Midlands, Lake Murray Tourism Big Winners at Forest Wood Cup August 14, 2017
Professional angler Brandon Cobb of Greenwood (seated at left) watches as Forrest Wood Cup tournament winner Justin Atkins holds up two of his prize-winning Lake Murray largemouth bass on Sunday, August 13 in Columbia. SCDNR photo by David Lucas
Some in the huge crowd on hand Sunday afternoon at downtown Columbia's Colonial Life Center who were rooting for the two South Carolina anglers at the final weigh-in of the FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) "Forrest Wood Cup" professional bass fishing tournament likely went home just a little disappointed.
In the end, neither Prosperity's Anthony Gagliardi (winner of the 2104 FWC), nor up-and-comer Brandon Cobb of Greenwood were able to hold on to the top spot. Instead, that honor went to FLW Tour rookie Justin Atkins of Alabama. Atkins' Sunday catch of five bass weighing 22 pounds, 1 ounce gave him a total of 59 pounds, 4 ounces for the tournament and put him ahead of his friend Cobb, who had led the tournament, held at Lake Murray, going into day three. Gagliardi, fishing on his home lake and considered a favorite to win, finished the tournament in fifth place. Cobb finished third, behind Atkins and Travis Fox of Arkansas.
The good news, for fishing fans in general, and Midlands-area anglers in particular, is that once again, Lake Murray cemented its reputation as one of the premiere bass-fishing lakes in the United States. Justin Atkins' Day Three catch weight was the second highest in FWC history, and all five of the top finishers boated more than 50 pounds of bass during the tournament (tournament anglers are limited to five "keeper" fish each day).
"I'd especially like to thank the fans here in Columbia, South Carolina," said Atkins to the thousands of cheering fans after his total was announced, "This is the best crowd I've seen in my life. Lake Murray is awesome – there are some giants in there."
Big-time professional bass tournaments like the FLW Forrest Wood Cup are also a huge economic boon to the communities that host them. Estimates for the total economic impact of a tournament like the FWC are measured in the tens of millions of dollars, and South Carolina is fast gaining a reputation as a place where the fishing, the facilities and the fans are exactly what tournament organizers are looking for.
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources sponsored the tournament and plays a role in other major professional tournaments held in the state, with staff from the agency's Freshwater Fisheries Section assisting FLW officials in returning all of the fish caught during the tournament back to the lake. FLW supports Youth Fishing and conservation initiatives in South Carolina and other states where its tournaments are held.
Top five 2017 Forrest Wood Cup finishers:
- Justin Atkins – Florence, Ala. – 59-4
- Travis Fox – Rogers, Ark. – 56-11
- Brandon Cobb – Greenwood, S.C. – 54-10
- Bryan Thrift – Shelby, N.C. – 51-15
- Anthony Gagliardi – Prosperity, S.C. – 51-3
Complete coverage of the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup is available on the FLW website at: https://www.flwfishing.com/.
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