UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Grand Lake

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

A contrast of styles

A contrast of styles
The top-10 finalists push off from the Brady Mountain ramp for the last round of Forrest Wood Cup action.

ROYAL, Ark. - The primary options for today's Forrest Wood Cup finalists are somewhat akin to the classic tortoise and hare allusion. Do you want slow-and-steady or fast-and-furious?

In fairness, no one's calling anyone in the top 10 slow, nor is anyone guaranteeing a day of fast action. However, those who've fished shallow this week have often found exciting flurries of action as packs of big bass capitalize on the vulnerability of bedding bluegill (aka bream). Yesterday's full moon accelerated the panfish reproduction ritual and today will surely see residual influence.

In deeper water the bites may be less frequent, but there seems to be a greater sense of routine, or regularity. Patient, methodical fishing can pay big dividends in this scenario.

Weather has fiddled with just about everyone, as Lake Ouachita has alternated between cloudy, oftenAnglers heading out for their final day on Lake Ouachita will have shallow and deep options. rainy conditions and sunny skies with choking heat. Today's forecast leans more toward the latter and that may prove beneficial for the deep guys who need sunlight to pull their fish close to predictable target points. The shallow fish don't particularly enjoy tanning their backs, but a bass dialed in on big forage can be pretty stubborn, so they'll tolerate the heat for a hefty meal.

Here's what some of the top pros had to say about their game plans:

Scott Martin (1st place, 46-12):

Day-one leader Scott Martin returned to the lead yesterday after slipping to second on day two. He's been working a 150-yard stretch in 17-25 feet of water and rotating through about 20 spots as fish reload each area. A selection of dropshots, Texas-rigged worms and swimbaits on a Fish Head Spin has comprised his arsenal. Martin will likely stick with this template again today.

Back in the lead for the final round, National Guard pro Scott Martin signs an autograph for one of his local fans, Sylvia Brainard."In practice, you go out and try a lot of different things," Martin said. "I tried shallow, I tried deep and it just seems like every time I went deep, I was catching bigger fish so that was the game plan I formulated.

"I started noticing right off the bat that I didn't see a lot of people out there pressuring those same brush piles. There's not a lot of brush piles in this lake, so when I figured out that about 80 percent of the field was fishing shallow, that was going to give me more room to run around out there. I took my chances on it. I knew the guys would catch them shallow, but I knew I could catch them deep too. With the least amount of pressure out there, I felt that my options were better. I've watched a lot of (shallow water) guys share the same pockets."

Luke Clausen (2nd place, 41-14):

The Chevy pro from Spokane, Wash. will put his faith in the bream bed again today. He'll work topwater with walking and prop baits and hope to put them in front of the right fish. Long casts, he said, play a big role in this game.

"I don't have any concern with the number of fish that are around; I'm seeing plenty of fish throughout the day," Clausen said. "There are a lot of 3-, 4-, 5-pounders swimming down the bank. It's just gettingStarting the day in second place, 2004 Forrest Wood Cup champion Luke Clausen is hunting his second title. them to bite. Some days, they just bite. You never know what will happen. Today, there could be three 19- to 20-pound bags.

"It's all about tricking them into biting. You have to cast so the bait lands right on top of them. It will be the first two or three twitches that make them race up and attack the bait. If they have time to (examine it), you're not going to catch them. You have to cast so far, it's hard to know where to cast. You just hope you make the right cast seven or eight times today and hope you catch five of those big ones."

Randall Tharp (third place, 41-6):

Focusing on the shallow stuff, Tharp said he has yet to fully tap his area's potential however, he's optimistic about finally rounding up the kind of catch he needs.

"I haven't caught them a single day like I thought I could," he said. "There's a 20-pound bag swimming around there - I see them every day. If they bite today, I can pull this thing out.

Third-place pro Randall Tharp put his Brian"I've got key areas and then I've got key places on these areas. I don't think there's a fish sitting there all the time. It's just a place those fish might slow down, it's a place they might just hang around for a minute. This is just a high-percentage place. There's little depressions, little indentions and I think this is just a little place that slows them down long enough to get a bait in front of them."

Prior to launch, Tharp displayed a trio of his size 3 Brian's Bees. Each bore debilitating battle wounds suffered during largemouth bass engagements.

"These are casualties of the week," Tharp said. "I'm fishing these on 30-pound braid with a 17-pound leader because I'm fishing in some pretty deep timber and you have to get them out of there."

Mark Rose (fourth place, 41-5):

A devout deep water expert, the National Guard pro from Marion, Ark. has completely ignored the shallow water deal and instead focused on offshore points and channel swings in about 15-18 feet of water. He's working the spots with dropshots, crankbaits and jigging spoons. Rose is hopeful that today will deliver enough sunlight to position his fish the way he needs them.

"Coming into this tournament, we had 100-degree, sunny days and we hadn't had any of this cloud cover," he said. "I thought if I could grind out 12-13 pounds a day, I'd be right there in contention. This cloud cover has put me a little behind the 8-ball because it's brought a lot of those shallow fish up and they're catching some good quality that way.

"There aren't that many 3-pounders where I'm fishing. I'm fishing schools of pound-and-a-half fish andCommitted to the deep bite, National Guard pro Mark Rose said the week every now and then, I'll get a 2-pounder. The 3's are tougher to catch and I'm having to do some different things to catch those bigger fish. I'm adding a topwater bait to my (selection).

"It hasn't worked out exactly as planned. I'd like to be right there even with the lead right now so I could just go out and catch 11-12 pounds and be right there, but I'm going to have to catch a little more than that. But I'm fishing the way I want to fish, so we'll see what happens.

Starting the day in seventh place, California pro Cody Meyer will keep his options open. He came into the tournament planning to fish deep, but when Ouachita showed him something different, he adjusted accordingly.

"Starting off, my game plan was going to be fishing deep brush piles, but when the first day started off overcast I caught a couple of 3-pounders early on topwater and just kind of rolled with it. The last couple of days, I've been doing a mixture. I feel like my best chances are to get those bream bed fish because they're a lot bigger than the brush pile fish. I'm going to do that today and see what happens and if it's not working, I'll go deep."

Dropshots have been an effective tool for working deeper spots this week.Meyer makes his third consecutive top-10 Forrest Wood Cup appearance, after finishing third at Pittsburgh's Three Rivers in 2009 and second at Lake Lanier (Gainesville, Ga.) in 2010. He's eager to notch another strong finish this year.

"I'm back in the top 10 and I couldn't be more excited to have an opportunity just to be here; just to have a chance," Meyer said.

Luke Clausen, the 2004 Cup champion knows he's within striking distance of a second title. "To have a chance to win coming into the last day is really all you're looking for. If it happens that I'm the first two-timer, I'd be tickled, but we have a lot of fish to catch first."

Notable: The 2011 Forrest Wood Cup has a cumulative weight format. The full field will fish for two days and then be cut to the top 20 after day two. After day three, the field will be trimmed to the top 10 pros who will fish the final day of competition by themselves. Co-angler competition will conclude on Saturday (day three).

Logistics

Weigh-ins will be held at Summit Arena & Hot Springs Convention Center located at 134 Convention Blvd., in Hot Springs beginning at 5 p.m.

Fans will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at the Summit Arena & Hot Springs Convention Center prior to the final weigh-ins on Friday from noon to 5 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The first 1,500 kids 14 and under on Sunday will receive a free Zebco rod and reel combo compliments of US97. Fans can also register to win a fully rigged Ranger Z520 courtesy of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette which will be given away following the final weigh-in. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public.

Curb Records recording artist Steve Holy will bring his unique blend of 50s rock/pop/country to Summit Arena on Sunday, Aug. 14, at 4 p.m. to kick off the Forrest Wood Cup's final weigh-in. Holy recently completed his third studio album, "Love Don't Run."

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" tab from any of the home pages.

Sunday's Conditions

Sunrise: 6:30 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 75 degrees
Expected high temperature: 92 degrees
Water temperature: 89-93 degrees
Wind: NNE at 5-8 mph
Maximum humidity: 61 percent
Day's outlook: Partly cloudy

Tags: david-a-brown  morning-story  2011-08-11-forrest-wood-cup-lake-ouachita 

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