jacob wheeler
Major League Fishing: Josh Gassmann

Jacob Wheeler Looks to Keep Building Upon His Legacy Following Superb Season

The defending MLF Angler of the Year has set a high bar for himself.

The 2021 season on the Bass Pro Tour might as well have been called the "Jacob Wheeler Show," as he won three events and claimed the Angler of the Year title. Even though fellow pro Ott DeFoe won two events and held the points lead most of the season, Wheeler was in a class of his own, as he won with dominating finishes and finished second in another event.

Those who follow professional fishing know Wheeler's name well from his success ever since he burst onto the scene in 2012 with a big win at the Forrest Wood Cup, and the scary part for the other anglers is that he seems to be getting better and better every year.

As the 2022 Bass Pro Tour season begins, Wheeler will look to continue his momentum and build on his already-stellar resume.

Wheeler Wins Often

Looking back at Wheeler's career, he's always been a home-run-hitting angler who frequently wins. This goes back to his younger years when he won the prestigious BFL All-American at age 20, the youngest ever to do so. That event is the pinnacle of amateur tournament bass fishing and was the stepping stone for Wheeler to embark on his fantastic career.

Since that win, he's taken home the Forrest Wood Cup title. He did that at age 21 in 2012, also the youngest ever to win that event. After that, he also won two Bassmaster events, one on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit trophy and five times on the Bass Pro Tour. Oh, he also won Major League Fishing's 2019 World Championship, the culmination of their postseason Cup events for that season.

You can pretty much pencil Wheeler in for a win every season and he will likely contend in several events this season and could realistically win any of the events on the schedule. Winning consistently builds legacies and Wheeler has proven he has what it takes to hoist trophies at the end of tournaments, regardless of the fishery type or tournament format.

To build on his resume, Wheeler will need to keep winning and he's got the right mindset and skills to make it happen.

AOYs Matter

After several years of being right in the hunt for the year-end title that is so regarded, Wheeler finally claimed his first Angler of the Year title in 2021 after his remarkable season.

Winning an event is the culmination of a good week, whereas the AOY title shows consistency across an entire season on various fisheries and in all seasons. This is why the anglers themselves value these titles above all.

Legendary angler Roland Martin is the leader as he won the Bassmaster Angler of the Year title nine times. Remarkably, he did that in just 15 years between 1971 and 1995. Second on the list is Kevin VanDam, almost universally accepted as the greatest ever, with eight Angler of the Year titles. He won seven with Bassmaster and one with FLW.

Wheeler has a long way to go to catch those two, but age is on his side. At 32 years old, he's just approaching what many consider the prime of professional bass anglers, who tend to be at the top of their game in the mid thirties through their mid forties.

Looking Ahead at 2021

The Bass Pro Tour season has a unique schedule with some new fisheries and some that haven't hosted a professional level event in recent memory. Wheeler is one of the best in the game at figuring out new water bodies, which should bode well for him this year on tour. He'll also have a home game of sorts as the fifth stop will be on Watts Bar Reservoir, the next lake on the Tennessee River from his home near Lake Chickamauga in Tennessee.

To build on his legacy, Wheeler will need to continue to stack up trophies at events and win more Angler of the Year titles. He's a once-in-a-generation angler and has proven with remarkable consistency that he knows how to quickly figure out what the fish are doing better than anyone else and he has the trophy room to back it up.