2011 Forrest Wood Cup
Lake Ouachita – Hot Springs, Ark.
Semifinal round, Saturday
Martin takes commanding lead … After two days of intense competition on Lake Ouachita, the top-10 pro field was separated by just over 5 pounds. As a result, it appeared that it undoubtedly would be a wide open competition for the pro title heading into the final day of 2011 Forrest Wood Cup action. But then two things happened to dramatically change that outlook. For starters, second-place contender Scott Martin of Clewiston, Fla., brought in the second-largest sack of the day at 16 pounds, 1 ounce. Meanwhile, the rest of the top-five pro contenders turned in relatively light stringers ranging from 8 pounds, 8 ounces to 12 pounds, 5 ounces. The disparity in weights gave Scott Martin a hugely beneficial 5-pound cushion over his next closest competitor heading into the final day of Cup competition. In short, it’s now the Florida native’s tournament to lose. “It was a lot tougher day today but the quality of my fish was still there,” said Martin. “I caught a real good fish on my starting spot and then caught another real good fish on a spot I hadn’t even fished yet. I feel very fortunate to have caught what I did today. But the quality of my fish has been great all week. I’m very dialed in right now, very focused. And I feel really good about my chance. I really do.” Although the majority of the pro leaderboard attacked bass with a variety of topwater baits during today’s competition, Martin said he eschewed that strategy for something completely different. “I’ve basically been throwing swim baits all week in deep water targeting suspended fish. But it’s not just any swim bait. I’ve tried a bunch of different types but only one specific type of swimbait seems to be working. And that’s the key.” Martin, who finished as the runner up in the 2004 Forrest Wood Cup, has now clearly set his sights on winning his first-ever Cup title. “I really want to win this badly,” he said. “But we still have one more day of fishing to go.”
Mueller crowned co-angler Cup champion … Heading into the final day of co-angler competition on Lake Ouachita, Paul Mueller of Southbury, Conn., sat in sixth place overall. But bolstered by 9-pound, 1-ounce catch in the finals – by far the biggest stringer of the day in the Co-angler Division – Mueller pulled off a marvelous, come-from-behind upset at the most crucial moment of his career, ultimately winning the Cup title by 1 pound, 2 ounces. “I knew I had to catch them today if I was to have any chance,” said Mueller. “I thought I’d need around 10 pounds to win. But I thought if I could catch a limit, I’d still be in contention.” As it turned out, Mueller was pretty much right on the mark. Now, as a result of his stellar effort in one of the most pressure-packed tournament fishing days of his entire career, Mueller has now earned a place in FLW Outdoors history. In addition, not only did Mueller walk away with the title and a nice trophy, but he also took home $60,000 in prize money as well. “It feels great,” he said. “It’s awesome.”
Clausen puts himself in contention … Although Scott Martin is now in the driver’s seat in the Pro Division, one angler actually had a better day than the Florida native in today’s competition – Luke Clausen of Spokane, Wash. As one of only two past Forrest Wood Cup champions still alive in the tournament, Clausen climbed from 11th place to second overall with a healthy 16-pound, 3-ounce catch on Saturday. And while Clausen acknowledges that it will be tough to beat Martin, he knows that Lake Ouachita has the fish that very well could propel him to the title if a few things go his way in Sunday’s final. “I’m pretty excited,” said Clausen. “I had one of those days today that I honestly thought I was going to have every day of this tournament. This lake has a ton of 4- and 5-pounders and I’m around some really good fish. A 20-pound bag is definitely possible in this place. I’m actually shocked that nobody has caught over 20 pounds yet. But I still think that somebody will.” Clausen said that targeted bass today exclusively on a topwater bite. “I’m covering a lot of water right now,” said Clausen. “I fish a lot of clear water lakes out west so I’m pretty comfortable here. Like I said, I’m really excited. To have a chance to fish for a Forrest Wood Cup title on the last day is all you can really ask for.”
FLW Tour squares off against FLW Series … Of the six tournament trails that qualified anglers for the Cup, only anglers from two circuits remain – the FLW Tour and FLW Series. And wouldn’t you know it, out of the 10 pro finalists, they are equally divided between the two: Scott Martin (FLW Series), Luke Clausen (FLW Tour), Randall Tharp (FLW Series), Mark Rose (FLW Series), Jason Christie (FLW Tour), Todd Auten (FLW Tour), Cody Meyer (FLW Series), David Dudley (FLW Tour), Andy Montgomery (FLW Series) and Andy Morgan (FLW Tour).
0: Number of anglers who have won more than one Forrest Wood Cup title.
1: The number of previous FLW Tour Angler of the Year winners who survived today’s top-10 cut – David Dudley.
2: The number of anglers who have still have a shot at becoming the first pro to win two Forrest Wood Cup titles – Luke Clausen and David Dudley.
4-14: Total weight in pounds and ounces of the separation between first and second-place competitors heading into the Cup finals.
40: The total number of acres in thousands that comprise Lake Ouachita.
42: Total number of fish caught by co-anglers during the third day of Cup competition.
82: Total number of fish caught by the pros during the third day of Cup competition.
82-3: Total weight in pounds and ounces caught by co-angers during the third day of Forest Wood Cup competition.
205-0: Total weight in pounds and ounces caught by the pros during the third day of Forest Wood Cup competition.
600: The first-place prize money, in thousands, awaiting the winner of the Pro Division during this year’s Forrest Wood Cup.
“Today was brutal. I had the bites but I just couldn’t catch them. Today just went from bad to worse. I have no excuses.” – Pro Brent Ehrler describing his less-than-stellar day on the water during the Cup semifinals.
“Today went exactly like the first day. The only difference was I got those bites in the boat on day one. Today, that didn’t happen. I missed two fish early that probably weighed 9 or 10 pounds. And that hurt my weight. And it hurt me mentally as well. It was tough to recover from that.” – Pro Jason Christie talking about his disappointing day-three tournament round.
“I’ve been told that you haven’t really weighed in in front of a crowd until you’ve weighed in in front of an Arkansas crowd.” – Co-angler Ralph Mulleins with a nod to the locals during today’s weigh-in.
“This has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.” – Co-angler Shane Winchester of his Cup experience this week.
“I pretty much got to throw topwater baits this entire week. It was one of the most fun weeks of fishing I’ve ever had.” – Pro Justin Lucas remarking on the exciting and explosive fishing style employed by the majority of the pro field this tournament on Lake Ouachita.
“I wasn’t listening to you. What did you say?” – Pro David Dudley to tournament host Chris Jones. Dudley had been busy waving to his family when Jones asked who he was waving to.
“Winning is always on my mind. They say second place is first loser.” – Pro David Dudley, underscoring why he’s regarded as one of the most competitive anglers on the Tour.
“This area continually pumps out some of the best anglers in the country.” Pro Ron Shuffield, acknowledging the legendary fishing traditions and prowess of anglers residing from the greater Hot Springs, Ark., area.
The final day of 2011 Forrest Wood Cup competition begins during Sunday’s takeoff, scheduled to take place at Brady Mountain Resort & Marina, located at 4120 Brady Mountain Road in Royal, Ark., at 6:30 a.m.