August 12, 2014 by Rob Newell
As the third and final day of practice for the Forrest Wood Cup winds down and qualifiers set their final strategies, several common denominators are coming to light.
First, the weather has stabilized back into a typical summer pattern. After an unseasonably cool day one, the sun popped out on noon of day two, the lake slicked off and temperatures once again crept to near 90 degrees, with a healthy dose of humidity. The forecast for the tournament now calls for sunshine, no rain, slightly lower temperatures in the high 80s, a little northeast breeze and lower humidity.
The consensus now is that such conditions will go a long way in helping locals chase the herring bite. Pros such as Casey Ashley and Anthony Gagliardi, who know dozens of places where Lake Murray bass intercept herds of herring, should have the upper hand in knowing numbers of likely locations. And anglers who “don’t mind the grind” will excel.
Other common predictions among pros are that winning the Forrest Wood Cup will require at least one big day in the 17-pound, maybe 18-pound, range backed up by a “decent” day in the 14- to 15-pound range with a couple of “solid” 12-pound days. All total, that puts the projected winning mark at 55 to 57 pounds. For those who want to shoot a more consistent line without as much variation, they would need at least 14 pounds per day without a 10-pound-day hiccup.
Another interesting theme among the predictions of a winning formula for the Cup is that most of the damage will be done in the morning, inside the first hour of each tournament day. Chances to upgrade during the afternoon hours will probably be rare.
Finally, it does seem that the quality of the main-lake herring-fed fish is supreme. Several pros have commented that 2 1/2-pound-framed fish are stuffed to 3 pounds and beyond. Some have even described the bass as being “prespawn-looking” due to their girth, which goes a long way in August.