UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Dale Hollow Lake

Cup Rookies Talk Their Chances

Cup Rookies Talk Their Chances
Cup Rookies Talk Their Chances

At some point, every angler in the Forrest Wood Cup was a rookie. For 16 contestants in the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup, that point is now.

We caught up with this year’s first-timers to see what it’s like to be on the eve of the biggest tournament of their lives. And rather than weigh their odds, we asked each one to share his own expectations for the Cup.

Here’s what they had to say.

Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C.

Casey Ashley stays consistent with another 20-pound limit to sit in seventh place.

“This is the whole reason I fished both tours this year – to make the Cup.

“I’ll be honest, I don’t spend a lot of time on Murray. If the tournament was in the spring I’d like my chances better, but I still know where those fish live in that lake.”

James Biggs, Richland Hills, Texas (TBF Champ)

James Biggs

“To make it feels like such an accomplishment. Twice in the last three years I missed it by less than 2 pounds. It’s part of my lifetime bucket list.

“I feel like I can compete. I spent some days pre-practicing and I think I found something special.”

Tony Davis, Williston, Fla. (2013 Rayovac Southeast Division AOY)

Tony Davis, who is second in the Southeast Division points race, gives a thumbs up before day one.

“I’m looking forward to it. I saw the Cup [the actual trophy] at the Kentucky Lake event, and I thought, ‘That would be nice to own.’

“I’m going to give it all I’ve got. Plus, I wanted to double-qualify for the Cup. It burns me that I didn’t. So I want a good showing.” (He qualified via the 2013 Rayovac FLW Series but not the 2014 Walmart FLW Tour.)

Austin Felix, Eden Prairie, Minn. (FLW College Fishing Champ)

The University of Minnesota team of Chris Burgan (left) and Austin Felix (right) proudly display their first-place trophies after winning the 2014 FLW College Fishing National Championship.

“I don’t think I can put what the Cup means to me into words. Living in Minnesota, there are not many big events that come around here, so I’m sure it will be eye-opening.

“Only one college angler has made the day-three cut, so that’s my goal.”

Matt Greenblatt, Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Matt Greenblatt tames a fighter in the early hours of day one.

“The Cup is what everyone shoots for. So to make it in my first year on the FLW Tour is pretty special. I told my dad that I was going to make it this year, but I don’t think he believed me.

“Blueback herring lakes usually get me; they always do. So I’m hoping this is one time it doesn’t.”

Randy Haynes, Counce, Tenn.

Randy Haynes caught 22-9 on the final day and finished 4th. This was Haynes' 6th top 10 finish on Kentucky Lake in FLW competition.

“It’s a neat deal [making the Cup]. To tell you the truth, this season was such a grind that I didn’t think I would make it.

“I’m excited, but I’m also scared to death. If the bite is deep, I’ll expect a lot from myself.”

Philip Jarabeck, Lynchburg, Va.

Castrol pro Philip Jarabeck is all smiles prior to day one of the final FLW Tour event of the season.

“This is a dream come true. I grew up reading about the Cup in magazines, and now I’ll get to fish surrounded by the heroes I used to read about.

“I’m not an over-hyped type of person. So I’m just going to show up, do the best I can and enjoy the awesome opportunity.”

Stephen Johnston, Hemphill, Texas (Rayovac Texas Division AOY)

Staying shallow and fishing the grass was essential for third-place  Stephen Johnston.

“Since I qualified last fall [through the Rayovac FLW Series], it’s been a long wait. Now it’s been a build-up of excitement.

“Everyone wants to win, but a top-five would be unbelievable. All I know is that having worked the Cup before, I can’t wait to be up on that stage instead of just watching.”

Brad Knight, Wartburg, Tenn.

Brad Knight walloped the biggest limit of the tournament on day two -- 29-15 -- to move into second place.

“I’m looking forward to the chance at fishing for $500,000. Winning a Tour event is a career-changer. Winning the Cup is a life-changer.

“There’s a lot less pressure than in other events. I could lie on my front deck wearing swim trunks for two days and still make $10,000. So I can just go fishing.”

Jason Lambert, Pickwick Dam, Tenn.

Rookie of the Year Jason Lambert got some camera-time in for use in the tv show. He has now earned back-to-back top 10 finishes.

“It’s not every day that you can fish against 44 other guys for $500,000. It’s going to be a neat deal, but it’s just another tournament to me. That’s how I approach every event.

“I’m not just going to be happy to be there. I expect to do well.”

Richard Peek, Centre, Ala.

Richard Peek slips to 17th place with a 15-pound, 15-ounce limit on day two.

“I didn’t think I would pull off making the Cup. Midway through the season it was looking bleak. So to be there with the big-name guys is going to be an honor.

“I don’t want to shoot too high. I just want to make the final-day cut and be a threat to fish for $500,000.”

Matthew Stefan, Junction City, Wis.

Matthew Stefan rounds out the top five with his catch of 19-14.

“I’m super-stoked to earn the right to fish against the cream of the crop.

“I’m a little nervous about the lake, but most places we fish are not like what I usually fish. So I’ve gotten to the point where my practices are geared to allow me to adjust.”

Marcus Sykora, Osage Beach, Mo. (BFL All-American Champ)

Marcus Sykora is joined onstage by Mason and Madison.

“I’m totally excited, especially to qualify the way I did.

“I know a lot of BFL All-American winners have eventually gone pro, but I’ve always considered myself a regional person. I love my life, so something major would have to happen – like winning the Cup – for me to make a change.”

Austin Terry, San Angelo, Texas

It's culling time for pro Austin Terry.

“Making the Cup is exciting since I didn’t make it last year. My boat broke down during the first event last year, and I couldn’t weigh my fish, which cost me making the Cup.

“It feels good going into this tournament just trying to win. I don’t have to worry about getting a check. I’m just focused on the biggest bites I can get.

Joseph Wood, Westport, Mass. (Rayovac Northern Division AOY)

Joseph Wood wins the Rayovac Northern Division Angler-of-the-Year points and heads to the Forrest Wood Cup in August on Lake Murray.

“It’s a dream come true. I never thought it would totally happen, and even when it did I couldn’t believe it. It’s been one unbelievable season.

“I’m going to try like hell to win it. It’s a life-changing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Michael Wooley, Collierville, Tenn.

Local pro Michael Wooley backed up 20-12 on day one with a 17-1 effort on the second day.

“I’m jacked. I’m ready to go.

“I finished second in a TBF event in 2009 on Murray, so I’m looking forward to it. There’s obviously extreme competition, but it’s nice to only have 45 guys on the lake.”

Tags: sean-ostruszka  article 

The Top 5 Limits of All Time

The Top 5 Limits of All Time

Catching 25 pounds in a single tournament day is a pretty rare feat, and catching five bass for 30 pounds in a tournament has been done fewer than 200 times in FLW history. Knowing just how special those giant limits are, we decided to dig into some of the top bags from years past. READ MORE »

Pickwick Midday Update – Day 2

Pickwick Midday Update – Day 2

The red-hot shad spawn bite that fueled the big catches on day one of the Toyota Series Central Division event on Pickwick has fizzled this morning. READ MORE »

A New Outlook on AOY

A New Outlook on AOY

As the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit season looks to start back up in June on Lake Chickamauga, there are some new factors to consider in the Angler of the Year race.   READ MORE »

6 Super Tournament Story Lines

6 Super Tournament Story Lines

The expanded field list for the new Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournaments brings with it some very fun matchups and the potential for some record chases to reignite. Because many of the newly added Major League Fishing anglers have had longer careers than those at the top of the Pro Circuit, they’re in a unique position to chase down some records that otherwise may not have been touched this year. In other cases, it’s simply going to be a pleasure to watch the best of the best duel on some epic bodies of water. READ MORE »

Be a Super Tournament Marshal

Be a Super Tournament Marshal

The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit is professional bass fishing’s premier five-fish-limit tournament trail, and it’s about to get a whole lot more exciting for the remainder of 2020. READ MORE »

Super Tournament Roster Set

Super Tournament Roster Set

FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, released the expanded 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit roster, which now includes top Major League Fishing (MLF) pros like Jacob Wheeler and reigning REDCREST Champion Edwin Evers. When the season restarts June 23 on Lake Chickamauga, the final three regular-season Pro Circuit events will feature 209 boats and nearly $4 million in prize money. As previously announced, FLW extended invitations to all MLF anglers to compete in three “Super Tournaments” after MLF announced an abbreviated schedule due to the mid-season pause in response to the coronavirus pandemic. READ MORE »

The BFL Returns on May 30

The BFL Returns on May 30

After a nearly two-and-a-half-month hiatus from fishing tournaments, FLW is excited to get back to business with the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League season. The action kicks off again on May 30 with the Volunteer Division on South Holston. From there, the BFL season will waste no time getting back in the swing of things with a full slate of tournaments scheduled nearly every weekend from the beginning of June through October. READ MORE »

2020 FLW TV Schedule

2020 FLW TV Schedule

Beginning on July 3 and running through Dec. 27, FLW will air 312 hours of Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit action on the Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel. New this season, episodes have been expanded to two hours long. Each show goes in depth to break down the final rounds of competition, with six unique episodes covering each day of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit TITLE Championship. READ MORE »

2020 FLW TV Schedule

2020 FLW TV Schedule

READ MORE »

Pros’ Favorite Shad Spawn Baits

Pros’ Favorite Shad Spawn Baits

With the bass spawn winding down across the South, it’s time to capitalize on the shad-spawn bite. Shad spawn patterns usually don’t last long into the day, but fishing the shad spawn can be a fantastic way to catch a pile of fish and some big ones to boot. READ MORE »

Mark Rose’s Greatest Hits

Mark Rose’s Greatest Hits

FLW is looking forward to getting back on the water once it’s safe to come together and fish tournaments again. In the meantime, we’ll be offering a little retrospective on some of the all-time greats who’ve fished with FLW through the years. This time around we’re shining the spotlight on Mark Rose. From his Angler of the Year title to winning multiple FLW Tour events and even joining the bass-fishing millionaire club, it’s easy to see why the Arkansas pro is one of the best to have ever fished with FLW. READ MORE »

FLW Adds Free High School Minicamps

FLW Adds Free High School Minicamps

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Murray State University announced that it will not host any summer camps this year. As a result, FLW is replacing its traditional High School Fishing Camp, scheduled for July 22-24, with a series of FREE minicamps held in conjunction with three Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit tournaments. Campers already registered will receive a full refund and are invited to participate in any of the FREE minicamps.  READ MORE »

FLW Classics – Week 4

FLW Classics – Week 4

This week’s shows cover some old FLW Series Western Division events, Steve Clapper's 2007 FLW Tour Open win on the Detroit River and more high-level tournament action.  READ MORE »

FLW Making Final Preparations for Restart

FLW Making Final Preparations for Restart

FLW is looking forward to restarting the tournament season May 28-30 with the Toyota Series stop on Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala. There may be a few more schedule changes as states ease restrictions and reopen their economies at different rates, but FLW is optimistic that most of the schedule changes are behind us.      READ MORE »

FLW Revamps Pro Circuit

FLW Revamps Pro Circuit

FLW has extended an invitation to Major League Fishing’s pro anglers to join the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit for three newly created “Super Tournaments” that include an expanded roster and higher payouts. The Super Tournaments are made possible by the abbreviated schedules announced recently by MLF and FLW. READ MORE »

Anglers React to Super Tournaments

Anglers React to Super Tournaments

When the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit season picks back up, it will be with a new schedule, some new anglers and a lot more money in the pot than originally planned. READ MORE »

Pros’ Favorite Baits for May

Pros’ Favorite Baits for May

Across the country, May is a great time for fishing, with tons of bass in and around the spawn and a lot of baitfish species spawning as well. With warming water, it’s a great chance to throw a topwater for the first time, or really to do just about whatever you want in some parts of the country. READ MORE »

2020 MLF College Faceoffs Canceled

2020 MLF College Faceoffs Canceled

Originally announced in early March, the four-tournament series featuring the MLF-style catch-weigh-immediately-release format was set to feature 20 College Fishing teams that qualified through the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI circuit. MLF officials are hopeful that the Faceoff events will return in 2021. READ MORE »

How to Make a Buzzbait Squeak

How to Make a Buzzbait Squeak

One of the key aspects of buzzbait fishing is the sound, and Bradley Dortch modifies his with a file and some pliers to get the most squeak he can. READ MORE »

Q&A: Winnipeg Jets Goalie Connor Hellebuyck

Q&A: Winnipeg Jets Goalie Connor Hellebuyck

The Michigan native, who now spends plenty of time on the ice in Winnipeg – both playing hockey and chasing after walleyes – grew up fishing, and bass fishing has become one of his favorite fair-weather hobbies. We got a chance to chat with Hellebuyck about his background in fishing, his future on the water and his present on the ice. READ MORE »