So how does a recent Forrest Wood Cup champion gauge what a successful season is just one year after his career-defining achievement?
Some may think Anthony Gagliardi’s idea of a successful tournament season may have gotten skewed after he won the Cup in dramatic fashion to cap off his 2014 season.
He’s been around long enough to realize that that was a rare opportunity in which the stars aligned in his favor at his home lake for a 4-day period. He wasn’t so naïve to think anything short of another Cup triumph would be deemed a failure. He knew it would be hard to win at a game of “Can You Top This?” during the 2015 FLW Tour season.
He held his own by posting two Top-20 finishes and finishing 16th in points, his best showing since 2009, all the while handling the duties that come with being the reigning Cup champ and trying to get his new rod company off the ground.
“It was successful,” he said. “I had a pretty good year. When you end a year like I did (in 2014) and I think this is true for anyone after an Angler of the Year or Cup win, the biggest thing was to make sure I didn’t have a let down.
“It’s the same as football where a team comes off a big win they let off gas after that emotional high and then has a letdown against a team they shouldn’t lose to. I wanted to have the same focus and have a great year and I felt like I did that for the most part. I had a couple tournaments that got away from me, but I still wanted to finish as high as I could.” Read more
I’m used to fishing blueback lakes and chasing the bass that are chasing them. In the winter, though, blueback lakes sort of fall back into line with non-blueback lakes. That is, the bite reverts to a shad-type of bite as the bait and bass become more stationary and bottom-oriented. If the fish you catch spit up anything, it’s likely to be shad. For me, it becomes prime time again for jigging spoons. Spoons used to be a lot more popular as winter baits in shad lakes, but there doesn’t seem to be as many people fishing with them these days. They’ve sort of gone out of fashion, but that might be one of the best reasons to use them now.
Most of the time when I’m fishing a spoon I’m looking for bait – in creek channels, ditches, along deep points or on flats next to creek mouths – anywhere you might find bait schooled up. I graph and look for balls of shad. Then I just lower the spoon down to the same depth as the shad and start working it up and down; snapping it a foot or so and letting it fall back. If the line jumps or stops, I set the hook. I also fish spoons in brushpiles and the like because this is where some of the biggest bass hang out. Here, I just work the spoon right down in the middle of it. The spoon will hang up sometimes, but it’s usually fairly easy to jiggle out.
Although there are all sorts of jigging spoons around now, as far as I’m concerned it’s hard to beat a ¾-ounce Hopkins Little Shorty in hammered silver or gold. The bass like it, so I like it.
Anthony Gagliardi didn’t even have time to savor his Forrest Wood Cup victory on Lake Murray before the naysayers started showing up. He isn’t a good sportsman, say some. His victory should be nullified, say others.
The smear campaign started soon after an alleged incident on the water that was reported on a couple of Web-based bass forums. People jumped to conclusions without knowing the facts, but these days that’s pretty standard operating procedure for some who have nothing better to do than put a negative spin on everything. Read More
When the Forrest Wood Cup came to Lake Murray in August 2008, a pre-tournament storm front threw everything into flux. The schooling bite that some competitors were banking on faded early in the tournament as the falling water temperatures pulled more fish up shallow, including the fish Michael Bennett eventually won with.
In that tournament, Anthony Gagliardi was pretty much all in on the offshore herring bite and when it dropped off so, too, did his chances of competing for a win at his home lake.
He put his eggs in several different baskets last week as the Cup returned to Murray. Not only did he target bass that were pushing bait to the surface over deep water and shallow points, he fished brush that he'd planted in inconspicuous spots in the Little Saluda River. His multi-faceted game plan allowed him to be consistent across all 4 days of the tournament and gave him different options when conditions changed.
He made the weekend cut in 7th place, then moved up to 3rd after day 3 before seizing the victory with a 13-14 stringer on the final day that gave him a 51-02 total and a dramatic 1-ounce win over Scott Canterbury, who's been the runner-up in two of the last three Cups.
"It still hasn't sunk in yet," Gagliardi said Monday afternoon.
He's got plenty of time to allow his triumphant comeback from a DQ at the season opener to wash over him – the next Tour event won't be until next March in Florida. After the win, he reflected on what he learned from having gone through what he did this season.
"I'm super hard on myself when I don't perform or do as well as I think I should," he said. "I get down really easy and it's hard for me to get out of that sometimes. My wife is always trying to encourage me and trying to pull me out of those little slumps. Read more
Photo by Brian Lindberg Never has there been a better ending to a season that began with devastation.
At this point, we all know Anthony Gagliardi's story. He was disqualified from the season opener on Lake Okeechobee. His odds of making the Forrest Wood Cup were slim to none. But Gagliardi overcame those odds. At a near record-setting pace, Gagliardi clawed back for five tournaments, sneaking into the Cup field by one place in the Angler of the Year standings.
It was a storybook tale, and tonight, Gagliardi wrote the final chapter.
In front of a packed hometown crowd at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C., Gagliardi stunned the bass-fishing world with a final-day limit of 13 pounds, 14 ounces that bumped his tournament total to 51 pounds, 2 ounces - just 1 ounce more than Straight Talk pro Scott Canterbury's final weight. For his victory, Gagliardi was handed a $500,000 check from Forrest L. Wood.
From out to in by one place; from the middle of the pack to champion by 1 ounce - Anthony Gagliardi is the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup champion.
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., crossed the stage with a five-bass limit weighing 13 pounds, 14 ounces Sunday to claim the title of Forrest Wood Cup Champion at the Forrest Wood Cup at Lake Murray presented by Walmart. Gagliardi, with a four-day total of 19 bass for 51-2, won by a narrow 1-ounce margin over Straight Talk Wireless pro Scott Canterbury of Springville, Ala., and won the $500,000 prize in professional bass fishing’s world championship that featured 45 of the best professional anglers from across the country casting for the sport’s top cash award of $500,000.
“This is unbelievable,” said Gagliardi, who overcame an early-season disqualification at the first FLW Tour event of the year on Lake Okeechobee and managed to qualify to compete in the Forrest Wood Cup in just five events. “To win the Forrest Wood Cup, no matter where it is, is the most prestigious event that I could win in our sport. But to do it here, in front of all of these people who were rooting for me, it really just makes it so much more special. Read More - Results - Video of Win