Lunker Lessons: Wheeler

Chris Payne learned a valuable lesson when he caught the biggest bass — on the pro side — of the Southern Open on Wheeler Lake.

 "I fished the same creek all week. It was the only place I knew to fish, and it was producing good bass so I didn't see any reason to leave it. On the second day the water got a little muddy. As I was moving down the shoreline in a spawning bay looking for clear water, I saw a laydown stretched across a point. It looked like a perfect big fish spot.

 "I threw a 5/8-ounce Chatterbait — chartreuse and white with a gold blade — up near the bank and brought it back real fast right against the tree. She hit it like there was no tomorrow. It just about jerked the rod out of my hand.

 "Sometimes you have to keep your eyes open. I'd been fishing that creek for days, but this was the first time I saw the tree. Now I know: Look around even if you're catching bass. You never know what you might find."

 Tackle: A Powell 7-foot, 3-inch rod (heavy action), a Shimano Curado reel (7:1 gear ratio) and 50-pound-test PowerPro line.