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AFTCO_18_370.jpgCalifornia-based apparel manufacturer AFTCO announced that it's added nine anglers to its freshwater pro staff.

Josh Bertrand, Jeff Kriet and Wesley Strader will compete on the newly formed MLF Bass Pro Tour, while Clifford Pirch, Garrett Paquette, Drew Cook, Micah Frazier and Greg Dipalma will represent the company on the Bassmaster Elite Series tour. Veteran Walleye pro Dean Arnoldussen will also join the AFTCO freshwater pro team.

“Last year, for the first time in 60 years, AFTCO entered the freshwater market," said VP of sales and marketing Casey Shedd. "From testing and tweaking our outerwear to add bass-specific features to building the AFTCO Bass Bus live-release boat, we made some real progress toward our goal of improving our freshwater fisheries.

"As we head into our second year in the freshwater market, AFTCO is thrilled to be adding nine new anglers who represent the ethos of our company. It’s not just about explaining the technical aspects of how a SpeedVent hood works, or why UPF is important. More importantly, each pro also acts and advocates for the message we are hoping to spread to the broader fishing community: ‘If you like to fish, fishing conservation is not an option, it’s critical to the longevity of our passion’ The AFTCO team gets that and really has been excited about helping us champion that cause.”

The new members join a staff that includes Jason Christie, Dustin Connell, Todd Faircloth, Shin Fukae, Anthony Gagliardi, Russ Lane, Jared Lintner, Scott Martin and Michael Neal.


Anthony Gagliardi didn’t anticipate the cane pile bite being as dominant as it was. He’s put plenty of them in the lake in the past, but didn’t fish them as much as he should’ve in hindsight. 

“It all started on Hartwell,” he said when asked to recount the origin of the vertical pieces of bamboo chutes that area stuffed into buckets before being sank on or next to points. 

“We started seeing similarities in how suspended fish were being caught here so I put some in pockets in 2006 (before the FLW Tour event), but I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just trying to catch jerkbait fish then.”

He put more of them in the lake before the 2014 Cup, but never caught anything on those spots. This year, he believes the cooler water is what triggered the fish to congregate around them more. 

“The fish then didn’t know how to use it,” he said. “It’s like when grass shows up in a lake and they don’t know how to use that cover. Maybe it takes a couple generations, but that’s where it came from – the herring lakes up state – and the more this lake has started to fish that way it became a factor.” Read more

000271926_original_1024x1024.jpgLike the last time the Cup was held on Murray, Anthony Gagliardi put into play a Yamamoto D-Shad. He mostly threw it on a single rig, but fished a double rig on the final afternoon. His only other bait was a chrome pencil popper.

> Day 3: 5, 15-02 (15, 51-03) Nobody in the field had more options of where and what to fish at Murray than Gagliardi, but he was kicking himself for sticking with one spot too long this morning and not devoting more time to cane piles in general. 

“I got sucked into the schooling bite and sucked into breaking fish,” he said. “I had 80 cane piles I could’ve ran if that’s what I wanted to do. There were too many places with fish coming up that forced me to stay. It was one or the other. I couldn’t run and gun and fish the schoolers, too. That takes too much time. The schoolers were too big to not try to catch them.”

His day started to unravel shortly after it began. He went without a bite at his first spot, then made a move out in the middle of the lake where fish were actively on the surface all around him. 

“It was the biggest school of big bass I’ve ever seen here this time of year,” he said. “I got frustrated because when I’d get bites I’d lose them. I spent way too long on one spot and then ran around trying to make up for lost time.”

He later ran up the Saluda River and probed some isolated shallow brush with a big worm, similar to how he won in 2014. Eventually, he came back down the lake and caught a couple 3-pounders with a Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits D-Shad. 

“Over the next hour, I had 12 to 15 bites, all on the D Shad,” he added. Read more

Anthony Gagliardi

Looking to be the first to ever win the Cup twice, Anthony Gagliardi fell off a few pounds on day two and dropped into third. He’s less than 3 pounds off the lead and, as the hometown hero, he’s plenty close to making a run on the final day.

Gagliardi is fishing from about Dreher Island to the dam and has focused his efforts more on shoals, points and areas than specific targets, sometimes fishing way out near the main channel and sometimes a fair bit back in the larger creeks and bays.

“Today I had a hard time catching them on the stuff that was back in, and I felt I had to be on the main-channel stuff,” says Gagliardi. “But that got hard to do later on with the boat traffic.”

Tossing a soft-plastic jerkbait and a pencil popper, Gagliardi believes the schooling bite suffered due to the change from cloudy to sunny skies. If it doesn’t rebound, he’s got some other cards to play as well.

“I’ve got a series of shallow brush piles that I’ve yet to fish,” says the Prosperity, S.C., pro. “I did that last time [the 2014 Cup on Murray] a couple days, and I caught the three biggest fish I weighed in that tournament doing that. I almost did it today. At 1 o’clock when the boat traffic was bad and the bite was really tough I was just about to make a run up the lake to try to catch a big one. I fished a place on the way and caught a big one, and it threw a little hiccup in my plan, and I didn’t make the run. Tomorrow, if things aren’t going extremely well, I might pull the trigger and see if I can’t hit the jackpot up there.”

Anthony Gagliardi 

Anthony Gagliardi won the Forrest Wood Cup in 2014 on Lake Murray, and he’s in great position after day one to be the first to win two. Weighing 21-1, which was amazingly the biggest bag Gagliardi has weighed all season, he sits in second place just 4 ounces behind Atkins.

Fishing a lot like he did on the final day of his 2014 win, Gagliardi leaned hard on the offshore schooling bite to accumulate his catch. Unlike in 2014, he spent most of the day actually casting, not simply waiting for fish to surface on blueback herring. Throwing just a topwater plug and a soft-plastic jerkbait, the South Carolina pro says he’s only caught about eight keepers on the day, but he caught a lot of quality and one near-6-pounder for a kicker.

“That was probably the biggest fish I’ve ever caught fishing like I do out there,” says Gagliardi. “I’m probably not going to catch one like that tomorrow, but I still have some stuff left. I can get bites, and when I get bites a lot of them have been quality bites. If things work out like I envision I think I can have five good fish, but maybe not with a kicker like that.”

As a veteran of Lake Murray, Gagliardi admits that his weight on day one surprised him, but he’s not entirely shocked to see the bite as good as it is. He says the water temperature has dropped about 10 degrees over the past three weeks, and that slim hint of fall-ish weather has the offshore fish chasing more willingly than they did in 2014.

AnthonyGagliardiPhoto/Story Joe Cook, wltx COLUMBIA, SC - One of the biggest fishing tournaments in the country will be taking place right here in the Midlands this week. The Fishing League Worldwide Forrest Wood Cup tournament will be held at Lake Murray.

The last time this event was in Columbia was in 2014 and that's when local angler Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, SC won the championship. He's back in the tournament this year.

Newberry based company Falcon Boats is one of his sponsors and and he has a good chance to become the first angler to win two Forrest Wood Cup titles. This year's contest will be on his home lake and he'll have to beat out 53 other fishermen to accomplish the feat.

"It'd be awful nice to accomplish something that's not been done but honestly just winning it again in front of a home crowd that's what would be special to me," Gagliardi said.  "It's in my backyard and I will have a lot of fan support, a lot of family and friend support but then to be able to be the guy-I was first guy to win two that'd be pretty cool. That'd be a pretty good feather in your hat but that's not what's driving me, that's not my motivation going into this one." Full Story