado blade. It wasn’t long before I was able to get our 3rd keeper in the boat that weighed a little over 3lbs. Probably 15 minutes later Ben Flipped a black jig in and matched me with another solid fish. One thing to note about these fish is that they were really shallow even with 5 foot of water close by. They seemed to be hiding in the mud line a couple of feet off of the bank. Looking for fish number 5 we approached in the way which makes easy for fishing for more tips — read more a point with two large rocks just off of the bank. As soon as my spinnerbait cleared the center of the 2 rocks my rod loaded up. Without hesitation I knew it was a solid fish and uttered “There’s number 5”! Our first spotted bass of the day came in at around 2 and a quarter pounds giving us a total of 16.50 pounds for the day. To put that in perspective the previous weekend a tournament with 203 boats launched and according to their results we would’ve been 9th or 10th. Not bad for only our 2nd day fishing the lake. Before dark we caught a few more keepers but nothing to improve our sack. That night we decided to call it a trip because we felt there was nothing left to prove and a snow storm was threatening to hit home.
A word of wisdom from our experience of fishing only a small portion of Wheeler. If you’re an offshore fisherman you would be served well by finding schools of Spotted bass and Smallmouth Bass in the clearer waters littered with gravel bottoms up towards the Wheeler dam. If you’re looking for the Largemouths then concentrate on shallower muddy water. Since we were here in early March the lake was down at winter pool making it difficult to find the kind of banks we wanted but with some diligent searching we made it well worth it.
signing off G.