Editor’s Note: The writer's opinions and observations expressed here are her own, and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views, policies or positions of FLW.
This past week, Bryan fished his eighth Forrest Wood Cup. Wylie and I joined him in Lexington for the entire week, practice included. We normally just come the Wednesday before a tournament starts, but this one was close to home, and with so much to do in nearby Columbia, we thought it would be a great idea to go early.
We arrived on Friday, Aug. 8. Bryan had a speaking engagement that night and another speaking engagement and Chevy Pro Night on Saturday. Practice began on Sunday, and it was tough, not only for Bryan but for every other angler we talked to. Normally, there are a few guys who are really on the fish and you hear all about it, but this time was different. No one seemed to be on them, and everyone seemed to be frustrated.
Now, you have to understand, according to Bryan, he never has a good practice – ever. It's actually kind of a joke among family and friends: The day he says he's had a good practice, we might all faint. Sometimes he figures things out during the tournament and rallies back at the end. Sometimes he never really figures them out, and he second-guesses himself for the next few days or weeks. With that being said, I felt like he truly meant it this time, and that he might not be able to find them come the first day of the tournament.
This explains my surprise when, after day one, he was tied for second. Praise God, he had found some fish! I was ecstatic, but I didn't know if it was a trend he could keep going the entire four days, or even the next day.
I watched the On-The-Water updates like a mad woman the second day. Those things are a blessing and a curse all in one. It's great to get some news, especially when it's good news, but I find myself glued to the screen just waiting to hear more. Anyway, after day two, Bryan was in the top 20, which meant he was moving on to day three.
Again, I found myself watching for updates, and I was thrilled when I saw that he had a limit. A limit on this lake, during this tournament, was like gold. He ended up second going into the last day.
We have been here before. Last year’s Cup saw Bryan in first going into the final day. Talk about nerve-wracking. He finished third last year and the year before. While he is always thankful to finish in the top 10, he wants so badly to win that title, and I pray that one day he does.
This year was not his year. He finished in seventh – a very respectable finish.
He's already geared up for next year, and though we've only been home a few days, he's already got that itch to go fishing again.
I have to say that I don't think FLW could have written a script better than the reality that played out this year for fellow Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi. I remember at the beginning of the year I saw a video that his wife, Kristin, posted about the grit and determination it would take for Anthony to make the Cup this year after his disqualification from the Okeechobee event. He did just that. He was focused and determined.
I was so happy to see that he had qualified after the last Tour tournament, but I knew that he was going to be hard to beat. After all, he didn't work that hard for nothing. This was his home lake, and who doesn't want to win on his home lake? Although I wanted Bryan to win, I was thrilled to see Anthony take home what he had worked so hard to achieve.
One of the hardest things about being a wife on the Tour is being in the top 10 the final day, with your friends’ husbands up there as well. You never wish bad luck on anyone, but you do want to see your husband catch the biggest bag. My heart cheered for Anthony and Kristin when he won, and broke at the same time for Scott Canterbury and his wife, Dixie. Scott placed second by 1 ounce. I wish all of us could have won, but that's just not how it goes, is it?
At the end of the day, it was another great Forrest Wood Cup, and we enjoyed our time with friends and family. We enjoyed our time in Columbia and Lexington. We were amazed by the turnout and support from all over. And we pray we are able to do it again next year.
I said in a previous blog that Hot Springs was one of my favorite Tour destinations. I'll be putting the pressure on Bryan big time next year to qualify to fish there. After all the nerves this past week, I need a day at one of the natural hot springs bathhouses out there!