August 8, 2010 by Gary Mortenson
2010 Forrest Wood Cup
Lake Lanier - Atlanta, Ga.
Hawk swoops in for victory ... In November 2009, Kevin Hawk made a fateful decision. Having already qualified for the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup through the FLW Series National Guard Western Division, Hawk decided to relocate from his home in Ramona, Calif., to Buford, Ga., in an effort to put as much time on Lake Lanier as possible in order to maximize his success at this year's championship. As it turned out, it was an ingenious decision. Using a four-day catch of 50 pounds, 14 ounces, Hawk took home the prestigious 2010 Forrest Wood Cup title - winning by more than 2 full pounds. "My whole goal was to fish the FLW Tour as a co-angler and get as much time on Lake Lanier as I could." Hawk also had another important goal. Heading into the Cup, he made himself a promise that if he didn't gain a spot in the finals, he would seriously consider retiring from the high-octane world of tournament bass fishing due to money constraints. But not only did he make the finals, he also walked away with $600,000 in prize money - more than enough to keep his fishing dreams alive. "I came out here to be competitive and it worked out alright." Hawk said that he landed the majority of his fish all week on two key baits - a 6-inch Roboworm and a 1/2-ounce Fish Head Spin on 10-pound-test line. "My goal was to hit as many spots as possible each day," said Hawk, who targeted deep brush piles like most pros throughout the week. "I thought if I got enough bites, I'd have a real chance." Hawk also said the complexion of Lake Lanier played right into his hands. "The water on Lanier is very similar to the water I fish back home." So how does Hawk feel now that he's put his name solidly in the record books? "I'll always remember this moment for sure." As for his future plans? "Right now my plan is to move over to Lake Guntersville, rent a house and move in with my friend (and fellow FLW Tour pro) Justin Lucas. It should be a good time." Of that, there is little doubt.
Meyer holds down second place ... After finishing the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup in third place overall, Cody Meyer's next goal was to win the Cup title outright. But while he fell short of that mark this year, his stellar second-place finish on Lake Lanier more than made up for any disappointment. "I had a blast this week, I really did. I can't wait to come back." Meyer finished with a four-day total catch of 48 pounds, 8 ounces and walked away with a cool $100,000 in prize money. Like Hawk, Meyer said that Lake Lanier really played to his strengths. "I fish a lot on Lake Shasta and that's where I really learned how to (target) spotted bass with a drop-shot," said Meyer. "About 10 years ago, I had the privilege of watching (legendary pro) Aaron Martens, and I really learned a lot (about drop-shot techniques) from him. Fishing for spotted bass on Lake Lanier is very similar. The drop-shot is just deadly here." Meyer, who has made two finals in exactly two Forrest Wood Cup appearances, is clearly one of the hottest young anglers on the circuit right now. For the record, Meyer caught the majority of his bass fishing a Jackall Cross Tail Shad. "I had two dead fish this week, and that really hurt me," he said. "But, overall, I had a blast."
`The General' finally falters ... Although Larry Nixon has won just about every conceivable title in the sport of bass fishing, the one trophy that has eluded him has been the Forrest Wood Cup. After finishing in 10th place overall in the 2009 Cup in Pittsburgh and qualifying for the finals in third place in this year's event, Nixon thought that it finally might be his time. Unfortunately, however, it was not to be. Nixon managed a solid but unspectacular 9-pound, 6-ounce catch on the final day of competition and fell about 4 pounds short of the title. "I just couldn't find that fifth one," said Nixon, who only managed to bring four fish to the scales in today's finals. "I just ran out of time." Nixon, who caught a bass on his very first cast of the day, thought that he had the mojo working early on. However, after locating a school of high-quality bass, his prospects for victory took a sudden turn for the worse. "I found the fish, dropped right down on them and caught one right away," said Nixon. "But then the rest of the fish immediately scattered like flies. I think we really wore my fish out over the course of the week." In the end, Nixon had to settle for a third-place finish and a check for $85,000.
Ehrler fails in bid for second Cup ... In 2006, Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., stunned the bass-fishing world by capturing a Cup title in his rookie season on the FLW Tour. Since that time, Ehrler has gone from a relatively unknown Western pro to one of the top anglers in the nation. This season alone, Ehrler captured two FLW Tour titles - on Lake Ouachita and Table Rock Lake - and finished fifth overall in the FLW Tour AOY race. This season he also won the FLW Series event on Lake Shasta, placed fourth at the FLW Series event at Lake Mead and is currently in first place overall in the 2010 FLW Series Western Division Angler of the Year race. However, like the rest of the finalists at this year's Cup, Ehrler wanted the title - badly. But unlike the rest of the final-day field, Ehrler was the only finalist who had a chance to become the first angler in history to win two Forrest Wood Cup trophies. Unfortunately for Ehrler, his date with the record books will have to wait at least another year. Weighing in a relatively meager 7-pound, 5-ounce catch in the finals, the day-three leader fell all the way to fourth place overall. In the end, Ehrler settled for a nice consolation prize in the form of a $60,000 check. But to be sure, despite losing out on his second Cup title, Ehrler's 2010 season will go down in the books as one of the greatest in FLW Outdoors history.
Best of the rest ... 2010 BFL All-American winner Troy Morrow of Toccoa, Ga., and Ronald Hobbs Jr. of Orting, Wash., took huge strides this week after qualifying for the finals of the Forrest Wood Cup. However, both anglers ultimately struggled during the final day of competition. Morrow only recorded three fish on the final day of competition for a four-day total of 41 pounds, 13 ounces, and Hobbs failed to bring any fish to the scales for a final total of 35 pounds, 3 ounces. "I had two main areas and I milked them for all they were worth," said Hobbs, explaining the final result for the fans. "In the end, my fish just ran out." Morrow was a little more baffled about his final result. "I don't know what happened to my bite," he said. "I had a very tough day." Tough day or not, Hobbs and Morrow won't be taken lightly going forward as both anglers clearly have a great future in the sport.
Added bonus ... In a late-breaking piece of news, Chairman of BP Capital Management T. Boone Pickens appeared onstage to announce that he was joining FLW Outdoors as a major equity partner. While that was great news for FLW Outdoors and the sport of bass fishing in general, it was his second surprising announcement that caught the attention of the final-day pro field. To reinforce how committed he is to the sport, Pickens announced that he would be kicking in an extra $100,000 toward the winning purse. And for Kevin Hawk, the eventual winner, that was music to his ears. Because Hawk wasn't Ranger Cup qualified, he was going to miss out on the first $100,000 bonus. But due to Pickens' generosity, he wound up winning $600,000 anyway. Not a bad day at the office to say the least.
0: Number of anglers who have successfully captured two Forrest Wood Cup titles since the tournament's inception in 1996.
2: Number of five-fish limits caught by the final-day field.
2-6: Kevin Hawk's total margin of victory, in pounds and ounces.
21: Total number of fish caught by the pros in today's competition.
45: Total amount, in thousands of dollars, won by sixth-place finisher Ronald Hobbs Jr., who failed to bring one fish to the scales in the finals.
48-7: Total weight, in pounds and ounces, of fish caught on the final day by the pro field.
600: Total amount, in thousands of dollars, pocketed by 2010 Forrest Wood Cup champion Kevin Hawk.
"Tonight I'm here to tell you that T. Boone Pickens is a partner with me in FLW Outdoors." - FLW Outdoors Chairman Irwin Jacobs.
"I guarantee you that the Cup will be back here." - FLW Outdoors tournament host Charlie Evans explaining that the Forrest Wood Cup will almost certainly be returning to the Atlanta area in the future.
"Yeah, let's do that." - Cup finalist Troy Morrow, the first angler to weigh in during today's competition, jokingly responding to a question of whether or not they should stop the weigh-in before the other five competitors could come to the scales.
"I'm dying inside. Let's get the show on the road." - Pro Kevin Hawk, describing the extent of his nerves during final weigh-in.
"I caught a bass on my very first cast. But as most anglers know, it's bad luck to catch a bass on your first cast." - Cup finalist Larry Nixon with a bit of foreshadowing. Although Nixon had a great start to the day, he ultimately lost out on the title.
"I'm a big fan of Larry Nixon. He's one of the greatest anglers of all time. But I think you're one of the worst netters I've ever seen." - FLW Outdoors tournament host Charlie Evans poking fun at fishing legend Larry Nixon after watching video of his struggles trying to net his fish.
"Spotted bass are the hardest-pulling bass. I don't care what anybody says." - Cup finalist Kevin Hawk, challenging the conventional wisdom that smallmouth bass are the best-fighting fish out there.
"I work 40 hours a week like everyone out here, so it's a real privilege to be here. Everyone out in this audience, if you work hard enough, you can be on this stage too." - Cup finalist Ronald Hobbs Jr.