UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - James River

Steel City poses challenge to Cup field

Steel City poses challenge to Cup field
The Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, Pa., promise to provide a true test to the best bass anglers in the world.

PITTSBURGH - When the Pittsburgh Steelers claimed Super Bowl XLIII by a score of 27-23 over the Arizona Cardinals last February, it wasn't easy. The Pittsburgh Penguins needed every bit of seven games to claim the Stanley Cup from the Detroit Red Wings. The city of Pittsburgh is no stranger to champions, but claiming the richest award in professional bass fishing will be an arduous task.

This week's Forrest Wood Cup offers a $2 million total purse and a grand prize of up to $1 million. But to collect the cash, the best bass anglers in the world are going to have to work. The smallmouths in the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela rivers are scarce, and the ones that are biting are small. When the 77 pro and 77 co-angler qualifiers arrived in Pittsburgh for practice, many were surprised at the quality of the fishing.

But after four days of intense practice, the bite has steadily gotten tougher. For most anglers, the goal is not to catch a limit, but to catch more than one 12-inch keeper. Pro Kevin Vida thinks he can get a five-bass limit if his day goes just right. Vida loves to fish for smallmouths and says the Three Rivers aren't Berkley pro Kevin Vida thinks he is going to catch a five-bass limit on day one. all that much different from the Detroit River in his home state of Michigan.

"It's got a lot of the same features as the Detroit," he said. "The difference is that the targets here are small. If you're going to bank fish, you've got to be extremely accurate."

Vida said he's going to start his morning with topwaters and a jerkbait.

"The first few hours are going to be dedicated to catching a 2-pounder."

A 2-pounder might not sound like much, but it's an absolute giant in this neck of the woods. Vida said the biggest fish he caught during practice was only 15 inches long.

"I am guessing six or seven limits will cross the scale today. I can't see more than 10 percent of the field catching a limit."

Despite seeing mainly small fish, the Berkley pro has sincerely enjoyed his first visit to Pittsburgh.

"I had never been here before, and I was expecting gloom and doom. When I first came under the bridge and saw the city, I thought, `This is cool.' This is a cool city."

Like Vida, Mark Rose made the top-10 cutoff at last year's Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray. But this time around, he has absolutely no idea what the fish are doing.

The 77 Forrest Wood Cup qualifiers patiently wait for the start of competition.
"I know they're postspawn, and I imagine they're scattered out deep somewhere," said the Marion, Ark., pro. "Maybe the rain we had yesterday will bring them up to the bank to feed."

Rose is going to stay in the launch pool because, with no clear pattern established, he wants to maximize his fishing time.

"In practice I caught one that was about a pound and a quarter. I would love to have three of those today. I think today's leader will have a small limit, and two of those five will be about 2 pounds."

Scott Canterbury, the 2008 FLW Tour Rookie of the Year, is looking for four keepers today. He plans to slowly fish shallow structure in the Allegheny - maybe locking once or twice.

"It doesn't matter where you go: The person that catches the most is going to win," he said. "This (the Cup) is what you work for all year. There are not many people in this world who have the chance to win $1 million."

Logistics

Anglers will take off at 7 a.m. each day from Steelers Quay, North Shore Riverfront Park located at Art Rooney Drive across from the South Plaza of Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Daily weigh-ins will be held at South Carolina pro Andy Montgomery works a riprap bank on day one. Mellon Arena at 66 Mario Lemieux Place in Pittsburgh beginning at 5 p.m.

In conjunction with the weigh-ins, FLW Outdoors will host a free Family Fun Zone and outdoor show at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center located at 1000 Ft. Duquesne Blvd. in Pittsburgh. The Family Fun Zone will be open from 2 to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The Family Fun Zone offers fans a chance to meet their Fantasy Fishing team anglers face-to-face and review the latest products from Berkley, Lowrance, Ranger, Evinrude, Yamaha and other sponsors while children are treated to giveaways, fishing themed games and rides like the Ranger Boat simulator. Children 14 and under visiting the Family Fun Zone on Sunday will receive a free rod and reel combo while supplies last. One lucky member of the audience will even win a new special edition Three Rivers Ranger Z20 boat powered by Evinrude during the final 5 p.m. weigh-in Sunday, Aug. 2, courtesy of Froggy Radio. Admission is free, and you must be present to win.

The total purse for the Pittsburgh Forrest Wood Cup presented by BP and Castrol is $2 million, including $10,000 through 40th place in the Pro Division.

Coverage of the Forrest Wood Cup presented by BP and Castrol, hosted by VisitPittsburgh, will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on VERSUS, the network which brings anglers the best fishing programming on television featuring the most-trusted authorities on the water. The Emmy-nominated "FLW Outdoors," will air Nov. 8 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET.

On the Web

For those who can't catch the weigh-in action in person, FLWOutdoors.com offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results, streaming video and audio.

In addition to FLW Live, FLWOutdoors.com is offering real-time updates from the water throughout each day of the Forrest Wood Cup. Simply click on the "On the Water Coverage" banner from any of the FLW Outdoors, Bass and FLW Tour home pages.

Thursday's conditions

Sunrise: 6:15 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 68 degrees
Expected high temperature: 77 degrees
Water temperature: 74-77 degrees
Wind: SSW at 8 mph
Maximum humidity: 81 percent
Day's outlook: afternoon thunderstorms

Tags: brett-carlson  morning-story  2009-07-30-forrest-wood-cup 

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