UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Past Cups on Murray

Past Cups on Murray

This August, the best of the best will compete for the most prestigious title in professional bass fishing – the Forrest Wood Cup, which will be held on Lake Murray. While the Cup has been on a variety of venues throughout the years, Lake Murray has some special Cup history to its credit.

August 11-13 will mark the third time the coveted tournament has taken place on this South Carolina fishery and though it was won a different way each time, there are some similarities that could hint at what will shake down this year.

FWC details page

FWC event schedule

FWC event map

 

Last time’s nail biter

The most recent Cup on Murray took place in 2014 when Anthony Gagliardi won it by a mere ounce over Scott Canterbury – who suffered one of the most gut-wrenching fish loses FLW has ever captured on film. 

Still, Gagliardi’s win was the smallest margin of victory in the Cup and to do that in front of his home crowd filled with family and friends was a spectacle to watch.

Summertime on Murray means you can almost bank on a strong shallow bite to take place. There was no doubt that several of the top pros would take advantage of the skinny water fish, however, the X factor was going to be the schooling fish who roam the waters of Murray chasing down blueback herring.

For Gagliardi, years of experience on the waters of Lake Murray helped him en route to his first Cup. Gags spent a good portion of his time focusing on schooling fish to produce some of the most consistent limits of the event.

On days one and two he focused on shallow grass points where fish were chasing bluebacks. He also spent some time up the Saluda River during the first three days to sample some brush piles once the morning blueback bite died off, but on the final day, he put all of his effort into catching schooling bass down by the dam.

Early in the event, Gagliardi employed a 5-inch Basstrix swimbait on a 3/8-ounce Buckeye swimbait head to catch fish chasing bluebacks up on points. When he targeted deeper schoolers on the final day, either a Zoom Fluke or Yamamoto D Shad paired on a weighted 4/0 hook with 10- or 12-pound Gamma fluorocarbon did all the work. Mixed with some serious patience, it proved to be the winning combo for Murray in the August heat.

The rest of the top-10 pros employed a mix of shallow and deep tactics to catch summertime bass. Canterbury, Steve Kennedy, Jacob Wheeler, Casey Ashley, Matt Herren, Scott Martin and Bryan Thrift all employed some form of shallow pattern to catch their fish – which shouldn’t come as a huge shock. Brent Ehrler even dabbled in the shallow bite with a topwater when his schooling bite subsided.

While some of these same pros capitalized on an early-morning blueback bonanza, the majority relied on running new water everyday hitting everything from shallow bank grass to docks to laydowns.

As far as baits go, buzzbaits and soft-plastic buzz frogs saw a good bit of action, but the two paired together were the rage in 2014. The main reason for combining a Zoom Horny Toad and a buzzbait is because it casts further, comes through cover like a tank and skips like a dream – plus fish hold onto it better when they bite it – making it the perfect tool for picking apart the shallow cover on Murray in a timely fashion. Not only did the majority of the top 10 have one on the deck, many of the pros that made the top-20 cut did as well.

One interesting thing to note was Michael Wooley’s deep pattern that carried him to an eighth-place finish in his first Cup. Wooley found a milk run of deep rocks to rotate through with a Carolina rig – much like he would do back home on the Tennessee River. While his weights weren’t huge, he did manage to scrape by on fish virtually unpressured by the rest of the field. It’ll be interesting to see if that gets tapped into again this August.

 

Bass pro Michael Bennett lands one in the Forrest Wood Cup as his co-angler mans the net.

Frogfest in ‘08

While Horny Toads and buzzbaits seemed to be the major trend last time, the first Cup held on Murray was back in 2008 and it was the event that initially showcased how deadly frog baits could be on a sweltering Murray. 

At the tender age of 24, Michael Bennett won the $1 million prize in 2008 by leaning on a Snag Proof frog to produce the bulk of his winning catch.

Bennett incorporated a buzzing toad and a shaky head to a degree, but the hollow body frog was the main deal mostly because of where he was fishing it. His pattern was simple, yet very dialed. Fishing docks with gator grass intersecting the walkway providing shade was Bennett’s primary pattern. The frog allowed him to fish these tight areas without hanging up, but it also allowed him to keep the bait in the strike zone longer. He ran new water every day to the point where he basically ran out of places to fish by the final round and had to resort to smaller, isolated docks that he overlooked earlier in the event.

Of the remaining pros in the top five, Terry Bolton (third) and Chris Baumgardner (fourth) utilized some form of frog to make a run at the title. Bolton spent time up the rivers  around willow trees and grass working a Spro Bronzeye Frog to catch a good portion of his fish including a 4- and 6-pounder over the course of the tournament. Meanwhile, Baumgardner covered a lot of water around the middle of the lake with a Horny Toad for his finish. Even a few others in the top 10 threw some form of frog – including Brent Ehrler (seventh) – to outpace the majority of the field.

Frog fishing aside, the general breakdown of how this tournament played out was overwhelmingly shallow. Searching for cruising fish or “wolf packs” of bass prevailed as the hot ticket. Heck, Kevin Vida (fifth) took it a step further and basically sight-fished his way to the top five using a one-two punch. Vida would cover water with a Rebel Magnum Pop-R all while keeping his eyes peeled towards the shallows in order to spot cruising bass before they saw him. Once he spotted a bass, he’d pitch a shaky head to it in order to coax a bite.

Eliminating some of the 50,000 acres Lake Murray encompasses is no easy feat, thus why frogs (or some form of topwater) became a strong choice to efficiently work along the miles and miles of gator grass and docks that line the lake.

With the third Cup on Murray a little over a month away, both pros and fishing fans alike are anxiously waiting to see how this event will unfold. Currently, Murray has some of the best grass it has had in a while and that will surely factor into this tournament. Add in the blueback curveball and it looks like a mix of both previous Cups are likely to unfold. If history has shown us anything, it’s a safe bet that this tournament will be a battle between a fluke and frog for the $300,000 payday.

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

Check-in Time: Bradford Beavers

Check-in Time: Bradford Beavers

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with South Carolina pro Bradford Beavers.  READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Jeremy Lawyer

Check-in Time: Jeremy Lawyer

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with Missouri pro Jeremy Lawyer.  READ MORE »

Cumberland Practice with Bryan New

Cumberland Practice with Bryan New

Bryan New has steadily been making a case to be considered one of the brightest rising stars of the sport. Five top 10s in T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) and Costa FLW Series events this year proves it, as does his inclusion in the Costa FLW Series Championship field. New gives an inside look at how he’s been tackling the puzzle that is the FLW Series Championship on what might prove to be an unusually stingy fishery. READ MORE »

Olson Scouts Cumberland

Olson Scouts Cumberland

At just 19 years old, Lane Olson is fishing in the Costa FLW Series Championship. Were he from Alabama or Texas or any number of other southern states known for their bass fishing, that wouldn’t be too surprising. But Olson is schlepping all the way to Kentucky from Oregon, where he finished second in the Western Division Angler of the Year standings, missing out on the top spot by just one point. READ MORE »

Fitzpatrick All the Way on Grand

Fitzpatrick All the Way on Grand

Roger Fitzpatrick has had quite a fall fishing season. He won the BFL Super Tournament on Lake of the Ozarks in September, then qualified for the All-American by winning the BFL Regional on Grand Lake in October. READ MORE »

Roaming Cumberland with Davidson

Roaming Cumberland with Davidson

Davidson, a West Virginia native, qualified for the Costa FLW Series Championship out of the Northern Division and has fished the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Mountain Division quite a bit. He’s spent a lot of time on Cumberland and nearby Dale Hollow in the cooler months. As such, he’s one of a handful that pundits are definitely keeping an eye on heading into the championship, and he was kind enough to let me tag along for part of the second practice day on the Kentucky reservoir. READ MORE »

2019 Costa FLW Series Championship Roster

2019 Costa FLW Series Championship Roster

The 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship brings together anglers from all over the world to compete for a top prize worth $100,000 on the pro side and $35,000 on the co-angler side. Qualifying from the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American, the International Division and five standard FLW Series divisions, a total of 193 pros and 193 co-anglers will descend on Lake Cumberland for a fall showdown to wrap up the fishing season. READ MORE »

The Layout of Lake Cumberland

The Layout of Lake Cumberland

The ninth largest reservoir in the U.S., Lake Cumberland is a perfect stage for the Costa FLW Series Championship. Home to all three bass species and over 1000 miles of shoreline, the lake can swallow up a big field with relative ease, and with the fall bite starting to pick up in earnest and the water level lower than usual, the fishing should be pretty good. READ MORE »

Previewing the Costa Championship

Previewing the Costa Championship

When 200 pros (and 200 co-anglers) descend on the southern Kentucky reservoir for the Costa FLW Series Championship, they’ll be facing conditions that might look nothing like what they’ll see as the official practice period opens this weekend. Forecasts call for ample rain over the weekend, and lake levels are likely to fluctuate as a result. READ MORE »

Morris Locks up Central Division AOY

Morris Locks up Central Division AOY

It’s not often an angler wins a Strike King Angler of the Year title in a Costa FLW Series division by chance, and while skill is what carried Jake Morris to his first Costa AOY title, chance definitely brought him to the opportunity. READ MORE »

Rampey Stays Red Hot on Hartwell

Rampey Stays Red Hot on Hartwell

After winning a T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Super Tournament on Lake Hartwell a few weeks ago, Jayme Rampey of Liberty, S.C., was certainly one of the favorites heading into the BFL Regional on the same pond this past weekend. Lo and behold, he wouldn’t disappoint, and notched his 11th career BFL win – five of which have come on Hartwell – and won a Ranger Z518L with a 200-horsepower motor, plus $20,000 cash for his efforts. READ MORE »

Eyes on the Weather at Lake of the Ozarks

Eyes on the Weather at Lake of the Ozarks

Wrapping up the Costa FLW Series Central Division with an early fall stop at Lake of the Ozarks has become a tradition over the last few years. This year, the final stop of the season is presented by Evinrude and takes place Oct. 10-12, which should be good timing for a number of patterns to play. READ MORE »

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 4

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 4

The final five T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Super Tournaments took place over the weekend, bringing BFL regular-season competition to a close. Regional tournaments will kick off Oct. 10, and by the end of the month the majority of the field for the 2020 All-American will be set.  READ MORE »

Transition Time at Grand Lake

Transition Time at Grand Lake

Grand Lake has been flooded for most of the summer, and, as a result, it hasn’t received as much fishing pressure as is typical for one of the premier fisheries in the region. Weights for the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, have the potential to be outstanding for this time of year, but it may all come down to what the weather decides to do leading up to the event. READ MORE »

The Cal Delta is Looking Good

The Cal Delta is Looking Good

This week the Costa FLW Series Western Division will conclude with the final event of the season on the California Delta. The tournament, which is presented by Power-Pole, should showcase a different side of the Delta, given that most of the Western Division tournaments on the famed fishery take place in the spring. That said, last year’s event on the Delta fell on nearly identical dates as this year and could be a good tease for how things may shake out this time around. READ MORE »

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 3

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 3

The third round of T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Super Tournament action saw smallmouths, spotted bass and largemouths all make an appearance as six divisions put a bow on the season with their respective two-day events. Here’s a quick recap of what all played out in the action spanning from the Detroit River down to Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 2

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 2

The second weekend in September saw seven more T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) divisions conclude their seasons with two-day Super Tournament events. From the Tennessee River to the St. Lawrence River and a few places in between, here’s a quick look at how the seven events were won. READ MORE »

Big Smallmouths, Big Water for Season Finale

Big Smallmouths, Big Water for Season Finale

Any tournament with smallmouths in it is a good one, but when the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits heads to the St. Lawrence River it's usually a show-stopper. This year’s event, which is presented by Realtree Fishing, shouldn’t be any different as the Northern Division looks to close its season out on one of the best smallmouth fisheries in the world September 19-21. READ MORE »

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 1

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 1

College football, hooded sweatshirts and the conclusion of the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) regular season are what come to mind as the calendar turns to September. This past weekend, six divisions put a feather in their cap for the year with their two-day Super Tournament events – where the payouts are bigger – but, more importantly, it’s the last chance to accumulate points to qualify for the Regionals this October. READ MORE »

How to Finesse Weed line Largemouths

How to Finesse Weed line Largemouths

When it comes to finesse baits that put fish in the boat, the Ned rig has certainly earned a spot as a go-to for bass anglers across the country. While it catches pretty much everything that swims, most of the attention gets put on catching northern smallmouths or Ozarks-region largemouths and spotted bass with it.   READ MORE »