UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Lake Mead

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

2015 Forrest Wood Cup Off and Running

Sunrise

If the fishing matches the weather on the opening day of the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita, there will be plenty of limit stringers brought to the scales in Hot Springs’ Bank of the Ozarks Arena when the weigh-in commences at 5 p.m.

Up until a couple of weather forecasts ago, anglers were anticipating hot, miserable weather during all four days of this, the crowning event of the Walmart FLW Tour season, which is hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Passing thunderstorms Tuesday afternoon brought a pleasant respite to the sultry heat, however, and now Cup contenders only have sulking bass to contend with as they vie for tournament fishing’s richest prize: a winner’s purse of $500,000.

Air temperatures ranged in the low 60s as the 50 pros and their co-anglers fanned out onto Ouachita from Brady Mountain Resort & Marina. The general consensus is that the cooler weather and rain runoff aren’t likely to affect the fishing or strategies one way or the other during the event.

The lake is considerably lower than usual, but that apparently isn’t hindering bank fishermen. Reading between the lines, and judging by the comments from several contestants at Wednesday’s registration, the shallow-water specialists are feeling fairly confident that they can pick off fish near the banks. Luke Clausen, Zack Birge, Scott Canterbury, George Kapiton, Chris McCall – all reported at least one good practice day running the shorelines. And that doesn’t even take into account bank-chuckers such as John Cox and Bryan Thrift.

“I went to one area and tried what I hoped would work. It did; I caught five pretty good keepers and then left,” says Birge, an Oklahoman who spent much of his youth fishing Lake Ouachita. “Then I rode around for two days just looking at different things. The lake is a lot lower than usual, and that’s affected the shallow bite, but not to the extent that there aren’t any fish up there. Maybe there’s not enough for four days, though. Probably it’s going to take bouncing around between shallow and deep to do some good.”

Fishing deeper water usually results in both quantity and quality, but Arkansas veteran Larry Nixon isn’t buying into that notion for this tournament. In practice he tried a variety of deep-water patterns without much success. All he had to show for it was a ruined prop that he banged up beyond repair when he hit the top of a submerged tree standing in 50 feet of water.

“I had a very poor practice,” confesses Nixon. “I stayed out, and what fish I caught were about 20 feet deep. I saw a lot of suspended fish holding between 15 and about 22 feet, and that’s just not my cup of tea. I can’t catch a fish out there unless it’s holding on the bottom, and these fish are nowhere near the bottom or the top.”

Of course, no matter how slow the drop-shot or swimbait bite is, the offshore crowd does have the advantage of being able to cast into the random schools of surfacing bass busting wayward shad.

Chris McCall of Brookeland, Texas, likes his chances shoreward, fishing Lake Ouachita’s milfoil and hydrilla beds. Though they “don’t have a [Sam] Rayburn flair to them, they’re fairly decent,” he says, which must provide some hope to the jig flippers in this year’s field of anglers.

“I had a couple of average days of practice, and one pretty good day,” notes McCall. “Every day of practice was a grind, though. I’d literally fish for hours without a bite, then go through a flurry of fish, then go to the next place and not do anything again. If I can fish the grass for four days, I’ll be all right. It’s that deep stuff that I want to stay away from.”

Picking apart random grass lines isn’t the only shallow pattern that’s likely to come into play. In practice, some anglers carried extra trolling motor batteries with them, or swapped trolling motor batteries back and forth with cranking batteries, so they could put their trollers on high and run the banks casting prop baits and walkers to cruising bass. That presupposes they can see the bass, however, and that might not be as simple now that cloudy weather is in the forecast.

George Kapiton of Florida isn’t saying what he’s doing, except that it involves “running and gunning.” He says he found about a dozen places in pre-practice that held fish, and when he checked them during the practice period, they still held fish. He also located another dozen spots to tap.

“I think it’s going to take 45 or 50 pounds to win,” he estimates. “That’s based on what I saw in practice. I had one day where I caught about 17 pounds, and another where I caught about 12 pounds. I’m holding back one good area I found for later in the week, but if I need it to get me into Saturday [the semifinal round of 20 anglers] I’ll hit it before then.”

Scott Wiley of Alabama has the same sort of pragmatic outlook. A shallow-water fisherman himself, he says he had a decent practice and doesn’t plan to try any new approaches that might include fishing deeper water.

“Go with what you know, and dance with the gal who brought you,” he says, which, down South, is a philosophical way of saying it’s too late to change one’s fishing style now.

Click here for more information.

 

Thursday’s Conditions

Sunrise: 6:35 a.m.

Temperature at Takeoff: 60 degrees

Expected High Temperature: 78 degrees

Water Temperature: mid-80s to low 90s

Wind: N-NW at 3 to 7 mph on average, but building temporarily ahead of thunderstorms

Today’s Outlook: comfortable air temperature, partly cloudy with 40 percent chance of afternoon thunderstorms

Extended Forecast: highs in the mid-80s to high 80s Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with partly cloudy skies and a chance of afternoon thunderstorms every day

Moon Phase: waxing crescent

 

Competition format

In the Forrest Wood Cup, the 50 pros and 50 co-anglers are randomly paired each day. Pros run the boats and fish against other pros; co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field competes Thursday and Friday, with a co-angler champion crowned at Friday’s weigh-in. After day two the field is reduced to the top 20 pros, with non-fishing observers accompanying them Saturday. The top 10 pros continue competition in Sunday’s championship round, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.

 

For more coverage

For those who can’t attend the weigh-in, FLWFishing.com offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results, streaming video and audio.

 

Forrest Wood Cup Event Information

Takeoff

Time: 7 a.m. CT

Takeoff Show: 6:30 a.m. CT daily

Location: Brady Mountain Resort & Marina

4120 Brady Mountain Rd (off Highway 270)

Royal, AR 71901

Phone: 501.767.3422

Website: bradymtn.com

 

FLW Live/Weigh-in

Time: 5 p.m. CT

Bank of the Ozarks Arena

134 Convention Boulevard

Hot Springs, AR 71901

Phone: 501.321.2277

Website: hotsprings.org

 

FLW Expo

Days: Friday-Sunday

Time: 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. CT

Hot Springs Convention Center

134 Convention Road

Hot Springs, AR 71901

Phone: 800-772-2489

Website: hotsprings.org

Admission: FREE

Activities: Families can enjoy interactive games, explore the Walmart Kids Zone and receive free samples.

 

FLW Expo Highlights

- Free rods and reels will be given to the first 500 children ages 14 and under who arrive at the Expo on Saturday and Sunday. Youngsters can claim the rods and reels after the final weigh-in on Sunday.

- A fully rigged Ranger Boat will be given away by drawing after Sunday’s weigh-in. Participants must be present to win.

- The second annual Bass & BBQ competition and festival will take place outside the convention center on Saturday and Sunday. Teams from across the world will be cooking pork, ribs, chicken and more, with samples and meals available to the public.

- Four free country concerts await visitors. The performers include Shari Bales and Southbound at the Bass & BBQ stage on Saturday, Samantha Feathers and the Luke Williams Band at the Bass & BBQ stage on Sunday, and Justin Moore on the main FLW weigh-in stage on Sunday just before the weigh-in.

Tags: forrest-wood-cup  lake-ouachita  colin-moore  morning-story  2015-08-20-forrest-wood-cup 

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