DULUTH, Ga. – Forty-six of the best professional bass anglers from all over the world began their four-day battle for a top cash award of $500,000 at the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of bass fishing, on Lake Lanier on Thursday.
Fatheadz pro Jacob Wheeler of Indianapolis, Ind., weighed a five-bass limit for 21 pounds, 15 ounces to take the early lead in the tournament. Wheeler now holds an impressive 5-pound, 6-ounce lead over Straight Talk pro Scott Canterbury of Springville, Ala., who caught five bass weighing 16-9.
“Every decision I made today was the right decision,” said the youngest competitor in the Forrest Wood Cup field. “I was so blessed with the big bites that I had.
“It was everything … from having the opportunity to catch a big one and my co-angler not casting there so I could catch the big one,” Wheeler added. “It was just an awesome day, and you just don’t have those very often.”
Although Wheeler was reluctant to give up too much information on his techniques on the first day of competition, he did say that he fished in water that was 10 feet deep or less. He said he targeted largemouth, but did catch a few spotted bass, for a day’s catch of 15 bass, including 10 keepers. All of Wheeler’s weigh fish were largemouth.
“I knew going into this tournament that it was going to be tough to be consistent with largemouth,” Wheeler said. “I could bust 21 pounds a day and go out again tomorrow and catch nothing. That can happen. I know my chances, but that’s where my comfort level is.
“Throughout this whole year, the tournaments I did well in I fished my style and what I was confident in,” Wheeler added. “So I said, `I’m going to fish my way, my style, and if it works out, it works out, and if not, I’m going to have a heck of a time.”
The top 20 pros after day one on Lake Lanier are:
1st: Fatheadz pro Jacob Wheeler, Indianapolis, Ind., five bass, 21-15
2nd: Straight Talk pro Scott Canterbury, Springville, Ala., five bass, 16-9
3rd: Chevy pro Dion Hibdon, Sunrise Beach, Mo., five bass, 14-15
3rd: Cody Meyer, Auburn, Calif., five bass, 14-15
5th: Cody Bird, Granbury Texas, five bass, 14-11
6th: National Guard pro Scott Martin, Clewiston, Fla., five bass, 14-9
7th: Chevy pro Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., five bass, 13-12
8th: Castrol pro David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., five bass, 13-11
9th: Kettle Brand Chips pro Dan Morehead, Paducah, Ky., five bass, 13-1
10th: Chevy pro Luke Clausen, Spokane, Wash., five bass, 12-5
11th: Chevy pro Jay Yelas, Corvallis, Ore., five bass, 12-4
12th: Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., five bass, 11-10
12th: Gary Yamamoto, Palestine, Texas, five bass, 11-10
14th: Folgers pro Scott Suggs, Bryant Ark., five bass, 11-7
15th: Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., five bass, 11-2
16th: National Guard pro Brent Ehrler, five bass, 11-0
17th: Troy Morrow, Eastanollee, Ga., five bass, 10-15
18th: Cheez-it pro Shinchi Fukae, Palestine, Texas, five bass, 10-14
19th: Clent Davis, Montevallo, Ala., five bass, 10-12
20th: Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., five bass, 10-9
Nick Hensley of Cumming, Ga., leads the Co-angler Division with five bass weighing 12-2 followed by Matt Krekovich of Granite City, Ill., in second place with four bass weighing 11-9. Co-anglers are fishing for a top award of $50,000.
The top 20 co-anglers are:
1st: Nick Hensley, Cumming, Ga., five bass, 12-2
2nd: Matt Krekovich, Granite City, Ill., four bass, 11-9
3rd: Timothy Dearing, Loudon, Tenn., five bass, 9-6
4th: Bryan New, Belmont, N.C., four bass, 9-0
5th: Ralph Myhlhousen, Council Bluffs, Iowa., five bass, 8-12
5th: Shane Winchester, Glasgow, Ky., three bass, 8-12
7th: Rob Hicks, Lula, Ga., four bass, 7-13
8th: Corey Leonard, Castalia, N.C., four bass, 7-3
9th: Hoyt Tidwell, West Point, Tenn., three bass, 6-15
10th: David Lauer, Loxahatchee, Fla., three bass, 6-1
11th: Doug Caldwell, Kane, Pa., four bass, 6-0
11th: James Waller, Cypress, Texas, four bass, 6-0
13th: Brant Grimm, Kingsport, Tenn., three bass, 5-15
14th: Brandon Hunter, Benton, Ky., four bass, 5-12
15th: Mike Helton, Jeffersonville, Ind., two bass, 5-9
16th: Todd Lee, Jasper, Ala., three bass, 5-4
16th: Brook Pauley, Morgantown, W. Va., four bass, 5-4
18th: Chad Billiot, Radeland, La., three bass, 5-2
18th: Bryan Partak, Marselles, Ill., three bass, 5-2
20th: Kevin Spooner, Vero Beach, Fla., two bass, 4-14
Anglers will take off from Laurel Park located at 3100 Old Cleveland Highway in Gainesville, Ga., at 7 a.m. each morning. Weigh-ins will be held at the Gwinnett Convention Center located at 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth, Ga., beginning at 5 p.m. daily.
Fans will be treated to the FLW Expo at the Gwinnett Convention Center on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. prior to the weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public. On Saturday 500 free rods and reels will be given away to the first 500 children 14 years and under who are accompanied by an adult. On Sunday 1,000 free rods and reels will be given away to the first 1,000 children 14 years and under who are accompanied by an adult. The rod and reel giveaways are courtesy of the Gwinnett Daily Post. Also on Sunday, one lucky fishing fan will win a Ranger Z520 with a 250-horsepower Evinrude, Lowrance electronics and Minn Kota trolling motor. The Ranger boat giveaway is courtesy of the Gwinnett Daily Post and is free to enter, but the winner must be present at the conclusion of Sunday’s final weigh-in to win.
Coverage of the Forrest Wood Cup will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when “FLW” airs Sept. 16 from 1-2 p.m. ET. “FLW” is hosted by Jason Harper and is broadcast to more than 559 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.
For complete details and updated information visit FLWOutdoors.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.