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
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