It’s been nearly a dozen years since I attended my first Forrest Wood Cup. At the time, the notoriety of this FLW Championship tournament was nonexistent. I simply went to the weigh-in to see how these anglers fared on one of my home lakes that is considered extremely tough by most anglers. To my surprise there were several big name anglers there, most notable was Guido Hibdon. I had used the “Guido Bug” for years and couldn’t wait to meet the man that had put so many bass in my boat. FLW did a fantastic job making the anglers available for spectators and I was able to meet and shake hands with many of them.
The Forrest Wood Cup has evolved quite a bit since that 2002 event. Then, the weigh-in was held in a Wal-Mart parking lot. There were a few canopies for vendors and a large tent for the weigh-in stage. Keep in mind, this was Louisiana in August. Temperatures get pretty hot with heat indexes over 100 degrees. In this kind of heat, a tent was the last place you wanted to be. However, with large fans and free water for everyone it was bearable.
Fast forward nine years to the next Forrest Wood Cup I attended. The year was 2011 at Lake Ouachita in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The size of the event had grown exponentially, the weigh-in was now held in an arena and vendors were set up in a convention center. I had a media pass and access to go anywhere I needed to interview the professional anglers. Amazingly, the anglers were not difficult to find, they weren’t hiding in media rooms, they weren’t ducking behind stages or fake walls, what they were doing was sitting on stools in front of all the different sponsors of FLW. Because of the makeup of the FLW network, anglers get to visit with spectators throughout the event. While this made it a little more difficult for me to get one-on-one interviews, it’s fantastic for the spectators.
The Forrest Wood Cup is currently worth $500,000 and with bonus money from sponsors it could be worth $600,000. Over the years, the Forrest Wood Cup has gained serious respect as one of the nation’s crowning bass fishing events. Those that still think the Bassmaster Classic is the ‘Best of the Best’ should keep an eye on the anglers fishing for the Forrest Wood Cup. Many of today’s top professionals are trying to add both, the Forrest Wood Cup and the Bassmaster Classic to their resumes. There have been five anglers to win both the Forrest Wood Cup and the Bassmaster Classic:
David Fritts won the Cup in 1997 and the Classic in 1993
Davy Hite won the Cup in 1998 and the Classic in 1999
Dion Hibdon won the Cup in 2000 and the Classic in 1997
George Cochran won the Cup in 2005 and the Classic in 1987 & 1996
Luke Clausen won the Cup in 2004 and the Classic in 2006
As you can see the lines between the Forrest Wood Cup and the Bassmaster Classic have been crossing for quite some time. Even in the coveted Angler of the year race, there are many notable Bassmaster anglers. Kevin VanDam, David Walker, Jay Yelas, and Denny Brauer, to name a few, all hold FLW Angler of the Year titles.
This year’s Forrest Wood Cup is about to kick off on the Red River in Shreveport, Louisiana. The dates are 15-18 August, and if you don’t already have reservations, you probably are not going to be able to stay in the city. The Forrest Wood Cup is growing, and the Bassmaster Classic better watch out, that is, if spectator numbers are a sign of what’s important.
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