August 4, 2007 by Rob Newell
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - The 2007 Forrest Wood Cup is starting to look more and more like the "Scott Suggs Show." Saturday morning, a flotilla of some 40 to 50 spectator boats cheered on the Bryant, Ark., native with each keeper bass that he hoisted aboard his boat.
This afternoon when Suggs took the stage with the only five-bass limit of day three, the packed Summit Arena roared with a prolonged ovation.
He now leads the Cup with 11 pounds, a 4-pound advantage over Pedigree pro Greg Pugh of Cullman, Ala.
It's the Scott Suggs show for sure, which presents one dreadful problem for Suggs: The $1 million is his to lose tomorrow - a gut-wrenching thought indeed, but a stark reality in the most lucrative bass tournament in history for one man.
Despite the intense pressure, despite the unbearable heat, despite perhaps a hundred spectators watching him at any given time and despite some technical difficulties early this morning, Suggs has held it together flawlessly to this point.
This morning he caught his first two keepers in the first three casts with a spinnerbait, and that got his day off on the right foot.
While others in the field struggled desperately for a bite - David Dudley being the only other pro coming close to finishing a limit with four keeper bass - Suggs rounded out his limit with just five keeper bass.
"That's all I caught, just five," Suggs said. "Three on a spinnerbait and two on a big worm."
Suggs did reveal that he has been using a ¾-ounce War Eagle spinnerbait with holographic blades and a firecracker skirt as well as two large worms: a Berkley 10-inch Power Worm in plum and a Zoom worm in cherry seed.
Both worms are capped with a 3/8-ounce weight.
"I feel fine," said Suggs, trying to pretend like he is not fishing for a life-changing load of money tomorrow. "Driving back to the arena this afternoon, I thought about making some significant changes in my areas and timing tomorrow, but now that I see where I am in the standings, I'm thinking I might not mess with what I'm doing too much.
"I'm going to start on the same water I've been starting on each day. I might try another bait that I have not been fishing, just to give the fish a little something different to look at.
"They did not pull much water today, and the shad were way outside from the structure, and that makes fishing ultratough here," he added. "If they'll pull just a little water tomorrow, I'll feel a lot better about protecting my lead."
Pugh in second with two
The closest angler to catching Suggs is Greg Pugh. He weighed in two fish today for 6 pounds, 15 ounces for second place, which is a testament to how tough the fishing was today.
Pugh has been fishing deep crankbaits the first two days, but he had to go to a big worm today to catch the two keepers.
"I went to my best cranking spot today and it was different - it just wasn't right," Pugh said. "Mainly I couldn't see the shad on my graph like I have been seeing. They had moved, and I don't really know why - if it's the water coming up or what. So I went to my secondary stuff, which is basically brush piles in about 25 feet of water. I fished a big worm through there and caught those two. Needless to say, I'll probably spend a little bit more time on those piles tomorrow."
Dudley ready to capitalize
In the third-place position is Castrol pro David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., who is waiting for the slightest stumble from Suggs.
Dudley caught four bass today for 6 pounds, 7 ounces to take third place.
"I love Scott to death, but the most encouraging thing he did today from a competitor's perspective is he only caught five," Dudley said. "If he had caught eight or 10, then I might say he's got it. But to know he fished to his best potential today and caught just five gives me just a glimmer of hope."
Dudley's primary pattern got diluted with the rising water today.
"They've had all that rain up here, and they have been pulling this lake hard for 10 straight days," Dudley offered. "When they do that, the bait gathers in certain places out of the current. But now that there has been no rain here for a week or so, they've quit pulling the lake. When that happens, the bait just kind of roams out in open water and so do the bass.
"But if they should happen to pull water tomorrow, it's lights out."
Castrol pros round out top five
Another Castrol pro, Darrel Robertson of Jay, Okla., sits in the fourth-place position with 5 pounds, 14 ounces.
Robertson is throwing a big worm on grass flats adjacent to creek channels.
"I've basically been trying to fish like Larry Nixon - worm'em to death," Robertson said. "But when they don't pull any water out there, it makes it tough. I need that water moving down those channels to position my fish and make them bite."
Rounding out the top five is yet the third Castrol pro in the top 10, Mike Surman of Boca Raton, Fla., with two bass weighing 4 pounds, 4 ounces.
The stage is now set for the first $1 million winner in professional bass fishing.
Can Suggs keep his show going? Can he be caught? How will this historical moment in bass fishing turn out?
The story will be told Sunday as the top 10 pros take to the water for the fourth and final day of competition of the Forrest Wood Cup at 7 a.m. at Brady Mountain Resort, located at 4120 Brady Mountain Road in Royal, Ark.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 pros in the 2007 Forrest Wood Cup after day three:
6th: John Devere of Berea, Ky., three bass, 3-14
7th: Clark Wendlandt of Leander, Texas, one bass, 3-4
8th: Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., two bass, 2-12
9th: Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., one bass, 1-4
10th: Jack Wade of Knoxville, Tenn., zero bass, 0