UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Grand Lake

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

2013 Forrest Wood Cup preview: The contenders VI

2013 Forrest Wood Cup preview: The contenders VI
Confetti surrounds Jacob Wheeler as he celebrates his Forrest Wood Cup victory.

With the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup slated for Aug. 15-18 on the Red River in Shreveport, La., the clock continues to tick toward the start of one of the most prestigious and exciting bass-fishing championships in the nation. In an effort to provide fans with a little more perspective and background on the competition, FLWOutdoors.com is launching a six-part series/overview of each of the 46 qualifying pros - one of whom will walk away with the title of Forrest Wood Cup champion.

With a guaranteed first-place prize of $500,000 on the line, there is clearly plenty at stake this summer in Louisiana. So without further ado, let's meet the contenders.

(Editor's note: Forrest Wood Cup competitors will be featured in alphabetical order. This is the sixth in a six-part series.)

2013 Forrest Wood Cup contenders

Strader hustles to get the net. Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn. - In 2013, Strader continued to prove he's one of the most consistent anglers on the FLW Tour. After finishing 17th in the points race, Strader qualified for his fifth consecutive Cup and his 13th overall. Strader cashed checks at four of the first five events and then completed the regular season with a runner-up finish on Lake Chickamauga, one of his home lakes. The Walmart pro's thick Tennessee accent and jovial personality often mask his fierce competitiveness. Known for his shallow-water versatility, Strader is part of the million dollar club. While he has 33 top-10 finishes in his FLW career, his lone Tour win came in 2002 at Lake Ouachita.

Randall Tharp spent the week pitching and spinnerbaiting laydowns and docks.Randall Tharp, Port Saint Joe, Fla. - It took Tharp only a few seasons to rise to the upper echelon of the sport. While his 2013 FLW Tour season failed to produce any wins or top-10s, it proved to be his best overall season as he finished 10th in the points race. Known as the Honeybadger on Tour, Tharp is one of the best shallow-water anglers in the 46-boat field. He flipped his way to fame in 2012 by winning the FLW Tour Open on Lake Okeechobee. In fact, he still owns the FLW Tour record for largest margin of victory (23-9). The year prior, Tharp nearly won the Cup - finishing second to eventual champion Scott Martin. This is Tharp's fourth Cup appearance, his lone miss being his rookie season. In his brief career, the Alabama native owns over $750,000 in FLW earnings.

Chevy pro Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., shows off his second-place catch in the finals.Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C. - Thrift continued his fish-catching ways in 2013, finishing the FLW Tour season fifth in the points race. The Chevy pro qualified for his seventh consecutive Cup the year prior by taking fifth in the Opens points race. Thrift, who has never missed qualifying for the year-end championship, is a two-time FLW Tour champion and the 2010 FLW Tour Angler of the Year. Known for fishing fast, Thrift is perhaps the best caster on Tour and is deadly around docks. But in the past few years he's become a well-rounded angler and now enjoys fishing deep. His track record at the Cup is stellar with four top-10 finishes, although he claims to dislike river systems. In 2012, Thrift also won the Texas Bass Classic. In his FLW career, the Damiki-sponsored angler has over $1 million in earnings.

James Watson shows off his catch.James Watson, Waynesville, Mo. - Watson qualified for his first Cup (as a pro) in his fourth season on the FLW Tour - finishing 23rd in the points race. He proved to be remarkably consistent in 2013, cashing checks in five of the six qualifiers. A 10-year Army veteran, Watson is a relative newcomer to the sport. Upon completion of his military service, Watson began employment as a real estate sales agent. After thriving in that role, the 40-year-old opened his own Realty Executives franchise in central Missouri. Watson prefers shallow-water power fishing, which should suit him well in Shreveport-Bossier City. In his young FLW career, Watson has over $80,000 in earnings.

Jacob Wheeler having fun on the Big O with a Rapala X-Rap Prop.Jacob Wheeler, Indianapolis, Ind. - Wheeler burst on to the scene in 2011 as the youngest angler to win the prestigious BFL All-American. The following season, Wheeler joined the FLW Tour and ended up winning the Cup at only 21 years of age. In 2013, Wheeler finished 29th in the FLW Tour points race, but was already prequalified by winning the 2012 Cup. The Rapala pro will be among a handful of anglers looking to become the first two-time Cup champion. Despite his inexperience, it would be foolish to bet against Wheeler as he favors rivers and tough-bite tournaments. In just two seasons as a pro, Wheeler has amassed over $730,000 with FLW.

Barry Wilson fishes through a field of cedar trees Thursday afternoon.Barry Wilson, Birmingham, Ala. - Wilson's sophomore season on the FLW Tour proved to be a breakout one as the former Auburn University fullback finished 26th in the points race. Wilson contended for the win at Beaver Lake before ultimately finishing fourth and also had an exceptional tournament at Grand Lake where he took sixth. Wilson also competed in the EverStart Series Southeast Division and finished runner-up for Angler of the Year to Tony Davis. This will be Wilson's first Cup appearance and he'll be right at home chucking and winding his favorite lure, a Strike King 1.5 squarebill crankbait. To date, Wilson has over $125,000 in FLW career earnings.

Jay Yelas is in his element flipping the flooded willows and timber on Grand. Jay Yelas, Corvallis, Ore. - Yelas is looking to become the first angler to achieve the proverbial grand slam of bass fishing (BASS AOY, Classic win, FLW AOY, Cup win) this August in Shreveport-Bossier City. Because of his shallow-water strengths, reaching that milestone is a real possibility. Yelas qualified for the Cup, his eighth consecutive and 10th overall, via his 15th-place finish in the FLW Tour points race. Outside of Eufaula, the two-time Angler of the Year had another successful year on Tour with his highest finish being fifth at Grand Lake. Yelas, a noted flipper, has over $900,000 in FLW earnings, including 21 top-10 finishes.

Related links:

Forrest Wood Cup preview: The contenders V

Forrest Wood Cup preview: The contenders IV

Forrest Wood Cup preview: The contenders III

Forrest Wood Cup preview: The contenders II

Forrest Wood Cup preview: The contenders

Pro field set for 2013 Forrest Wood Cup

For more information about the upcoming 2013 Forrest Wood Cup, click here.

To see detailed schedule information for this year's Cup, click here.

Tags: brett-carlson  article 

B. Lat, MDJ Win Pan Am

B. Lat, MDJ Win Pan Am

Brian Latimer and Mark Daniels Jr. are best friends off the water, and it looks like they’ve got the makings of a deadly team on the water. Weighing five smallmouths for 21.16 pounds in the first session and 23.92 pounds in the second session, the pair totaled 45.08 pounds to win the individual competition in the Pan American Bass Championship on Lake St. Francis. READ MORE »

Canada Wins Gold at Pan Am

Canada Wins Gold at Pan Am

Though Team USA locked up the top three places, Team Canada placed six teams in the top 10 and averaged 38.98 pounds to win the Pan Am Bass Championship on Lake St. Francis. Results were tallied based on the average weight brought in by each team in the two sessions of fishing, which almost guaranteed an extremely close finish. Earning a silver medal, Team USA finished just one hundredth of a pound back with a 38.97 average. READ MORE »

Canada Leads at Pan Am

Canada Leads at Pan Am

The first session of competition in the Pan American Bass Championship on Lake St. Francis was a roaring success. After the morning weigh-in, Team Canada is leading with an average of 21.16 pounds, Team USA is in second with a 19.6 average, Team Akwesasne First Nation is in third with 18.62 and Mexico had an up and down morning to accrue a 17.24-pound average. READ MORE »

Do you need a generator for bass fishing?

Do you need a generator for bass fishing?

Austin Felix has been running a generator for a few years now, and his primary use is during the spring in the North, when he’s spending mega-days on the water practicing for tournaments that feature bedding smallmouths. READ MORE »

Day 1 Delayed at Pan Am

Day 1 Delayed at Pan Am

Because of steady rain and hard winds at around 20 mph or more, day one of the Pan American Bass Championship has been canceled. With gusts up to 40 mph in the forecast, the organizers have decided to fish two sessions on Friday instead. READ MORE »

Pan Am Gets Underway in Canada

Pan Am Gets Underway in Canada

With the official training day in the rearview, the Pan American Bass Championship starts Thursday, Oct. 16, on Lake St. Francis in Cornwall, Ontario. Teams from Mexico, the Akwesasne First Nation, Canada and the United States will be competing the next two days for glory and country, but also to help along the movement to make bass fishing an Olympic sport. READ MORE »

How to Find Big-Water Smallmouth in Fall

How to Find Big-Water Smallmouth in Fall

The key to finding smallmouth bass on big water in the fall is to know where they’re coming from and where they’re heading, then connecting the dots in between. Swimbaits, blade baits, ChatterBaits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, drop-shots and Ned rigs all put bass in the boat. 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 »

Umbrella Rigs for Great Lakes Smallies   

Umbrella Rigs for Great Lakes Smallies   

The days of catching seemingly infinite bass on an umbrella rig are mostly gone, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't fish with one. The rig is a great tool for catching fall smallmouth bass on the big waters of the Great Lakes and elsewhere up north. READ MORE »

Takeoff Delayed at Lake of the Ozarks

Takeoff Delayed at Lake of the Ozarks

The final Costa FLW Series Central Division event on Lake of the Ozarks – which is presented by Evinrude – was originally slated to begin at 7 a.m. CT this morning, but Mother Nature had other plans. A massive thunderstorm has been rolling through Osage Beach, Mo., this morning bringing heavy downpours and lots of lightning. READ MORE »

Major League Fishing to Acquire FLW

Major League Fishing to Acquire FLW

Major League Fishing (MLF) announced today that it has reached an agreement to acquire Fishing League Worldwide (FLW), the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization. The Letter of Intent (LOI) sets in motion the most significant brand merger in competitive bass fishing history, linking a tour and original, award-winning programming featuring the top professional anglers in the world to an extensive grassroots organization that serves tens of thousands of competitive anglers from high school and college students to weekenders and tour pros.  READ MORE »

How the MLF Acquisition will Affect Me

How the MLF Acquisition will Affect Me

The Thursday announcement of Major League Fishing’s acquisition of FLW signifies a historic shift in the landscape of competitive bass fishing. Here’s an overview of how the competitive circuits of FLW will operate. READ MORE »

Newberry Wins Southwestern Division AOY

Newberry Wins Southwestern Division AOY

It was sweet redemption in many ways for the Texas legend who still owns and operates his Houston-based HVAC company despite spending so much time on the tournament-fishing circuit. Redemption for missing out on the FLW Cup in his first season. Redemption for what Grand did to him earlier this year on Tour (dropping from sixth to 41st with only one fish on day two). And, in a way, validation for a career filled with big accomplishments. READ MORE »

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 3 Airs Friday 

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 3 Airs Friday 

Join FLW for a Rapala Varsity Bass watch party on Friday, Oct. 4 at 2 p.m. CT for the premiere of Episode 3 in the series. READ MORE »

Valdivia is Best in the West

Valdivia is Best in the West

California pro David Valdivia has consistently finished near the top of the standings in the Costa FLW Series Western Division. This year he finally won his first Strike King Angler of the Year award, and he did it by just one point in the standings. 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 »

Wild Card set for Kentucky Lake

Wild Card set for Kentucky Lake

Fishing League Worldwide, the world’s largest tournament fishing organization, announced Sunday that the 2019 T-H Marine BFL Wild Card tournament will take place on Kentucky Lake in Gilbertsville, Kentucky, Nov. 8-9. The two-day event, hosted by the Kentucky Lake Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, will launch from the Kentucky Dam Marina in Gilbertsville. READ MORE »

Dobson Wins First FLW Series AOY

Dobson Wins First FLW Series AOY

Scott Dobson has earned a pile of accolades up north, but this year, he earned his biggest title yet. Winning the Strike King Angler of the Year in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits, the Clarkston, Mich., angler finished third at Lake Champlain, 13th on the Potomac River and wrapped the season and the title with a second-place showing on the St. Lawrence River. 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 »

Buy a Hat, Help USA Bass 

Buy a Hat, Help USA Bass 

Bass fishing fans have a chance to help the USA Bass team achieve its goal of winning the 2019 Pan American Championship in Canada next month. To help fund the effort, USA Bass, which is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, recently launched a limited edition hat drive with the goal of selling 1,000 USA Bass hats. READ MORE »