AdvBassStats: Wheeler Lake Open

The 2023 St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Wheeler Lake in Alabama got off to a great start, with 40 anglers bringing 15 pounds or more and a full-field average over 11 pounds on Day 1. Three anglers broke the 20-pound barrier, led by Trey McKinney with 21-15.
Day 2 wasn’t as kind to the field. Wheeler was fishing small, putting pressure on both the fish and the anglers trying to share the water above them. Brett Cannon scored the only 20+ on Friday. Cannon as half as many 15-pound bags were brought in and the average dropped to 9.5 pounds.
The Top 10 for Day 3 included one angler in the Bassmaster Opens EQ Angler of the Year Top 10 (McKinney) and two Bassmaster Elite Series anglers – Clark Wendlandt and Brandon Palaniuk. Sam George held the two-day lead over a tightly packed final 10. The tournament was up for grabs on Day 3.
In the end, we had the kind of shakeup that a tightly packed field can yield. Wisconsin’s Adam Rasmussen moved up from seventh to take the victory, with a final-day best of 21-11. In a bit of déjà vu, Brandon Palaniuk wound up in second place for the second consecutive week, and again by mere ounces. He had come within 2 ounces of the win at the Lay Lake Elite Series event just one week before and missed the winning three-day weight by 7 ounces here at Wheeler.
With only 10 anglers competing and everyone in contention, final day weights were fantastic, with eight of 10 anglers over 15 pounds.
Reviewing the top three-day weights, Rasmussen did his damage with big bags on Days 1 and 3. Palaniuk was on an upward trend throughout the event but just needed a few more ounces. Austin Cranford in third was the most consistent of the high finishers, scoring all three bags over 16 pounds.
In the Opens EQ AOY race, John Garrett retained his commanding lead for the second consecutive event. Elite Series anger Kenta Kimura climbed into second place, cutting two points out of Garrett’s big lead. Trey McKinney was the only member of the AOY top 10 to make the final day at Wheeler – his second Top 10 of the year – and he moved into third.
All of the current AOY top 10 were also among the top 12 after the third event. Robert Gee (11) and Joey Nania (12) moved into this chart, and within sight of the qualification line — top 10 if Kimura stays in the rankings, since he’s already an Elite Series angler.
One of the more popular pieces of content on the AdvBassStats social media this year has been EQ Angler profile “cards”. These are images from a live web dashboard showing each angler’s current standing in the rankings, their event finishes and season average. The full list of cards is available on a webpage. If you have a favorite EQ angler, you can look them up by name or AOY position to see where they stand and how they got there.
As always, there is much more of this type of analysis posted on the @advbassstats page on Instagram and Facebook. Stop by and say, “Hello.”