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

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Livin' large(mouth)

After three dim days, the top-10 finalists will fish their final day on Lake Lanier in sunny conditions.

DULUTH, Ga. - Unlike those house guests who overstay their welcome, no one's complaining about the fact that largemouth bass have played a larger-than-expected role for longer-than-expected in the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Lanier.

Largemouth, which reach greater dimensions than neighboring spotted bass, always offer the opportunity for a limit-boosting kicker fish. But most anglers probably entered the tournament assuming that the typical summer patterns of targeting spots over Lanier's deep brush would be the dominant deal. One good day of largemouth action wasn't surprising, but going into the fourth and final day with the big green fish in top billing is pleasantly surprising for many.

As FLW pro and Lanier Legend Tom Mann Jr. pointed out, recent drought years allowed a lot of newThe final day of Forrest Wood Cup action is under way. vegetation to take root on exposed lake bed. The water's still down about seven feet, but it has dropped much lower, so the returning depth has covered a lot of that new vegetation, thereby complementing the existing wood and rock cover. Chevy pro Bryan Thrift, who starts today in third place notes that the current water lever has put a premium on shallow cover.

"With the water being down, it takes a lot of (areas) out of play and when you get into the backs of the creeks and pockets, there's not as much cover for them to be on," said the 2010 FLW Tour Angler of the Year Thrift. "What is in the water, they're on it."

Today's weather should help anglers, especially those targeting shallow largemouth. After three days of cloudy and occasionally damp weather, day four dawned with clear skies and a touch of pre-fall coolness in the air. Deep fish will hold a little closer to those brush piles and standing timber, but those on the bank will strap their backsides to the nearest cover and remain in the cooler shadows until they see something they want to eat.

Fatheadz pro Jacob Wheeler has lead the event since day one.Fatheadz pro Jacob Wheeler has played the largemouth game all week and he's lead the field since posting the event's heaviest sack - 21 pounds, 15 ounces - on day one. The only pro to break 20 pounds, he has ventured into the main lake a little, but he's sacked up most of his weight by fishing skinny water far up the Chattahoochee River. He's keeping a Rapala X-Rap Prop handy, but flipping a Trigger-X Goo Bug and Flippin Tube will likely account for most of his bites. He's looking for largemouth, but Wheeler said he welcomes any fish that improves his bag.

"There's a mix of spots and largemouth up in the river, so it just depends on what wants to bite," he said. "If a 2-pound spot eats my (bait), I'm not going to be prejudiced. I'm going to set the hook on that one. If a 2-pound largemouth eats it, I'll set the hook."

Much ado has been made over the 21-year-old Wheeler's opportunity of becoming the youngest Forrest Wood Cup champion, but he's doing his best compartmentalize the event and keep things in perspective. With a three-day total of 48 pounds, 2 ounces, he carries a nearly a 6-pound lead into the final round. However, he's not letting the show precede "show me the fish."

"It's just the support of my family and God has given me this peace so I don't feel that pressure right Starting the day in second place, Straight Talk pro Scott Canterbury hopes to find hefty largemouth and spots today.now," Wheeler said. "I just feel like I'm just going to go fishing. I got a good night's sleep last night and I just feel very fortunate and blessed to be here."

Straight Talk pro Scott Canterbury placed second on day one, dipped to fourth on day two and regained the No. 2 spot on day three. He knows he has a good chunk of ground to cover if he's to challenge Wheeler for the win, but Canterbury will press for a good bag of spots anchored by a couple of big largemouths.

"Most of my weight has been on spots this week - I've weighed in a couple of 5-pounders and another one over 4, but yesterday I had a 5-pound largemouth," Canterbury said. "I need to get a couple of those kickers on either side. I need to get a big largemouth or two and I need a big spot or two and have a shot at winning the thing. I'm definitely fishing for both, because I don't know if you can catch five big ones either way.

"If (Wheeler) catches them, he deserves to win because he's been unstoppable from the beginning. If I catch 17 or 18 pounds, he'll have to catch them, that's for sure."

Chevy pro Bryan Thrift plans on fishing several areas of the lake. A Damiki D-Pop will be one of his main baits.Canterbury said today's bait selection will likely resemble day one when he had 14 rods out on his deck. The selection will include topwaters, shaky heads, buzz baits and a double dropshot rig with a nose-hooked Jackall Cross Tail shad about two feet above a Flick Shake worm. The idea here is to present one bait down in the brush pile, while the other hovers above.

Thrift, who sits about 8 1/2 pounds out of the lead has been targeting largemouth most of the week. He knows that the heftier species offers his only realistic course for advancement.

"I'm definitely going to try to catch five largemouths," he said. "I figure that's the only chance I have to catch a bag big enough to win, so I'm going to go try to catch the biggest bag I can."

Noting that he'll fish the rivers and the main lake, Thrift will throw a mix of jigs, shaky heads and prop baits. A day of running and gunning with just a quick handful of casts at each spot will be his plan.

In fourth place, reigning Forrest Wood Cup champion Scott Martin has spent most of his time lookingDefending Forrest Wood Cup champion Scott Martin rigs up a jigging spoon prior to takeoff. for spotted bass in deeper water. The National Guard pro from Clewiston, Fla. will employ a mix of topwaters, plastics and a jigging spoon.

Fifth-place pro Jay Yelas sits 11 pounds off the lead, but he sacked up 18-4 on day two, so he could make a big move today. Yelas also spent a lot of time in the Chattahoochee, but declining productivity has spurred him to move into the Chestatee River today. Targeting similar shallow largemouth habitat, he'll be flipping a Berkley Gripper Jig with a Berkley Chigger Craw trailer.

The top-10 field also includes past Forrest Wood Cup champs Luke Clausen, David Dudley and Dion Hibdon. Wheeler's lead is substantial, but even at this young age, he's experienced enough to know that there are no guarantees, no assumptions. Nothing is a lock - especially with a fiercely accomplished field of competitors who will not hesitate to steal the dream, should the leader falter. Wheeler said he's shooting for another 20 pounds.

"You really can't stop in this tournament at all," he said. "You have the best of the best out here right now. It's doable, but I have to take my time, be confident and just go out and have a good time."

Tournament details and logistics

Chevy pro Jay Yelas hopes to tempt several big largemouths with a Berkley Gripper Jig.The 2012 Forrest Wood Cup competition consists of 46 pros and 46 co-anglers who have qualified through six different tournament circuits over the past two seasons. This year's prestigious group includes 37 pros and 38 co-anglers from the 2012 Walmart FLW Tour Majors, five pros and five co-anglers from the 2011 FLW Tour Opens, the pro and co-angler title holders from the 2011 EverStart Series Championship, the 2012 BFL All-America pro and co-angler champions, the top pro and co-angler from the 2012 TBF National Championship and the 2012 National Guard FLW College Fishing national champion.

During Forrest Wood Cup competition, the full pro and co-angler fields will compete for two days. After Friday's weigh-in, the field was cut down to the top-20 anglers in each division based on overall accumulated weight. After Saturday's weigh-in, Timothy Dearing was crowned co-angler champion. Also on Saturday, the pro field was cut down to the top 10 pros. The remaining pro field competes during today's final round of Forrest Wood Cup action. The pro winner ultimately will be determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.

Forrest Wood Cup weigh-ins will be held at the Gwinnett Convention Center, located at 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth, Ga., beginning at 5 p.m.

Daily schedule in brief

6:00 AM - 7:00 AM - Folgers Morning Takeoff coffee and donuts served at Laurel Park
6:30 AM - FLW Takeoff Show begins at Laurel Park - Video Streamed Live
7:00 AM - Takeoff at Laurel Park
7:30 AM - National Guard Soldier Appreciation Tournament takeoff at Laurel Park
8:00 AM - 3:00 PM - On-boat video stream of top anglers - Video Streamed Live
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM - Chevy Test Drive at Gwinnett Center Entrance
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM - FLW Expo at Gwinnett Center
11:00 AM - 11:25 AM - George Cochran Evinrude Fishing Seminar at Gwinnett Center, Room 6A-C - Video Streamed Live
12:00 PM - 12:25 PM - Roland Martin Fishing Seminar at Gwinnett Center, Room 6A-C - Video Streamed Live
1:00 PM - National Guard Soldier Appreciation Tournament weigh-in at Laurel Park
1:00 PM - 1:25 PM - Jimmy Houston Mercury Fishing Seminar at Gwinnett Center, Casting Pool - Video Streamed Live
2:00 PM - Save Money At Walmart. Experience FLW VIP Treatment.
2:00 PM - 2:25 PM - Mascot Skills Competition at Gwinnett Center, Casting Pool
3:00 PM - 3:25 PM - Hank Parker Fishing Seminar at Center, Room 6A-C - Video Streamed Live
3:50 PM - National Guard Soldier Appreciation Tournament winners recognized on stage at Gwinnett Center Arena
4:00 PM - 4:55 PM - Steve Holy Concert at Gwinnett Center Arena
4:55 PM - Castrol Chevy Camaro Giveaway at Gwinnett Center Arena
5:00 PM - Weigh-In at Gwinnett Center Arena

Want to watch the weigh in live but can't make it in person? Then tune into Luke Clausen, also a past Forrest Wood Cup winner, preps his gear for day four.href="http://www.flwoutdoors.com/flwlive.cfm?type=bass">FLW Live on FLWOutdoors.com shortly before 5 p.m. Eastern Time to watch live streaming video and audio of today's opening-round weigh in.

Bass-fishing fans take note

Fans will be treated to the FLW Expo at the Gwinnett Convention Center on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. prior to the weigh-ins. The Expo includes a wide range of fishing-industry vendors, Ranger boat simulators, an opportunity to interact with professional anglers, a host of fishing and outdoors-related activities, sponsor giveaways and interactive games.

A local news channel covered the final dayAll activities are free and open to the public.

On Sunday 1,000 free rods and reels will be given away to the first 1,000 children 14 years and under who are accompanied by an adult. The rod and reel giveaways are courtesy of the Gwinnett Daily Post. Also on Sunday, one lucky fishing fan will win a Ranger Z520 with a 250-horsepower Evinrude, Lowrance electronics and Minn Kota trolling motor. The Ranger boat giveaway is courtesy of the Gwinnett Daily Post and is free to enter, but the winner must be present at the conclusion of Sunday's final weigh-in to win.

Fans will also be treated to a free Steve Holy Concert at Gwinnett Center Arena from 4 to 4:55 p.m. on Sunday.

Coverage of the Forrest Wood Cup will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when "FLW" airs Sept. 16 from 1-2 p.m. ET. "FLW" is hosted by Jason Harper and is broadcast to more than 559 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.

Forrest Wood Cup action continues at today's weigh-in, scheduled to take place at 5 p.m. Easter Time at the Gwinnett Convention Center, located at 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth, Ga.

Vital statistics:

Sunrise: 6:54 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 68 degrees
Water temperature: 88-92
Expected high temperature: 85 degrees
Wind: From the west-northwest at 3-5 mph
Humidity: 60 percent
Day's outlook: Sunny

Related links:

2012 Forrest Wood Cup digitial event guide

For daily on-the-water coverage for the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup, click here.

2012 Forrest Wood Cup homepage

2012 Forrest Wood Cup schedule of events

2012 FWC preview: The contenders part I

2012 FWC preview: The contenders part II

2012 FWC preview: The contenders part III

2012 FWC preview: The contenders part IV

2012 FWC preview: The contenders part V

Pro field set for 2012 Forrest Wood Cup

Co-angler field set for 2012 Forrest Wood Cup

Tags: david-a-brown  morning-story  2012-08-09-forrest-wood-cup-lake-lanier 

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