August 13, 2014 by Colin Moore
If the Forrest Wood Cup were an election, Bryan Thrift or Anthony Gagliardi might win it in a landslide. The championship here on Lake Murray isn’t an election, however, and somebody will have to earn it. Everyone in the tournament is a good fisherman, but some do seem to have an edge. Gagliardi and Casey Ashley qualify as “locals” who know the lake as well as anyone. Others, such as Steve Kennedy, David Dudley and Jacob Wheeler, have a knack for finding and catching bass in shallow water, which is a pattern likely to play in this event. And still others simply have what might be termed “the hot factor,” because of recent wins or high finishes in tournaments with similar conditions, or because their track records suggest that they’re ready for the big spotlight.
We asked a number of FLW pros who didn’t qualify for the Cup this year to pick their potential winner and explain why. Their selections:
Chad Grigsby: I think Anthony Gagliardi is going to win. It’s his home lake, and considering what he did to get there, there’s no stopping him.
Andy Montgomery: I like Bryan Thrift’s chances. He really understands how to look for places where you are guaranteed a limit every day. That will be critical. Once you have a limit you can run the bank and look for a kicker. He is one of the best in the world with electronics, right up there with Mark Rose and Randy Haynes. Mark and Randy would be my two second choices.
Troy Morrow: I’d go with Anthony Gagliardi and Casey Ashley for local knowledge in what will be a tough tourney. Otherwise, I would pick Bryan Thrift and David Dudley for some off-the-wall-stupid-shallow-make-no-sense pattern that catches fish.
Jimmy Houston: I’d stay with our Chevy boys, Anthony Gagliardi and Bryan Thrift. Both have had really good years. Anthony has excelled after that bad luck at Okeechobee, plus this is his home state and lake. Bryan is fishing as good as he ever has and has a win under his belt this year. I’d take Tommy Monsoor as a dark horse.
JT Kenney: It’ll be someone who doesn’t have any idea, even on the morning of day two – or day three or day four, for that matter. It will just happen for him – probably shallow, just going down the banks running into small wolf packs of bass that are cruising along chasing bluebacks.
Larry Nixon: Anthony Gagliardi. He’s hot and hungry for a win, not to mention he knows Lake Murray very well.
Jay Yelas: I like Scott Canterbury because he’s been fishing great and he knows he can do it after finishing second in the 2012 Cup.
Luke Clausen: Bryan Thrift has the ability to find off-the-wall places that are usually good for a limit of solid fish and then will spend the rest of the day fishing for one or two bites. He’s a strategist.
Dave Lefebre: Gagliardi … fate.