Jacob Wheeler of Indianapolis, Ind., did the unbelievable by not only beating some of the best anglers in bass fishing at the Forrest Wood Cup but by doing at the age of 21 in dominating and record setting fashion to take home the $500,000 prize. He started the week with a record-setting first-day Forrest Wood Cup weight of 21 pounds, 15 ounces, giving him a record margin for the lead. Then he dominated by leading all four days and sealing the deal with a solid limit on the final morning to win by more than 7 pounds and becoming the youngest Forrest Wood Cup champion of all time. He weighed 60 pounds, 1 ounce for the four days.
Wheeler has spent his week up the Chattahoochee River in very shallow water fishing eddies and current breaks and mixing that up with several big bluegill beds down lake. He would target bass around isolated pieces of cover in the form of rocks, stumps, laydowns and more. Today he only had six keeper bites. But the fishing has been a mix of flipping Trigger X plastics, Rapala and Brian’s Bee’s topwaters, Rapala DT Fat and even a Rapala X-Rap Prop.
“I got to thank Jay Yelas. Today he approached me and told me to go win that thing up the river. He and I have been sharing water up there, and he didn’t have to do that.
“In pre-practice I ran up there in a Jet boat but you’re not allowed to use those boats in competition. I caught quite a few good ones up there. So the last day of pre-practice I ran up in a glass boat to see how far I could get up there.
“I caught several fish on two different prop baits. Three of my big fish that first day came on a vibrating jig like a Chatterbait. The second day I adjusted from the prop bait that was mimicking a bluegill really well and switched to a more slender Rapala X-Rap Prop to show them a different profile. I caught most of my weight flipping the third day with a Trigger-X Goo Bug. I ran an hour the end of the third day to the other end of the lake to fish two banks and I upgraded by a pound and a quarter and then lost a 5-pounder on the other bank.
“Today I stayed up river at about 1:30 p.m. today. I’ve been saving a bluegill bed for the last day. So I ran down there today. I didn’t figure I needed it until today so I ran down there today and caught one of my better fish.
“That first day limit was the biggest I’ve ever weighed in a professional tournament. It was huge for giving me confidence in this event. It was so much like the All-American I won on Cross Lake. It felt very familiar and had a way of sort of keeping me calm because I felt like I had been here before.