Media Day Musings

FLW contributor and USC alumnus Jeff Samsel gets Mark Rose to spill the beans on what's really happening on Lake Murray this week.

It’s over. Finished. Done. And yet, the whole shebang is really just getting started.

Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. was the first official Forrest Wood Cup Media Day at Dreher Island State Park on the shore of Lake Murray. And while the event (complete with a Livingston Lures South Carolina barbecue) signified the start of on-site coverage for national outdoor media covering the Forrest Wood Cup, it also marked the end of the official three-day practice period for the tournament, which is presented by Walmart and hosted by Capital City/Lake Murray Country.

Not one of the 45 qualified pros or their co-angler partners can have his boat in the water or make another cast until Thursday morning, when the field takes off for day one of competition. That means there’s no more time to test patterns or check uncharted waters. There’ll be no more searching and refining.

All that’s left for anglers is final equipment preparation, registration and rules meetings, a formal dinner and reception Wednesday night, and about 30 hours of time to spend evaluating, game-planning and ­– for many of the pros – wondering just what they should do when the Big Show gets started. For a few, that probably means restless nights and anxious waiting. For the veterans in the crowd who know how to handle the pressure, they’ll put on a face as if this is just another tournament. But it’s not. It’s the Forrest Wood Cup. And Sunday evening someone is going to walk away with all that hardware as a bass fishing legend – and he’ll be $500,000 richer.

Here are a few of the story lines that surfaced at Media Day.

1. Tough, but not as tough as expected – Some pros are singing the blues, but there are also apparently a lot of sandbaggers. Now that practice has ended, it appears that the bite has been strong for about half the field. Limits in the upper teens have been caught – or at least found – and several pros feel confident they can catch that much every day.

2. Conditional changes and herring – Early reports were that junk-fishing would dominate this event, and to some extent it will. However, Murray’s blueback herring population will have a major influence on the outcome. They live in the deep lower end and attract the lake’s biggest fish, but they’re vagabonds. They move daily, and even slight changes in sunlight and wind can trigger a move or require a bait change. The winning pro will likely not do the same thing all four days.

3. The river – An influx of rain over the last week has muddied the Saluda River and Little Saluda River tributaries. It’s also brought on a little current that has several pros leaning toward making the river run.

4. Morning key – Almost everyone agreed that the morning bite will be critical in this tournament. Midday fishing has been tough. Then, if someone is on a midday pattern, that someone could be setting himself up for a big win.

5. Run-and-gun is in – Finally, it feels like the shallow, shoreline, run-and-gun bite is still working, but the results are inconsistent. Flipping jigs and tossing topwaters could produce a 15-pound bag one day and a 9-pound bag the next.

The Pros Weigh In

To give you a better idea of what pros faced this week during practice for the Cup, we tracked down a handful of them at Media Day and asked them to weigh-in on their prospects. Here’s what they had to say.

Matt Stefan – I’m optimistic. I spent two days here in pre-practice, and I had one good day and one bad day. I’m getting bit a lot of different places. I’m kind of getting bit all over. It’s a solid pattern, but I just have to find the right thing. They (quality bass) are there. It’s just a matter of someone figuring out how to catch them.

Jacob Wheeler – It (Lake Murray) hasn’t changed since pre-practice. It’s going to be a grind. This time of year you have to throw a topwater all day to get a bite.

James Biggs – It (official practice) wasn’t as good as pre-practice. But that’s to be expected. I really thought I had found 17 to 18 pounds (in pre-practice). These fish just move so much. I don’t know where they are to be honest. I figured out how to catch some fish though. It’s been great so far, representing The Bass Federation (Biggs is the national champion). There’s a bunch of fishing heroes here. This is my first Cup, and a lot of these guys expect to make it each year. It’s fun to face off with the best.

Barry Wilson – It’s been pretty good. I have a window of opportunity. By 9 a.m. I had 10 keepers today, and my best five would have gone 16 or 17 pounds. The first day I had about the same, but yesterday was tougher. It’s that window. If I can hit that, I’m going to make a long run and have the opportunity to get one or two more bites, and if I can they’ll be quality bites.

Randall Tharp – I didn’t fish much in practice. Practice doesn’t pay. I’m just going to wait and try to catch them in the tournament.

Scott Martin – Honestly, I could do really bad, or I could do really well. The good thing for me is I had one difference-maker bite each day.

Shad Schenck – It was slow, but it got better every day. If it’s cloudy, I’m going to fish shallow. If it’s sunny, I’m going to fish deep. And if it’s sunny and I’m not catching them deep, then I’m still going to go shallow.

Brett Hite – It’s been tough, but I’ve been catching a few good ones every day. And somebody’s going to win $500,000; that’s for sure.

Charlie Ingram – It was slow for me. I can catch a few fish on topwater, but it’s not as easy as I expected. I had a game plan before I left home, but I had to abandon that a little. There’s not as much grass as the last time the Cup was here, and it’s really risky to follow the blueback herring because they move around so much.

Matt Herren – My practice was not real good. It’s a grind. I expected it to be a little better. I’m just going to go fishing in this tournament. I’m going to swing for the fences because how many times do you get to fish for half a million dollars?

Austin Felix – It’s better than everybody is saying it is. I think there will be a lot more limits than everybody is saying there will be.

Mark Rose – Like everybody else has said, it’s a typical midsummer tournament. It’s tough. Murray is a great lake, but anywhere in mid-August with the hot water we have here is tough. I feel very open-minded. I’m not locked in to any one thing.

Marcus Sykora – I would say it was really good or really bad. There’s no in between. It’s feast or famine. But when it’s good, it’s really good. Representing the BFL (Walmart Bass Fishing League; Sykora is the All-American champion) is something I’m really proud of, and I’m using it as a sheer motivational force. The things that are my motivating factors are my family and the BFL nation, and all my friends back home. I have a lot of people pulling for me, and the last thing I want to do is let them down by not leaving everything on the table.

Tags: article 

/tips/2015-04-18-grand-lake-midday-update-day-3

Grand Lake Midday Update Day 3

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-17-grand-lake-midday-update

Grand Lake Midday Update

As the second day of competition in the Rayovac FLW Series event on Grand Lake draws on, the sight-fishing bite is still strong, but day-one leader Todd Castledine has been unable to capitalize thus far. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-16-grand-lake-day-1-midday-update

Grand Lake Day 1 Midday Update

GROVE, Okla. – After the fog delay stalled action on day one of the Central Division opener on Grand Lake the anglers are now enjoying perfect weather for sight-fishing. Lingering light fog and clouds gave way to calm, sunny conditions this afternoon. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-16-20-questions-with-ray-hanselman

20 Questions with Ray Hanselman

Ray Hanselman is on fire. The Del Rio, Texas, pro won back-to-back Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournaments to start the 2015 season. His first win was in February on Lake Amistad, which is Hanselman’s home lake and where he runs a guide service. His second win came last week on Sam Rayburn. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-15-weekend-wrap-up-april-13-2015

Weekend Wrap-up – April 13, 2015

The week after the Easter break turned out to be pretty spectacular. We saw incredible feats at the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division event on Sam Rayburn and the FLW College Fishing event on Table Rock. Plus, BFL competition was hot across the country. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-14-serafin-gilmore-aim-for-strong-showing

Serafin, Gilmore Aim For Strong Showing

Chase Serafin and Anthony Gilmore know they’ll soon face the country’s top student anglers on the unforgiving battleground of Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, but they’re not intimidated. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-14-fired-up-for-championship

Fired Up For Championship

North Carolina’s two-man contingent couldn’t be more excited about their chance to compete in the TBF/FLW’s High School Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-14-pappan-going-solo

Pappan Going Solo

Of the10 elite teams gearing up to compete here in the TBF/FLW High School Fishing National Championship April 25-26 on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, only one is comprised of a solo angler. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-10-top-5-patterns-from-sam-rayburn-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Sam Rayburn Day 2

Two limits of more than 20 pounds have pushed Del Rio, Texas, pro Ray Hanselman atop the leaderboard at the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournament on Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Mercury. Hanselman is flipping and pitching plastics to flooded brush and trees, with careful consideration to the spots that allow him the best targeting efficiency. The lake level remains at a 15-year high, so anglers are chasing scattered bass in areas the fish rarely see. Overcast skies dominated the day, and isolated showers popped up throughout competition. Overall, productivity was lower than that of day one, with fewer fish and limits caught, and overall weights down. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-08-the-bucket-list

The Bucket List

Gleaned from my various fishing travels over the years, here are 10 places ­– in no particular order – that I’ve fished that I believe should definitely be on your bass fishing “bucket list.” Some are fantastic winter getaways, but other will require you to wait until warmer weather arrives. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-08-college-fishing-takes-on-table-rock

College Fishing Takes on Table Rock

KIMBERLING CITY, Mo. – FLW College Fishing is headed to Table Rock Lake April 11 for the first of three regular-season stops in the Central Conference. A full field of college teams will be competing for a top award of $2,000 and a berth in the Central Conference Championship tournament. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-08-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with six tournaments on Saturday, April 11. The Arkie Division will take on Lake Dardanelle, the Bama Division stops on Lake Martin, the LBL Division heads to Kentucky Lake, the Ozark Division competes on Lake of the Ozarks, the Piedmont Division opens their season on Kerr Lake and the Savannah River Division continues on Lake Hartwell. Up to 400 boaters and co-anglers will be competing for top awards of up to $8,000 and $3,000 respectively in the one-day events. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-07-myers-and-swede-prepared-for-championship

Myers and Swede Prepared for Championship

As the TBF/FLW’s High School Fishing National Championship draws near, Arkansas anglers Chase Myers and Cole Swede seem barely able to contain their excitement at getting a chance to compete for the coveted crown. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-07-yates-keenom-aim-to-put-oklahoma-on-top

Yates, Keenom Aim To Put Oklahoma On Top

Sooner bass fishing standouts Trevor Yates and Jake Keenom are hoping to make their home state proud when they compete here on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in the TBF/FLW’s High School Fishing National Championship, April 25-26. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-07-new-jersey-s-harnack-christopulos

New Jersey’s Harnack, Christopulos

Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees is worlds apart from the East Coast bass fisheries where Kyle Harnack and Matt Christopulos cut their fishing teeth, but the reigning New Jersey state champions are anxious to test their mettle on the sprawling Sooner reservoir. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-07-czosnyka-cundiff-set-to-represent-centennial-state

Czosnyka, Cundiff Set To Represent Centennial State

Bradley Czosnyka and Josh Cundiff of Fountain, Colo., are counting down the hours to the takeoff of the TBF/FLW’s High School Fishing National Championship. They won’t have long to wait, as the tournament is set for April 24-25 in conjunction with TBF’s National Championship on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in eastern Oklahoma. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-06-hibdons-suspend-tournament-careers

Hibdons Suspend Tournament Careers

Veteran Missouri pro Guido Hibdon and his grandson, Payden, have decided to leave the ranks of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour, but hope to resume their tournament careers in the future. Like several other pros, the Hibdons, of Sunrise Beach, Mo., were victims of cutbacks in sponsor dollars that began last fall and left many anglers scrambling for financial support just before the 2015 tournament season opened. Dion Hibdon, Guido’s son and Payden’s father, lost a major sponsorship when Chevy pulled out as an FLW backer and dissolved the Chevy fishing team to which Dion belonged. However, the Bassmaster Classic and Forrest Wood Cup champion will continue to fish the Tour. He’ll travel to tournaments with his younger son, Lawson, 18, who will fish as a co-angler. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-06-tour-talk

Tour Talk

We’re fresh off stop No. 2 of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour season on Smith Lake, and there’s plenty to talk about in this installment of FLW’s Tour Talk, where our pundits weigh in on what’s happening along the Tour trail. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-03-strader-leads-the-aoy-pack

Strader Leads the AOY Pack

Things are starting to take shape in the Angler of the Year race too, and while another pair of veterans is atop the standings, there are some new faces emerging as well. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-01-kids-get-to-wet-a-line-during-lewis-smith-event

Kids Get to Wet a Line During Lewis Smith Event

The children and their families had plenty of room to spread out around the Smith Lake Dam cove, which proved to be a good place to fish as it was also the site where the FLW release boat unloaded fish caught by the pros during Friday’s round. READ MORE »