Top lures at Wheeler Lake 2023

The spawning cycle transitioned toward postspawn as largemouth migrated to the offshore bars and ledges at the St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Wheeler Lake. 
Making it to Championship Saturday took a one-two punch of capitalizing on an early gizzard shad spawn and then shifting game plans to the transition areas between shallow and deeper water. 
The ledges got notoriously crowded, and Adam Rassmussen waited his turn until having an area to himself, weighing 21 pounds, 11 ounces on Championship Saturday. 
Adding to that, Rassmussen had limits of 19-2 and 14-2 on the first two days, for a tournament total of 54-15. Rassmussen’s earnings included an invitation to the 2024 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic. Stock up now on your summertime baits used by the top anglers at Wheeler. 
Click here to buy these lures at Bass Pro Shops.
Allen Johnson (10th; 46-12)
Johnson alternated between a drop shot and Texas rig. 
Johnson made a drop shot with a 6-inch Big Bite Baits Trick Stick, rigged on a 4/0 hook. 
He also used a Big Bite Baits Tour Swim Worm, with a 4/0 hook and 5/16 weight.
Justin Kimmel (9th; 47-9)
Kimmel rotated between a structure jig and hard plastic swimbait that he designed with Clutch Swimbait Co. 
He covered bottom structure with this 5/8-ounce Omega Custom Tackle Pro Mega Structure Jig, with a Berkley PowerBait Shape 108 Craw for a trailer. 
Here is the Clutch Swimbait Darter that Kimmel designed for Clutch Swimbait Co. 
Harry Peyton (8th;49-15)
Peyton rotated through a topwater frog and two Texas-rigged baits for flipping and pitching. 
Peyton used this Spro Poppin’ Frog 65 for covering water. 
For fishing isolated cover, he used this Big Bite Baits Trick Stick rigged on a 3/0 Lazer Trokar HD Worm Hook, with a 1/4-ounce weight. 
Alternatively, he used this Berkley PowerBait Pit Boss rigged on a 3/0 Lazer Trokar HD Worm Hook, with a 1/4-ounce weight.
Trey McKinney (7th; 50-1)
McKinney alternated between a wacky rig and jig. 
A top choice was this Strike King Ocho with a nail weight inserted into one end, rigged on a Gamakatsu 2/0 Octopus Circle Hook. 
McKinney also used a 3/8-ounce Strike King Denny Brauer Structure Jig, with a Strike King Rage Twin Menace Grub for a trailer. 
JT Russell (6th; 51-2)
To cover the water column of his strike zone, Russell relied on a swim jig and bladed jig. 
He used this 3/8-ounce Dirty Jigs Swim Jig, with a Zoom Speed Craw for a trailer. 
For extended coverage, he used this 3/8-ounce Z-Man ChatterBait JackHammer, with a Jackall Rhythm Wave trailer. 
Click here to buy these lures at Bass Pro Shops.
Clark Wendlandt (5th; 51-2)
Wendlandt rotated between a crankbait and drop shot to cover his desired strike zone. 
A top choice was a Strike King 4.0 Magnum Squarebill. Wendlandt fished the crankbait on a Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Platinum Signature 8.3:1 ratio reel, with Sunline 20-pound Sniper Fluorocarbon, and a 7-foot medium/heavy Bass Pro Shops Crankin’ Stick. 
He made a drop shot with a Strike King Filler Worm, rigged on a 2/0 Owner Cover Shot Worm Hook, with a 1/4-ounce Strike King Tour Grade Tungsten Weight. He fished the rig on a Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Platinum Signature Spinning Reel, with 12-pound Sunline Sniper leader, and a 7-foot Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris CarbonLite 2.0 Spinning Rod. 
Sam George (4th; 52-5)
George relied on his local knowledge of Wheeler to score with this lineup of baits. 
George used this prototype 2.5-ounce spoon being designed by Chris Zaldain to be released at ICAST. 
He also relied on a Tennessee River ledge fishing staple, the Strike King 6XD.
Another standard for river ledge fishing is this Strike King Series 4.0 Squarebill. 
Austin Cranford (3rd; 53-7)
Cranford rotated finesse baits with a bladed jig. 
He used this 3/8-ounce Z-Man ChatterBait JackHammer, with a Yamamoto Zako Swimbait for a trailer.
Alternatively, he used a trick-style worm on a 1/0 VMC Finesse Neko Hook. 
For reaction strikes, Cranford used a 6th Sense Fishing Provoke Series jerkbait. 
Brandon Palaniuk (2nd; 54-8)
Palaniuk covered his ledge fishing zone with a jerkbait and Texas rig. 
For covering water, he used this Megabass Vision 110 jerkbait.
For probing bottom cover, Palaniuk rigged up this X Zone 11-inch Blitz Worm, on a 5/0 VMC RedLine Series Hybrid Wide Gap hook, with a 3/8-ounce X Zone Tungsten Flipping Weight. 
Adam Rasmussen (1st; 54-15)
Rusmussen rotated through a drop shot and soft plastic baits. 
Rasmussen made a drop shot with a 6-inch Roboworm, fished on a 1/0 VMC RedLine Series Worm Hook, with a 1/4-ounce VMC Drop Shot Weight.
He also used a prototype Clean Up Craw, with a 3/4-ounce VMC Swinging Ruby Jig. The soft plastic bait will debut in July at the ICAST trade show. 
Rasmussen also used a 1/2-ounce Z-Man ChatterBait JackHammer, with a Freeloader trailer, also to come out at ICAST.