UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Potomac River

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

2017 Forrest Wood Cup Preview

2017 Forrest Wood Cup Preview
Lake Murray

Forrest Wood Cup

Lake Murray

Columbia, S.C.

Aug. 11-13, 2017

Hosted by Capital City Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Board

 

About the Fishery

Lake Murray was formed in 1930 when construction on the Dreher Shoals Dam was completed and the Saluda River began to flood into the creeks and lowlands of the surrounding area. Eventually, the floodwaters created the reservoir that has since been dubbed the “Jewel of South Carolina.”

Situated between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Low Country, Murray is typical of reservoirs in central South Carolina: red clay banks, little submerged vegetation, ample docks and water clarity ranging from “very clear” in the lower end to nearly muddy in the upper end.

Emergent bank grass does grow along some shorelines, and there’s wood cover along banks where the ground has eroded away and trees have fallen off into the water. In addition to the shoreline cover, there are also plenty of planted cane piles and brush piles to hold bass in deeper water.

Mostly, Murray is known as a blueback herring lake. The nomadic baitfish draw the bulk of the attention from bass, particularly in late summer once the spawn is long in the rearview mirror and fall isn’t yet on the horizon.

 

Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi delightedly hoists the Forrest Wood Cup!

Last Time

The Forrest Wood Cup has been held at Lake Murray in August twice, in 2008 and 2014. Michael Bennett won the 2008 Cup with a frog. He ran all around the lake, targeting shade and a variety of shallow cover and fishing new water each day. The 2014 Cup went to local favorite Anthony Gagliardi, who fished points and some upriver brush the first couple of days but relied mostly on offshore schooling bass to earn the win.

Blueback-chasing schoolers and shallow bluegill eaters dominated the 2014 event, and topwater was the predominant tactic, but a few other patterns emerged, including drop-shotting and dragging on offshore structure and fishing a mayfly hatch far up the Saluda River.

 

What to Expect this Time

Will it be three consecutive Cups won up a shallow creek? Will topwater win again? Or will the offshore bite reclaim its place as a late-summer winner in the South? There are a lot of patterns in play in this one.

The frog/buzzbait/popper/buzz toad bite has proven to be strong in August in the region, particularly if bluegills are bedding. It’s the way a lot of pros prefer to fish, too. The biggest challenge is finding a place that replenishes where an angler can fish for three days, or running enough new water to stay in the hunt. 

The offshore schooling bite is a proven winner, but it can be challenging too. Murray is a big lake, with a lot of deep structure to fish, yet the blueback herring cause bass to suspend and often to turn somewhat nomadic, so schooling bass aren’t always reliable.

There are shallow blueback patterns too. Bass use seawalls, shallow points and the like to corral the baitfish, but that bite usually peters out once the sun gets high.

The one certainty is that no matter what patterns emerge, the weights are always close at Murray in August. Expect several anglers to average 10 to 12 pounds a day and to be in the hunt.

 

Andy Morgan is hands down one of the best in business especially when it comes to finding fish up shallow.

Baits and Techniques

  • Shoreline topwater – Poppers, toads, frogs, River2Sea Whopper Ploppers and buzzbaits will get the call around laydowns, docks and grass.
  • Open-water topwater – Big pencil poppers and other walking baits can call up open-water schoolers.
  • Other schooling options – The Zoom Super Fluke or Yamamoto D-Shad paired with an under-spin or on a simple weightless rig is a classic Carolina option for schoolers. Swimbaits work too.
  • More choices – There’s a lot in play at Murray. Jigs will be used for flipping shallow cover or dragging deep drops. Yamamoto Senkos and ribbon-tail worms will be fished on a variety of cover and structure. And various finesse rigs such as drop-shots and shaky heads will help fill limits.

 

3 Critical Factors

1. The heat – Obviously it’s gonna be hot in South Carolina in August, and the heat is a physical challenge to some people over the course of a week that includes tournament practice, media events, long weigh-ins, late nights and grueling days. It’s tough on the fishing too. Late summer is a time of inconsistency, when fish can’t be relied on to group up just anywhere.

2. Rivers and creeks – In 2014, Steve Kennedy nearly pulled off a 10th-to-first comeback on the final day by running way up the Saluda River and catching bass that were keyed on hatching mayflies. He produced some seriously epic footage with his Zoom Horny Toad that none of his competitors has forgotten. Then in 2015 and 2016, Brad Knight and John Cox won Cup titles at Lake Ouachita and Wheeler Lake, respectively, by camping out in the shallows in the upper ends of creeks. So now everyone has been reminded that the shallow creek bite can win in August, and most of the field will probably spend an appreciable amount of time scouting these areas in practice.

3. Only three days – This year, FLW has changed to a three-day Forrest Wood Cup, rather than the usual four-day event. Considering that Costa FLW Series events are all three days, it isn’t an unfamiliar format for the pros, but it will affect the tournament. Pros will have less time to figure out what’s happening on the water, but also less time for a good pattern to evaporate. Mostly, the shorter tournament changes the dynamics of the event, from an exhausting marathon to more of a tiring long-distance jog. It’ll change some anglers’ strategies but will mostly affect the tournament in more intangible ways that we won’t realize until it all goes down in Columbia.

 

Fantasy Fishing Pick

Anthony Gagliardi is the definite favorite. He won it last time and knows more about the lake than anyone else in the field. John Cox, Brandon Cobb and Scott Canterbury should be strong on the shallow bite, and Bryan Thrift is the king of run-and-gun fishing, which will play big time at Murray. If it’s a schooling or offshore structure bite, consider Michael Neal or Shane LeHew. Finally, a strong all-around pick is Scott Martin. His Cup record is ridiculously good, and he’s become a bit of a master at the offshore schooling bite in summer, but has the skills to hunt and peck shallow too.

Tags: pre-tournament  2017-08-11-forrest-wood-cup 

Breaking Down the All-American Field

Breaking Down the All-American Field

When the anglers in the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American start competition on the Potomac they’ll be up against the absolute cream of the crop of FLW’s grassroots ranks. READ MORE »

Table Rock Midday Update – Day 2

Table Rock Midday Update – Day 2

Fishing pressure and a cold front have shut down the bite at Table Rock Lake for stop No. 2 of the Costa FLW Series Central Division season. The lake's largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass are not coming easy. READ MORE »

Spawn in Full Bloom on Table Rock

Spawn in Full Bloom on Table Rock

Stop No. 2 of the Costa FLW Series Central Division should shape up to be quite the catchfest. Coming off of the division opener on Kentucky Lake, where pros were challenged with tough fishing, this week’s event, which is presented by Power-Pole and hosted by Explore Branson, should be stellar in terms of both numbers and quality of fish.  READ MORE »

Going Shallow with Lawyer

Going Shallow with Lawyer

Heading into the sixth stop of the year on Chickamauga, which is presented by Evinrude, Lawyer says he’s looking to go easy and make sure he’s on the road to Hot Springs this August for his third shot at a Cup title. With that in mind, I was happy to hop aboard and see the shallow side of Chickamauga. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Chickamauga

FLW Live Schedule for Chickamauga

FLW Live is back for 2019 FLW Tour stop No. 6 on the big-fish waters of Lake Chickamauga. The event, which is presented by Evinrude and hosted by Fish Dayton and the Rhea Economic & Tourism Council, runs Thursday, May 2 through Sunday, May 5. READ MORE »

Get to Know Lake Chickamauga

Get to Know Lake Chickamauga

The 2019 FLW Tour event at Lake Chickamauga, which is presented by Evinrude, is hitting the lake before the primary offshore migration has occurred, which means that some ledge fishing will take place, but a whole mess of other patterns should play as well. Here’s a look at where the anglers will be competing this week. READ MORE »

By the Numbers: Lake Chickamauga

By the Numbers: Lake Chickamauga

The FLW Tour’s sixth stop of the season is Lake Chickamauga in east Tennessee. One of the gems of the South for hunting monster bass, the Lake of the Giants promises big fish – and lots of them – and perhaps the best chance of seeing the century mark broken this season. READ MORE »

Hunting Offshore With Setzer

Hunting Offshore With Setzer

If Braxton Setzer wins the FLW Tour’s sixth stop of the season fishing offshore, he has a faulty trolling motor to thank for it. READ MORE »

2019 Lake Chickamauga Preview

2019 Lake Chickamauga Preview

Lake Chickamauga in east Tennessee is a big-bass playground where anglers regularly catch trophy fish that surpass 10 pounds. In early May, it'll host the FLW Tour for the third time in six years. Previous events were held in June, so this stop promises to offer a different look at the Chick. READ MORE »

Big Weights Expected at Santee Cooper

Big Weights Expected at Santee Cooper

The Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division finishes up its 2019 season at the Santee Cooper lakes, Marion and Moultrie, in South Carolina this week. Forty pros and co-anglers will qualify for the championship, and an Angler of the Year will be crowned as the field fishes for hefty postspawn largemouths. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Cherokee Lake

FLW Live Schedule for Cherokee Lake

FLW Live is back for 2019 FLW Tour stop No. 5 at beautiful Cherokee Lake. The event, which is presented by Lowrance and hosted by the Jefferson County Economic Development Alliance, runs Thursday, April 11 through Sunday, April 14. READ MORE »

Get to Know Cherokee Lake

Get to Know Cherokee Lake

The fifth stop of the FLW Tour is presented by Lowrance and sure to be fun if you like east Tennessee, smallmouths and good fishing (who doesn’t?). Cherokee Lake plays host and promises to both challenge and delight anglers. READ MORE »

Beavers Breaks Down Cherokee

Beavers Breaks Down Cherokee

Beavers started the year off about as badly as he could, finishing 121st at Rayburn, but he’s been on a tear ever since, finishing 54th at Toho before banking back-to-back top 10s at Seminole and Grand. READ MORE »

Scouting Cherokee with LeBrun

Scouting Cherokee with LeBrun

Now in the second half of the Tour season, LeBrun is up against another new lake, and sort of a new species. He says he’s never seen a smallmouth on a bed in his life, and has spent just two days on Cherokee in pre-practice. READ MORE »

2019 Cherokee Lake Preview

2019 Cherokee Lake Preview

Nestled in the hills of east Tennessee, Cherokee Lake is a TVA impoundment on the Holston River, and it sits roughly between Norris Lake (to the northwest) and Douglas Lake (to the southeast). READ MORE »

Prespawn Throwdown on Tap at KY Lake

Prespawn Throwdown on Tap at KY Lake

The Costa FLW Series Central Division hosts its season opener at Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley April 4-6. Instead of a postspawn ledge showdown, like is typical of major multi-day bass-fishing tournaments in the region, this derby should be a prespawn or spawn slugfest, with crankbaits, spinnerbaits, ChatterBaits, umbrella rigs, swimbait and jigs all playing a major role in the outcome. READ MORE »

Get to Know Grand Lake

Get to Know Grand Lake

The fourth stop of the 2019 FLW Tour is presented by Mercury at Grand Lake. Though the Tour last hit the big Oklahoma lake in 2013, Grand sees plenty of tournament action, especially in the spring, and it never fails to deliver drama. READ MORE »

Poking Around Grand with Cortiana

Poking Around Grand with Cortiana

Since starting to fish Costa FLW Series events in 2016, Kyle Cortiana has banked over $100,000 with FLW and finished in the top 10 of the Southwestern Division three times. On the FLW Tour, he’s been a bit less successful, with no top 10s and no FLW Cup qualifications … yet. This year, he’s sitting 35th in the points, with a good chance to go to the Cup, and the FLW Tour presented by Mercury on Grand Lake finally gives him a shot at a Tour event with home field advantage. READ MORE »

Day 1 Practice on Grand with Warren

Day 1 Practice on Grand with Warren

There’s a good crew of Oklahoma anglers on the FLW Tour, but of them, Chad Warren is definitely one of the favorites at Grand Lake. Stop No. 4 of the 2019 FLW Tour, which is presented by Mercury, heads to Grand in the early spring for a prespawn tournament that might feature really good fishing. READ MORE »

2019 Grand Lake Preview

2019 Grand Lake Preview

Grand Lake is situated in Northeast Oklahoma among the foothills of the Ozarks. The impoundment was created in 1940 when the Pensacola Dam was finished along the Grand River. The 46,500-surface-acre reservoir now hosts plenty of recreational opportunities, but more importantly, is also home to some of the best bass fishing in the country. READ MORE »