UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - James River

A Score to Settle

A Score to Settle
Scott "Hammerbury" Canterbury

There is half of a bass above the surface, leaping out of a blossom of water. There are vague shapes of trees and docks in the background. There is a jig seemingly erupting out of the mouth of the fish and arching up and then down on a slack line. And then there is Scott Canterbury throwing down his hat in disgust.

That’s one of the scenes we remember about the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup at Lake Murray. It’s the same scene that played over and over in Scott Canterbury’s mind for a while, and replays occasionally now as he contemplates a return trip to Lake Murray for the 2017 Cup (he’s in second place in the FLW Tour standings, and by all accounts is a shoo-in to qualify). The fish that would have won him the Cup jumped off, and with it went the life-changing prospects that the championship entails.

The Quaker State pro didn’t let that one moment frozen in time define his career. He couldn’t afford to. Disappointment is a pro fisherman’s closest companion; success for most is just a hitchhiker along for a short ride. When you understand that, and accept it as part of the game, you can go on about your business. Canterbury has.

He figured The One That Got Away was a 5-pounder. With it, he could have won the Cup with a few pounds to spare. As it was, Anthony Gagliardi beat him by an ounce. The 2014 championship will be remembered as the year Gagliardi made the big comeback after a disastrous start to his season that kicked off with him being disqualified from the season opener, and the leaping fish cost Canterbury the crown. Hardly anybody remembers that on the first day of the event, the Alabama pro only had four keepers for 10 pounds. Then again, on the second day, Gagliardi returned to the weigh-in one bass shy of a limit. The way Canterbury sees it, the only fish that matter are the ones that put numbers on the scoreboard at tournament’s end.

“It didn’t really bother me for long,” says Canterbury of the moment he lost the 11th hour kicker. “I thought about it – sure. Right then and there I lost the tournament, but other things happened too that made a difference. You can’t really dwell on what might have been. One thing that’s true about fishing, no matter what, is that nobody catches them all. You just have to keep fishing and not let it eat at you.”

Canterbury has managed to live up to his self-imposed credo. Including the $60,000 runner-up check he received at the 2014 Cup, in the seasons since he’s managed to win more than $400,000 on Tour and in the Costa FLW Series.

Murray is a tough lake, but it suits Canterbury’s style of fishing. While it’s not his favorite lake, he doesn’t regard it as a looming nemesis. True, it’s hard to catch a break there, and multi-day patterns are as elusive as a sackful of big largemouths. An angler hoping to benefit from the schooling bite might wait in vain for bass to pop up in the same area where they seemed to be everywhere the day before. Fish forage under docks one day and are gone the next: Ask David Dudley, who was fishing docks in the 2014 Cup’s first round and caught 17-14 to pace the field, then followed up with 6-1 and 1-6 to finish 15th. Hungry bass mill around brush piles ready and waiting to inhale a drop-shot rig, but then disappear: Ask Philip Jarabeck, who went the finesse route in 2014 to lead on day two with 26-4. Then he caught just a pair of 2-pounders the next round and wound up 11th.

It’s Murray’s inconsistency and reputation as a junk-fisherman’s paradise that was Canterbury’s saving grace, however. He’s used to having to scrape up a keeper here, a kicker there, and Murray favors the hard workers like Canterbury who just keep their heads down and fish as circumstances dictate. Canterbury doesn’t expect anything to be different this August, and he isn’t planning on changing his style of fishing.

“I don’t like to chase schooling fish. I tried that for a while in 2014, but mainly it was a waste of my time,” he says. “Blueback herring are here today and gone tomorrow, and wherever they go the fish go with them. I can catch fish shallow at Murray, but that involves running new water every day.”

As Canterbury discovered in his last visit to Murray, “new water” is shallow with some sort of cover where his junk-fishing instincts can kick in. Once he abandoned the schooling bass pattern midway through day two of the 2014 Cup, he scratched up 10 keepers that day and 10 more the next, and finished with seven more the last day.

He did it with a variety of lures, including buzzbaits and jigs, and his change for the better resulted from his gamble to abandon the lake’s lower and middle portions and run upriver to fish the maze of coves and feeders in the Saluda River arm.

This time around, Canterbury expects more of the same. Murray can be generous, but during the hottest days of summer it’s more often a miser. Canterbury doesn’t expect anything less.

“It’s going to be a grind, just like it was then [in 2014]. You have to fish your guts out to catch a decent stringer,” he notes. “It’s not easy in August on any of these lakes, and you just have to fish every bit of bank and good-looking cover. There’s a lot of physical stamina and mental toughness involved.”

That being the case, Canterbury is up to the task. Besides, he has a score to settle with Lake Murray.

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

Pro Circuit Heads to Sandusky

Pro Circuit Heads to Sandusky

The season finale of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit will take place on Lake Erie, out of Sandusky, Ohio, on August 11-14. The third of three special Super Tournaments, over 200 pros from FLW and Major League Fishing (MLF) will fish in the event. The winner will take home $125,000 and the event will decide who wins the Angler of the Year title, the Polaris Rookie of the Year title and which Pro Circuit anglers qualify for the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota on Sturgeon Bay. READ MORE »

Wheeler Lake Midday Update - Day 2

Wheeler Lake Midday Update - Day 2

Fishing creek ends continued to be the theme on day two of the Toyota Series Southeastern Division event on Wheeler Lake. Although the current was not running as much in the creeks as yesterday, the cooler shadier waters in the back of creeks were still producing for top anglers once again.  READ MORE »

Mississippi River Practice with Buck

Mississippi River Practice with Buck

In his fourth year on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, Grae Buck has really come into his own. A standout collegiate angler at Penn State, he’s now in the thick of the Angler of the Year race and cruising toward qualification for the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota. READ MORE »

Scouting Pool 8 with Ormond

Scouting Pool 8 with Ormond

For Jake Ormond, this is his first time fishing north of Tennessee, and thus his first time fishing the upper Mississippi. He’s not the only one lacking Mississippi River experience in the field, but considering many of the Major League Fishing (MLF) anglers that are part of the Super Tournament field have competed on the river a number of times, he’s got his work cut out for him. READ MORE »

Summertime Shootout on Tap at Wheeler

Summertime Shootout on Tap at Wheeler

Summertime on the Tennessee River may not be the prime time to hit the water, but the second stop of the Toyota Series Southeastern Division on Wheeler Lake will certainly showcase how diverse of a fishery it can be when the tournament takes place July 30 - Aug. 1. READ MORE »

Looking Ahead to the Mississippi River 

Looking Ahead to the Mississippi River 

With just two events left in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit season, it’s time to turn attention to the northern part of the country. Presented by OPTIMA Batteries, the Pro Circuit Super Tournament on the Mississippi River out of Stoddard, Wis., will not only crown a winner with a $125,000 payday but also shape the Angler of the Year race. READ MORE »

Big Bags on Tap at Pickwick

Big Bags on Tap at Pickwick

After a four-month hiatus, it’s almost time for the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Mississippi Division to get back after it. The season resumes on July 18 and July 19 with back-to-back tournaments on Pickwick Lake. While each tournament may fish a bit like a two-day event, each day of competition is a standalone tournament with a winner crowned after each day. READ MORE »

Michigan Division Kicks Off on St. Clair

Michigan Division Kicks Off on St. Clair

There’s nothing better than clear water and big smallmouths, and that’s exactly what the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Michigan Division plans to deliver this year. The division, which is presented by ARE, is set to open the season July 18 on Lake St. Clair in what should be a heavyweight showdown of smallmouths. READ MORE »

Piedmont Division Heads to Kerr

Piedmont Division Heads to Kerr

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Piedmont Division continues its season with back-to-back tournaments on Kerr Lake on July 18 and 19. READ MORE »

Hoosier Division Heads for Ohio River

Hoosier Division Heads for Ohio River

After kicking off the season on Lake Monroe with a double-header at the end of June, the Hoosier Division of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine turns east for stop No. 3 on the Ohio River at Tanners Creek. READ MORE »

Everything in Play on Mighty Miss

Everything in Play on Mighty Miss

The Mississippi River is the staple venue of the Great Lakes Division in Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine competition. Come July 18, the division will take its first crack at the Mighty Miss in what could shape up to be a diverse event. READ MORE »

Kentucky Lake Could be Won Deep or Shallow

Kentucky Lake Could be Won Deep or Shallow

As we saw a couple weeks ago at the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga, the Tennessee River is capable of churning out big bags of bass both deep and shallow. We’ll probably be reminded of the Chickamauga event on July 18, when the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine LBL Division competes on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. Conditions should be similar, with both deep and shallow patterns in the mix.   READ MORE »

Northern Division Heads to Sandusky

Northern Division Heads to Sandusky

Swiftly rescheduled due to New York’s recently announced travel restrictions, the Toyota Series Northern Division is now kicking off on Lake Erie, launching out of Sandusky, Ohio, July 9-11. The event is the first of three in the division, with the others scheduled for August on Lake Champlain and on the Detroit River in September. READ MORE »

FLW Shifts Toyota Series Northern Event to Lake Erie

FLW Shifts Toyota Series Northern Event to Lake Erie

Due to New York’s recently announced travel restrictions, FLW will shift its July 9-11 Toyota Series Northern Division opener from the St. Lawrence River at Massena, N.Y., to Lake Erie at Sandusky, Ohio. READ MORE »

Okie Division Heads to Arkansas River

Okie Division Heads to Arkansas River

The Okie Division looks to end the month of June just how it started it – with back-to-back Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine events. READ MORE »

Checking Shallow and Deep with Hays

Checking Shallow and Deep with Hays

Dylan Hays has been fairly consistent throughout his four years as a pro on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, and he’s currently on pace to have his best season to date. He made the last two top-30 cuts and finished 31st at Rayburn to start the year, and because of his consistency, the Arkansas pro currently finds himself fifth in the Angler of the Year race. READ MORE »

Several Patterns in Play at Ouachita BFL

Several Patterns in Play at Ouachita BFL

FLW has a long history of hosting multiple-day summertime tournaments on Lake Ouachita, where pros have to grind it out for three days in what are usually tough conditions. On June 27, when the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Arkie Division takes to Ouachita, the Natural State’s best bass anglers will need to game plan a little differently. With only one day to fish and a three-bass limit, they’ll have to swing for the fences with big-bass patterns to have a shot at winning. READ MORE »

Hoosier Division Kicks off with Doubleheader

Hoosier Division Kicks off with Doubleheader

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Hoosier Division starts its season with back-to-back tournaments on Indiana’s Lake Monroe June 27 and 28, and it’s looking like big bags will be on tap. READ MORE »

Shenandoah Div. Restarts on the Potomac

Shenandoah Div. Restarts on the Potomac

Competition in the Shenandoah Division presented by A.R.E. Truck Caps of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine will restart at the Potomac River on June 27. With the river’s bass fully into the postspawn now, the event should be a classic summertime Potomac derby. READ MORE »

HS Championship Will be a Frog-Fest

HS Championship Will be a Frog-Fest

If you wanted to design the perfect frog-fishing tournament, you might host it at Guntersville or the Cal Delta, but you could also copy the agenda for the Student Angler Federation High School Fishing National Championship on the Mississippi River out of La Crosse, Wis. READ MORE »