With the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup slated for Aug. 15-18 on the Red River in Shreveport, La., the clock continues to tick toward the start of one of the most prestigious and exciting bass-fishing championships in the nation. In an effort to provide fans with a little more perspective and background on the competition, FLWOutdoors.com is launching a six-part series/overview of each of the 46 qualifying pros – one of whom will walk away with the title of Forrest Wood Cup champion.
With a guaranteed first-place prize of $500,000 on the line, there is clearly plenty at stake this summer in Louisiana. So without further ado, let’s meet the contenders.
(Editor’s note: Forrest Wood Cup competitors will be featured in alphabetical order. This is the fifth in a six-part series.)
2013 Forrest Wood Cup contenders
Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn. – Neal’s sophomore season on the FLW Tour proved to be a breakout one. After a third-place finish to start the year on Lake Okeechobee, Neal stayed consistent before slipping a bit on Eufaula and Grand. To close the season, Neal once again finished third – this time on his home waters of Lake Chickamauga. Neal is known as one of the better offshore fishermen on Tour and is a wizard with electronics. At 21 years of age, Neal is a junior at Bryan College studying Computer Science and he also owns the Dayton Boat Dock and Grill. This is Neal’s first Cup appearance – qualifying via his 20th-place finish in the FLW Tour points race. In 2011, Neal won three BFL events and launched his pro career the following year.
Larry Nixon, Bee Branch, Ark. – Known as the General, Nixon is one of the greatest anglers to ever pick up a rod and reel. A former Bassmaster Classic champion, Nixon owns over $1.5 million in FLW career earnings, much of that stemming from his four FLW Tour wins. Nixon’s most recent win took place at last year’s FLW Tour Open on St. Clair. Along with three other solid performances, Nixon qualified for the 2013 Cup by winning the Opens points race. At 62 years of age, Nixon admittedly struggles with throwing bigger moving baits at times due to chronic hand and shoulder issues. But he’s still one of the best in the game at dragging and fishing slow – especially with a worm. This is Nixon’s 14th Cup and he’s repeatedly stated the Cup is the last title he wants before retirement.
Jacob Powroznik, Prince George, Va. – For the second consecutive season, Powroznik challenged for the prestigious FLW Tour Angler of the Year title before ultimately finishing third. That third-place finish gave Powroznik his seventh consecutive Cup appearance and eighth overall. While Powroznik has been one of the better anglers on Tour the past few seasons, he’s still lacking a signature tour-level win – his biggest to date being an EverStart Series victory at Santee Cooper in 2003. He’s overdue for that win, having finished runner-up at Lake Champlain in 2012 and Smith Lake this March. To date, Powroznik has over $900,000 in FLW earnings and while he is a versatile angler, he’s also known as one of the best sight-fishermen on Tour.
Mark Rose, West Memphis, Ark. – Rose is commonly known as the ledgemaster after winning four tour-level events during the summertime on the Tennessee River. While he now excels at fishing deep, offshore structure, Rose’s roots are shallow-water river fishing, which should serve him well on the Red. In fact, Rose took second at the 2011 FLW Tour event on the Red River by throwing squarebill crankbaits and spinnerbaits. After a rare miss at the Cup last year, Rose qualified in 2013 via his 13th-place finish in the FLW Tour points race. This is his eighth Cup overall and he’ll be among a handful of favorites when the tournament commences. The Walmart pro’s career FLW earnings stand at over $1.7 million.
Zell Rowland, Montgomery, Texas – Rowland was the very last pro to qualify for the Cup via the FLW Tour – finishing 39th in the points race (four pros above him double qualified). A two-tour pro, 2013 was Rowland’s first season back on the FLW Tour since 2006. His highlights included a sixth-place finish on Smith Lake and an eighth-place finish at Grand Lake. Rowland’s only other Cup qualification came in 2005. Rowland, who has over $100,000 in FLW career earnings, is known as one of the better topwater fishermen in the sport, especially with poppers.
Ray Scheide, Dover, Ark. – Scheide is making his sixth appearance at the Forrest Wood Cup, his first since 2010. Scheide qualified by finishing 24th in the FLW Tour points race, the highlight of his season being a 10th-place finish at Smith Lake. While he only had that one top-10 finish, it was his second best season to date as he proved incredibly consistent by cashing checks at all but one event. A two-time FLW Tour champion, Scheide frequently fishes the Arkansas River, meaning he’s comfortable in shallow river systems like the Red. The 3M Scotch Tape Peltor brands pro has over $800,000 in career FLW earnings. Scheide took 33rd the last time the FLW Tour visited the Red River.
Spencer Shuffield, Bismarck, Ark. – The son of veteran angler Ron Shuffield, Spencer stepped out of his father’s shadow and qualified for his first Forrest Wood Cup (as a pro) in his sophomore season on the FLW Tour. Despite not having a top-10 finish in 2013, Shuffield finished 12th in the points race due to solid, consistent finishes. As a co-angler, he has qualified for the Cup six times and he won the 2010 FLW Tour event on the Fort Loudoun-Tellico lakes. As a pro, he finished runner-up at the 2012 FLW Tour event on Table Rock Lake, coming up 7 ounces short of his first pro win. Shuffield also won a BFL event last year as a boater and has career earnings of over $250,000. His versatility should serve him well in Shreveport-Bossier City.
For more information about the upcoming 2013 Forrest Wood Cup, click here.
To see detailed schedule information for this year’s Cup, click here.