Thursday, August 21, 2014

Gagliardi & Company: My Take as a Nearby Observer

FLW photo by Jeff Samsel
It seems some fuss has arisen about Anthony Gaglardi fishing close to a local angler on Lake Murray during the final morning of the Forrest Wood Cup, with some folks contending that Gagliardi was unsportsmanlike or unethical. Everyone has the right to an opinion, but I don't think any of the folks making those contentions were there at the time. I was, so I thought it might be fitting to offer my take.

From the onset, I'll acknowledge that the other angler was in the area first. Also, it's public water, and he had every right to stay and fish. Many anglers likely would have stepped back, knowing what was as stake for someone else, but that's a personal choice. That said, Gagliardi didn't claim otherwise. He never asked the other angler to yield or did anything to try to push him away. He simply joined him fishing the area.

Regarding the question of moving in on someone else's spot, I believe an important distinction must be made. The other angler was not fishing a defined hotspot, such as a sweet spot on top of a hump, a specific brushpile or a dock. He was working an area where the bass were schooling. On virtually any lake where fish school on the surface, whether those fish are largemouths, stripers, white bass of something else, anglers commonly run those school together. The whole cove doesn't belong to the first angler on the lake. And while I couldn't hear every word spoken, by my understanding, the other angler didn't object to Gagliardi fishing near him. He didn't like the of armada of onlookers that saw his area, and that would have been the same whether they actually had fished 100 yards from one another or 10 feet apart.

Gagliardi also didn't crowd the other angler. He did move to the same area, but the other angler actually did far more pushing tight to Gagliardi's boat and shadowing every shift, based on what I saw. Again, though, they were fishing schoolers, so they both adjusted positions based on where the fish were breaking.

Closely related, I think Gagliardi's comment in the press conference that he threw over the other angler a couple of times made it sound like he was being a bully and felt self important because of the tournament. That wasn't the case. They both threw across one another a couple of times. That happens sometimes when you're chasing schoolers and one suddenly comes up. You only have a moment when bass are eating herring, so you react. A fish comes up, and you cast to it. Occasionally that puts you across the other angler, or, if the fish are sort of between you, your baits might land simultaneously side-by-side.

Most importantly, Gagliardi never said a harsh word. Even when told that he needed to "get a real job," he didn't counter with anything negative. He simply told the other angler that he'd caught fish there the previous day and was going to stay and fish that school, and then he quietly went about his business. He represented FLW and tournament bass fishing well, as I know he will continue to do as Forrest Wood Cup champion.


  1. I have a viewpoint that is much greater than what you experienced Jeff.... I have talked to you several times regarding trends on Murray and although I respect your article, I have to side HEAVILY with Gags regarding this ordeal! Gags was respectful from start to end! The angler fishing in the baby Nitro has imposed on many other anglers in the area and he did the same this day! He puts in about 4 days per week at Lighthouse Marina and he "poaches" quite often! Gags found these fish first and the local guy in the baby Nitro had no right doing what he did. It was total disrespect! For what it's worth, he has poached most of Gags spots even after the Cup! The guy is a disgrace to our fishing community! Kudos to Gags for keeping his composure in such an awkward situation! I followed Gags most days during the tourney and he was ULTRA respectful to everyone concerned!

    1. I appreciate the added insights and don't question anything you say. As you said, I don't see the day by day picture, so I chose to only report what I physically watched. My intent was not to make a statement either way about that other angler, but only counter the many accusations about Gagliardi by folks who were not watching. I agree completely that Gagliardi was respect from start to end and that he handled himself with absolute professionalism, and if anything wrote seemed to read otherwise, it was poor wording. The note about the other angler's concern being about showing the spot to others was not an analysis of who found the spot. I was repeating the what Gagliardi reported to be the other angler's issue. Again, I appreciate your comment -- and your help leading up to the Cup. We were probably beside one another at some point. Sorry I didn't know that in order to introduce myself.

    2. I'm thankful you see the reel deal! Lol. And maybe next time you're in town we can get together , Jeff! Scott Beaulieu, in appreciation of your dedication to our local hero, Gagliardi!