UPCOMING EVENT: YETI College Fishing - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

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 

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