Wednesday, August 20, 2014

FLW Tour's Forrest Wood Cup at Lake Murray, S.C.

Scott Martin of Clewiston, Florida finished in 9th place overall

The FLW Tour is a series of bass fishing tournaments put on by Wal-Mart under the moniker of Fishing League Worldwide. The top bass anglers came from all around the Southeast to take on Lake Murray in the August heat to decide the winner of the season ending Forrest Wood Cup. Two S.C. anglers finished in the Top Five with Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity taking home the trophy and prize money on Sunday’s weigh-in at Colonial Life Arena in downtown Columbia.
Fervent fans were evident at the Forrest Wood Cup weigh in
Gagliardi never led during the four-day Forrest Wood Cup which began fishing on Thursday August 14, but he did advance each day in a tournament formula that requires results. Only 45 bass anglers qualify from the FLW tour to participate in the Forrest Wood Cup, which changes states every year. All the anglers fish on the first two days of the tournament, but then the field is cut down to only the Top Twenty, though all the anglers receive monetary compensation.
Andy Morgan was in town to fish Lake Murray
The entire week had bass fishing fans in frenzy with practice fishing days on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday complete with events for family and media too. The FLW Tour brought a large entourage of tour sponsors with them to South Carolina and they set up a bass fishing expo in the coliseum parking lot for the entire weekend. Displays ranged from fishing equipment companies to Chevrolet trucks, and plenty of fishing celebrities were on hand like Jimmy Houston and Hank Parker.
Other sideline events included the State Fish Art competition sponsored by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources where kids of all ages could submit depictions of their favorite freshwater fish. Another fan favorite was the cook off on Saturday put on by the South Carolina Barbecue Association. All of the educational booths provided plenty of reasons for the public to turn out and enjoy the Forrest Wood Cup festivities before going indoors for the daily 5 p.m. weigh in.
The Day One weigh in on Thursday, although met with lots of fervor from the fans, proved to be a little light in the fish weight department. The FLW tour allows for five largemouth bass to be weighed in per angler, but plenty of these bass fishing pros did not bring a limit with them to the scales. Some of the anglers only had one or two fish to weigh in and a couple even struck out altogether.
Cody Meyer was a fan favorite at the Colonial Life Coliseum
Bass anglers wait at the aeration station
But with a slow weigh-in came the feeling that no one was out of the game yet, and that a strong second day could really change things. Some anglers had come from as far away as California, and they were not going to go home quietly. Plenty of anglers had sections of family in the crowd at the daily coliseum weigh-ins cheering them on, holding up handmade signs and doing all the things that demonstrate their complete support since winning the Cup brings name recognition, a champions banner and trophy.

At the end it was Gagliardi who was the most consistent angler, weighing in five-fish on three of the four days, giving him a grand total of 51-pounds and 2-ounces of bass, which was enough to grab the $500,000 winner’s check. The town of Prosperity, S.C. has a new reason to celebrate after the Forrest Wood Cup, and the FLW Tour can be proud of their champ and of the competition they provided at Lake Murray. 

To read this article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about fresh water click fishing tips or North Santee River or King Kat.

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