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