August 17, 2014 by David A. Brown
COLUMBIA, S.C. – How much is enough? For Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi, it was an ounce. That’s what it took to edge Straight Talk pro Scott Canterbury and win the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart and hosted by Capital City/Lake Murray Country with 51 pounds, 2 ounces. Gagliardi hoisted the Cup before a packed house at Colonial Life Arena.
Details on top finishers will follow, but here’s the upshot: Just 11 ounces separated first and fifth places. For fans of this sport, a weigh-in like this delivers memories not soon forgotten. Safe to say, that sentiment runs a good bit deeper for the local favorite from Prosperity, S.C.
“It just falls in line with everything else that happened this year,” he says. “I made it into the Cup by 1 ounce. It’s just fitting.”
Gagliardi was a statistical improbability from the start; and not the start of the tournament – the start of the season. His season began as horribly as an angler could imagine when he was disqualified at the Walmart FLW Tour opener at Lake Okeechobee due to an inadvertent rules infraction.
“This is just a testament of faith and stick-to-itiveness,” he notes. “All that stuff, this was just a year that I probably needed from a personal standpoint and an emotional standpoint. I think I proved to myself that no matter what happens now, that staying positive will always bring about the best outcome.”
A win anywhere would no doubt equally merit that sentiment. However, Gagliardi says that doing so in front of his home crowd magnified the moment.
In addition to the impressive piece of hardware he now owns, Gagliardi won $500,000 – yet another reason to love his home waters.
“Lake Murray is known as ‘The Jewel of South Carolina,’ and it’s been my jewel for sure,” he says. “I’ve won a lot of money here.”
On days one and two, Gagliardi caught bass on a 5-inch Basstrix swimbait in scaled sardine paired with a 3/8-ounce Buckeye swimbait head over shallow grass points where bass were chasing blueback herring in about 5 feet of water. He also caught fish the first three days in the Saluda River on a Zoom Ol’ Monster worm Texas rigged on a 4/0 hook with a 1/4-ounce weight.
On the final day, he committed to casting Zoom Flukes and Yamamoto D Shads (white and olive shad colors) on a 4/0 weighted-shank hook with 10- and 12-pound-test Gamma fluorocarbon line. Fishing in about 15 to 20 feet down near the dam, Gagliardi opted for a single bait, rather than the “double fluke” rig often used on blueback lakes.
“I like the single because I like to make precise, accurate casts,” he says. “The double rig is good sometimes, but it’s cumbersome, and if they come up busting and you get tangled, you’ll miss them.
“I can throw the single fluke far enough, and I can be accurate with it," he adds. "That’s important because when that fish comes up and busts, you have three seconds max to get a bait there. If you don’t, he’s gone.”
Gagliardi placed seventh on days one and two with 13-2 and 10-3, improved to third on day three with 13-25 (his biggest limit of the tournament), and sealed the deal today with a limit of 13-14.
Blowouts are cool – at least to the winner – and no doubt it feels good to race across the finish line with competitors a distant dust cloud away in the rear-view mirror. But a photo-finish win is a win nonetheless, and often such victories hold the greatest backstories.
“I’m proud of myself for what I overcame this year,” Gagliardi says. “This season has been a roller coaster of emotions, but I’m glad it ended on top. Most roller coasters end at the bottom, but this one ended on top.”
Gagliardi was quick to credit his wife, Kristin, for the support and encouragement that pulled him through a tough season.
“This win started with my wife, who was there from day one encouraging me and telling me I could do it even when I didn’t think I could,” he told the appreciative crowd. “If it wasn’t for her, I couldn’t have done it.”
Top 10 Patterns
Click here to read about the patterns of the top 10 pros at the Forrest Wood Cup.
The Top 10
1: Anthony Gagliardi, 51-2
2: Scott Canterbury, 51-1
3: Brent Ehrler, 50-11
4: Casey Ashley, 50-7
5: Steve Kennedy, 50-7
6: Matt Herren, 48-0
7: Bryan Thrift, 44-6
8: Michael Wooley, 43-4
9: Scott Martin, 35-13
10: Jacob Wheeler, 33-7
For complete results, click here.
Watch Gagliardi's winning day from start to finish.