Options could be plentiful at Wheeler Lake

Our next stop on the Bassmaster Elite Series — Wheeler Lake — is a place I haven’t fished much, but I have some ideas on what to expect. Obviously, current on a river system is key to where those fish set up on the offshore structure.

As far as timing, where I live in Oklahoma is roughly the same latitude as the tournament site, and the fish here really haven’t moved out. I think it’s possible we might find the fish on Wheeler in a similar stage.

I’m hoping there will still be some fish targeting the bluegill spawn. That will be an opportunity to catch a couple of good ones early or up in the day. If you have to go out there and do the offshore ledge stuff, which I’m not very good at, you can sometimes pick up a good fish. You can fill out your limit throughout the day.

I don’t think you can win doing only the shallow thing. I feel like, with these river system lakes, it seems those fish get pulled to that offshore stuff in the summer.

Another possible scenario I’ll watch for is a mayfly hatch. Sometimes that deal extends a little past the month of May, and it could keep those bluegills up shallow. In turn, you’d have bass eating the bluegill.

That deal is hit-or-miss, but this year, it seems like the weather went from cold to hot really fast, so there could be some mayfly action. That’s something that will last throughout the day, so you could stick a topwater or a YUM Dinger in our hand and go down the bank all day looking for that.

I don’t know how the boat traffic is on Wheeler, but I’m sure there will be some recreational boats to consider. Regardless, I think getting in the right rotation on some key spots will be one of the biggest considerations. If you get behind some guys, maybe they pull a few fish out of the school and bust the fish up. It will take a while for the fish to get back to where they were.

One thing I’ll have to pay close attention to is the current. That’s something we don’t have to deal with as much in Oklahoma, but on the Tennessee River, it plays a big role in positioning those fish.

That’s going to be the real challenge for me — figuring out how to manage my time when they’re pulling current. You have to know how the current affects certain areas and how it differs when they’re pulling water through the Guntersville Dam compared to releasing it through the Wheeler Dam on the other end of the lake.

Wherever you fish, execution is always key, but I feel like it’s going to be very important in this event. Wheeler’s a big lake, but it’s not that big. It’s long and narrow.

If a guy can find something a little off the wall — shallow or deep — and have it to himself, maybe he can start on the ledges and then go do something different. That might be the key to separating yourself from the field.