By BassFan Staff

Jacob Wheeler has turned in a couple of solid finishes at Beaver Lake in his still-young pro career, but he's yet to do anything spectacular. That could change this week.

The former Forrest Wood Cup champion weighed a 15-14 sack on day 1 of the third FLW Tour stop of 2015 to grab the initial lead. He has a 5-ounce advantage over Bryan Thrift, who won at Beaver in 2011.

Scott Canterbury and last year's Beaver winner, Matt Arey, each caught 14-14 to share 3rd place. Cody Meyer completed the Top 5 with 14-07.

Here are the numbers for the early Top 10, with red numbers in parentheses indicating deficit margin from the leader:

1. Jacob Wheeler: 15-14
2. Bryan Thrift: 15-09 (0-05)
3. (tie) Scott Canterbury: 14-14 (1-00)
4. (tie) Matt Arey: 14-14 (1-00)
5. Cody Meyer: 14-07 (1-07)
6. Darrell Davis: 14-06 (1-08)
7. Darrell Robertson: 14-05 (1-09)
8. Brandon Cobb: 13-10 (2-02)
9. Stetson Blaylock: 13-08 (2-06)
10. (tie) Jim Moynagh: 13-07 (2-07)
10. (tie) Vic Vatalaro: 13-07 (2-07)

Lots of fish were caught off of spawning beds on a day that featured stretches of sunshine and very little wind. That tactic is likely to be much more difficult on day 2, as the forecast calls for thunderstorms and stout southerly winds, but the reaction-bait bite could improve.



FLW
Photo: FLW

Bryan Thrift's 15 1/2-pound stringer was a mix of smallmouths and largemouths.

The Top 64 all caught at least 10 pounds and another 16 competitors were within a pound of that mark.

The field will be reduced to the Top 20 following the weigh-in, with only the Top 10 advancing to the final day. The winner will be determined Sunday based on highest cumulative weight.

Wheeler Got Wet

> Day 1: 5, 15-14

Wheeler had a stellar day, but it wasn't an entirely comfortable time on the water. He spent the majority of it wet and cold. While breaking limbs off a dead tree to gain access to a large bed-fish, he inadvertently launched himself head-first into the lake.

"That naturally messed everything up," he said. "I left for 30 minutes and came back and I caught it in three casts. I was freezing for the rest of the day, though."

That 4-pounder was the biggest on his all-largemouth stringer. He had two others that weighed 3 3/4.

He took one other sight-fish to the scale, along with three he caught by fishing conventionally. He lost one that he estimated at 2 3/4, which would've aided his cause by about a pound.

"I ran about 15 miles of the lake," he said. "I didn't really commit to one area, I just ran some patterns that I thought were going on.

"I have some backup stuff, but I don't want to fish it. It's all about catching a bag in the teens every day. If I could catch 13 a day from here on out, I think I'd have a really good shot at winning."

2nd: Thrift had to Chill

> Day 1: 5, 15-09

Thrift, who covers water as quickly as anybody in the game, had to go out of his preferred mode to entice his best fish. He didn't sight-fish at all and went through 10 keepers, weighing three largemouths and two smallmouths.

"I slowed down and caught my bigger ones on a 4-inch Damiki Stinger (finesse bait), he said. "I ran all over the lake and burned about 25 gallons of gas. The morning was kind of slow and I caught most of what I weighed from mid-day on.

"It's typical Beaver you never know how or where you're going to catch one. I'm just trying to go places that look good."

He's hoping he doesn't have a repeat of last year, when he weighed 16 pounds on day 1 and only about half that the following day.

"My No. 1 goal for tomorrow is not to suck. I'll probably go with the same game play. If I can get a limit by 10 or 11 o'clock, then I can slow down and throw that Stinger again."

FLW/Curt Niedermier
Photo: FLW/Curt Niedermier

Scott Canterbury caught four of his weigh-in fish off of beds.

3rd: Spawners Boosted Canterbury

> Day 1: 5, 14-14

Canterbury had a superb opening day on the heels of a poor practice.

"I was able to catch a few sight-fish today and that played a big part for me," he said. "A couple of them I had marked and a couple I found today. I'm just fishing and if I see one, I try to catch it.

"I don't have anything to go to tomorrow, but if I run into one I'll see if I can catch it."

He thinks he'll fare okay even if he doesn't find any more bed-fish.

"The conditions tomorrow might hurt the sight-fishing, but they might help other things. I don't even know what I'm going to do yet I'll have to wait and see what's going on. I'll see how the wind's blowing and just fish the conditions.

"I feel pretty good about catching some fish, but you never know what quality they're going to be. If I caught 10 pounds tomorrow, I'd be pretty happy."

3rd: All Largemouths for Arey

> Day 1: 5, 14-14

Arey caught seven largemouths and five spotted bass, but took only green ones to the scale.

"I got on one deal that was working in the last couple hours of the last day of practice," he said. "I'm mixing it up, just fishing and some sight-fishing, but I only weighed in one sight-fish.

"I might've screwed up and caught a couple of 2-pounders late that I'd probably kill for tomorrow. It's all about fish management and I hope it doesn't come back to bite me. You need to catch that 13 to 15 pounds every day."

FLW
Photo: FLW

Matt Arey is bidding to win at Beaver for the second straight year.

He and Wheeler are rooming together and have been sharing information, and they're running the same pattern on the fish they're not looking at.

"This lake is very conditional, so I'm hoping the weather helps that (pattern) tomorrow. I have other things that I can do, but I don't know that they're worth anything. It's just emergency-type stuff to catch 7 or 8 pounds and survive."

154th: Just One for Dodson

> Day 1: 1, 1-12

Arkansan Robbie Dodson found himself at the bottom of the field after catching just a single keeper.

"I think my problem was being hard-headed," he said. "I kind of scrapped my practice because all I could find on the beds were 2-pounders and maybe three 3-pounders. I went and tried to catch fish that were staging and I just couldn't do it."

He got half a dozen bites on a topwater bait, but said he watched three 3-pounders drop the offering immediately after touching it.

"If I could've caught all six bites I would've done okay. I'll go back and do the same thing tomorrow because I can get a good stringer if I catch them. I'll take those same six bites I had today."

Notable

> Day 1 stats 154 anglers, 135 limits, 16 fours, 8 threes, 4 twos, 1 one.

Weather Forecast

> Fri., April 24 T-Storms - 70/61
- Wind: From the SSE at 15 mph

> Sat., April 25 Sunny - 79/52
- Wind: From the WSW at 16 mph

> Sun., April 26 Partly Cloudy - 76/51
- Wind: From the ENE at 12 mph

Day 1 Standings

1. Jacob Wheeler -- Indianapolis, In -- 15-14 (5)

2. Bryan Thrift -- Shelby, Nc -- 15-9 (5)

3. Matt Arey -- Shelby, Nc -- 14-14 (5)

3. Scott Canterbury -- Springville, Al -- 14-14 (5)

5. Cody Meyer -- Auburn, Ca -- 14-7 (5)

6. Darrell Davis -- Dover, Fl -- 14-6 (5)

7. Darrel Robertson -- Jay, Ok -- 14-5 (5)

8. Brandon Cobb -- Greenwood, Sc -- 13-10 (5)

9. Stetson Blaylock -- Benton, Ar -- 13-8 (5)

10. Jim Moynagh -- Carver, Mn -- 13-7 (5)

10. Vic Vatalaro -- Kent, Oh -- 13-7 (5)

12. Dave Lefebre -- Erie, Pa -- 13-6 (5)

13. Wesley Strader -- Spring City, Tn -- 13-5 (5)

14. Tracy Adams -- Wilkesboro, Nc -- 13-3 (5)

15. Andy Morgan -- Dayton, Tn -- 13-2 (5)

15. Mike Surman -- Boca Raton, Fl -- 13-2 (5)

17. Chad Grigsby -- Maple Grove, Mn -- 13-1 (5)

18. Anthony Gagliardi -- Prosperity, Sc -- 12-15 (5)

19. Drew Benton -- Panama City, Fl -- 12-11 (5)

20. Adrian Avena -- Vineland, Nj -- 12-9 (5)

20. Luke Clausen -- Spokane, Wa -- 12-9 (5)

22. Brad Knight -- Lancing, Tn -- 12-6 (5)

23. John Cox -- Debary, Fl -- 12-4 (5)

23. Dion Hibdon -- Sunrise Beach, Mo -- 12-4 (5)

23. Scott Martin -- Clewiston, Fl -- 12-4 (5)

26. Travis Fox -- Rogers, Ar -- 12-1 (5)

27. David Dudley -- Lynchburg, Va -- 12-0 (5)

27. Peter Thliveros -- Saint Augustine, Fl -- 12-0 (5)

29. Larry Nixon -- Bee Branch, Ar -- 11-15 (5)

30. Scott Suggs -- Alexander, Ar -- 11-14 (5)

31. Rob Kilby -- Hot Springs, Ar -- 11-13 (5)

32. Andrew Upshaw -- Sapulpa, Ok -- 11-9 (5)

33. Alvin Shaw -- Roaring Gap, Nc -- 11-8 (5)

34. Zack Birge -- Blanchard, Ok -- 11-7 (5)

35. Stacey King -- Reeds Spring, Mo -- 11-6 (5)

36. Kerry Milner -- Bono, Ar -- 11-5 (5)

37. John Devere -- Berea, Ky -- 11-4 (5)

37. Matthew Stefan -- Junction City, Wi -- 11-4 (5)

39. Barry Wilson -- Birmingham, Al -- 11-2 (5)

40. Charlie Evans -- Gilbertsville, Ky -- 11-1 (5)

41. Pete Ponds -- Madison, Ms -- 10-13 (5)

41. Scott Wiley -- Bay Minette, Al -- 10-13 (5)

41. Michael Wooley -- Collierville, Tn -- 10-13 (5)

44. Jayme Rampey -- Liberty, Sc -- 10-10 (5)

45. Glenn Chappelear -- Acworth, Ga -- 10-9 (5)

45. Brandon Hunter -- Benton, Ky -- 10-9 (5)

45. Jason Meninger -- Gainesville, Ga -- 10-9 (5)

45. Michael Neal -- Dayton, Tn -- 10-9 (5)

49. Tim Malone -- Gatlinburg, Tn -- 10-8 (5)

50. Greg Bohannan -- Bentonville, Ar -- 10-7 (5)

50. Mike Boyles -- Kimberling City, Mo -- 10-7 (5)

50. Clent Davis -- Montevallo, Al -- 10-7 (5)

50. Shane Lehew -- Mooresville, Nc -- 10-7 (5)

50. Clark Wendlandt -- Leander, Tx -- 10-7 (5)

55. Ryan Davidson -- Huntington, Wv -- 10-6 (5)

56. David Smith -- Del City, Ok -- 10-5 (5)

56. Jim Tutt -- Longview, Tx -- 10-5 (5)

58. Jason Johnson -- Gainesville, Ga -- 10-4 (5)

58. Jimmy Reese -- Witter Springs, Ca -- 10-4 (5)

58. Jason Reyes -- Huffman, Tx -- 10-4 (5)

61. James Biggs -- Euless, Tx -- 10-2 (5)

62. Nick Hensley -- Cumming, Ga -- 10-1 (5)

62. Ishama Monroe -- Hughson, Ca -- 10-1 (5)

62. Shad Schenck -- Waynetown, In -- 10-1 (5)

65. Jt Kenney -- Palm Bay, Fl -- 9-15 (5)

66. Clark Reehm -- Huntington, Tx -- 9-14 (5)

66. Spencer Shuffield -- Hot Springs, Ar -- 9-14 (5)

68. Marc Evans -- Angola, In -- 9-11 (5)

69. Shinichi Fukae -- Palestine, Tx -- 9-10 (5)

69. Eric Olliverson -- Lampe, Mo -- 9-10 (5)

71. Cody Kelley -- Conway, Ar -- 9-9 (5)

71. Jay Yelas -- Corvallis, Or -- 9-9 (5)

73. David Fritts -- Lexington, Nc -- 9-6 (4)

74. Lionel Botha -- Fort Pierce, Fl -- 9-5 (5)

75. John Voyles -- Petersburg, In -- 9-4 (5)

76. Charlie Ingram -- Centerville, Tn -- 9-3 (5)

77. Jim Dillard -- West Monroe, La -- 9-2 (5)

78. Mark Daniels Jr -- Tuskegee, Al -- 9-1 (4)

78. Tom Monsoor -- La Crosse, Wi -- 9-1 (5)

80. Rusty Trancygier -- Hahira, Ga -- 9-0 (5)

81. Terry Bolton -- Paducah, Ky -- 8-14 (5)

81. Michael Hall -- Annandale, Va -- 8-14 (5)

81. Chris Neau -- New Orleans, La -- 8-14 (4)

81. Blake Nick -- Adger, Al -- 8-14 (4)

81. Andrew Young -- Mound, Mn -- 8-14 (5)

86. Capt Blake Smith -- Lakeland, Fl -- 8-12 (5)

87. Mark Goines -- Shady Point, Ok -- 8-10 (5)

87. Stephen Patek -- Dallas, Tx -- 8-10 (4)

87. Kevin Stewart -- Elk Grove, Ca -- 8-10 (5)

87. Rodney Thomason -- Maumelle, Ar -- 8-10 (5)

91. Powell Kemp -- Scotland Neck, Nc -- 8-8 (5)

92. Richard Peek -- Centre, Al -- 8-7 (5)

93. Tommy Martin -- Hemphill, Tx -- 8-6 (5)

93. Drew Montgomery -- Maiden, Nc -- 8-6 (5)

95. Dalton Cooksey -- New Concord, Ky -- 8-4 (5)

95. Dale Hightower -- Mannford, Ok -- 8-4 (4)

95. Robert Pearson -- Herndon, Va -- 8-4 (5)

98. Jimmy Houston -- Cookson, Ok -- 8-3 (5)

98. Derrick Snavely -- Rogersville, Tn -- 8-3 (5)

98. Gary Yamamoto -- Palestine, Tx -- 8-3 (5)

101. Chris Baumgardner -- Gastonia, Nc -- 8-2 (4)

101. Lendell Martin Jr -- Nacogdoches, Tx -- 8-2 (5)

103. Jeff Gustafson -- Keewatin, On -- 8-1 (5)

103. Casey Martin -- New Hope, Al -- 8-1 (5)

103. Troy Morrow -- Eastanollee, Ga -- 8-1 (5)

103. Michael Murphy -- Lexington, Sc -- 8-1 (5)

103. Bryan Schmitt -- Deale, Md -- 8-1 (5)

108. Mark Rose -- West Memphis, Ar -- 8-0 (5)

109. Tom Redington -- Royse City, Tx -- 7-15 (5)

109. Austin Terry -- San Angelo, Tx -- 7-15 (5)

111. Ramie Colson Jr -- Cadiz, Ky -- 7-12 (5)

111. Rich Dalbey -- Greenville, Tx -- 7-12 (5)

113. Craig Livesay -- Johnson City, Tn -- 7-11 (4)

113. James Watson -- Springfield, Mo -- 7-11 (5)

115. Jeff Barth -- Marshfield, Wi -- 7-10 (5)

115. Jonathan Newton -- Rogersville, Al -- 7-10 (5)

117. Clayton Batts -- Macon, Ga -- 7-8 (5)

118. Matt Greenblatt -- Port St Lucie, Fl -- 7-4 (5)

119. Tony Davis -- Williston, Fl -- 7-1 (5)

120. Alex Davis -- Albertville, Al -- 6-15 (5)

120. William(Billy) Shelton Iii -- La Crosse, Va -- 6-15 (5)

122. Jimmy Brewer -- Marshall, Tx -- 6-14 (5)

122. Brent Long -- Iron Station, Nc -- 6-14 (5)

124. Jeremy Starks -- Scott Depot, Wv -- 6-13 (5)

125. Nick Prvonozac -- Warren, Oh -- 6-12 (2)

126. Keith Amerson -- Selmer, Tn -- 6-11 (5)

126. Jeff Sprague -- Point, Tx -- 6-11 (5)

128. Bill Mcdonald -- Greenwood, In -- 6-7 (4)

128. Kyle White -- Clinton, Mo -- 6-7 (5)

130. Clay Elliott -- Ozark, Al -- 6-0 (4)

131. Michael Williamson -- Fort Smith, Ar -- 5-13 (4)

132. Todd Hollowell -- Fishers, In -- 5-12 (5)

132. Richard Lowitzki -- Hampshire, Il -- 5-12 (3)

134. Rex Huff -- Corbin, Ky -- 5-11 (3)

135. Jason Lambert -- Pickwick Dam, Tn -- 5-10 (4)

136. Shirley Crain -- Fort Smith, Ar -- 5-8 (4)

137. Randy Blaukat -- Joplin, Mo -- 5-7 (4)

137. Colby Schrumpf -- Highland, Il -- 5-7 (4)

139. Troy Hollowell -- Paducah, Ky -- 4-13 (4)

140. Stephen Mckinnie -- Umatila, Fl -- 4-12 (3)

140. Bill Terrell -- Memphis, Tn -- 4-12 (2)

142. Dustin Grice -- Robinson, Tx -- 4-9 (3)

143. Troy Broussard -- Beaumont, Tx -- 4-8 (1)

144. Dan Morehead -- Paducah, Ky -- 4-6 (3)

145. Randy Haynes -- Counce, Tn -- 3-14 (3)

146. Todd Auten -- Lake Wylie, Sc -- 3-13 (2)

146. Shawn Murphy -- Nicholasville, Ky -- 3-13 (3)

148. Marshall Deakins -- Dunlap, Tn -- 3-10 (3)

149. Bob Morin -- Seymour, Tn -- 3-4 (2)

150. Harry Moore -- Valley, Al -- 2-8 (1)

151. Tony Dumitras -- Winston, Ga -- 2-7 (1)

152. Joe Gerard -- Concordia, Ks -- 2-3 (1)

153. Terry Segraves -- Kissimmee, Fl -- 1-13 (1)

154. Robbie Dodson -- Harrison, Ar -- 1-12 (1)

Big Bass

> Day 1: Brandon Cobb -- 5-05 -- $500