Saturday, May 19, 2018

2018 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest Lake Travis Day 2: Jacob Wheeler Leaps into Lead!

Thomas Allen

Junk fishing key for Wheeler's lead.
(Photo: BASS)
Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tenn., fished “a hodge-podge" of lures, techniques and depths Friday to catch 18 pounds, 3 ounces of largemouth bass and take command of the 2018 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on Lake Travis.
“The way I’ve been catching my bass this week has been through a long list of tactics, lures and locations,” he said. “I’ve been fishing ‘hodge-podge.’ That’s the best way I can explain it. But that’s really how I like to fish, and it’s been working well for me.”
This isn’t the first time the second-year Bassmaster pro has been in the lead. Wheeler has two Elite Series victories to his credit, but Texas Fest carries more weight than a regular-season tournament.
His two-day weight of 35-7 moves him closer to the $100,000 first-place payday and a coveted berth into the 2019 Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.The 27-year-old said he had 18 rods on the deck of his boat during Friday’s second round of competition, but he claimed to have learned more about his pattern as the day went on.
“I dialed in on them a little more today,” Wheeler said. “Not enough to say I’m confident in winning this tournament. Not just yet. I used most of the rods I had out, and I caught fish from 6 inches of water to 40 feet and I hit a bunch of spots. It was a hodge-podge day.”
Most pro anglers keep their cards close to the vest at this point in major tournaments, but he did say his big fish were coming from a couple specific structural elements.
“I still think it’s going to take 15 to 17 pounds a day to win on Lake Travis,” he said. “I’ve kept myself in position to potentially win even if I have a tough Saturday or Sunday. I'm very happy with how my day went, and I hope I can stay consistent into tomorrow.”

After leading on Thursday’s opening round, Ray Hanselman Jr. of Del Rio, Texas, fell to second place after producing only four bass that weighed 12-2, pushing his two-day total to 34-1.
“Today was definitely tougher,” Hanselman said. “I didn’t get any of the big bites I had hoped for, and only bringing in four fish certainly hurt. I think I could have caught another keeper somewhere else, but I was focusing on big bass only.”
In hindsight, Hanselman said he should have spent more time fishing docks for his limit bass.
“The dock thing was working for me, but I left it too soon. In looking back I should have downsized my lure while I was there,” he said.
Cliff Pace of Petal, Miss., stayed consistent and held down third place for the second day.
“Catching that 10-5 yesterday sure helped, but I was able to stay on quality fish again today,” Pace said. “This lake is receiving a lot of fishing pressure right now, but I think it will get better tomorrow with fewer fishermen on the lake.”
If no one catches a bass heavier than Pace’s in the final two rounds, he’ll win the big bass prize, a new Toyota Tundra pickup truck.
The full field of 108 anglers has been cut to the Top 50 pros for Saturday’s semifinal round of competition.
Rounding out the Top 5 are Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., with 32-7 in fourth place and Drew Benton of Panama City, Fla., with 30-12 in fifth place.
Takeoff will begin at 6:15 a.m. CT each morning at Jones Brothers Park in Jonestown, Texas, and weigh-ins will be at the same location each afternoon beginning at 3 p.m.
The Bassmaster Elite Series Outdoors Expo will take place at the park on Saturday and Sunday. The event will feature boat demo rides, an aquarium, free prizes and the latest fishing products on the market. The fan-favorite kid’s area, Bassmaster Get Hooked on Fishing presented by Toyota and Shakespeare, will also include catfish-casting ponds and a chance to meet the pros. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Outdoor Adventures Area will welcome visitors of all ages to try out archery, learn ways to contribute to conservation and participate in other fun outdoor activities.
Also taking place on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., is Bassmaster University. Bassmaster Elite Series pros will be teaching seminars at the park on a variety of topics related to fishing including techniques, gear, electronics and more. All activities are free and open to the public.

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