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Meet the 2011 Forrest Wood Cup contenders II

Meet the 2011 Forrest Wood Cup contenders II
Forrest Wood Cup winner Kevin Hawk celebrates his victory.

With the 2011 Forrest Wood Cup slated for Aug. 11-14 on Lake Ouachita in Hot Springs, Ark., the clock continues to tick toward the start of one of the most prestigious and exciting bass-fishing championships in the nation. In an effort to provide bass-fishing fans with a little more perspective and background on the competition, FLWOutdoors.com is launching a six-part series/overview of each of the 58 qualifying pros - one of whom will walk away with the title of Forrest Wood Cup champion.

With a guaranteed first-place prize of $500,000 on the line (as well as another $100,000 if the winning pro is Ranger Cup qualified), there is clearly plenty at stake at this year's Cup. So without further ado, let's meet the contenders.

(Editor's note: Forrest Wood Cup competitors will be featured in alphabetical order. This is the second in a six-part series. Read Part I.)

Fifth-place pro Jason Christie holds up his two biggest bass from day three on Kentucky Lake.Jason Christie - Christie is arguably one of the hottest pros fishing the FLW Tour today; he picked up his first Tour win at Lake Hartwell before finishing the 2011 Majors season ranked No. 4, which easily ushered him into the Cup for his third appearance in as many years. Since beginning his career with FLW Outdoors in 1996, the Park Hill, Okla., native has earned over $519,000 while stringing together an impressive 31 top-10 finishes punctuated by eight wins (in addition to this year's Tour triumph at Hartwell, he has notched an EverStart win at Lake of the Ozarks in 2007 along with six more BFL wins, five of them on Grand Lake, over the years).

Chevy pro Luke Clausen of Otis Orchards, Wash., shows off his first-place stringer shortly before capturing the tournament title at the FLW Tour Potomac River event.Luke Clausen - Clausen has already proven himself to be a Cup contender of the highest caliber, having won the event on Logan Martin Lake in 2004 (he's also a member of an exclusive club of pros to have won both the Cup and the Bassmaster Classic). The Spokane, Wash., pro will fish in his seventh Cup this year, having qualified via the FLW Tour Majors. He has amassed nearly $1.3 million in earnings since beginning his FLW career in 2003 along with a dozen top-10 finishes and three wins (in addition to his Cup win, he picked up a Tour win this year at the Potomac River and has an 2003 EverStart win on Clear Lake to his credit).

Pro Brandon Coulter stands in eighth place overall at the FLW Tour Lake Ouachita event.Brandon Coulter - Coulter will make his third Cup appearance this year after qualifying through the FLW Tour Majors. The Knoxville, Tenn., pro has earned nearly $192,000 plus four top-10 finishes (three on Tour) since beginning his career with FLW Outdoors in 2002.

Pro John Cox of DeBary, Fla., caught a five-bass limit weighing 7 pounds, 13 ounces Sunday to lead wire to wire and win $100,000 at the Walmart FLW Tour on the Red River with a four-day catch of 20 bass weighing 48-8.John Cox - Having qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup by finishing in the top 10 of the 2010 FLW Series Eastern points, Cox didn't rest on his laurels this year, notching his first FLW Tour win on the Red River in May. The Debary, Fla., native has now amassed a dozen top-10 tournament finishes, including two more wins in the BFL, and over $201,000 in earnings in FLW Outdoors competition. 2011 marks Cox's first year as a pro on Tour as well as his first Cup appearance.

On the strength of an 18-pound, 14-ounce catch during the third day of competition, Robbie Dodson of Harrison, Ark., leapfrogged from fifth place to second overall heading into the finals.Robbie Dodson - Dodson will make his professional debut at the Cup this year (qualified as a co-angler in 2007) after a strong finish to the FLW Tour Majors season at Pickwick Lake, where he placed third. In total, the Harrison, Ark., pro has earned over $205,000 and a half-dozen top-10 finishes, including a 2008 EverStart win on Norfork Lake, since he began fishing FLW Outdoors events in 2007.

Current FLW Tour Angler of the Year leader David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., finished the first day of Pickwick Lake competition in 10th place.David Dudley - Just last week Dudley became only the third FLW Tour pro with multiple Angler of the Year titles - joining the likes of Jay Yelas and Clark Wendlandt. Outside of AOY, Dudley has five tournament wins, three of them coming on the FLW Tour. Dudley is also one of only four anglers with the chance to become the first two-time Forrest Wood Cup champion. His $2.6 million in career earnings ranks first in FLW Outdoors history.

Using a healthy catch of 19 pounds, 9 ounces, Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., managed to finish the day in fifth placeBrent Ehrler - Unquestionably one of the top anglers in the sport, Ehrler arrives in Hot Springs with extra motivation after narrowly missing the FLW Tour Angler of the Year award for the fourth consecutive season. Ehrler, who won the Cup in 2006, qualified for the 2011 Cup through the 2010 FLW Series Western Division, where he won Angler of the Year. In his young career, the National Guard pro has already accumulated over $1.7 million in career earnings.

Shinichi Fukae used an 18-pound, 8-ounce catch in today's competition to shoot up the leaderboard and grab fifth place overall with a total catch of 31 pounds, 13 ounces. Fukae also landed the day's Shinichi Fukae - A mainstay on the FLW Tour, Fukae has qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup each of the past six seasons. In 2011, he clinched his birth by finishing 13th in the Angler of the Year race. Besides qualifying for the Cup, the highlight of his 2011 season was a second-place finish at the Lake Chickamauga qualifier. In his career, the Japan native has won three tour-level events and has accumulated over $1 million in earnings.

Day-two leader Jake Gipson of the University of Florida spends a few quiet moments reflecting on the day ahead.Jake Gipson - This young bass angler from Niceville, Fla., already has two championship titles on his resume, having made history by winning the National Guard FLW College Fishing Championship in back-to-back years (2010 and 2011) as the boater half of his two-man University of Florida team. Gipson is no stranger to big-league bass tourneys: 2011 marks his second Cup appearance, and he has notched three wins along with three more top-10 finishes to add to the championship titles on the college circuit.

Pro Bret Gouvea of Redding, Calif., took 10th place after the first day of FLW Series competition on Lake Roosevelt.Bret Gouvea - The Redding, Calif., native is making his first Forrest Wood Cup appearance, qualifying through the FLW Series Western Division. While Gouvea's consistent 2010 season placed him ninth in the FLW Series points race, his lone top-10 finish (Lake Shasta) took place in 2008 in the EverStart Series. While Gouvea is considered a long shot, his finesse skills will suit him well on Lake Ouachita.

Read Part I.

Tags: pre-tournament  2011-08-11-forrest-wood-cup-lake-ouachita 

Eyes on the Weather at Lake of the Ozarks

Eyes on the Weather at Lake of the Ozarks

Wrapping up the Costa FLW Series Central Division with an early fall stop at Lake of the Ozarks has become a tradition over the last few years. This year, the final stop of the season is presented by Evinrude and takes place Oct. 10-12, which should be good timing for a number of patterns to play. READ MORE »

Transition Time at Grand Lake

Transition Time at Grand Lake

Grand Lake has been flooded for most of the summer, and, as a result, it hasn’t received as much fishing pressure as is typical for one of the premier fisheries in the region. Weights for the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, have the potential to be outstanding for this time of year, but it may all come down to what the weather decides to do leading up to the event. READ MORE »

The Cal Delta is Looking Good

The Cal Delta is Looking Good

This week the Costa FLW Series Western Division will conclude with the final event of the season on the California Delta. The tournament, which is presented by Power-Pole, should showcase a different side of the Delta, given that most of the Western Division tournaments on the famed fishery take place in the spring. That said, last year’s event on the Delta fell on nearly identical dates as this year and could be a good tease for how things may shake out this time around. READ MORE »

Big Smallmouths, Big Water for Season Finale

Big Smallmouths, Big Water for Season Finale

Any tournament with smallmouths in it is a good one, but when the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits heads to the St. Lawrence River it's usually a show-stopper. This year’s event, which is presented by Realtree Fishing, shouldn’t be any different as the Northern Division looks to close its season out on one of the best smallmouth fisheries in the world September 19-21. READ MORE »

Another Potomac Rumble Looms

Another Potomac Rumble Looms

Moving south from Lake Champlain, the second stop of the 2019 Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits is on the Potomac River. The tournament, which is presented by Lowrance and runs Aug. 22-24, should offer a fairly standard set of August conditions for the anglers, with plenty of quality largemouths to go around. READ MORE »

Smith Honored with Sportsmanship, Community Leadership Award

Smith Honored with Sportsmanship, Community Leadership Award

Capt. Blake Smith was presented with the 2019 Forrest L. Wood Sportsmanship & Community Leadership Award by the award’s namesake, Forrest Wood, at the 2019 FLW Cup pre-tournament banquet in Hot Springs, Ark. Smith, of Lakeland, Fla., has fished the FLW Tour since 2015. READ MORE »

Day 3 of Practice with Scanlon

Day 3 of Practice with Scanlon

Casey Scanlon won the FLW Tour season finale at Lake Champlain, which he almost had to do to make the FLW Cup. Now that he’s here at Lake Hamilton, he’s got a shot at $300,000 and a possible edge over the competition due to his momentum and extensive Ozark experience. READ MORE »

Hard Lessons and the FLW Cup

Hard Lessons and the FLW Cup

Two terrible tournaments to end the season cost Miles Burghoff his shot at the Polaris Rookie of the Year title. This week at the FLW Cup on Lake Hamilton, he's hoping to apply the lessons learned at the end of the season to his preparation for the championship event. READ MORE »

Thrift Roams Hamilton on Day 2

Thrift Roams Hamilton on Day 2

In seemingly any tournament that Bryan Thrift shows up to he is without a doubt one of the favorites to win. With two FLW Tour Angler of the Year titles, six Tour wins and five Costa FLW Series wins – including his most recent on Lake Champlain just a few weeks ago – it’s easy to understand why. READ MORE »

Riding Around Practice on Day 2

Riding Around Practice on Day 2

In a Ranger Z520L with a 250-hp Evinrude G2, it takes about 15 minutes to run from Carpenter Dam, which impounds Lake Hamilton, to the Blakely Mountain Dam that separates Hamilton from Lake Ouachita. If you stop and chat with 11 pros along the way, however, you’ll need most of the morning, but you’ll also wind up with a pretty sound idea of what’s going on at Hamilton for this week’s FLW Cup. READ MORE »

The First Morning with B. Lat

The First Morning with B. Lat

You won’t hear Brian Latimer complain about hot weather and tough fishing in Arkansas during this week’s FLW Cup at Lake Hamilton. For B. Lat, sweating it out on the water is vastly better than working in the heat installing landscaping and mowing lawns for a living, which is what he was doing just a few years ago. A lot’s changed since those days. Now, Latimer is an FLW Tour champion, with a growing fishing media company and his first shot at a Cup title. READ MORE »

FLW Cup Schedule of Events

FLW Cup Schedule of Events

The FLW Cup goes down August 9-11 on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Ark. As the crowning event of the FLW Tour season, there’s naturally a lot that goes with it, from takeoffs, the FLW Expo, a Trace Adkins concert and of course the weigh-ins at the Bank OZK Arena. Below you’ll find everything you’ll need to follow or attend the Cup, from the times to each event and seminar to each giveaway going on. Keep in mind, everything is free to attend and all times are Central. READ MORE »

Pre-Practice Report from Hamilton

Pre-Practice Report from Hamilton

For some, preparation has been in the form of map study and online research, while others have made the trek to Lake Hamilton to get eyes on the playing field, which went off limits July 22. READ MORE »

The FLW Cup Playing Field

The FLW Cup Playing Field

It’s been 14 seasons since the FLW Cup has been held at Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Ark. In the years since, FLW fans have likely developed some familiarity with nearby Lake Ouachita, which has been a frequent destination for the Cup and, in fact, hosted last year’s championship event. Hamilton is less-known because it hasn’t gotten the nod to host the finale since July 2005, when George Cochran won his third bass-fishing world championship . READ MORE »

McCaghren Ready for Hamilton

McCaghren Ready for Hamilton

Billy McCaghren spends a lot of his free time coaching 8- to 10-year-old boys on how to swing and catch; but when the FLW Cup visits Hot Springs August 9-11, the Arkansas pro is hopeful that some of his young baseball players will be able to swing by and see the Lake Hamilton bass he plans on catching. READ MORE »

Summertime on Champlain

Summertime on Champlain

For three years running now, the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits has kicked off on Lake Champlain. The tournament, which is presented by Polaris, should offer great fishing like usual, but it’s going to be far different than the last two FLW Series tilts on the big Northern lake. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Lake Champlain

FLW Live Schedule for Lake Champlain

FLW Live is back for the season finale of the FLW Tour on Lake Champlain. The event, which is presented by T-H Marine and hosted by the City of Plattsburgh and Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau runs Thursday, June 27 through Sunday, June 30. READ MORE »

Exploring Champlain with Strelic

Exploring Champlain with Strelic

Living about as far as possible from Champlain, Wade Strelic is looking to finish his rookie season strong at the FLW Tour finale. Hailing from Alpine, Calif., near San Diego, Strelic is sitting 28th in points and has made the check cut in three out of six events so far – another good derby will lock him in to the FLW Cup. READ MORE »

Nelson Wraps Champlain Practice

Nelson Wraps Champlain Practice

Ron Nelson is easily in the group of favorites in the event and a bonafide Northern expert, so I was eager to hop in the boat for a morning with the smallie snatcher. Champlain isn’t fishing quite like it was the years he won, but Nelson is still guaranteed to have a lot of eyes on him come day one. READ MORE »

Scouting for Smallies with Felix

Scouting for Smallies with Felix

Over the years, a lot of anglers have established impressive records on Lake Champlain, but few have done it as quickly and authoritatively as Austin Felix. READ MORE »