On the Bubble for the Cup - Major League Fishing

On the Bubble for the Cup

Reviewing the contenders for the last few spots
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June 25, 2015 • Jody White • Archives

By rule, the top 35 anglers in the Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year standings make the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita Aug. 20-23. However, when a Tour pro pre-qualifies through another of FLW’s tournament circuits and also finishes in the top 35, an additional Cup invitation is extended to the angler in 36th place, and on down the list in the event of additional double qualifications.

Currently, four pros are well within the top 35 and also pre-qualified: Bryan Thrift (first in AOY) and Zack Birge (22nd) via the 2014 Rayovac FLW Series Championship, Andy Morgan (17th) as the 2014 AOY champ, and Anthony Gagliardi (24th) as the 2014 Cup champ. Thus, it is likely that everyone who finishes 39th or higher in the points race will be fishing on Ouachita come August.

It took 860 points to finish 39th in 2014 and 858 in 2013, so 860 seems like a reasonable number for an aspiring Forrest Wood Cup qualifier to shoot for. Terry Bolton is currently in 39th with 733 points, meaning that a finish of 74th or better at the season finale on the Potomac River would bring him up to 860. With the winner at the Potomac in line for 200 points (second place would get 199, and so on from there), there are still big moves to be made.


Local favorite Michael Neal showing off some hawgs to the hometown crowd.

Above the Cut

To start off, there are a couple of anglers of interest who are dangling near the bottom of the cut to get to Lake Ouachita. They need a strong finish at the Potomac to preserve their spots on the roster come August

The first is Scott Suggs, who at 37th place with 741 points is very close to the edge. Suggs won the Forrest Wood Cup back in 2007 on Ouachita, and it is his home lake – he would love to make the Cup for the first time since 2012.

Michael Neal has two full seasons of FLW Tour competition under his belt already, and each has been capped by an appearance in the Forrest Wood Cup. His top 10 at Chickamauga a couple of weeks ago helped his chances. Right now, he’s sitting in 38th with 740 points, barely within the cut in his drive to make it three Cup appearances in a row.


There aren't many anglers with more offshore experience than Terry Bolton. This week, he earned the sixth spot with 71-12.

733 Points – Terry Bolton (39th), Charlie Ingram (40th), Mike Surman (41st)

Though Bolton, Ingram and Surman all have the same number of points, they are not technically tied. In the AOY race all ties are resolved by total weight, then total number of fish, then total number of live fish. Of course, they won’t tie at the Potomac, so there’s no way that these three tie for the last spot in the Cup.

The FLW Tour last stopped at the Potomac in 2012, and before that in 2007. In those events, the highest finish by any in the above group was Bolton’s 99th in 2012. While Ingram and Bolton’s struggles are understandable – the Potomac is a sea change from the Tennessee River – one might expect Surman’s flipping and pitching chops to play well there. Considering past finishes, this trio has a tall order to fill to make it to Ouachita in 2015.


730 Points – 42nd – JT Kenney

Starting the year off with a W at Lake Toho was key for Kenney, and it seems to have put him in good position to make his ninth Cup. To do it, he’ll need to overcome an unusual home-water hurdle. Despite hailing from Maryland before moving to Florida, Kenney’s best finish on Tour at the Potomac is 86th. Of course, he has a pair of top-20 finishes in Rayovac FLW Series events on the Potomac as well as a wealth of experience there. He seems like a good bet to finish strong and make the Cup.


Clark Reehm of Huntington, Texas, is in ninth after day one with 14-13.

729 Points – 43rd – Clark Reehm

As far as I can tell, Clark Reehm has never fished an event with FLW or B.A.S.S. on the Potomac. His main strengths are Texas and offshore fishing, but he has plenty of experience on the Red River and some history on the Sabine River that might help him out. If he makes it, this will be Clark Reehm’s first appearance in the Forrest Wood Cup, so he has a lot on the line.


Jimmy Reese shows off his 5-10 kicker on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake. His total weight of 14-3 landed him in 28th place,

722 Points – 44th – Jimmy Reese

At 722 AOY points, Jimmy Reese likely needs a top-50 finish to ensure a spot at the Cup. With a bunch of tidal experience on the California Delta, he’s probably better equipped to take on the Potomac than some of the others in the field who are seeing it for the first time. Reese has two 35th-place showings under his belt already, so he seems plenty capable of making it to the big show.


710 Points – 45th  – Troy Morrow

Troy Morrow finished 73rd in 2012 at the Potomac, and his strengths as a deep-water fisherman don’t point toward success there. Of course, he just banked a top 10 at the recent Rayovac FLW Series event on the tidal James River, so the tide might have turned in his favor. Morrow didn’t make the Cup last year. He’s probably due to make it again. Though he has never fished a Cup on Ouachita, the lake might play to his strengths, plus Morrow has never finished outside the top 10 in the Forrest Wood Cup.


Andrew Upshaw attempts to keep a big fish from jumping and spitting out his lure.

697-694 points – Andrew Upshaw, Clent Davis, Tim Malone, Pete Ponds, Stacey King

The group of pros clustered between 46th and 50th is a fun mix of young guns and veterans. One thing they have in common is that they are not perennial qualifiers for the Cup, so making it isn’t a given for any of them. In my mind, the best bet from this group is Pete Ponds (currently in 49th place). Though the others are all fishing well (and Clent Davis is on fire), I think that Ponds has all the right strengths to finish well on the Potomac.