Scott Martin Wins 2011 Forrest Wood Cup and $600,0
In front of a capacity crowd in the Hot Springs Convention Center, Scott Martin won his first Forrest Wood Cup bass fishing championship in a shootout finale with his final-day limit of bass weighing 14 pounds, 5 ounces. He pocketed an amazing $600,000 for his off-the-beaten path bass fishing this week. His closest competitor was Randall Tharp who also had a great final day of fishing for bass, although we know he will feel the sting of a lost big bass for some time.
"This feels incredible," Martin said. "I really wanted to win this one for my mother and grandmother as my grandmother is from here and my mom used to guide on the lake years ago. I was 4 ounces away from winning this the year Luke Clausen won, and it sort of flip flopped this year and it just feels great."
Martin was off the beaten path fishing deep brush piles all week. While much of the top 10 was just running pockets and fishing wolf packs of bream bed raiding bass with topwaters, Martin was fishing deep cover in about a 200 yard stretch in the main lake in 22-25 feet of water.
He found his fish in pre-pracice shortly after the Pickwick Lake FLW Tour event. He made up his mind that the fish would probably be deep even though there was a chance the fish could be shallow chasing bream like they were in 2007 when Suggs won.
Martin spent two full days just graphing brush in deep water. As he was leaving one point where he had just graphed some cover he jumped up on pad to run out and his graph lit up with baitfish. He spun the boat around and started graphing and marked a bunch of fish under the baitfish. He immediately caught a few nice fish on a swimbait. He returned the second day to see if it was a fluke and cut the hook off his swimbait and leashed three big fish around before the let go and left the area. It turned out to be the winning area.
A variety of lures accounted for his catch this week. He started drop-shotting a 4 1/2-inch finesse worm in red bug and watermelon candy colors. He fished them on 5/16 dropshot weights and Trokar dropshot hooks. Then he started catching some good fish on Gary Yamamoto and Basstrix swimbaits. Today when the skies got clear and the heat got up he decided to go back to the brush. He moved into his area where he'd been catching them and started throwing 10-inch ribbon tail worms on 3/8-ounce Eagle Claw tungsten weights and Trokar 5/0 hooks. Six out of his first 10 casts he got hung up. As he went up there to get his bait unhung, his graph lit up with brush and fish.
Martin took a frustrating situation and made the most of it. He decided to run through his area and drop marker buoys on all the brush piles in his productive area. He had been fishing fish around baitfish but he decided to pick apart the cover. With five marker buoys on five brush piles he was able to move way off the cover and pick apart each pile with his big worm. He caught five bass doing that but one of his better fish was a funny story.
While the talk of the week was the weather and the shallow topwater bite, Martin didn't catch a single topwater bass until this afternoon when he picked up a River2Sea Rover he dug out of his box this morning just to have in case. One hook was rusted and the other hook was missing a treble. But he hadn't thrown a topwater all week so he didn't intend on even picking one up.
As it turns out he needed to cull one fish late in the day, so he decided to abandon his deep fish for a bit and just throw the topwater some. He went to the first pocket close to his area, fired the topwater about 10 casts and hooks and lands a 3-pounder. He culled the fish and went back to deep fishing.
"That was so funny," Martin said. "I decided like 5 minutes before blast off I might need one since every other boat had one. So I pulled an old bait out of my box and didn't even check its hooks. I made 10 casts and caught and landed a 3 1/2 pounder and then put it back down. That was the extent of my topwater fishing all week."
Randall Tharp was obviously disappointed but he fished an amazing tournament. Arguably doing the best job catching those roaming wolfpacks of bass of anyone in the field, amassing a four-day total of 56 pounds, 7 ounces and taking home $100,000.
"I fished my wolf packs of bass that were roaming the shallows all day today," Tharp said. "My first fish right off the bat was a 5-pounder. Then I had a 4-pounder and a 3-pounder. Then I lost a big bass. I had him hooked for about 10 feet and he came undone. As an angler, you just sort of know when your chances disappear. Every guy out here has lost fish this week, and I had a shot at this thing. I had good momentum going and then I lost that fish and I knew it was gone. You have to catch those bites on the final day to make up ground and it just wasn't my time. I didn't do anything wrong. It's just topwater fishing. You don't get to land them all."
Tharp caught 90 percent of his bass on a Brian's Prop B III all week. That was a key bait 4 years ago on Ouachita and it will certainly be a key bait on this lake for a long time to come. He fished the prop bait on 30-pound braid with a 17-pound mono leader. The key was being able to throw the bait an incredibly long way and staying way back from the fish, but today one key bass was up close and personal.
"I had a 4 pounder about 10 feet from the boat that I saw. I ducked way down in the boat, and laid a cast in there nice and soft. You can usually tell right away if they'll eat it. I twitched it once and he turned away and I thought it was over. I twitched it again and he whirled around and stared it down. Third twitch and he jumped all over it. I was pretty pumped after that and that 5. The 5-pounder sounded like a 5-gallon bucket of concrete got dropped in the water. I fished a really clean tournament this week considering every bite was on a topwater."
Mark Rose finished third with 50 pounds, 15 ounces, winning $60,000 in the process. He started with a flurry this morning boating the day's first limit quickly this morning on a carolina rig and a drop shot with 4 1/2-inch finesse worms. He fished the side of a long point with deep water on it. It was a place he found in practice but he hadn't been able to find a keeper on it all week until this morning and it was every cast for an hour this morning. Shad pulled out there on that point and really ganged the bass up today. He caught a key fish later in the day on a Strike King Buzzbait that was a 3-pounder.
The rest of the top 10 anglers were as follows:
4th place Luke Clausen with 48-10 for four days, $55,000
5th place Andy Morgan with 47-05 for four days, $50,000
6th place Todd Auten with 46-2 for four days, $45,000
7th place Cody Meyer with 44-7 for four days, $40,000
8th place Andy Montgomery with 42-11 for four days, $35,000
9th place David Dudley with 42-7 for four days, $30,000
10th place Jason Christie with 42-3 for four days, $25,000