July 5, 2013 by Gary Mortenson
With the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup slated for Aug. 15-18 on the Red River in Shreveport, La., the clock continues to tick toward the start of one of the most prestigious and exciting bass-fishing championships in the nation. In an effort to provide bass-fishing fans with a little more perspective and background on the competition, FLWOutdoors.com is launching a six-part series/overview of each of the 46 qualifying pros - one of whom will walk away with the title of Forrest Wood Cup champion. With a guaranteed first-place prize of $500,000 on the line, there is clearly plenty at stake this summer in Louisiana. So without further ado, let's meet the contenders. (Editor's note: Forrest Wood Cup competitors will be featured in alphabetical order. This is the first in a six-part series.) 2013 Forrest Wood Cup contenders Matt Arey, Shelby, N.C. - Matt Arey finished the 2013 FLW Tour season ranked 22nd overall, representing his second-highest finish on the FLW Tour to date. Arey currently boasts 14 top-10 finishes in FLW events, which includes five final-day appearances on the FLW Tour alone (two as a pro and three as a co-angler). Arey has one victory to his credit, a first-place finish in the Co-angler Division at the 2006 Forrest Wood Cup on Logan Martin Lake. Arey began fishing FLW events in 2003 and has accumulated more than $333,000 in winnings since that time. Arey ultimately qualified for this year's Cup via the FLW Tour and will be making his sixth FWC championship appearance overall. Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J. - Adrian Avena got his start in FLW competition with the National Guard FLW College Fishing circuit. Avena competed in the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference Championships in 2009 and 2010, finishing in ninth and sixth place respectively. Since then, Avena has competed on the BFL, EverStart and FLW Tour circuits. This season represents his second year as a pro on the FLW Tour. During his sophomore season, Avena continued to impress, improving his overall Tour ranking from 23rd place in 2012 to seventh overall in 2013. Avena, who is making his second trip to the Cup, qualified via the FLW Tour. In addition, Avena has amassed nearly $150,000 in career earnings, eight top-10 finishes and two victories (a 2011 EverStart Series win on Lake Champlain and a 2010 BFL co-angler title on the St. Clair River) since the 2009 season. Avena also scored his first-ever top-10 appearance on the FLW Tour this season on Lake Okeechobee. Drew Benton, Panama City, Fla. - Despite coming into the 2013 FLW Tour season as a rookie, Drew Benton demonstrated immediately that he could compete on the highest levels of his sport, winning the very first Tour event of his career on Lake Okeechobee last February. During his very next outing he recorded a top-15 finish on Lewis Smith Lake and then followed that up with a 29th-place finish at Beaver Lake in April. Overall, Benton finished his rookie campaign ranked 18th overall. Benton, who began his FLW fishing career on the EverStart Series trail back 2010, has already amassed nearly $139,000 in career earnings. Benton will be making his very first Forrest Wood Cup appearance in August. The Florida native qualified for this year's Cup via the FLW Tour. Stetson Blaylock, Benton, Ark. - Stetson Blaylock has accrued 26 top-10 finishes and amassed nearly $654,000 in winnings over the course of his young FLW career. One of the sport's truly up-and-coming phenoms, Blaylock wasted little time making his FLW mark, cranking out five top-10 finishes in 2006, three in 2007 and six in 2008 before turning pro on the FLW Tour in 2009. Blaylock has five FLW wins to his credit, including an FLW Tour victory on Lake Norman in 2009. The Arkansas native finished the 2013 FLW Tour season ranked second overall, his highest ranking ever, and will be making his eighth Cup appearance, fourth as a pro. Blaylock qualified for this year's Cup via the FLW Tour. Christopher Brasher, Hallsville, Texas - Christopher Brasher finished his sophomore season on the FLW Tour ranked 25th overall. Brasher currently boats a little over $100,000 in career earnings and will be making his very first trip to the Forrest Wood Cup this August. Since he began his FLW career back in 2003, the Texan has recorded two top-10 tallies, including an eighth-place EverStart Series finish on Lake Amistad in 2009 and a 10th-place EverStart Series finish at Falcon Lake in 2010. Brasher qualified for this year's Cup from the FLW Tour. Scott Canterbury, Springville, Ala. - Scott Canterbury began his FLW fishing career in 2003 and since then the Alabama native has racked up over $720,000 in career earnings. Canterbury currently boasts 29 top-10 finishes, including nine on the FLW Tour alone. The Straight Talk pro finished the 2013 FLW Tour season ranked 21st overall and has now qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup five times. Canterbury owns one tournament title, which came during a 2011 EverStart event on Lake Eufaula. Canterbury qualified for this year's Cup via the FLW Tour. Jason Christie, Park Hill, Okla. - With over $945,000 in career FLW earnings, Rayovac team pro Jason Christie is arguably fishing as well as anyone on the FLW Tour right now. In fact, over the last five FLW Tour events, Christie has won two of them (Beaver Lake in April and Grand Lake in June), placed fourth in another (Lewis Smith Lake in March) and 16th during the final regular-season event on the year at Lake Chickamauga. Throw in come-from-behind win at the BASSmaster Elite Series event at Bull Shoals this past April and it's clear that the Oklahoma native is having one of his best all-around seasons as a pro. As a result of his most recent efforts, Christie now boasts 10 tournament titles since he began his FLW career back in 1996. Christie has also recorded an astounding 36 top-10 finishes, including 12 on the FLW Tour alone since the 2008. The Oklahoma native has qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup five years in a row, beginning with the 2009 season, and finished the 2013 FLW Tour season ranked fourth overall. Christie qualified for this year's Cup via the FLW Tour. Paul Clark, Monroe, La., - Paul Clark qualified for the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup after winning the 2013 FLW College Fishing National Championship on Beaver Lake this past April with the help of his teammate Brett Preuett. Representing the University of Louisiana Monroe at FLW College Fishing events since 2011, Clark has scored third-, sixth- and 10th-place finishes in the Southern Division, a second-place finish during the Southern Conference Championship in 2012 as well as this year's college national championship title. Clark has also netted over $25,000 in scholarships and winnings since the start of his college fishing career. Related links: Forrest Wood Cup preview: The contenders II Pro field set for 2013 Forrest Wood Cup For more information about the upcoming 2013 Forrest Wood Cup, click here. To see detailed schedule information for this year's Cup, click here.