February 18, 2014 by Kyle Wood
Anyone that has spent time as a professional angler will quickly realize that fishing at the highest level comes with its ups and downs. Scott Suggs has been down that road from winning the 2007 Forrest Wood Cup - and a $1 million dollar payday - to logging finishes in the 100s. After failing to qualify for the Cup last year, Suggs is back on pace to make it back to the biggest stage in bass fishing.
"Winning the Cup in my third year as a pro was unbelievable," said the Bryant, Ark., native. "Sure, the money was a big thing, but the fact that I won at that level against the best in the world means more than anything to me. It was a big deal and to make history when I did it was pretty sweet."
Since that fruitful victory, the Folgers pro - now in his 10th season - has qualified for the Cup just three times. Knowing he needed to make a change to start this season, Suggs decided to try and knock the rust off over the winter.
"I have been in kind of a dry spell," said Suggs. "It hasn't been awful but it's something I'm not used to. I knew I needed to do something different before Okeechobee (the first FLW Tour event) so I entered some local tournaments to get back out bass fishing. I fished a little before the season started in 2012 and I made the Cup. Last year I was too focused on crappies over the winter and didn't really bass fish. I fished several local tournaments this year, won a few, and it really got me looking forward to Okeechobee.
"When I got to Florida I noticed that I was really paying attention to what was going on out on the water for the first day of practice (on the Big O). There were about 20 other boats in the same area and everyone - including myself - was throwing some type of moving bait. After not getting bit or seeing anyone catch one I just put my Talons down and started pitching. I caught a limit pretty quick and was able to do that sit in that area for the tournament to catch what I did."
Suggs' increased confidence before kicking the season off led to him capturing his highest finish - 15th place - in recent years from the Big O. His refreshed attitude has him ready to tackle anything the Tour can throw at him this year.
"I have gone into some tournaments before with a bad attitude and that leads to a bad practice and bad tournament. This year, whatever happens, happens. I'm just going to get after it."
The true test to this mindset will be stop No. 2 of the FLW Tour on Lake Hartwell in just a few weeks. In his last two visits to Hartwell Suggs has placed 103rd (2011) and 105th (2012). Despite his shaky record in Tour visits there, Suggs is keeping a positive and open mind this time around.
"I have had a lot of success in that part of the country but something about that lake (Hartwell) gets me. I have let each of those finishes from the previous tournaments get to my head. I'm going to take a different approach this year and try to change some things.
"I made an adjustment on day two of each of the last stops to Hartwell that produced better stringers for me. I want to try some new things in practice that I haven't done before on the lake. There is an area I plan on not even touching during practice. I'll just save it for the tournament. It is where I have done well in the past out there and caught those better bags. If I just fished that spot I could probably get a top-50 finish, but I plan on looking higher than that."
If Suggs can break the curse of Hartwell this season he will be looking good in terms of making it to the Cup on Lake Murray. The remainder of the schedule sets up well for the Arkansas native, though there is one event he isn't looking forward to.
"It may sound kind of surprising but I'd say Kentucky Lake is the one event I am not too excited for. I usually like any lake I get to go fishing on but that lake gets so dang crowded on those ledge drops at times. I never have liked fishing in a crowd and that is probably my biggest downfall.
"I'm just excited to have the season back under way. I feel good and I'm ready to make it back to the Cup."