Major League Fishing angler Jacob Wheeler caught a 17-11 stringer on Saturday to win the Pickwick Lake Central Toyota Series with a three-day total of 56-08. Wheeler, who earned $38.545 for the victory, finished 5 1/2 pounds ahead of runner-up Buddy Gross.
“I truthfully can’t even believe that just happened,” said Wheeler, the reigning MLF World Champion who earned the first FLW Series win of his career. “I’ve competed at all levels, and it is so tough to win one of these Toyota Series events. A lot of pros compete in them, but they also have the great local fisherman that know their home bodies of water so well. They’re extremely hard to win, so to come out today with the victory – I am tremendously tickled.”
Wheeler, who won the Bass Pro Tour event at Lake Eufaula in February, said that he had no magic spot on Pickwick, but estimated he fished around 30 different places throughout the week, throwing a variety of baits.
“I tried to find little three- to five-fish schools that were a little out of the way off the beaten path, and then when a community hole opened up I’d stop in there and try to catch a few fish. I caught fish from 10 feet to 30 feet and I was constantly changing my baits based on where I was fishing."
Wheeler said his key baits this week were a Rapala DT20 crankbait (Caribbean shad), a Texas-rigged Googan Baits Mondo Worm and a 6-inch Lunker Log stickbait, and an Accent Ol’ Big spinnerbait. He also mixed in some other baits, including a scrounger and a swimbait.
“My electronics setup was a huge deal for me this week as well,” Wheeler said. “Instead of signing with one company, I’m running Lowrance, Garmin and Humminbird units this year and that really helped me tremendously when I was finding those three- to five-fish schools.”
Here are the final totals for the top 10:
1. Jacob Wheeler: 56-08
2. Buddy Gross: 51-00
3. Michael Bean: 49-09
4. Michael Brewer: 48-13
5. Justin Atkins: 48-12
6. Marshall Deakins: 47-15
7. Brent Anderson: 46-04
8. John Murray: 44-15
9. Jimmy Washam: 39-11
10. Ricky Robinson: 36-14