May 12, 2016  by Rob Newell

Shane Powell leads the Costa FLW Series presented by Mercury and hosted by Florence/Lauderdale Tourism on Wheeler Lake, and most of his damage was done off the main lake, back in a creek.

Similarly, others in the top 10 are fishing inside Wheeler’s creeks, cuts, pockets and backwaters. Here is what they had to say about their day.

Powell’s leading pattern

Complete results


Kim Carver

2. Kim Carver – Milledgeville, Ga. – 18-2 (5)

Just 8 ounces behind the leader, Kim Carver finished day one in the runner-up spot.

“Where I caught most of my fish, the water depth is about 25 feet, and I’m catching them on a jig,” Carver says. “I’m throwing right up just in front of the boat. I had a limit by 8:30 this morning, and once I caught about 9 or 10 keepers by 11 o’clock, I left my best areas.”


Dustin Smith

3. Dustin Smith – Mount Dora, Fla. – 17-7 (5)

Dustin Smith caught quite a few keepers – an estimated 30 bass on the day – culling through a lot of fish to accumulate his third-place weight of 17 pounds, 7 ounces.

“I’m not fishing offshore, but I’m not really on the bank either,” Smith says. “I’ve found two places holding big groups of fish, and I only went to one of them today.”


Bryan New

4. Bryan New – Belmont, N.C. – 16-8 (5)

Bryan New says he is junk-fishing his way up and down Wheeler Lake, hitting a lot of shallow banks.

“I probably fished 20 places today that I’ve never seen before in my life,” New says. “I’ll just run into a creek or cove and fish whatever looks good. I’ve thrown a crankbait, a spinnerbait, a ChatterBait and flipped some.

“I did hit one place I found in practice where I culled up two or three times pretty quickly,” New says. “I’m not real sure why they’re there, but there’s good little group of fish in that one area.”


Bradford Beavers

5. Bradford Beavers – Ridgeville, S.C. – 16-6 (5)

Bradford Beavers stayed shallow most of the day to cull through about 10 fish to get to 16 pounds, 6 ounces.

“During practice, I saw some fish still on beds in the area I’m fishing,” Beavers says. “They’ve since pulled off the beds, but they’re still hanging around in those shallow areas. I don’t know if they’re guarding fry or what. I haven’t really seen any bass fry, but for some reason they’ve kept hanging around the bedding areas.”


Peter Cherkas

5. Peter Cherkas – Des Moines, Iowa – 16-6 (5)

Peter Cherkas is tied for fifth place with a day-one catch of 16-6.

Cherkas is one of the few in the top-10 that is truly fishing out offshore in the main lake up in the Decatur Flats area. He has several select spots where he poles down on the flats and targets very specific pieces of cover.

One such place is actually a “blow-out” hole created by barges when they used to swing around to tie up. The big blow-out hole serves as a current breaks for bass ambushing shad along the river ledge.