Top pro anglers competing for bass fishing’s first $1 million cash prize

HOT SPRINGS (Aug. 2, 2007) – Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., crossed the stage with a five-bass limit weighing 15 pounds, 7 ounces to lead day one of the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup presented by Castrol on Lake Ouachita. Thrift now holds a slim 9-ounce lead in the tournament featuring 81 pros and 81 co-anglers from across the United States and Japan.

“I got some quality bites today,” said Thrift, who was named the Gain Rookie of the Year after the conclusion of the FLW Tour’s Detroit River event. “I hadn’t been doing that in practice. I’d catch maybe 8 to 10 pounds a day.”

Thrift said he fished both shallow and deep patterns, trying to make the shallow bite — which produced bigger fish for him — last as long as it could.

“Today I caught the better fish deep,” Thrift said, although he caught three fish shallow, including two 3-pounders.

“I’m running the whole lake. I burnt a tank and a half of gas today because I’m doing a lot of spot fishing. I’ll run somewhere and make three or four casts, and if I don’t get bit, I’m gone.”

Scott Suggs of Bryant, Ark., trails Thrift in the No. 2 spot with five bass weighing 14-14.

“I practiced this week kind of incognito,” said Suggs, who has earned more than $182,000 in FLW Outdoors events, and notched a 1997 BFL victory and a 2003 BFL top-10 finish at Lake Ouachita. “I used a different boat and a different truck and I was just hiding. I had some stuff I really wanted to hit this week — and it’s not being bothered — and I was able to do it, and today it was evident.”

Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., said he was happy with his first day’s showing and was cautiously optimistic about the rest of the tournament.

“I really struggled in practice,” Ehrler said. “I was catching two or three a day. So today, I was going crazy to catch a limit. I honestly don’t know if I can weigh a fish tomorrow.”

Rounding out the top five pros are John Sappington of Willard, Mo. (five bass, 13-13); Rusty Salewske of Alpine, Calif. (five bass, 13-0) and Darrel Robertson of Jay, Okla. (five bass, 12-10).

Overall there were 293 bass weighing 572 pounds, 10 ounces caught by 80 pros Thursday. The catch included 34 five-bass limits.

The field of 81 professional anglers consists of qualifiers from the 2007 Wal-Mart FLW Tour, the 2006 FLW Series, the 2007 Wal-Mart BFL All-American, 2007 TBF National Championship and 2006 Stren Series Championship. Pros in the $2 million Forrest Wood Cup are competing for a historic top cash prize of $1,000,000 — the sport’s biggest award. Ehrler won the 2006 Forrest Wood Cup and took home the top prize of $500,000. This year’s winner will receive $500,000 plus a $500,000 Ranger bonus if contingency guidelines are met.

David Hudson of Jasper, Ala., leads the Co-angler Division with five bass weighing 11-9 followed by Dino Caporuscio of Coto de Caza, Calif., in second place with five bass weighing 9-11.

“I caught fish on four different techniques,” said Hudson, who has 14 career top-10 finishes on the FLW Tour and captured the angler of the year title in 2000. “I caught six keepers and then some more small ones.

“I just want to win this one and get it off of my shoulders,” Hudson said.

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Kevin Koone of Greenbrier, Ark. (five bass, 8-9); Jason Hampson of Cartersville, Ga. (five bass, 7-4) and Matt Arey of Shelby, N.C. (five bass, 7-2).

Overall there were 135 bass weighing 233 pounds caught by 64 co-anglers Thursday. The catch included four five-bass limits.

Co-anglers are fishing for a top award of $50,000 this week.

The full field competes in the two-day opening round for 10 slots in Saturday’s competition based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared for day three, and co-angler competition concludes following Saturday’s weigh-in. The top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from days three and four.

In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers.

Forrest Wood Cup contenders will launch at 7 each morning from Brady Mountain Resort located at 4120 Brady Mountain Road in Royal, Ark., and daily weigh-ins will be held at Summit Arena located at 134 Convention Blvd. in Hot Springs each afternoon at 5 p.m. The Forrest Wood Cup Family Fun Zone and Outdoor Show – featuring more than 140 exhibits, fishing seminars by Forrest L. Wood and other bass-fishing legends, and free daily giveaways – runs 2 to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

The first 500 children 14 and under visiting the Family Fun Zone Friday will receive a free tackle kit. The first 750 children 14 and under visiting the Family Fun Zone Saturday will receive free Solar Bat sunglasses. On Sunday, the first 1,500 children 14 and under visiting the Family Fun Zone will receive a free rod and reel combo. One lucky person attending the final weigh-in Sunday will even win a $53,000 Ranger Z20 powered by Yamaha. Participants must be present to win.

John Salley, Charissa Thompson and Rob Dibble will join the world’s top professional bass anglers to tape FSN’s hit “Best Damn Sports Show Period.” The popular sports and entertainment show is taping Saturday at 1 p.m. on the Chevy stage at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

Also, multi-platinum recording artist Tracy Byrd will perform a free concert, presented by US 97-FM, on the main stage at Summit Arena on Sunday at 4 p.m., just before the start of the final weigh-in.

Taping for the nationwide cable show, which airs weeknights at 10:30 p.m., will precede the tournament’s day-three weigh-in and crowning of the co-angler champion. Spectators could possibly make an appearance on the show as well, so you won’t want to miss this opportunity. Admission to the Forrest Wood Cup and “Best Damn Sports Show Period” taping is free.

Coverage of the Forrest Wood Cup will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States Sept. 23 and Sept. 30 as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program. “FLW Outdoors” airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast in Canada on WFN (World Fishing Network) and to more than 429 million households in the United Kingdom, Europe, Russia, Australia, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East through Matchroom Sport, making it the most widely distributed fishing program in the world. Additionally, FLW Outdoors is proud to provide tournament coverage to more than 800,000 servicemembers stationed around the world in 177 countries and aboard Navy ships through broadcasts on the American Forces Network.

Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Stren Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail presented by Abu Garcia, Ranger Owners Tournament Championship Series, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series, Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Striper Series. These circuits offer combined purses of nearly $43 million through 241 events in 2007.

Wal-Mart and many of America’s largest and most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart signed on as an FLW Outdoors sponsor in 1997 and today is the world’s leading supporter of tournament fishing. For more information about Wal-Mart, visit

For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit or call (270) 252-1000.