Fantasy Fishing: Good ol’ TVA

John Garrett

Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned summertime Tennessee River tournament? In my little experience on Wheeler, it sets up a little different from other popular TVA lakes such as Pickwick or Guntersville. Wheeler is generally a shallower lake, “ledge fishing” is still going to be a primary technique, but they may not be your typical ledges in 15-20 feet of water. Accompany this with an abundance of river bars, backwaters and grass and you have the makings of a great fishery that can spread the best anglers out.

I’d like to think that there will still be some fish on the bank, some in back waters and there should be plenty of fish in the grass on offshore. That should spread some of these guys out and let them fish their strengths. This tournament may be a fun one to watch as some old school techniques may come into play for all anglers.

I based my picks pretty much exclusively on TVA history or just success in the summertime. Let’s get into it.


John Garrett is a dog on the Tennessee River. Garrett is notorious for being a great ledge fisherman having a rich history on Pickwick and Kentucky Lake. He had a decent finish at the St. Croix Bassmaster Open here last year; but overall, just knows how to fish the TVA especially in the summertime.

Don’t Forget About: Jordan Lee

Jordan Lee isn’t going to stop catching them anytime soon. It’s hard to pass him up especially in his home state. Lee has a great history on Smith Lake and Lake Guntersville, so Wheeler should fit right into his wheelhouse (no pun intended). If I wasn’t going with Garrett, I’d pick Jordan Lee.


Brandon Palaniuk is just one of those guys I feel confident picking when it gets into the summertime. He is one of the rare anglers that has fished three Elites on Wheeler and last year’s open where he finished 2nd. I’d look for him to figure out Wheeler this time around and possibly get revenge from last year.

Don’t Forget About: Justin Atkins

Justin Atkins has an abundance of knowledge of TVA lakes and is always a competitor in the summertime. His home lakes of Wilson and Pickwick are just down river from Wheeler. More than likely this tournament will be won off the bank and Atkins is an offshore guru.


I just like Jake Whitaker this week. No real rationale for it, but I have a gut feeling. He can catch them on the bank or offshore, Wheeler will offer both.

Don’t Forget About: Logan Parks

Logan Parks is an Alabama native and a whiz at fishing offshore. He had a solid finish in last season’s Open here finishing 39th and will be able to use some of that history in this event.


Earlier in the year Joseph Webster expressed some enthusiasm for the two Alabama events being in his backyard. Webster has had a solid season thus far and is looking to have a big tournament to keep it rolling.

Don’t Forget About: Bill Lowen

There are likely still going to be fish that are dirt shallow at Wheeler. They might not be tournament winners, but there may be enough to fish Saturday and cut a good check. I like Bill Lowen’s chances of getting in a backwater and exploiting some shallow fish.


Buddy Gross is best known for two things in my book, grass fishing and ledge fishing. Fortunately for him, Wheeler offers both. Both of Gross’s Elite Series wins have come from fishing offshore, and his expertise on the Tennessee River could make him dangerous this week.

Don’t Forget About: David Mullins

I think David Mullins is one of those guys you can never count out. The East Tennessee native can catch them any way they’re biting and after an up and down year, Mullins will be looking for a solid finish at Wheeler.

Falcon Rods Bassmaster Drain the Lake Challenge

• Buddy Gross
• Carl Jocumsen
• Scott Canterbury
• Joseph Webster
• Marc Frazier
• Steve Kennedy
• Frank Talley
• Gerald Swindle