Everybody has a fish story. Some are better than others, but it's going to be hard to top the one Anthony Gagliardi has about his 2014 season. Wait until you hear the ending.
Six months ago, he was left questioning whether it was worth fishing the remainder of this year's FLW Tour schedule. In February, he was disqualified for a rules violation that occurred in practice at Lake Okeechobee and figured then his odds of qualifying for the Forrest Wood Cup at Lake Murray (his home lake) were too long to overcome.
After deciding to continue fishing the rest of the schedule, he stormed through the final five events and snuck into the Cup field by 1 point.
This week, he had to deal with the pressures of being the hometown local favorite at the Cup. Sure, he got to sleep in his own bed, but he also had hundreds of places he could've fished and years of experience on the sprawling impoundment, which can sometimes be a detriment. He avoided those pitfalls this week and after day 3, he was in 3rd place, less than 2 pounds off the lead.
On Sunday, he punctuated his incredible comeback in storybook fashion, edging Scott Canterbury by the slimmest of margins – 1 ounce – to capture the Forrest Wood Cup and $500,000 prize in front of an adoring crowd at the Colonial Life Arena in Columba, S.C. The margin of victory would've been 5 ounces had it not been for a dead fish in Gagliardi's bag, but based on the season he had it seemed fitting that the outcome be as close as possible. Read Full Story Bassfan.com
Columbia, SC - After an early season disqualification prior to the FLW season opener at Lake Okeechobee, Chevy Pro Anthony Gagliardi was a tremendous long shot to qualify for the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray.
Putting the early season incident in his rearview mirror, Gagliardi proceeded to fish brilliantly over the next five events, sneaking into the Cup by a one point margin and gaining the opportunity to fish for $500,000 on a lake he arguably knew better than any of the other 45 qualifying anglers. - Red More
Anthony Gagliardi tried to stay locked in on his primary game plan today, but once 3 p.m. rolled around and he still needed a couple fish to finish his limit, he opted to scrap it in favor of some shallow water. His decision panned out as he caught a 5-04 kicker shallow late in the day.
"It was tough to say the least," he said. "I knew when I started out on the spot I started on yesterday and only caught two 14-inchers I knew at that point it was going to be a tough day. I managed to catch one more there so I left with three and had those in the box until 3 o'clock. That's when I caught that big one at the end of the day."
He said he had a couple chances to finish his limit, but the fish wouldn't totally commit to his bait.
The call to go shallow late in the day ran contrary to what he would typically do under similar conditions, but with his offshore spots not producing, he had other plan Bs.
"Normally, that would be the case with me, too, but I kind of lost confidence in it," he said. " I'd done it enough and even around 10 to noon it should be good then. It's not like it'll all of sudden turn on at 2. If they're not biting at noon, they're probably not biting at 2."
His best fish today was a 3 1/2-pounder he caught up one of the rivers off a spot he looked at but didn't fish yesterday.
"That was a key decision that helped me," he said. "I caught today with four fish what I had about yesterday with five. I'm fairly happy with today, but I left the door open with not having that fifth fish. I'd really like to have that one just because a 2-pounder would put me near the lead. There is no doubt that the fish are here to do it. There are giants that live here. You just have to come across the right ones." Read more
Gagliardi said he'd hoped to leave his first spot today with a couple keepers. He wound up taking a limit by 8:15.
"I lost a couple 4-pounders so I had a chance to better myself a little bit," he said. "I left everything, but I still have a feeling I can get some more bites in there."
He said his long history on Murray isn't a hindrance this week.
"I'm not fishing any memories," he said. "I'm fishing stuff that's been good recently, either from pre-practice or earlier this week. I'm fishing stuff that has or had fish on it. I have a lot of those places. I fished in a lot of different areas of the lake and I skipped over some spots."
After boxing that early limit, he bounced around the lake trying to identify other spots that he could pick over tomorrow.
"I never really came across a place like that where it was happening," he added. "It's probably going to be really key for me to get some quality bites early on." Read more