UPCOMING EVENT: FLW Pro Circuit - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Our Picks to Win

Our Picks to Win

There’s really no telling who’ll walk away the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup champion after three days of grueling competition at Lake Murray Aug. 11-13. Almost anything can happen. A rookie could get on a hot bite, or one of the locals or seasoned veterans could put on a clinic. Nonetheless, it’s fun to predict what might be. We gathered up some prognostications from pros who didn’t make the Cup, notable outdoor writers and some FLW staff for a glance at the favorites leading into the event.

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FWC event schedule/vendor list

FWC event map

 

Shane Lehew

Curtis Niedermier, FLW Editor-in-Chief – Shane LeHew

Hear me now: LeHew will be the LeWinner of the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup. Why? Because LeHew’s career is on an upward trend and heading toward a big moment. I think the Cup on Lake Murray is it.

Consider that the 28-year-old finished 40th in the AOY race his rookie year on Tour in 2014 and has improved his AOY finish each season since. That means he’s getting better, or perhaps more confident. His Cup track record looks like it’s on the same path: 28th in 2015 and 16th in 2016. If that upswing continues, I figure he’ll at least make a top-10 finish this year, but I think he’ll do much more than that.

LeHew is a Carolina kid and surely understands how to navigate a reservoir with blueback herring, water willow and the like, and I’m guessing (though I don’t know it for a fact) he’s done some pre-fishing at Murray this summer. Most importantly, LeHew’s a gamer in the summer with some versatile chops. He’s an expert jig fisherman, who very well could crack some good bags pitching a jig to wood or docks, or even in deep water, but he’s also an experienced schooling-bass angler. And last year at the Cup he proved he can catch ’em in the heat of summer on finesse worms and baby swimbaits.

I think he gets it LeDone.

 

Larry Nixon

Joe Balog, FLW contributor, tournament veteran and writer – Larry Nixon

While I occasionally let adoration overwhelm clear thinking, my pick is far from fantasy. Nixon is the greatest tournament angler – in terms of career longevity matching accomplishments – the sport has ever known. Nixon won his first national event in 1978 and claimed his most recent title in 2012 – an unheard of span to hold championship status.

Following pestering injuries and surgeries, Nixon was back on track this season, finishing 19th in points. Nixon excels at tough events, and has always done well in the summer with a legendary track record of structure fishing with plastic worms. He never gets rattled, and would likely enjoy topping off his career with a Cup win, the same way his good friend George Cochran did before retirement. I pick The General to give it a go. 

 

Bryan Thrift

Alex Davis, FLW Tour pro – Michael Neal, Bryan Thrift, Marshall Deakins

I like Michael Neal because he's versatile enough to where he can fish shallow and deep. He's one of the best at electronics as far as scanning structure and cover and finding catchable fish. He's had so many second-place finishes, but he knows how to win and pressure doesn’t affect him. His time is coming. 

If it's a shallow deal Bryan Thrift has a better chance than anyone because he has the run-and-gun mentality to not get in a panic and grind for five quality bites.

Lastly, Marshall Deakins. Not only is he my best friend, but he's spent a lot of time pre-practicing and since last October has been on a roll with a BFL Regional and All-American win. He will fish to win, not just for a good finish. 

 

Scott Canterbury

Joseph Opager, FLW Director of Public Relations – Scott Canterbury

My pick to win the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup is Scott Canterbury. Everyone knows the story. Everyone has seen the video. Canterbury had the winning fish on at the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup, before it heartbreakingly slipped off and he went on to lose the event to eventual champ Anthony Gagliardi by just one ounce. One ounce. What is very rarely talked about is that Canterbury only weighed in four fish on the first day of competition in that event. If he could have caught one little dink on day one, the history books would be very different, and we’d be asking if Canterbury could become the first man to ever win two. I have to believe that moment has played out in Canterbury’s mind many times over the last three years, and he will be looking to avenge that loss in this tournament. Look out for Scott Canterbury at the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup.

 

Michael Neal

Sean Ostruszka, FLW contributor – Michael Neal

This may be an all-or-nothing pick, as Neal will more than likely look for an offshore bite. If he finds it, he could pull off the win as he nearly did at last year's Cup. If not, look for a repeat of the 2014 Cup on Murray (43rd place, ouch!). That said, Neal has quietly been one of the best anglers, both deep and shallow, on the FLW Tour. If he can't find something out deep I doubt he'll die by it like he would've earlier in his career. 

 

Anthony Gagliardi

Jody White, FLW Associate Editor – Anthony Gagliardi

We’re overdue for a repeat champion, and Gagliardi is exactly the right guy to make it happen. Home field advantage has factored into the Cup a fair bit over the years, and Gagliardi seems well positioned to take advantage of it this time around. Not that anyone in the Cup is a scrub, but Gagliardi is probably one of the top 10 or 20 bass anglers in the country. Couple that skill with tireless preparation and living on the lake, and you’ve got a potent combination. Lake Murray isn’t quite the same as last time, but I don’t expect that to matter for someone as steeped in the ways of the lake as Gags.

 

Shane Lehew

Todd Hollowell, FLW Tour pro – Shane LeHew

He’s from the Carolinas, the dude is extremely wise beyond his years when it comes to fishing and I just think he’s super cool under pressure. It’s the Cup, but I don’t think it bothers Shane. He’s a cool customer, he’s one of the best on our Tour, he’s super polished and I think it’s his time.

 

Brandon Cobb

Chris Burgan, Video Production and Digital Brand Manager – Brandon Cobb

I talked with Brandon Cobb during ICAST about fishing the Cup on Lake Murray. The South Carolina angler claims August is the only time he can catch them there. That kind of confidence bodes well for the generally modest man. Lake Murray is only a 45-minute drive from Cobb’s home. He had been hitting the lake frequently before ICAST and presumably after. That confidence and extended pre-practice bode well for someone who has made back-to-back Cup top 10s. He was my preseason pick to win it all, and I’m sticking with it.

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

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