Forrest Wood Cup Preview: 12 Anglers to Watch
Pros are making the switch to Garmin and it’s paying off for them in a big way. 12 Garmin pros will be competing in this year’s FLW Forrest Wood Cup at Wheeler Lake with a top prize of $300,000 and an automatic berth in next year’s Cup. Here are our top picks for this week’s Forrest Wood Cup.
Andy Morgan – 2016 Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year
Wheeler Lake will be a clinic on Junk Fishing 101. If you had to pick one guy on Tour to put on that clinic, you’d be a fool to pick anyone other than Andy Morgan. He’s won three Angler of the Year titles in the last four years (2016, 2014, 2013) and is one of, if not the most consistent anglers on tour. If Morgan needs to catch them deep, he’ll catch them deep, but if he had to choose, he’d likely be looking for shallow spots away from the crowd that nobody else knows about. Since Wheeler Lake is one of Garmin’s proprietary MaxDef lakes, the GOAT will rely heavily on LakeVü HD Ultra mapping and built-in Depth Range Shading to locate what he hopes to be the winning spots.
Look for 2016 FLW Tour Rookie of the Year Chris Johnston to make a splash in his first Forrest Wood Cup. Chris and his brother Cory hail from Canada, where these two Canucks dominated the northern circuits for several years before making the jump to fish the FLW Tour. Chris was runner-up to Andy Morgan in the 2016 Angler of the Year race, so there’s no doubt that he’s proven himself down south.
In 2009, Blaylock became the youngest angler to ever win an FLW Tour event at the age of 21. Consistency has been a key factor during Blaylock’s career, and he’s recorded five top-10 finishes since switching to Garmin at the beginning of the 2015 season. In 2016, Blaylock finished third behind fellow Garmin pros Andy Morgan and Chris Johnston in the Angler of the Year race.
As the reigning Forrest Wood Cup Champion, Brad Knight is looking to defend his title. Knight resides near the upper end of the Tennessee River, so he’s no stranger to fishing offshore structure. Look for him to be a key contender in this year’s Cup.
The son of legendary angler Roland Martin is in the process of creating his own bass fishing dynasty and doing a remarkable job. With over $2.5 million in career earnings, and a Forrest Wood Cup title (2011) to go along with his Angler of the Year title (2015), Scott Martin is a solid bet for winning this year’s championship. He’s looking to keep the momentum rolling from Lake Champlain, where he finished off the 2016 FLW Tour season with a victory. At last year’s Forrest Wood Cup, Martin finished in fifth place and credited much of his success in that tournament and his AOY title run to Garmin Panoptix. We’d be willing to bet the farm that Panoptix will be a part of his gameplan at Wheeler.
There are few anglers who rely on their electronics more than Mark Rose. When he switched to Garmin in 2016, it was a tough decision because of how important his electronics are to him – he stakes his career on having the best there is. After finishing 10th in Angler of the Year points, there’s no doubt that Rose is happy about the switch. He faces yet another tough decision this offseason, as he qualified to fish the Bassmaster Elite Series. Whether or not he makes the jump remains a mystery. Rose, an Arkansas native has made a very healthy living fishing the Tennessee River and we look for him to be a key player in this year’s Forrest Wood Cup.
Runner-up to his brother Chris in the 2016 FLW Tour Rookie of the Year race, Cory Johnston is no slouch. As a matter of fact, he’s just as much of a threat on the water as Chris. He’s fresh off a fourth place finish at 1000 Islands and looking to ride that momentum into Wheeler. These young anglers are the future of the sport and talented enough to beat anyone on any given day.
This might come as a surprise, but as great of an angler as he is, Cody Meyer is still seeking out his first FLW win. He’s finished second in both the Forrest Wood Cup and Angler of the Year standings, but Meyer’s time to hoist a trophy above his head is on the horizon. If he can show up with a mega bag to set the tone during the first couple days of the Cup, watch out!
Joining Andy Morgan and David Dudley as the only other pros with three Angler of the Year titles under their belt, Clark Wendlandt is still in search for his first Forrest Wood Cup victory. Wendlandt had a solid seventh place finish at Wheeler Lake in 2002, but much of the lake has changed since then. When the fishing is tough, which it is expected to be this week, Clark’s expansive knowledge of fish behavior might just be the key that puts him on top.
Currently in his 20th season with FLW, Darrel Robertson is known as being one of the most experienced anglers on Tour. With one Forrest Wood Cup title under his belt (1999), and a runner-up finish in 2007, there’s no doubt that this Tour veteran will be gunning for Cup number two in Alabama this week.
The Wylie, SC native and FLW Tour veteran will be competing in his sixth Forrest Wood Cup at Wheeler Lake. With a star-studded field, we look for Todd Auten to be an underdog this week. He has about as much pro-level experience on Wheeler than anyone in this field and has had some very solid finishes on the Tennessee River fishery. In four events at Wheeler, Auten’s worst finish was 39th – good enough to cash a check every time.
Another FLW Veteran, Jim Tutt, is looking to crack the million-dollar mark in career FLW earnings at the Forrest Wood Cup this week. This Texas native will be swinging for the fences in hopes of a $300,000 payday.
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