PITTSBURGH – Considering how tough the fishing was supposed to be on Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers, the guys in the back of the boat made a pretty good showing at the Forrest Wood Cup, presented by BP and Castrol.
Overall, day one was tough for both divisions, and only two co-anglers caught limits. However, top co-angler Tommie Goldston of Gardnerville, Nev., caught one of those limits and posted 7 pounds, 10 ounces – just a pound and 3 ounces less than pro leader Dave Lefebre. Considering how tough it will be to continue finding good fish, Goldston has put himself in good position with a 2-pound, 5-ounce lead over his closest co-angler competitor.
Paired with Arkansas pro Larry Nixon (third place), Goldston said he caught fish on five different soft plastics. Names were withheld, but he said all were green. Goldston used drop-shots, jigs, wacky-rigged weighted worms and tubes.
Goldston caught most of his fish in 10 feet of water in the Ohio River. The key, he said, was a patient presentation.
“During prefishing, I started out fishing way too fast,” Goldston said. “Driving down the bank, I looked over at another tournament angler and noticed that he was fishing very slowly. So I slowed my presentation way down.
Most of the action that Goldston encountered came early in the morning, but Nixon pulled back to save some fish for day two.
“We had limits by 10 a.m., and we probably could have caught fish on that spot all day. We just backed off and fished around that spot to protect it.”
Goldston credited Nixon for an unselfish attitude: “I think the key for co-anglers is to give your pro all the respect in the world, and they will return that. I always ask (my pro), `What are your boat rules?’ Larry said, `I don’t have any boat rules.’
“I always avoid casting in front of my pro, but he saw me doing that, and he said, `Listen, the fish are up here – why are you casting out there? Sling it.’ I did, and it was on.”
Bradley drops and shakes for second
He finished one fish shy of a limit, but Teddy Bradley of Mishawaka, Ind., bagged a total of 5 pounds, 5 ounces that earned him the second-place spot. He fished green-pumpkin-colored Berkley baits on a drop-shot and a shaky-head jig.
“Earlier in the day, I caught a bunch of shorts on a reaction bait, but I wasn’t getting any decent bites, so I started slowing down and getting more quality bites,” he said. “In the stronger current, I was going with the drop-shot because it’s a little easier to keep on the bottom. When we got into a little area that was protected, I went with the shaky head.”
The price of working slowly around hungry river rocks was plenty of donated tackle.
“I went through probably 15 jigheads and about 10 drop-shot weights.”
Myhlhousen manages third place
Council Bluffs, Iowa, co-angler Ralph Myhlhousen caught a limit weighing 4-14 and took third place. Throwing mostly a drop-shot with a green-pumpkin Senko and 3/8-ounce weight, he quickly established a cadence that led to consistency.
“I like to call it `counting rocks,'” he said. “When you bring the bait back from the shore, you feel it hit rock one, rock two, rock three and rock four, and then it goes limp and you set the hook. I was trying to fish at that speed so I could count those rocks.”
Schultz swims into fourth
Slinging 4 1/2-inch green-pumpkin baits made by Venom on 6-pound line, Schultz used weighted swimbait hooks with a 3/16-ounce weight in current and a 1/16-ounce weight in slower water. A slow, steady retrieve worked best.
Bitting the spin doctor
John Bitting of Westminster, Calif., had only two days of practice, but he found he could catch fish on a spinnerbait. He stuck with what he knew and bagged a trio of fish weighing 3-15 for fifth place. Bitting threw a white spinnerbait with a gold Colorado blade and a small silver willow.
Strikes, he said, were aggressive.
“When they hit it, they’d nearly jerk the rod out of your hand.”
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top 10 co-angler leaders at the Forrest Wood Cup:
6th: Scott Gibson of Wiggins, Miss., 3-14
7th: David Lauer of South Bend, Ind., 3-12
8th: Lynn Baciuska Jr. of Afton, N.Y., 3-3
8th: Jade Keeton of Florence, Ala., 3-3
10th: Scot Keefe of Hinesburg, Vt., 3-1
Tomorrow’s takeoff is scheduled for 7 a.m. Eastern time from Steelers Quay, located at Art Rooney Drive across from the South Plaza of Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.