“I fished clean today and you can’t ask for much more than that,” said Wheeler, who is seeking to become the first ever two-time Forrest Wood Cup champion after winning this event in 2012. “I should have had 14 pounds yesterday, but I lost some fish and didn’t fish clean Today was much better.”
Wheeler estimated that he caught 9 or 10 keeper bass today, with six of them coming on various topwater baits and the rest coming on baits that he fished in the mid-depths. Although he declined to mention any specifics, he said that he was bouncing back and forth between covering water on the bank and targeting schooling fish in the mid-depths.
“The schooling fish are very conditional and fickle,” Wheeler said. “They are not my main pattern, though. I’m catching a few that are schooling then I’m going to the bank and covering water. I’m extremely confident in how I am fishing and just doing what I love to do.”
“This tournament is still wide open and anyone in the top-10 could absolutely win this thing,” Wheeler continued. “The guys behind me are so good. Brad Knight is an unbelievable fisherman. Ramie Colson is right there. Then we’ve got Bryan Thrift sneaking around – he’s capable of catching a giant bag anytime. Somebody is going to catch a big bag tomorrow and whoever gets that big bite is going to be the guy that wins this.
“My gameplan for tomorrow is just to go out and have fun,” Wheeler went on to say. “I live for this moment. I live for the Forrest Wood Cup, every single year. I told Brad (Knight) that he could have the money, I want the Cup. That’s how much that trophy means to me. I want to become the first ever to win the Cup twice. If I can get the right bites and put five fish in the boat tomorrow, I like my odds.”
The top 10 pros advancing to the final day of competition are:
1st: Jacob Wheeler, Indianapolis, Ind., 15 bass, 41-1
2nd: Brad Knight, Lancing, Tenn., 15 bass, 40-5
3rd: Ramie Colson Jr., Cadiz, Ky., 14 bass, 37-9
4th: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 15 bass, 35-13
5th: Brandon Cobb, Greenwood, S.C., 15 bass, 34-13
6th: Chris Baumgardner, Gastonia, N.C., 14 bass, 33-11
7th: Scott Martin, Clewiston, Fla., 13 bass, 32-12
8th: Larry Nixon, Bee Branch, Ark., 14 bass, 32-10
9th: Mark Daniels Jr., Tuskegee, Ala., 15 bass, 32-1
10th: Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., 15 bass, 31-5
Finishing in 11th through 20th are:
11th: Walmart pro David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., 15 bass, 30-8, $15,000
12th: Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., 15 bass, 30-5, $15,000
13th: Dave Lefebre, Erie, Pa., 15 bass, 29-12, $15,000
14th: Livingston Lures pro Stetson Blaylock, Benton, Ark., 15 bass, 28-3, $15,000
15th: Todd Auten, Lake Wylie, S.C., 10 bass, 26-3, $15,000
16th: James Biggs, Euless, Texas, 14 bass, 25-1, $15,000
17th: Luke Clausen, Spokane, Wash., 10 bass, 24-12, $15,000
18th: Quaker State pro Matt Arey, Shelby, N.C., 12 bass, 24-12, $15,000
19th: Lowrance pro Ishama Monroe, Hughson, Calif., nine bass, 23-2, $15,000
20th: Clark Wendlandt, Leander, Texas, 11 bass, 22-13, $15,000
Overall there were 78 bass weighing 161 pounds, 1 ounce caught by pros Saturday. The catch included 11 five-bass limits.
Sunny Hawk of Salt Lake City, Utah, won the co-angler division and $50,000 Friday with a two-day total of eight bass weighing 19 pounds, 11 ounces followed by Bryan New of Belmont, North Carolina, in second place with nine bass weighing 16-6 worth $10,000.
The 2015 Forrest Wood Cup at Lake Ouachita presented by Walmart is being hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.
The final 10 anglers will take off from the Brady Mountain Resort and Marina located at 4120 Brady Mountain Road in Royal, Arkansas, at 7 a.m. Sunday at the Folger’s Morning Takeoff. Sunday’s final weigh-in will be held at Bank of the Ozarks Arena located at 134 Convention Blvd. in Hot Springs, Arkansas, beginning at 5 p.m.
Fans will be treated to the FLW Expo at the Hot Springs Convention Center on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. prior to the weigh-ins. The Expo includes games, activities and giveaways provided by more than 40 FLW sponsors, the opportunity to shop the latest tackle and outdoor gear from more than 120 exhibitors, Ranger boat simulators, a casting pond and a trout pond for children, as well as the opportunity to meet and interact with top professional anglers, including Hank Parker, Jimmy Houston and Byron Velvick. FLW’s namesake Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, will also be greeting fans.
On Sunday the first 500 children 14 and under each day who are accompanied by an adult will receive a voucher to redeem for a free rod and reel combo courtesy of KATV ABC 7 after the evening’s weigh-in. One lucky fishing fan will win a brand new Ranger Z520C bass boat with an Evinrude G2 outboard motor courtesy of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The Ranger Boat giveaway is free to enter but the winner must be present at the conclusion of Sunday’s final weigh-in to win.
Also on Sunday, FLW fans will be treated to the Bass & BBQ Festival in conjunction with the FLW Expo. During the two day event, fans will have the opportunity to sample barbecue from 30 of the top teams in the country. The competition is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society and is a part of a yearlong points race to find the best barbecue in the nation. A $5 donation will give fans five tickets to redeem for pulled pork and rib samples from the competing teams. All fans who buy sampling tickets will help determine the “Fishermen’s Favorite” Award, which goes to the team that collects the most votes. Awards will be presented before the Forrest Wood Cup weigh-ins Saturday and Sunday at Bank of the Ozarks Arena. The total payout for the two-day competition is $10,000.
Live concerts will also be a huge part of the Bass & BBQ festival and the FLW weigh-ins. The Luke Williams Band will perform outdoors at the BBQ competition on Sunday
from 2 to 3 p.m. Country music superstar Justin Moore
will headline the festivities with a free live concert on the Walmart weigh-in stage in Bank of the Ozarks Arena on Sunday
, starting at 4 p.m.
The Valory Music Company recording artist has four No.1 hits, including “Small Town USA,” “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” and “Til My Last Day.”
The Folger’s Morning Takeoffs, FLW Expo, Bass & BBQ event, live concerts and weigh-ins are all free and open to the public.
Coverage of the Forrest Wood Cup will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) when “FLW” airs December 6 from 7 – 8 p.m. ET. The Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show airs on NBCSN, the Pursuit Channel and the World Fishing Network and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.