Stan Wheeler and Larry Phebus took a fishing trip to a lake near West Point on Nov. 17. The day dawned bright and sunny and Wheeler started catching bass as soon as he started fishing. Little did he know that the day would be a memorable trip, even a lifetime memory.
Most of the bass in the lake were small but they were excited about the opportunity to catch a fish.
Wheeler was catching bass and enjoying being out at the lake on a mild fall day.
“I’m always thinking of ways to make a lure better, or I’m modifying them,” Wheeler said. “I modified a Beetle Spin so that I could get it to run like I wanted it to and started catching a lot of fish on it.”
On his first trip with the new lure, his fishing buddy laughed at it. After Wheeler caught five in a row, his buddy was asking for one of them. Wheeler has since caught 30 bass on it in one day.
“I’d caught about a dozen bass that day and just flipped the lure out and let it go down and then pumped it up again,” Wheeler said. “Most of the bass were stunted and small but they were fun to catch.
“Wham! A bass smashed the lure and took off to my left. He was probably about 4 to 5 feet down and he got hung on the submerged brush, so I just kept the line tight but eased up on him a little and he swam off the brush.”
Wheeler kept up the pressure and kept battling the bass after he got him off the brush.
“I was reeling him straight in and he just swam right up into some brush along the bank and ‘Boom’, my line broke,” Wheeler said. “I walked down the bank to the brush and saw the bass tangled up in the limbs so I reached down and grabbed him. When I pulled him out of the water he just kept getting bigger and bigger.”
The bass had wrapped the line in the brush and was stuck tight to the limb, so he couldn’t move. This allowed Wheeler to reach down and grab the bass’s jaw and hoist him out of the limbs and water.
“Larry came over to see what I’d caught and got the digital scales out to weigh the fish,” Wheeler said. “I’d never caught one that big and didn’t know how big he was, but I did know he was a really huge bass.”
Phebus weighed the bass three times on digital scales and it came up to 12.6 pounds, a huge bass anywhere.
“The biggest bass I ever caught before was 8 pounds and this one was so much bigger,” Wheeler said. “I guess he’d been gorging himself on those stunted bass in that lake and really bulked up.”
The ‘Wheeler Special’
Wheeler thinks that the bass had never seen anything like his customized beetle spin, so it didn’t hesitate when he pitched the lure out there.
“I replaced the blade on the beetle spin and put on a bigger round blade and a bigger head,” Wheeler said. “Then I put a larger body on the lure and they just liked it from the first time I fished it. We’ve caught big bream, crappie, and bass on the lure, that my partner dubbed a ‘Wheeler Special.’ I like the junebug or black and blue flake color on it too.”
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