Click here to continue 1 / 29 Decatur, Ala., is ground zero for this week’s Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite at Wheeler Lake. Photo: B.A.S.S. 2 / 29 Wheeler Dam, named for Civil War general and U.S. Congressman Joseph ‘Joe’ Wheeler, is one of nine TVA dams on the Tennessee River. Wheeler is the state’s second largest lake, stretching 60 miles and covering 67,100 acres. Photo: B.A.S.S. 3 / 29 Painted Bluff at Merrill Mountain is an easily recognizable landmark up river toward Lake Guntersville. Photo: B.A.S.S. 4 / 29 This will be the Elites’ fourth event at Wheeler. Ingalls Harbor at 802 B Wilson St. NW in Decatur, Ala., is site of the 6:15 a.m. CT launches and 3 p.m. weigh-ins. Each will be held daily Thursday through Sunday, and all B.A.S.S. events are free. Photo: B.A.S.S. 5 / 29 Timmy Horton, who lives down lake in Muscle Shoals, said conditions with vegetation have improved of late, which should mean most anglers fillingd limits and daily weights into the teens. Photo: B.A.S.S. 6 / 29 David Walker was the most recent Elite winner on Wheeler, taking the Dixie Duel title in 2011. Photo: B.A.S.S. 7 / 29 Walker was coming off a horrible event in Little Rock, Ark., where he missed a lock and was penalized for being late to check-in. He finished 98th out of 99 anglers and went to Wheeler with little hope of making the Classic. Photo: B.A.S.S. 8 / 29 Even though he caught a 4-11 on his first cast on Day 1, Walker never had a moment over the next four days when he felt like victory was at hand. Photo: B.A.S.S. 9 / 29 “It seems like nothing ever comes easy for me,” Walker told Steve Wright at the time. “On top of everything else, I’m fishing a ‘community hole’ at Wheeler. It wasn’t like I had some secret spot all to myself.” Photo: B.A.S.S. 10 / 29 A good draw had him first on the ledge after a 25-mile run. He had two good fish before Skeet Reese and several others arrived. Photo: B.A.S.S. 11 / 29 “You had to wait and watch where the other guy’s cast landed to make sure you didn’t cast over his line,” Walker said. “It was hard to make a cast, but all of us were catching ‘em. It was just a trainwreck.” Photo: B.A.S.S. 12 / 29 Walker weighed 18-2 on Day 1 for second place, then took the lead after Friday. Bradley Roy had the lead going into Day 4, but could only manage 10 pounds on Championship Sunday. Photo: B.A.S.S. 13 / 29 Kevin VanDam, finishing off his run of four consecutive AOY’s that year, threatened Walker on the final day. Photo: B.A.S.S. 14 / 29 But Walker’s 15-0 bag gave him 63-10 over four days, a 1-13 margin over KVD. Photo: B.A.S.S. 15 / 29 Although he was approaching 100 events fished with B.A.S.S., the win was Walker’s first. Photo: B.A.S.S. 16 / 29 Besides a check of $100,000, Walker’s biggest ever in fishing, it secured Walker’s first Classic berth since 2006. Photo: B.A.S.S. 17 / 29 Misty Walker, David’s wife of 10 years, and their two daughters, Lilly, and Olivia, were in attendance for his Father’s Day win. Photo: B.A.S.S. 18 / 29 His goal of returning to the Classic had seemed all but unreachable just two weeks before after his disaster on the Arkansas River. So the victory on Wheeler had to seem like a storybook ending. Photo: B.A.S.S. 19 / 29 Through a series of flipping and pitching casts from a hidden cove, Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Okla., accumulated 50 pounds, 13 ounces over three days to win the Wheeler Lake Elite in 2009. Photo: B.A.S.S. 20 / 29 Biffle found a secluded spot on Wheeler Lake without any other boat traffic and remained committed to it through the weather-shortened event. Friday was canceled due to unsafe river conditions. Photo: B.A.S.S. 21 / 29 Biffle, who bagged 14-13 on Sunday's final day, said he was fishing in about 6 inches of water on the first day and the water was stained for the remainder of the event. Photo: B.A.S.S. 22 / 29 “I was more concerned that the river bottom was going to drop and my area would be dry,” Biffle said. “With the quality of the maps and GPS detail now, you can find places that you could never find before. You know this is right up my alley as I don't like to have others near. I was fortunate no one came in there.” Photo: B.A.S.S. 23 / 29 Biffle edged Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C., who totaled 46-4 to finish second. Photo: B.A.S.S. 24 / 29 Despite missing several big bites on the final day, Biffle earned $100,000 with his second Elite title. Photo: B.A.S.S. 25 / 29 Biffle has fished more than 300 event with the Bassmasters, and Wheeler will be fondly remembered among his seven titles. He’s won other Elite events on his home water of Fort Gibson Lake and the Mississippi River out of La Crosse, Wis. Photo: B.A.S.S. 26 / 29 A year before Biffle won, Jeremy Starks was a nervous wreck in battling Kevin VanDam for the Elite title on Wheeler, although no one would have guessed it as Starks was rather boisterous about their battle. Photo: B.A.S.S. 27 / 29 VanDam had 78-2 post when the third-year pro from Charleston, W.Va., came to the scales needing 21-8. He had 21-15 to defeat KVD by 8 ounces. Photo: B.A.S.S. 28 / 29 “You can't imagine what I felt like up there in that boat, getting ready to weigh in," Starks said. "I knew it was going to come down to ounces, and I was that nervous." Photo: B.A.S.S. 29 / 29 It was a career highlight for Starks. “If you're going to beat somebody, he's the best. Watching Kevin before I got into professional bass fishing, he was my hero. To come here and beat him is unbelievable.” Photo: B.A.S.S.