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The Forrest Wood Cup Review 
By: Chad Morgenthaler


After a bumpy start in January at the FLW Series opener on Lake Okeechobee , I finally hit my stride and had a really good run of FLW Tour finishes.  The last two events were an exception, which caused a little last minute nail biting trying to determine if I qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup. I’ve competed in 3 Bassmaster Classics in 4 seasons, but this was my first appearance at FLW’s Tour Championship. I was glad to be there and have a shot at the 1 million dollar first place purse.

For 2007 the Forrest Wood Cup, which used to be the FLW Tour Championship was comprised of a mixed bag of anglers.  Forty places were reserved for the top 40 points contenders in the FLW Tour.  The rest of the 81 contender field was filled with the Top points contenders in the 2006 FLW Series, the 2007 BFL All American, Ranger Owner’s tournament winners, 2007 TBF National Championship, the 2006 Stren Series Championship. Because there were so many double qualifiers from the Tour, FLW was able to go down the Tour list and take an extra 19 contenders.    

Anyway you slice it Lake Ouachita just outside of Hot Springs AR was tough to fish, hard to key in on a pattern and very stingy.   In 2004 Ouachita was a BASS open stop, but I haven’t been back since.  Knowing the lake had probably changed, I allowed for a little extra practice time before the tournament started.  Unfortunately the weather was extremely hot and humid making for very long brutal days trying to grind out a bite.

As the hot weather continued it was evident that the bite on Ouachita was tough.  Most of the fish were suspended and roaming.  I spent several days trying to establish a deep water pattern and just couldn’t get a handle on it.  I didn’t develop enough confidence in what I found and decided to move on to shallow fish located in water grass.  Over the next several days I covered a ton of water and threw everything I had in the boat.  After a lot of frustration I finally pieced together a plan.  I decided to fish nothing deeper than 12 foot and stay close to maximize fishing time.   By this point I was able to get quality bites, but I knew conditions were changing and it was going to be a tough day fishing to pull out the large bass I needed to make the cut.

Day one pretty much went as expected.  I wasn’t able to round out a limit, but I did bring 4 fish to the scale for 9-pounds, which landed me 25th place.  For day two I decided to stick with the game plan and only made a few minor adjustments.  I decided to spend extra time covering the grass edge a little better and change my top water bite slightly.   Unfortunately on day two I only caught three fish for a total two day weight of 15-pounds and 5-ounces.  I moved up one place for an overall tournament finish of 24th.  

On day three while the Top 10 ground it out on Ouachita, I volunteered to drive for the kids competing in the National Guard Junior World Championship.  I had good reason to be there, Ty Heape the son a good friend of mine was one of the qualifiers from Illinois .  FLW in conjunction with National Guard really put on a nice event for the qualifiers.   Ty did not make the final day cut, but he brought two fish to the scale.  Lake Hamilton was just as tough fishing as Lake Ouachita .   

Congratulations to Scott Suggs for taking home the trophy and the 1 Million dollars.  Having local knowledge of the lake definitely weighed in his favor.  He fished a good tournament and was able to key in on the suspended schooling fish located around brush and timber.   Right now I have my sights set on the 2008 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray in South Carolina .

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