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FLW Live will kick off each morning at 6:30 a.m. ET from the Forrest Wood Cup takeoff at Dreher Island State Park. Coverage will continue through 12:30 p.m., with hosts Travis Moran and Rob Newell commentating from a special on-site set at the Forrest Wood Cup Expo at Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. All weigh-ins will also be broadcast on FLW Live beginning at 5 p.m.
The Forrest Wood Cup Expo runs from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center at 1101 Lincoln Street.
3:00 – Final update
The first flight of pros checks in at 3:15, so this'll be the final update for day one. It's hot, it's muggy and there's still rain falling in places around Lake Murray. Here's who caught fish late.
Kyle Alsop landed his fourth fish.
Cody Bird doubled up back-to-back with a 2 3/4 and a 1 3/4 to finish his limit in the waning minutes. He has 10-plus pounds.
David Dudley landed a 2-pounder, his second fish of the day.
Andrew Upshaw landed Nos. 3 and 4, a 3-pounder and 1 3/4-pound fish.
Andy Morgan managed a limit for about 8 1/2 pounds.
Wesley Strader continues to do work with a crankbait. He now has four fish for 11 pounds. He made a huge comeback this afternoon.
Matt Stefan backed up a pair of tiny keepers with a 4-pounder.
Brandon Cobb slammed a bunch of little fish over the last hour or so, but none that will help him.
2:05 – Final hour of updates begins
We'll be signing off the coverage blog at about 3 p.m. today to prepare for weigh-in. Pros are dealing with some scattered storms and rain, but there are also areas where the sun is shining.
Brandon McMillan found some sunshine and is slinging a buzz bait, looking for a kicker.
Jason Reyes lost a good one that would have helped him big time.
Shane LeHew threw back a 1 1/2 that he caught on a topwater. It wasn't big enough to help him.
Bradley Dortch, the FLW Tour Rookie of the Year, caught his second on a Texas-rigged worm up the river. He has about 5 pounds total.
Jeremy Lawyer has a limit now, too, for about 10 pounds.
Wesley Strader is still at it with the crankbait. He added a 3 1/4-pound keeper.
1:56 – Thrift lands a hawg, moves into the top five
Bryan Thrift is hard after his first Forrest Wood Cup victory. He just culled out a 2-pounder with a 5, for a very nice increase that will put him up in the top five.
Scott Martin was able to cull up, but only by a few ounces. He should be near the top five today.
Matt Stefan managed a 14-inch barely keeper on a buzzbait.
Cody Meyer is having a rough day. He landed a 1-pounder for his second fish.
Wesley Strader is slinging a crankbait up the Saluda. He just put No. 2 in the box – 2 3/4 pounds.
Bryan Schmitt's second comes on a soft jerkbait. It's a 3-pounder, for about 7 pounds.
1:40 – Dodging some storms
We're getting reports of thunder, lightning and heavy rain, but it's spotty and not causing too many problems on the lake right now, other than pros having to suit up with some raingear.
Darrel Robertson has a limit now for about 12 pounds. He lost another pretty good one that would have helped him out big time.
Joey Cifuentes is having similar issues. He lost one that might have been a 5-pounder, and he and his marshal estimate that he's lost about 12 pounds worth of bass so far today.
Scott Canterbury finished his limit with a 2 1/2-pounder.
1:33 – Allen Boyd is getting into the mix
TBF champ Allen Boyd just landed a 4-pounder that allowed him to cull out a 1 1/2-pounder. His total weight is now more than 15 pounds.
Meanwhile, Carolina-rigging expert Michael Wooley has been dragging away all day, and finally landed a 3 1/2-pounder.
Joel Richardson landed his fourth keeper, which was a 2-pounder. He's working hard with a shaky head.
1:16 – Morgan, Canterbury, Horton trying to stay in it
Andy Morgan just boat his fourth fish, a 1-pounder.
Jamie Horton got No. 2, for 1 1/4 pounds.
Scott Canterbury caught his fourth. It weighed 2 pounds. Total weight of 8 1/4 pounds.
1:05 – Gags could have 20-plus
Now that Anthony Gagliardi's marshal is back in the boat, we're getting better updates on his weight. He just culled again and thinks he has at least 20 pounds.
Austin Felix has a limit now for 9.8 pounds.
Joseph Webster's third weighs 1 1/2.
Andy Morgan left the Little Saluda and ran up the Saluda, but still nothing going. He had to fish in a downpour for about 30 minutes.
12:58 – Check that … Gags caught a 6
So let's preface this with an explanation … Gagliardi has had an FLW Live/TV cameraman in his boat all day until just now, so our marshal was watching from a distance, and he reported that Gagliardi caught a 4-pounder. Our live crew just reported that it was actually a 6-pounder, which by our count put him in fourth place with 15 1/2 pounds.
After our marshal got back in the boat just now, he sent an update that Anthony thinks he has 19 pounds. We can't verify it right now, but we're re-watching the film to try and figure out exactly what he has. Or, just tune into FLW Live from weigh-in at 5 p.m. and see exactly what everyone has.
12:54 – Gags sticks a 4
Anthony Gagliardi might not have had his best day ever on Murray so far, but he's been consistent throughout the day. He just landed a 4-pounder that culls him up to about 13 1/2 pounds. He'll be in contention for sure.
James Watson landed a 1 1/2-pounder for his fourth keeper.
12:51 – Brush piles, buzz baits and double flukes
Many anglers are still tickling the brush to try and track down some midday kickers, but other popular patterns include fishing docks, slinging buzz baits and working double-fluke rigs around areas with schooling fish.
We had a little bit of rain scattered around the lake today, but mostly it's been calm and overcast, with just a slight breeze.
12:45 – The weights are climbing
It looks like weights are going to be a good bit higher than everyone expected. We have 13 pros with estimated weights of more than 10 pounds, and another four with at least 9 pounds. Darrel Robertson is the latest to cross the double-digit threshold. He has four keepers for 10 pounds.
We've gotten a tremendous number of short-fish catch reports in the last 90 minutes, but other than Neal's 4-pounder and Britt's equally big kicker, there haven't been a ton of big ones caught since about 10 a.m.
FLW Live has signed off, so if you're following along on the blog, thanks for joining us. We'll take you right up to check-in time, which begins at 3:15.
12:25 – Neal battles back
Michael Neal is fighting back from the 2-pound penalty. He just popped a 4-pounder for a nice cull.
Shin Fukae filled his limit for about 10 pounds total.
Joel Richardson is coming on strong. He landed No. 3, a 3 1/2-pounder.
Scott Martin landed two more keepers, yet neither helped.
Bradford Beavers has four fish for 8 or 9 pounds.
James Watson has three fish. His third was a pounder.
Shane LeHew slammed a 3-pounder on a buzzbait for 13 pounds total, then threw back a 1 1/2 that didn't help.
12:09 – Britt climbs the ladder
Aaron Britt landed a 4-pounder to fill his limit and climb the ladder to about 14 pounds. He's right around fifth place.
Anthony Gagliardi culled up another half-pound as well.
Anglers are running and gunning, re-fishing offshore spots and trying to hit their best places when a school is active. Topwater is still the big-time player, though not for Bryan Thrift. He's fishing a big worm through cover.
12:03 – Gags is chipping away; live show winding down
If you haven't already tuned into the FLW Live program, do so now. The show will run through 12:30, then fire up again at 5 for weigh-in. The last 30 minutes of coverage could be clutch, as a crew of FLW hammers tries to catch young guns Justin Atkins and Brandon Cobb.
One of the biggest favorites in the tournament is Anthony Gagliardi. He just landed a 2-pounder that helped him make a small improvement that boosts him into the top 10.
Joel Richardson added a 2-pounder to his total.
11:56 – A little rain is falling
Brandon McMillan's marshal reports that the FLorida pro just landed his fifht keeper in the rain. That's the first report we've had of the wet stuff coming down. McMillan has 8 3/4 total.
Shane LeHew has four fish for 10 1/2 pounds.
Cody Bird has his third for 5 3/4 pounds.
Sprague landed another that didn't help. We have a new weight estimate at 11 pounds.
Shin has four keepers now for 8 1/2 pounds.
11:42 – Update on Neal
Michael Neal has been assessed a 2-pound penalty for being in possession of six fish. Neal landed a keeper, went to the livewell and realized he already had six in the box. He did not put the additional keeper in the livewell so never took full possession of it. Therefore it did not count as a seventh keeper. He followed the FLW rules by immediately contacting Tournament Director Bill Taylor. Taylor instructed him to cull to a five-fish limit, but that he'd receive the penalty, per FLW tournament rules.
The penatly really hurts. The Tennessee pro was unofficially in fifth place, but losing 2 pounds drops him to seventh.
Elsewhere Joel Richardson landed his second keeper on a shaky head.
Jeff Sprague upgraded to about 12 pounds.
John Cox added a 2-pounder for his fifth fish.
11:34 – Cobb is laying off; Neal slips up
Brandon Cobb told his cameraman that he's laying off his fish to try and save them for later in the tournament. That's a nice position to be in on day one, with enough in the bag to punt in the afternoon.
We also have word that Michael Neal had too many fish in the livewell. We don't have all the details yet, so don't count it as offiical. We're waiting on word from Tournament Director Bill Taylor to find out what the situation is.
11:31 – Sprague culls up
Jeff Sprague just made an impressive cull with a 3-pounder to get up to 10 1/2 pounds and the 11th-place position.
Clark Reehm also added his second fish for 2 3/4 pounds.
11:25 – Dortch gets on the board
Everyone in the tournament has not landed at least one keeper, after Bradley Dortch landed a 3-pounder for his first. Elsewhere, Joey Cifuentes was running the dock pattern and lost a potential 4-pounder.
11:21 – Anglers running docks
We just got three consecutive updates from the marshals with Austin Felix, David Dudley and Aaron Britt, and all three are fishing docks. Several other pros have been running a dock pattern today, but that window is probably opening now because of the brighter conditions. It's not fully sunny right now, but patchy clouds allow it to shine through at times, and the resulting shade positions fish under the dock platforms.
11:17 – A couple quick ones
John Cox just landed a pretty nice keeper, maybe 3 pounds, for his fourth.
Shin Fukae caught his third keeper for a total of 6 pounds.
Bryan Thrift just landed a 3-pounder for a pretty solid upgrade, and now he has 13 1/2 pounds.
Darrel Robertson landed a 1 1/2 for his third, giving him 8 1/2 total.
11:13 – Atkins grabs the lead
Justin Atkins just cracked a 5 1/2-pounder to take over the tournament lead. We have him at 19 1/2 pounds, but his marshal estimates him to have 21 pounds. That gives him the lead over his roomate Brandon Cobb.
Michael Neal is up to 15 pounds now. He just culled.
Roy Hawk has two in the box for 5 1/2 to 6 pounds.
11:02 – Scott Martin gets in the race
Former Cup champ Scott Martin just made a big move. He landed a 5-pounder and is now up to 15. That has him in an estimated fourth-place position.
Shane LeHew landed a nice 3 1/2 pounder for his fourth keeper.
Bryan Thrift culled to 12 1/2 pounds.
And Shin Fukae has his second keeper now. It's a 1 1/2-pounder.
11 – Check the weights
Click here for the standings for the full 53-boat field.
10:45 – A few catches coming in
Kyle Alsop just landed his third fish, about a 1 1/2-pounder.
McCall struck with his buzzbait. It's a 1 1/4-pounder.
Chris Jones upgraded to about 11 1/2 pounds.
Sprague fills his limit with 1-pounder.
Cody Meyer gets on the board with a 1-pound fish.
Scott Canterbury added his third at 2 1/2 pounds.
Bryan Thrift filled his limit with a 2-pounder caught with a spinning rod.
The temperature is climbing now, and it's the wind is still very still. The midday doldrums are setting in.
10:37 – Cobb looks safe for now
No one has been able to keep pace with Brandon Cobb, but several are trying. By our estimates, nine pros have cracked double digits, and several others are stuck at around 9 pounds.
The only other keeper update we've gotten in the last few minutes is that Clark Wendlandt landed his fourth for about 8 pounds total.
10:30 – Cobb culls
Tournament leader Brandon Cobb just culled out his smallest fish, but the marshal wasn't able to get a good weight estimated. He's probably got close to 19 pounds now.
Bradford Beavers has three keepers.
LeHew has three also. His latest is 3 pounds.
Scott Canterbury landed a 2 1/2 for his second.
10:28 – Gags is directing traffic with a huge squad of spectators
Anthony Gagliardi is doing what he does best, which is chasing surface schoolers in open water. He has so much patience, and he'll wait for minutes without casting so he can fire directly to the spot where a fish busts. Unfortunately, there's a big crowd of spectators sitting directly in front of him, hoping to see some action. He just had to ask them to give him a little space. He wasn't trying to be a grouch. Rather, he's concerned about not being able to see or hear the fish bust because of the big group.
10:24 – Gagliardi cracks double digits
Hometown favorite Anthony Gagliardi has a double-digit limit. He just landed his fifth, and it's only a 1 1/2-pounder. If he can cull it out he'll be in swell shape.
Another favorite is Shane LeHew, who's kind of local, being from North Carolina, and he has two keepers for 4 pounds. College champ Kyle Alsop also has two for 4 pounds. McCall added a 1 1/4-pounder.
10:20 – Come to the FLW Expo
The FLW Expo opened a few minutes ago at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. If you're in town, come out and join us. You can watch the FLW Live crew's broadcast on the show floor, or buy a whole heck of a lot of tackle and other outdoor goods.
10:15 – Chris Jones, Aaron Britt and Scott Martin duel for fifth
Scott Martin, Aaron Britt and Chris Jones are right around that 10- to 11-pound mark, putting them each in contention for the fifth-place spot.
Fishing reports have slowed up a bit. A lot of short fish are being caught, and there are still keepers coming in, but that early schooling bite has tapered off. It might be because the sun is shining bright over the lake now. That certainly changes things. That said, it might help the shallow bite by creating distinct shade lines where anglers can really dial in on the bank livers.
Other updates: Kyle Alsop has two keepers. Bryan Thrift just landed a 3-pounder. Clark Wendlandt landed his third keeper. It weighed 2 1/2 pounds. Cobb caught another non-keeper.
9:55 – Atkins right on Cobb's heals
Justin Atkins fires back again, and he's within a pound or so of Cobb. His latest keeper weighed about 4 1/2 pounds, and he's up to 17 total.
Brandon McMillan landed No. 3 for about 4 1/2 pounds.
Zack Birge has his first keeper for 2 1/2 pounds.
Darrel Robertson gets on the board with a 1 3/4-pounder, then sticks a 4-pounder.
Austin Felix just lost a biggun – maybe 5 pounds. He's stuck on No. 4.
Wesley Strader gets in the game with a 2 1/2-pounder.
Bryan Thrift's third fish weighs 2 1/2 pounds. He has about 7 pounds.
Chris Jones has a limit for about 10 pounds.
9:50 – Link to the estimated weights
FLW is updating a weight estimate sheet throughout the day if you'd like to follow along. These are unofficial weights provided by marshals and media members.
Click here to see it.
Meanwhile, McMillan landed a 2 1/2-pounder.
Hawk has just one small keeper.
Andy Morgan has three keepers now for about 5 pounds. He lost a good one that pulled him under a log.
9:45 – Chasing Cobb
Cobb is the man to catch. We just got another report from the water that he might actually have 18 1/2 pounds. Regardless of his exact weight, he's definitely in the lead.
Chris Jones has three fish for 7 pounds.
Chris McCall landed a 2 1/2 on a topwater
Bradford Beavers has two keepers for about 5 pounds.
Scott Canterbury and Cody Meyer are both still stuck on zero.
Greg Bohannan has three keepers. His latest weighs a pound.
Jason Reyes just landed another keeper, but it won't cull.
Scott Martin has four keepers for 10 pounds now.
Jeremy Lawyer also has four keepers. He's throwing topwater, and his latest weighs 2 1/2 pounds.
9:32 – Topwater, topwater everywhere
Deep, shallow and in between, the topwater bite is by far dominant in this derby. We're seeing buzzbaits shallow and walking baits, including pencil poppers, on most of the deep spots, either chasing surface busters or calling fish up off cane piles. Tournament leader Brandon Cobb made a move down by the dam. He's trying to cull one more fish, and if he does he says he'll move shallow and hunt for a true giant.
Scott Martin just added his third keeper for 6 pounds total.
Terry Bolton's fourth ate a buzz bait up the Saluda. It weighed 2 3/4 pounds.
Gagliardi added a 1 3/4 for his fourth fish.
Michael Neal has a limit, and we have two estimates, so we're trying to verify. He either has 12 3/4 or 14.
Matt Stefan landed a 2-pounder on a buzz bait.
Jeremy Lawyer landed his third keeper, a 1 1/2.
Jeff Sprague has his fourth, and it weighs 1 1/2 pounds.
9:30 – Top 10 estimates
We've gotten conflicting weight estimates from a few of our leaders, so keep that in mind as you check over the current unofficial standings.
1. Brandon Cobb – 17 3/4
2. Larry Nixon – 16
3. Justin Atkins – 14 3/4
4. Terry Bolton – 9 1/2
4. Allen Boyd – 9 1/2
6. Austin Felix – 8 3/4
7. Jason Reyes – 8 1/2
8. Michael Neal – 8
9. Anthony Gagliardi – 7
10. John Cox – 6 3/4
9:23 – A few more
We're about to post the full estimated standings, but for now, here are a few more updates:
Cifuentes landed No. 2, a 2 1/2-pounder.
Austin Felix has four for 8.8 pounds.
Aaron Britt landed a 3 1/2 for his third.
9:22 – Atkins hangs tough
Justin Atkins added a 3 1/2-pounder. He's trying to keep pace with roomate Brandon Cobb and the General Larry Nixon. He's up to 15 pounds now.
9:19 – Kim gets on the board
The Forrest Wood Cup's first International Division qualifier, Hyo Chul Kim, landed his first keeper, a 2 1/2-pounder.
Aaron Britt's second keeper weighs 1.6 pounds.
Andy Morgan has another 2-pounder now.
Jason Reyes has a limit. His fifth weighs 1-12. He has the school fired up. Two more short fish followed that last keeper.
Rose's second keeper is a 1-pounder.
Jeff Sprague put a 3-pounder in the livewell. He has three for 6 pounds.
9:18 – Cobb strikes back
Brandon Cobb just hammered another giant on a topwater. He had a 2-pounder hooked up, but the fish jumped off, and a 5-pounder came in and snatched the bait. What a break. He has more than 17 pounds now, pushing 18. Yeesh.
9:17 – Look out for Larry Nixon
Oh, boy, the General is getting after it. He just boxed a 4-pounder, then followed up with a 5-pounder. We're double checking his weight estimates, but it looks like he has about 16 pounds, which would make him the unofficial leader.
He's fishing sort of mid- to upper lake area.
9:15 – Cobb jumps ahead
Brandon Cobb is hammering on them now. His two smallest keepers weigh 2 1/4 pounds apiece, and the other three are 3 pounds plus. We think he has almost 15 pounds now, though that might be a tad generous.
He just culled and bugged out from his area to go do something else and try to cull out his two "little" ones.
9:05 – More catches, more updates
Bradford Beavers, a local but a darkhorse, landed his first for about 2 pounds.
Andrew Upshaw added his second. It's maybe a pound and a half.
TBF champ Allen Boyd has four keepers for 9 pounds.
Mark Rose has a keeper for 1 1/4 pounds.
Larry Nixon added a 2-pounder for his third fish.
8:52 a.m. – The short fish keep coming, and John Cox and Bryan Schmitt land good ones
A lot of pros are checking in with frequent fish catches that won't keep. For instance, Mark Rose has landed five shorts already this morning.
The schooling activity is still strong right now. Current conditions are overcast with almost no wind. They just keep coming up busting.
On the fish-catch front, John Cox just landed his second, and it weighs between 3 1/2 and 4. Judging by the photos his marshal sent, Cox is fishing just like everyone expected, on the bank and getting after it shallow. Bryan Schmitt also landed a great kicker that'll weigh between 4 and 4 1/2.
Andy Morgan ran way up the Saluda and finally tracked down his first keeper, a 2-pounder.
Joey Cifuentes suffered a broken rod and a bass wrapped in a dock cable, but he still managed to land it for about a pound and a half.
Anthony Gagliardi has added a pair of 1 1/2-pounders to his early kicker.
Scott Martin has a pair of keepers. We're getting an update on his weight.
8:45 a.m. – Churning and burning at Lake Murray
It's nonstop on Lake Murray this morning. We hope you're watching the live show, because there's a lot of action to keep up with.
Michael Wooley went on a brief tear and now has four keepers for 8 pounds.
Jeremy Lawyer added a 2 1/2-pounder. He made the top 10 last year at the Cup, mostly targeting schooling bass, so you better believe he knows how to catch them in these conditions.
Michael Wooley is fishing a mid-lake hump, just like he did back in 2014 when he made the cut here, and today he has one keeper for 2 3/4 pounds.
Matt Arey has a pair of keepers for about 5 pounds, fishing close to former Cup champ Scott Martin.
Terry Bolton's third weighs about 2 1/2 pounds. He just now added a fourth at 2 3/4 pounds.
Brandon Cobb has a limit now. His latest two weigh about 1 1/2 and 3 1/2. He's also playing the topwater game.
Austin Felix is up to four keepers for almost 9 pounds.
Sprague lost a pretty good one, maybe 2 1/2 or 3 pounds, wrap him around a dock post and get off.
Mark Rose has landed five fish, but not a one has kept.
8:40 a.m. – Atkins charges farther ahead
Justin Atkins by far has the hot hand. He's on a topwater bite, and he just landed a 3 3/4-pound fish for his first cull and now has about 12 3/4 pounds total. He's the early leader and the only angler with double-digit weight.
8:20 a.m. – More updates; topwater is dominant
Poppers, buzz baits, walking plugs – all are hot so far this morning on Lake Murray. The updates continue:
Terry Bolton has two for 4 1/4.
Joseph Webster has two keepers for 4 1/2 pounds.
Clark Reehm has one that's just shy of 2 pounds.
Brandon Cobb has two for maybe 3 pounds.
Scott Canterbury has 1 1/4 pounds.
Darrel Robertson has a keeper for 1 3/4.
Marshall Deakins has his first – 3 pounds.
Shin Fukae's first weighs 2 1/2.
JT Kenney has two for 5 1/2.
Cox landed his second, another 1 1/2.
James Watson lost one that might have gone about 3 pounds, but he just stuck a 3 1/2 that'll take a ride to weigh-in.
Austin Felix is up to three keepers for almost 7 pounds.
Allen Boyd has two keepers for about 6 pounds.
8 a.m. – Lake Murray is churning them out; Atkins retakes the lead
A quick correction/update to a previous post: The field did spread out, but most of the pros located to the lower end of the lake. That's where the action has been steadiest.
Here are the recent catch reports:
Michael Neal landed a 2-pounder.
Roy Hawk landed a 1 1/2-pounder.
John Cox has his first for 1 1/2.
Greg Bohannan has two for 3 1/2.
Justin Atkins is hot now. He has his limit for about 10 1/2 pounds. He's the early leader.
Jeff Sprague has a pair of 1 1/2-pound keepers.
Brandon McMillan is on the board with a 1 1/4-pound fish.
Cody Bird has a pair for 3 3/4 pounds.
Jason Reyes has four keepers. 7 1/4 pounds total.
Casey Scanlon has the day's big bass so far – a 5-pounder, and his only keeper.
James Watson had a nice 3-pound or so bass bust his topwater, but he lost if after four cranks.
Aaron Britt has a keeper for 2 pounds.
Allen Boyd duped a 2 1/2-pounder with a buzzbait/toad combo.
Clark Wendlandt added a 1 3/4 for his second.
Larry Nixon has a pair for more than 5 pounds.
Joel Richardson has a 1 1/2 that he caught on a popper.
7:40 a.m. – Reyes out in front
Jason Reyes is popping one after another. He's got three keepers now for about 5 3/4 pounds.
7:35 a.m. – Atkins jumps ahead
Rookie pro Justin Atkins landed his second 2 1/2-pounder to take the early lead with about 5 pounds total. His roomate Shane LeHew got on the board with a 2-pounder. He's chucking a soft jerkbait in open water.
Chris McCall broke the ice with a 1 1/4-pounder.
Jason Reyes has a pair of keepers for about 4 1/2 pounds. He's in the second-place spot.
Clark Wendlandt is slinging a buzz bait this morning, and he has a 1 1/2-pounder in the box.
Andrew Upshaw is on the board with a 1 1/4-pound keeper.
7:30 a.m. – Topwater bite is on fire
Add Matt Arey to the list of pros with a quality keeper caught via topwater. His first is 2 1/4 pounds.
Cody Bird is on the board, too, with a 1 1/2-pound bass.
Not only are pros catching a lot of fish early, but the average weights are pretty good. There's still a light haze hanging over the lake, and the humidity is downright drippy.
7:25 a.m. – More catches coming
Pat Fisher has his first keeper in the boat. It's not big, but it's a start – 1 1/4 pounds.
Larry Nixon has a 2 1/4-pound fish now.
Zack Birge caught a short fish.
JT Kenney has one for 3 1/2 pounds.
Austin Felix landed one just shy of 2.
Justin Atkins landed a 2 1/2-pounder on a topwater.
It sounds like the topwater bite is hot this morning, with most of the early catches coming via schooling fish in open water.
Reports say there's a bit of fog down by the dam, but the rest of the lake is clear. Pros more or less split when they left takeoff, with a good many still running upstream and others scattering across the lower end.
By the way, if you're not busy this morning and you're in the Columbia area, come on down to Dreher Island State Park. There's a big crowd watching the live show on the big screen lakeside.
7:15 a.m. – They're catching early. Gagliardi has a kicker.
Early fish catch reports are starting to come in. Here's who's on them early:
James Watson landed a 2-pounder on topwater
Jeremy Lawyer popped a 2-pounder pitching a creature bait.
Matt Stefan is also slinging topwater, and he landed a 1-pound, 3-ounce keeper.
Brandon Cobb has landed one, but it didn't keep.
Casey Scanlon also caught a non-keeper.
David Dudley has a 3-pounder in the boat.
And the biggest news of the morning is that Anthony Gagliardi landed a big-time kicker right off the bat. The fish will go about 4 pounds.
7 a.m. – The 2017 Forrest Wood Cup is Underway at Lake Murray
The next three days will determine who will be crowned the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup champion on Lake Murray in Columbia, S.C. The only thing we can guarantee right now is that it ain’t going to be an easy one to win. Fishing is tough on Lake Murray right now. And while most pros believe the winning weight will be higher than it was at the 2014 Cup on Murray, they also think overall catches will be down.
There seem to be several key patterns in play right now: fishing shallow with topwater, targeting surface schoolers in open water, and fishing structure or man-made cover (brush piles and cane piles mostly) with topwater and soft plastics.
How to fit those patterns together into a winning program is what’s on the mind of all 53 pros right now, as they race to their first spots. FLW Weighmaster Chris Jones launched them from Dreher Island State Park at 7 a.m., following the FLW Live morning show and opening ceremonies.
Conditions are normal for South Carolina in August, although a bit cooler than in years past. The morning temperature was 74 degrees, with a forecast high in the mid-80s, overcast skies and very little wind.
Stay tuned to FLW’s social media pages using the handle @FLWFishing, and follow the action at FLWFishing.com via the coverage blog or FLW Live, which airs from 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each day.
Temperature at takeoff: 74 degrees
Forecast high: 87 degrees
Precipitation: 10 percent chance early, rising to 25 percent, with storms forecast for the evening
Format: All 53 pros will compete for two days, with the field cut to the top 10 pros on day three. The winner is the person with the highest cumulative three-day weight.
Takeoff Time: 7 a.m. ET
Takeoff Location: Dreher Island State Park, 3677 State Park Road, Prosperity, SC
Weigh-In Time: 5 p.m. ET
Weigh-In Location: Colonial Life Arena, 801 Lincoln Street, Columbia, SC
FLW Live: 6:30 a.m. ET to 12:30 p.m. ET all three days