Saturday, August 17, 2013

Moving Day at Forrest Wood Cup

Larry Nixon, 3rd place going into Day 3 of the Forrest Wood Cup
With only 10 pounds separating the 20 anglers who remain and two days left to fish, I still think the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup is anyone's tournament. The pros toward the bottom would have to have a lot of things work their way, including a bit of stumbling by the anglers at the top, but there are big wild card fish in the Red River, and groups of fish that have produced for someone can run out in four days. Plus, it's a river, and a change in flow, water color or temperature could change fortunes in either direction. Of course, to compete tomorrow, an angler has to finish in the Top 10 after today.

Mark Rose, who sits in 5th place, 5 pounds out, said that a conditions has been changing that should favor his best big-fish spots -- waters he hasn't fished yet during the competition. He said on stage last night that he believe his best days are yet to come. I just read on the @FLWFishing Twitter feed, by the way, that Rose's other pattern is cranking downriver and that improved clarity is the key. He is doing that this morning and got an early limit in the boat.

Meanwhile, Ray Scheide, sitting one place ahead of Rose, brought in 12-12 yesterday, but word is that he had some seriously big fish get off and that he's fishing in mega-thick cover in a backwater that holds some heavyweight fish. He says he figured out a couple of things yesterday and that if he could capitalize today, he could "blow the doors off this thing."

Then there's Larry Nixon. The General is the only angler in field to bring in 13 pounds or more both days, and he apparently has a specific big-bass spot that has been producing for him. He also brings unparalleled experience.

Randal Tharp and Bryan Thrift, in first and second, respectively, both backed giant18-pound-plus bags with solid 11-pound sacks and are separated by only 4 ounces. Both believe they would need at least one more legitimately big day to take home the Forrest Wood Cup and the $500,000 check. Tharp seems confident that he's around the right fish. Thrift still acts surprised by the big fish he's catching but continues to get it done.

Looking down through the top 20, it's roughly a three way split among anglers who had a pretty big first day and a mediocre second day, anglers who did the opposite and moved up yesterday, and anglers who had brought in two solid limits. Last year's champ, Jacob Wheeler, made the most noteworthy jump, following a weak first day that had him in in 40th place with one of yesterday's best bags (13-7), which jumped into the cut in 18th place. Another day like that today, and he'd be fishing for all the marbles tomorrow.

If you want to track how things are progressing during the day, the #FLWFishing Twitter feed is tough to top. They have guys on the water watching and posting regular reports. Of course, they can't follow everyone, with 20 pros still fishing, so who knows which angler might bring a big surprise to this afternoon's weigh-in?

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