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Quick Bites: FWC, Lake Murray, Day 1

Quick Bites: FWC, Lake Murray, Day 1
Pro Brian Travis holds up two kicker bass he caught on day one of the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray.

2008 Forrest Wood Cup
Lake Murray, Columbia, S.C.
Opening round, Thursday

The dream starts now ... In April, Brian Travis won the TBF National Championship on Lake Wyle in Charlotte, N.C. For winning the tournament, Travis claimed the "Living the Dream" package, which included $10,000 in cash, paid entry fees into the 2009 Wal-Mart FLW Tour, the use of a wrapped Chevy tow vehicle and a wrapped Ranger boat, sponsor merchandise and travel expenses. Travis also earned a slot in the 2008 Forrest Wood Cup, and he's making the most of his rare opportunity. On day one, the Conover, N.C., angler sacked a five-fish limit weighing 13 pounds, 15 ounces, good enough for third place in the Pro Division. Although Travis admits he's a little star struck, he's showing no ill effects on the water. "In practice you look over, and there goes Larry Nixon, there goes Dion Hibdon," he said. "Then you realize, I'm fishing against those guys." With entry fees paid, a boat, a truck and $10,000 cash, Travis is set for the 2009 FLW Tour season. But an extra million from the 2008 Forrest Wood Cup wouldn't hurt.

End of an era? ... Shortly before the day-one weigh-in, fishing legends Hank Parker and Jimmy Houston revved up the Columbia-area crowd. But amid all the excitement, Houston Legendary pro Jimmy Houston announced he will retire from professional bass fishing. publicly stated he was retiring from tournament bass fishing. Houston fished his first tournament in 1968 as a college senior. In those 40 years, the Cookson, Okla., pro has seen the industry grow and change in ways he couldn't imagine. Parker, however, isn't quite convinced Houston is really done - instead thinking the Chevy pro will pull a Brett Favre-like comeback in 2009. If it is the end of Houston's career, it is also the end of an era. Houston's golden locks, goofy laugh and spinnerbait skills will long be remembered, as he was truly a pioneer in the sport.

Blame it on the rain ... The four-day official practice period for the Forrest Wood Cup saw intense heat, mostly sunny skies and generally stable weather. As soon as practice was over, a massive cold front hammered the area. On Wednesday, the city of Columbia received nearly 3 inches of rain, and Lake Murray's water temperature dropped some 6 degrees. Overall, this had the shallow-water anglers salivating and the deep-water fishermen scowling. But some shallow-water anglers still struggled with this morning's cloud cover. "All those clouds hurt me big time," said Snickers pro Greg Pugh, regarded as one of the better bank beaters on tour. "I had the best practice I've had in a long time." Pugh finished the day with four bass weighing 5-11 for 53rd.

Gags goes out early ... Pretournament favorite Anthony Gagliardi may not have been happy Folgers pro Anthony Gagliardi had a solid opening day - catching a limit worth 10-1.about Wednesday's rain, but it didn't stop him from getting off to a good start. Gags caught a solid limit weighing 10 pounds, 1 ounce on day one - putting him solidly in the top 20 in 17th place. Not that he needed any help, but the Folgers boat was the fourth boat released from the marina Thursday morning, meaning he had the pick of the litter in terms of where he wanted to fish. Although he sits in 17th place, Gags lost two quality keepers that would have put him in third place.

Masa and Coulter reunited ... Knoxville, Tenn., pro Brad Coulter practiced with co-angler Masahiro Yanase for four consecutive days. Working together, the two assembled a solid program for catching bass on Lake Murray. So it was rather surprising when Coulter and Yanase were reunited on day one. Despite the implausible odds, the random computer drawing paired the two in the same boat yet again. Knowing the program, Yanase went out and caught a five-bass limit weighing 7 pounds, 14 ounces. "He knew every brush pile I knew, so that was to his advantage," said Coulter, who managed only 2 pounds, 11 ounces.

Hudson draws two legends ... With 16 top-10 finishes, 11 Forrest Wood Cup qualifications and an FLW David Hudson is sixth in the Co-angler Division with 6 pounds, 10 ounces.Tour victory earlier this year on Lake Norman, David Hudson is one of the most accomplished co-anglers in FLW Outdoors history. But his accolades pale in comparison to his pro partners at the Forrest Wood Cup. On day one, Hudson drew Wal-Mart pro George Cochran and tomorrow he will fish with Nixon, perhaps the greatest angler to ever pick up a rod and reel. Cochran and Nixon combined have over $3 million in career earnings and multiple championship and tournament titles. Unfazed by the caliber of pro in his boat, the Jasper, Ala., co-angler caught 6-10 on day one for seventh place. Tomorrow he will fish out of the back of Nixon's boat, which caught 13-2 and is tied for sixth place.

Swimbait bite? ... Several Western pros vaguely talked about missed opportunities on the water today. Two-time Wal-Mart Open champion Andre Moore was one of those anglers. In practice, Moore had two days where he caught over 18 pounds. On stage today he said he had several fish follow his bait and show themselves, but they would not commit. Jimmy Reese, another Western stick, weighed in a 5-pound kicker and then said, "I saw about 20 of these today." Nobody loves their Huddleston swimbaits more than Reese. "Man, man, man, it was close - there are so many big ones in this lake," said Antelope, Calif., pro Michael Tuck, also a swimbait aficionado. If the Lake Murray largemouths do commit to eating the swimbait tomorrow, watch out.

Co-angler Brad Roberts celebrates his birthday at the Forrest Wood Cup.Happy birthday Brad ... Rookie co-angler Brad Roberts was enjoying his birthday in style by catching bass in the richest championship the sport has to offer. With birthday luck on his side, Roberts caught two keepers weighing 3 pounds, 6 ounces out of pro Charlie Ingram's boat. Those two fish put the birthday boy in 28th place.

Quick numbers:

6: Number of fish in Chevy pro David Fritts' livewell. Anglers are only allowed to keep five fish, so Fritts' 9-pound limit was disqualified.

2,241: Number of miles driven one way by Reese to get to Columbia, S.C., from his home in Witter Springs, Calif.

43: Number of five-bass limits weighed by a field of 77 pros.

20-2: Weight, in pounds and ounces, of pro leader Mark Rose's five-bass limit.

7: Percentage of FLW Fantasy Fishing players who had Rose in their top 10.

3: Percentage of FLW Fantasy Fishing players who had second-place pro Kevin Vida in their top 10.

11-15: Current top-10 cut weight on the pro side, in pounds and ounces.

Sound bites:

"I fish the Stren Northern Division, and let me tell you, Columbia is hot." - Co-angler Josh Clark, who lives in Horton, Mich.

Castrol pro Carl Svebek caught a 7-11 bass to take big bass honors on day one."He didn't kiss me, so that was OK." - Co-angler Derek Jenkel, who netted Carl Svebek's 7-pound, 11-ounce kicker bass and was immediately bear hugged.

"I feel like there's more fish there; you just don't know if other people are utilizing them too." - Fourth-place pro Bud Pruitt.

"I had a rough practice, believe it or not. I wasn't on anything, and I just went up on the bank and trash-fished and was fortunate enough to get three big bites." - Rose.

Tomorrow's takeoff is scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. Eastern time at the Lake Murray Marina and Yacht Club, located at 1600 Marina Road in Irmo, S.C.

Tags: brett-carlson  quick-bites  2008-08-14-forrest-wood-cup 

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