Fed contenders to have a variety of options

DECATUR, Ala. — Alabama’s Wheeler Lake will be a multiple-choice test for contenders in the 2012 Cabela’s Bassmaster Federation Nation Championship in Decatur next week, Oct. 25-27.

“It is one of the few Tennessee River lakes you can bring in a good bag of spotted bass from a few locations, but the smallmouth and largemouth usually dominate,” said Bassmaster Elite Series pro Tim Horton, who frequently fishes Wheeler in the fall.

“The water temperature will probably be in the upper 60s or lower 70s, so fishing should be pretty good.”

The competitors will also have a variety of patterns and areas to choose from as the cooling water temperatures turn on the fish throughout the lake.

“The fish will be moving into the big creeks and tributaries like Elk River and First and Second creeks, and Spring Creek on the lower end will be good,” said Horton. “There will be guys in the Top 10 fishing offshore summertime structure and there will be guys catching them right along the bank on top. There will be fish doing everything.”

Quality smallmouth can be taken during this time fishing the current below Guntersville Dam with Yum Money Minnows or plastic grubs on jigheads. Horton predicts there will be a good topwater bite on Zara Spooks and Rebel Pop-Rs and Fat Free Shad crankbaits in the citrus shad hue will also trigger plenty of strikes along ledges.

The Alabama pro also lists bluff walls and boat docks as key targets for the championship contenders to hit.

See who's competing in this gallery and keep up during weigh-ins using this score card.

Lake Facts

  • Forage base: threadfin shad
  • Surface acreage: 67,100 acres
  • Shoreline mileage: 1,063 miles
  • Average depth: 16 feet
  • Expected water clarity: 1 to 2 feet of visibility at midlake; 3 to 4 feet on lower end
  • Dominant structure/cover: stumpfields, flats, bluffs and boat docks
  • Predicted winning weight: 40 pounds
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