UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Cup Rookies Talk Their Chances

Cup Rookies Talk Their Chances

At some point, every angler in the Forrest Wood Cup was a rookie. For 16 contestants in the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup, that point is now.

We caught up with this year’s first-timers to see what it’s like to be on the eve of the biggest tournament of their lives. And rather than weigh their odds, we asked each one to share his own expectations for the Cup.

Here’s what they had to say.

Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C.

Casey Ashley stays consistent with another 20-pound limit to sit in seventh place.

“This is the whole reason I fished both tours this year – to make the Cup.

“I’ll be honest, I don’t spend a lot of time on Murray. If the tournament was in the spring I’d like my chances better, but I still know where those fish live in that lake.”

James Biggs, Richland Hills, Texas (TBF Champ)

James Biggs

“To make it feels like such an accomplishment. Twice in the last three years I missed it by less than 2 pounds. It’s part of my lifetime bucket list.

“I feel like I can compete. I spent some days pre-practicing and I think I found something special.”

Tony Davis, Williston, Fla. (2013 Rayovac Southeast Division AOY)

Tony Davis, who is second in the Southeast Division points race, gives a thumbs up before day one.

“I’m looking forward to it. I saw the Cup [the actual trophy] at the Kentucky Lake event, and I thought, ‘That would be nice to own.’

“I’m going to give it all I’ve got. Plus, I wanted to double-qualify for the Cup. It burns me that I didn’t. So I want a good showing.” (He qualified via the 2013 Rayovac FLW Series but not the 2014 Walmart FLW Tour.)

Austin Felix, Eden Prairie, Minn. (FLW College Fishing Champ)

The University of Minnesota team of Chris Burgan (left) and Austin Felix (right) proudly display their first-place trophies after winning the 2014 FLW College Fishing National Championship.

“I don’t think I can put what the Cup means to me into words. Living in Minnesota, there are not many big events that come around here, so I’m sure it will be eye-opening.

“Only one college angler has made the day-three cut, so that’s my goal.”

Matt Greenblatt, Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Matt Greenblatt tames a fighter in the early hours of day one.

“The Cup is what everyone shoots for. So to make it in my first year on the FLW Tour is pretty special. I told my dad that I was going to make it this year, but I don’t think he believed me.

“Blueback herring lakes usually get me; they always do. So I’m hoping this is one time it doesn’t.”

Randy Haynes, Counce, Tenn.

Randy Haynes caught 22-9 on the final day and finished 4th. This was Haynes' 6th top 10 finish on Kentucky Lake in FLW competition.

“It’s a neat deal [making the Cup]. To tell you the truth, this season was such a grind that I didn’t think I would make it.

“I’m excited, but I’m also scared to death. If the bite is deep, I’ll expect a lot from myself.”

Philip Jarabeck, Lynchburg, Va.

Castrol pro Philip Jarabeck is all smiles prior to day one of the final FLW Tour event of the season.

“This is a dream come true. I grew up reading about the Cup in magazines, and now I’ll get to fish surrounded by the heroes I used to read about.

“I’m not an over-hyped type of person. So I’m just going to show up, do the best I can and enjoy the awesome opportunity.”

Stephen Johnston, Hemphill, Texas (Rayovac Texas Division AOY)

Staying shallow and fishing the grass was essential for third-place  Stephen Johnston.

“Since I qualified last fall [through the Rayovac FLW Series], it’s been a long wait. Now it’s been a build-up of excitement.

“Everyone wants to win, but a top-five would be unbelievable. All I know is that having worked the Cup before, I can’t wait to be up on that stage instead of just watching.”

Brad Knight, Wartburg, Tenn.

Brad Knight walloped the biggest limit of the tournament on day two -- 29-15 -- to move into second place.

“I’m looking forward to the chance at fishing for $500,000. Winning a Tour event is a career-changer. Winning the Cup is a life-changer.

“There’s a lot less pressure than in other events. I could lie on my front deck wearing swim trunks for two days and still make $10,000. So I can just go fishing.”

Jason Lambert, Pickwick Dam, Tenn.

Rookie of the Year Jason Lambert got some camera-time in for use in the tv show. He has now earned back-to-back top 10 finishes.

“It’s not every day that you can fish against 44 other guys for $500,000. It’s going to be a neat deal, but it’s just another tournament to me. That’s how I approach every event.

“I’m not just going to be happy to be there. I expect to do well.”

Richard Peek, Centre, Ala.

Richard Peek slips to 17th place with a 15-pound, 15-ounce limit on day two.

“I didn’t think I would pull off making the Cup. Midway through the season it was looking bleak. So to be there with the big-name guys is going to be an honor.

“I don’t want to shoot too high. I just want to make the final-day cut and be a threat to fish for $500,000.”

Matthew Stefan, Junction City, Wis.

Matthew Stefan rounds out the top five with his catch of 19-14.

“I’m super-stoked to earn the right to fish against the cream of the crop.

“I’m a little nervous about the lake, but most places we fish are not like what I usually fish. So I’ve gotten to the point where my practices are geared to allow me to adjust.”

Marcus Sykora, Osage Beach, Mo. (BFL All-American Champ)

Marcus Sykora is joined onstage by Mason and Madison.

“I’m totally excited, especially to qualify the way I did.

“I know a lot of BFL All-American winners have eventually gone pro, but I’ve always considered myself a regional person. I love my life, so something major would have to happen – like winning the Cup – for me to make a change.”

Austin Terry, San Angelo, Texas

It's culling time for pro Austin Terry.

“Making the Cup is exciting since I didn’t make it last year. My boat broke down during the first event last year, and I couldn’t weigh my fish, which cost me making the Cup.

“It feels good going into this tournament just trying to win. I don’t have to worry about getting a check. I’m just focused on the biggest bites I can get.

Joseph Wood, Westport, Mass. (Rayovac Northern Division AOY)

Joseph Wood wins the Rayovac Northern Division Angler-of-the-Year points and heads to the Forrest Wood Cup in August on Lake Murray.

“It’s a dream come true. I never thought it would totally happen, and even when it did I couldn’t believe it. It’s been one unbelievable season.

“I’m going to try like hell to win it. It’s a life-changing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Michael Wooley, Collierville, Tenn.

Local pro Michael Wooley backed up 20-12 on day one with a 17-1 effort on the second day.

“I’m jacked. I’m ready to go.

“I finished second in a TBF event in 2009 on Murray, so I’m looking forward to it. There’s obviously extreme competition, but it’s nice to only have 45 guys on the lake.”

Tags: sean-ostruszka  article 

/tips/2016-07-28-flw-podcast-128-mark-rose

FLW Podcast 128 - Mark Rose

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-23-1000-islands-day-3-midday-update

1000 Islands Day 3 Midday Update

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-22-1000-islands-midday-update-day-2

1000 Islands Midday Update Day 2

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands got started on a slightly different note this morning when FLW’s tournament directors declared Lake Ontario off limits due to hazardous conditions. The change threw a few of the top pros off their primary plans, but regardless the 137-boat field will be cut down to the top 10 after today, so adjustments need to be made in order to qualify to fish the weekend. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-19-flw-podcast-126-icast

FLW Podcast 126 - ICAST

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-14-2017-walmart-flw-tour-schedule

2017 Walmart FLW Tour Schedule

In what has become an annual tradition at FLW, the 2017 Walmart FLW Tour schedule was announced at a press conference and industry gathering held Thursday on the show floor at ICAST in Orlando, Fla. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-12-si-se-puede-yes-we-can

Si Se Puede ... Yes We Can

Mexico’s Lake Zimapan is different in many ways from the lakes to the north such as Florida’s Lake Okeechobee and California’s Clear Lake, but one element it has in common with those famous fisheries is big bass. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-11-5-rookie-lessons-learned

5 Rookie Lessons Learned

People have asked me what my first year on the Walmart FLW Tour was like. Well, it was like running headfirst into a hurricane for a few months. I came out the other side a little battered, bruised and smelling like fish. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-11-flw-podcast-125-scott-martin

FLW Podcast 125 - Scott Martin

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-08-review-lew-s-custom-speed-stick-lite

Review: Lew’s Custom Speed Stick Lite

Recently I had the opportunity to try one model in particular – the 7-foot, 4-inch Magnum Pitchin’ rod. After fishing with it several times, I’ve concluded that it performs as advertised, is sensitive and lightweight, and is well worth the money. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-08-reunited-and-it-feels-so-good

Reunited, and it Feels so Good

This year I really had a reunion with finesse fishing. Most of my better tournaments came from fishing some type of finesse presentation. Finesse tactics seemed to always give me a certain confidence about the day. While finesse tactics are nothing new to the game of bass fishing, this year I regained the confidence and joy of catching bass on smaller offerings. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-08-2016-icast-preview

2016 ICAST Preview

The doors to ICAST don’t open until next week, when everyone gets out on the showroom floor in Orlando, Fla., but there are already plenty of snippets of information available. FLW’s media crew will be there in full force to bring you coverage of the hottest new products, as well as the annual New Product Showcase awards. For now, take a gander at some of the early birds. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-07-flw-canada-kicks-off-at-tri-lakes

FLW Canada Kicks Off at Tri-Lakes

Among these Canadian all-stars was the eventual winning team of Chris Vandermeer of Peterborough and Jeff Slute of Millbrook. Capitalizing on a strong day one shallow-water smallmouth pattern, the duo took advantage of the slick-calm conditions using a silver-hued topwater popping plug to agitate the lake’s bronzebacks into attack. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-30-flw-tour-pro-cooksey-recovering-after-accident

FLW Tour Pro Cooksey Recovering After Accident

Walmart FLW Tour sophomore Dalton Cooksey of New Concord, Ky., is recovering at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee following a single-car accident that took place Wednesday afternoon. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-30-flw-podcast-124-jeremy-lawyer

FLW Podcast 124 - Jeremy Lawyer

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-29-stetson-blaylock-s-recipe-for-a-wacky-rig

Stetson Blaylock’s Recipe for a Wacky Rig

From March until the end of the fishing season I’m going to have a wacky rig on deck. It’s a really effective way to fish anytime the fishing is tough, or if the fish are up cruising banks. Anytime fish are about 5 feet deep or less, I can catch them on the wacky rig. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-28-morgan-claims-third-flw-tour-angler-of-the-year-title

Morgan Claims third FLW Tour Angler of the Year Title

MINNEAPOLIS – Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tennessee, added to his incredible fishing resume by winning his third Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year title Saturday at the FLW Tour's final 2016 regular-season event on Lake Champlain.... READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-24-three-things-by-dd-kentucky-lake

Three Things by DD: Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake did not go the way I intended. I was pumped and ready to rock out a top-20 finish. I had great expectations of myself, but nothing seemed to come together. Practice was dicey, but I thought for sure I could put something together to make the cut. That was until day one came, and the whole vibe of my day instantly went from eager to agitated. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-23-how-to-catch-smallmouths-with-hair-jigs

How to Catch Smallmouths with Hair Jigs

The “right” hair jig for smallmouths is a small 1/16- to 1/8-ounce marabou jig with a round or mushroom-shaped head. The jig is similar to marabou jigs used by crappie fishermen, but bass models will often have a larger, stronger hook and possibly a longer or thicker skirt. Naturally, anglers have their favorites, and there are subtle differences in jigs that make some better than others. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-22-two-exciting-events-to-look-forward-to

Two Exciting Events to Look Forward To

We are in the last stretch of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour. Awaiting us is the Lake Champlain tournament in just a few days. A couple of things will be settled there: the pro field for the Forrest Wood Cup and the Angler of the Year. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-21-tagging-along-with-sprague-in-kentucky

Tagging Along with Sprague in Kentucky

Through the first four events of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour season, Jeff Sprague finished inside the top 20 every time and challenged for the win at Beaver Lake. After stop No. 4 on Pickwick, Sprague took over the lead in the Angler of the Year race. This is the story of his first tournament as the AOY leader – stop No. 5 on Kentucky Lake. Currently, Sprague is preparing for the finale on Lake Champlain. He’s in second place in the AOY standings. READ MORE »