Day one of the Forrest Wood Cup was full of “unexpecteds” for me. First of all, the weather wasn’t near as brutal as I expected. It was hot, but hazy skies and a steady breeze stuck with us through midday. And as much as guys were moving around, I was able to soak up plenty of breeze while I chased them around the lake, which brings me to another trend.
I fully expected the competitors to work larger structures, such as large points or drop-offs, spending a good deal of time looking for the sweet spot on each larger spot. What I found, however, was that most of the anglers I watched were targeting very specific spots. Primarily, they targeted brush piles, rock piles and other small, specific pieces of structure. I watched National Guard pro Scott Martin spend about 25 minutes on one spot, but most competitors pulled up, fished a few minutes and left.
What was even stranger was that in all that water, several places were hit by multiple anglers within a few minutes of each other. One would leave, another would come in and fish the same spot, and another would replace him after he left. I knew these guys were good at finding fish, but it’s almost as if they found the same fish. Perhaps no fish is safe with multiple FLW Tour pros targeting each one.
Unfortunately, it was a slow morning for many of the pro competitors I watched. Spinning tackle and finesse gear were the dominant tools of day one for guys trying to tempt five keeper bites. There were steady rumblings that the bite might pick up later in the day. If that’s the case, and the bite is all about timing, then I understand the strategy of bouncing around from spot to spot in search of an active school of fish. I guess I’d say most of the guys were fishing fast with finesse gear. It’s an interesting combination.
Another unexpected trend was the success of many of the co-anglers. I would have guessed that this would be a difficult tournament for a co-angler because the pro can often hold the boat in a way that makes it difficult to reach the sweet spot from the back of the boat. However, the biggest fish I saw caught this morning was caught by a co-angler, and I ran into about a half-dozen co-anglers with two or three keepers in the livewell before 1 p.m. I only talked to two pros with three keepers by that point and a handful more with just one or two. I think we’ll see some quality co-angler limits at this event, and there will definitely be good competition among those who fish from the back.
As this event continues, I’m anxious to see how the pressure in a relatively small area of the lake will affect the fishing. I drove through a lot of water in the large creeks and rivers between takeoff and the main lake today without ever seeing a competitor, then all at once found a dozen of them bunched in a group on the main lake. In fact, the gentleman with me, a representative from Damiki Tackle, pointed out loads of good-looking lay-downs, docks and other obvious cover in areas that weren’t being targeted by anyone. And I know from checking the contour map that there was plenty of offshore structure in those areas. Maybe by the end of the week the field will spread into the larger creek and river arms. Or maybe the best fish are just concentrated in a specific area of the lake. We’ll find out soon enough when we get to weigh-in.