Everyone predicted the fishing at Lake Ouachita during the Forrest Wood Cup was going to be tough. That certainly held true.
While three pros cracked the 13-pound mark – highlighted by Alex Davis’ 13-10 to lead the tournament – simply catching 9 pounds was good enough to be in striking distance of the top 10.
Davis admitted to having quite the lucky day, and he’ll need two more of them to hold off a slew of pros who seem to be on more solid patterns … for now.
2. Nick LeBrun – Bossier City, La. – 13-5
Few anglers are likely fishing hotter than LeBrun.
Two months ago he won the T-H Marine FLW BFL All-American. Now, he’s within striking distance of becoming the first All-American winner to win the Cup in the same season. Jacob Wheeler won both, but a year apart.
“I knew I had to be here to make that happen,” LeBrun says. “I’ve put in the work. I made three pre-practice trips here since winning the All-American. I’ve done my homework. I want to make it happen.”
LeBrun seems to be the most confident of his chances based on day one.
While many pros committed themselves deep or shallow, LeBrun did both. He started shallow, hoping to catch one decent one. He had his biggest, a 4 1/2-pounder, by 7:15 a.m., and he actually caught two more by the time he hit his deeper stuff midmorning.
The deeper pattern worked as he expected, as he got three more bites on a V&M Wild Thang Worm before “going into chill mode” around noon.
“I wanted to save some stuff for tomorrow, so I really laid off the juice,” LeBrun says. “Tomorrow I’ll start with the same stuff, but I also have a totally different pattern I’ll lean into tomorrow. I want to take the lead and extend it.”
3. Zack Birge – Blanchard, Okla. – 13-1
Considering he only has three key areas, Birge is pretty satisfied he was able to catch what he did on day one.
“Really, the stretches are only 50 yards, and they’re nothing different from anywhere else,” Birge says. “There’s just a solid concentration of fish there.”
After catching a quick limit of schoolers, Birge circulated through the areas multiple times today, catching all his fish on three different topwaters.
As for tomorrow, he figures it will be more of the same.
“Hopefully the schoolers go longer than they did today,” Birge adds. “They’d been staying up until near 11 a.m., but today they quit by 9:30 a.m. Still, hopefully I can catch another limit and then go after bigger fish.”
4. Cory Johnston – Cavan, Ontario – 12-8
On one hand, Johnston had a heck of a day. On the other, it was miserable.
The bad part involved him having issues with electronics and his livewell, which cost him time throughout the day as he tried to keep his fish alive and also navigate what can be a confusing body of water.
The good part was that, in spite of all the hardships, he managed to catch three good fish that buoyed a top-five limit.
“I didn’t have a great practice,” Johnston says. “I saw a lot of fish, but I couldn’t get them to go. Today I got three of them to go.”
Johnston actually could’ve had an even better day had he not lost a pair of solid schoolers on back-to-back casts. Still, he’s optimistic about tomorrow, especially if he can get his mechanical issues fixed.
5. James Niggemeyer – Van, Texas – 12-2
Consider Niggemeyer in the small camp of anglers who was pleasantly surprised by how they did today.
“Today was my best day by far,” says Niggemeyer, “but I also had a couple magical things happen.”
The first bit of magic was a 4 1/2-pounder he caught around 11 a.m. It’s easily the largest fish he caught this week.
The second occurred when he saw some bass chasing bait.
“I cast over and caught one about 2 1/2,” Niggemeyer says. “I put it in the box, turned back and they were still chasing. So I cast back in and caught a 2-pounder. That was pretty special.”
Niggemeyer, like most of the top anglers, fished shallow all day with topwater and figures that’s not going to change. He figures it’s his best chance to do well.