Brandon Cobb led the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup after day two on Lake Murray, and he started day three with high hopes of capturing his first Cup victory. It wasn’t in the cards for the young Greenwood, SC angler though, as he managed to catch only four keepers and finished in third place with a total three-day weight of 54-10.
Cobb wasn’t the only local boy to fish for the $300,000 prize. Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity was also gunning for the Cup, and he was one of three former Cup champions who fished on Sunday to win that coveted award for the second time, a feat that has never been accomplished on the FLW Tour. The 2014 Cup winner fell short as well, taking fifth place with 51-3.
Bryan Thrift of Shelby, NC was another of the seven Carolina boys that other anglers were calling the “Carolina mafia,” and Thrift was the third angler from the two-state region to make it to one of the final 10 spots that fished on Sunday. Thrift fished strong, but also came up short, finishing fourth with 51-15.
The final weights for this year’s Cup were bigger than most people expected. When Gagliardi won the Cup in 2014, which was also held on Lake Murray, his total weight for the tournament was 51 pounds. He beat that himself in this tournament, but came in fifth place.
Florence, Alabama’s Justin Atkins, a rookie on the FLW Tour who wasn’t sure he was going to have enough money to fish the complete season, took the $300,000 prize with a whopping 59-4 after a stellar day three, in which he bagged over 21 pounds of bass.
Atkins essentially fished the same way Cobb, Gagliardi, and Thrift did. Fishing submerged brush around schooling herring was the key, and while the three Carolina anglers have been exposed to that type fishing throughout their lives, it’s not common for lakes outside this region to have herring. But Atkins said he learned a lot about fishing this way from a number of anglers from the Carolinas over the past few years, including Summerville’s Patrick Walters, who won the FLW College Bass National Championship on Lake Murray a few years ago.
The FLW Tour anglers move into the off-season now, and will ramp things back up in January for the 2018 schedule, which does not include any stops in the Carolinas.
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