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Jacob Wheeler – Ranked No. 1 Bass Fisherman in the World Day 1: Bass Angler Jacob Wheeler Tells Us How He Started Fishing Professionally

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Editor’s Note: Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tennessee, is probably one of the most-unusual yet successful tournament bass fishermen I’ve ever met. Arriving 10-years ago on the professional bass-fishing circuits at the age of 20, he’s earned more than $2.5 million in tournament winnings – not counting the income he’s also received from his sponsors. He’s currently ranked No. 1 world-wide on BassFan ( Wheeler is the first tournament bass fisherman I’ve ever met who runs five different fish finders from three different companies on his boat. Wheeler’s wife is Alicia, and his 1-year old daughter is Olivia. To learn more, check out his Facebook page at

As a child, I had a lifelong dream of being a professional bass fisherman like many young anglers do. Fishing always had been a passion of mine, and I’d always wanted to reach the highest level of fishing available. I fished a lot of junior bass-fishing tournaments when I was in high school because my high school didn’t have a bass-fishing team. I did really well competing in Indiana and Ohio and won a couple of state championships when I was young. I convinced my parents to let me stay out of college for a couple of years to see what I could do as a tournament bass fisherman. When I was 19-years old, I fished the Buckeye Division of the BFL Circuit in Ohio. This was the first tournament that I’d entered, and surprisingly, I tied for the win. As a 19-year-old, winning a few thousand dollars was a fortune to me, but I was still very careful with how I spent my money. Before competing in a tournament, I’d sleep in my truck instead of booking a hotel room, and I was very careful about the amount of gas I put in my boat. I knew if I used the gas all up, I wouldn’t have enough gas to fish the next tournament.

After that first win, I qualified for the regional championship of the BFL circuit, which was to be held in th   e fall of 2010 on Kentucky Lake. Later on, in May 2011, I qualified to fish in the BFL All-American tournament. By then I was only 20-years old. I received $100,000 after winning that tournament, which really jump-started my professional bass-fishing career.

In an interview after that tournament, I was asked, “Do you think you’re rich now?” The answer was: No, I didn’t think then, and I don’t think now that I’m rich. Since I didn’t have a lot growing up, I learned early that money doesn’t grow on trees. So, I was careful and smart about how I used my tournament earnings. I was more excited about moving up and having the opportunity to fish professionally the next year than I was about the money I had won.

I was also very excited about the sponsors who reached out to me. The first sponsor I ever had was Bass Boat Saver (, and I still work with this company today. This small company in Indianapolis, Indiana, produces products that help bass fishermen take better care of their boats. The owner of the company took me fishing and to multiple tournaments, teaching me a ton about how to compete and catch bass. My second sponsor was a company called Fatheadz Eyewear ( from Evansville, Louisiana. The third company to come on-board was Rapala ( which is a Normark Company. I’ve been a part of Rapala’s family since I was 20-years old. I also had quite a few small companies that helped me out with gas money to travel to tournaments.

To learn more about catching bass, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “Bass Pros: Season by Season Tactics,” at, available in Kindle and print versions, and Click here for the Audible link.

Tomorrow: Jacob Wheeler’s Big Bass Fishing Mistake and Wins

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