It was his first and the Forrest Wood Cup’s last.
With the Cup going exclusively to professionals next year, Sunny Hawk, like the rest of the co-anglers, knew this was the last chance for someone to be crowned a co-angler Cup champion. While many made a run at the title – including three past co-angler champions – Hawk made the most of it, weighing in three fish for 6 pounds, 5 ounces on day two for a tournament total of 19-11 to claim his first career win.
“For my first win to be at the Cup, I’m pretty pumped,” Hawk said while holding the $50,000 first-place check.
Hawk set himself apart on day one. Fishing with Clark Wendlandt, he managed to sack up an impressive 13-6 to give him a 3-pound lead over reigning Forrest Wood Cup co-angler champion Bryan New. All of Hawk’s fish came on topwater baits, with one coming on a frog and the rest on a chartreuse shad Lucky Craft Gunfish.
On day two he was paired with Michael Neal, and things looked prime for the topwater bite to continue when the anglers were greeted with heavy cloud cover to start the day. Hawk found a number of takers, but they were short-striking, causing him to lose two good fish early.
“I lost a 4-pounder and one that probably went 3,” says Hawk, of Salt Lake City, Utah. “I only had one fish with an hour and a half to go in the day. Then we went back shallow again, and I caught two quickly on that Gunfish.”
As excited as Hawk was about his victory, it was his dad and Forrest Wood Cup competitor on the pro side, Roy Hawk, who might have been even more ecstatic.
“He was all I could think about today,” says Roy, who finished 37th. “He’s been working his way up to something like this, and I’m hoping it kick-starts his whole career.”
2. Bryan New – Belmont, N.C. – 16 pounds, 6 ounces
Coming in second a year after winning the Forrest Wood Cup is a dream scenario for most. For Bryan New, it was tough to swallow.
“When you get that close all you want to do is win,” he says. “Plus, no one will ever have the chance to win it back-to-back again as a co-angler.”
Despite his overall success, New struggled to get bites both days. On day one, he converted five of six bites while fishing with reigning Rookie of the Year Zack Birge, catching his last keeper with 30 minutes left in the day.
On day two, New’s pro Chris Baumgardner, who also happens to be New’s practice partner, put the co-angler around a number of fish and even cut off his lure and gave it to New to help. They also came upon David Dudley, who again tried to help New catch fish. Still, “it just wasn’t meant to be,” as he only managed four fish for 5 pounds, 7 ounces.
New caught his fish on a Z-Man Original ChatterBait with a Charlie’s Worms Lil Zipper Dipper trailer, a Greenfish Tackle buzzbait and a Charlie’s Worms Hoppin’ Frog.
3. David Hudson – Jasper, Ala. – 12 pounds, 12 ounces
David Hudson went with a quality over quantity approach during his two days.
Fishing with Darrell Davis on day one, the former co-angler Cup champion caught plenty of short fish, but it wasn’t until he switched to a 10-inch worm that he caught two fish that totaled 7 pounds, 5 ounces.
On day two, Hudson was paired with Brad Knight, who was fishing too shallow for the big worm. After watching Knight tear up the fish on a drop-shot, Hudson followed suit and says he was “fortunate” to catch what he could.
4. Todd Lee – Jasper, Ala. – 11 pounds, 4 ounces
Having won the Cup twice before, Todd Lee knows that everything has got to go just right to win. Unfortunately, it didn’t for him.
Lee drew Ramie Colson Jr. on day one, and the two had a serious midday flurry that produced a good number of their fish. However, Lee did lose a 4- or 5-pounder that broke him off right at the net.
He lost another that pulled off on day two while fishing with James Biggs, and he only brought two fish to the scales for 2 pounds, 11 ounces.
“Even if I caught those fish I don’t know if I could have won,” Lee says, “but I had a good feeling about this tournament. I wanted to win it so, so bad. I just didn’t get the bites.”
All of Lee’s fish came on a drop-shot with a Roboworm.
5. Timmy Thompkins – Myrtle Beach, S.C. – 11 pounds
When you make the jump from 37th to fifth, you had a good day, and Timmy Thompkins certainly had that.
After catching a lone fish on day one while fishing with Dave Lefebre, Thompkins drew John Cox on day two. Cox fished a little more toward Thompkins’ style. That said, the co-angler did employ a new technique to catch 9 pounds, 11 ounces en route to accomplishing his giant rise.
“I think I’d caught three fish in my entire life on a drop-shot before this tournament,” Thompkins says. “Fishing with Cox in really shallow water, I decided to try it. I would pitch it out on the deep side while he fished shallow, and I caught some good fish.”
Top 10 Co-anglers
1. Sunny Hawk – Salt Lake City, Utah – 19-11 (8) – $50,000
2. Bryan New – Belmont, N.C. – 16-06 (9) – $10,000
3. David Hudson – Jasper, Ala. – 12-12 (5) – $9,000
4. Todd Lee – Jasper, Ala. – 11-04 (7) – $8,000
5. Timmy Thompkins – Myrtle Beach, S.C. – 11-00 (5) – $7,000
6. Billy Billeaud – Lafayette, La. – 10-14 (8) – $6,000
7. Tee Watkins – East Point, Ky. – 10-09 (8) – $5,500
8. Joshua Weaver – Macon, Ga. – 9-06 (4) – $5,000
9. Brett Rachal – Monroe, La. – 9-02 (5) – $4,500
10. Eric Self – Lawndale, N.C. – 8-10 (5) – $4,000