Q&A with GYCB's 2009 Forrest Wood Cup Qualifiers
July 24, 2009
Congratulations to the Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits pro-staff and friends who have qualified to compete in FLW's Forrest Wood Cup championship commencing July 30th in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Art Ferguson, Saint Clair Shores, Michigan
Shinichi Fukae, Mineola, Texas
Brent Ehrler, Redlands, California
Brett Hite, Phoenix, Arizona
Dave LeFebre, Union City, Pennsylvania
Tom Mann, Jr., Buford, Georgia
Takahiro Omori, Emory, Texas
Scott Nielsen, Salt Lake City, Utah
Mark White, Tucson Arizona (co-angler)
We were able to catch up with a few of the guys on their way to Pittsburgh today, and asked them each the same two questions:
How did you get to the Forrest Wood Cup this year? Very briefly, by what events, FLW division, tour level or trail did you qualify? More importantly, our readers may like to know what skills, abilities, tackle, lures, good luck or special fortune has helped you get into the FLW Championship this year? It could be one or more things – whatever it was that helped you “fish” your way into the championship this year?
What advice would you give our readers so that they can fish better? Keep in mind, many readers may fish local tournaments – but on the other hand, many readers may be novice anglers, may be casual weekend fun anglers, many do not fish tournaments. But we all do want to improve and do better. So what advice would you give readers to help them get where they want to be with their own fishing trips?
As with all sports greats, they've made their answers sound simple, but there's really a lot you can learn from them below.
Tom Mann, Jr.
Tom tells us, "I qualified through the FLW tour. The first tournament was on Lake Guntersville, Alabama. I caught my fish there on a Senko and a lipless rattle bait - all came out of the grass. The next stop was on Table Rock, Arkansas. I caught my fish there on a deep 10 Rapala X-Rap and a Spot Remover jig head with a 5” Yamamoto Kut Tail worm. The next event was Lake Norman. I caught all my fish on a 4” Yamamoto Senko. Beaver Lake came next. I caught all my fish there on a Scrounger jig head with a Shad Shape Worm. The June tournament was on Kentucky Lake. I caught most of my fish there on a 3/4 oz football jig head with a Yamamoto 4” twin tail grub. The last tournament was on Lake Champlain. I caught most of my fish on a dropshot rig with a 4” Kut Tail worm. The best tip I can give everyone out there is whatever you are fishing with - believe in it 100 percent. Don’t start second-guessing yourself. If you are in an area that you know has fish, then stick it out. You may have to change lures or techniques, but those fish have not left the area."
Takahiro explains that, "I had a Bassmaster and FLW Tour scheduling conflict last year, so I fished all the FLW Eastern Series instead of the FLW Tour, and finished second in points for the year on the FLW Eastern Series. I qualified for the East-West fish-off and made it that way to the Forrest Wood Cup next week in Pennsylvania. The East-West fish-off was on Falcon Lake, and it was that one tournament that got me into the Cup. You have to catch a big stringer every day on Falcon, it's one of the best big bass lakes in the country, and you need a big stringer every day. I caught most of the fish there with a Texas-rigged six-inch green pumpkin Yamamoto Senko fished along Falcon's bushes, and I fished a deep-diving crankbait also. That's what got me to the championship."
"For the reader, the one thing I would tell you to help you do better, is that everybody fishes different. Even the top pros all fish differently. So why don't you just fish the way you like to fish. It's okay to do that. Every pro does that. It's one of the key things. You want to master some technique, and you like it? Then let that become the way you fish. You'll learn quicker and understand more if that's where your interest lies. Some people like dropshot. Others like to slow down and fish Senkos. So to settle on that technique, the one you like, you will catch more fish than switching to something you don't especially like to do. You know, there are so many ways to catch fish, so many baits out there on the market, most of the people on the water for a half-day or even a whole day, you can't try everything, not even in a year. So just do what you like, and get confidence and good at what you are doing. Have fun on the water, and enjoy whatever technique that you like - and you will catch a lot of fish that way! I guarantee you."
Dave LeFebre (Kinami Baits)
Union City, Pennsylvania
At the end of last season, as soon as FLW announced that the location of the championship would be on my home water in Pittsburgh, that became my ultimate short term goal - to make it to the Cup. I worked hard at it. I actually gave myself three avenues to make it. I fished the Strens last year to try to make it, and I missed it by one point. I missed making it through the Eastern Series very closely. Fortunately, I ended up making the championship the final way, which is through the FLW Tour. I finished seventh overall in the AOY points to get there. As far as one thing that got me there, I'm not really sure what to say, except it was just my attitude, fishing hard. I'd say just knowing where the championship was going to be, that drove me. I had some adversity at the beginning of the year, starting off with a 100th place finish on the FLW Tour opener at Guntersville almost killed me, and I had to climb my way out, so it's been a stressful year, knuckling down and doing what I needed to do to make it to the Cup.
For everybody who likes fishing, I would say fishing is fun, first of all. It's just like any other sport basically in that, in order to get better, you'd have to read about it, became a student of the sport, read articles (like you are doing here) - that's how I did it. Also surround yourself with and try to be around people who are better than you at it, whether it is your Dad or a family member or a mentor or someone. Just get around somebody who is a better fisherman. With the knowledge you get from reading and from the people that you are around, you will become a better angler.
Saint Clair Shores, Michigan
Art says, "Last year, 2008, I had a great season, one of the best years I ever had. I ended up qualifying for the 2008 FLW championship through the FLW Tour. I also fished the FLW Eastern Series and I made it to the FLW East/West Fish-off that way. The fish-off was down at Lake Falcon in November 2008. That's where I qualified for the 2009 FLW championship."
"I don't believe in luck, I believe in God and just feel blessed that I can get out here and fish. I think the thing that gets you here year after year, at this level, is being able to learn every year, keep an open mind, and not get stuck on one thing. That's what I've had to do throughout my career. Today, you can even use the Internet to learn. You know, it's like through your articles you send out all the time through the Yamamoto Ezine, they are different avenues of getting new information. I'm not one out there looking for explanations how to catch fish on this particular lake where I am going. Like Pittsburgh where we are going for the championship, I'm not looking for someone or some information that could put me on the fish, but I am trying to get an understanding for how that body of water works. So you've got to do that day in, day out, every lake we go to is different, and it's just a matter of keeping an open mind and learning every time you go somewhere. Even on the bad days and the bad tournaments you have to learn why you didn't catch fish or why you did, and take what you learned to each and every tournament you go to."
"The best advice I can give our readers to improve their own fishing is, well, it's really paying attention to detail. If you catch a fish, pay attention to what the weather conditions are, especially if you only get out a couple days a month, pay attention to what color you were using when you caught that fish, when you had that good day or good hour. What kind of color were you throwing when the sun was out? Was it gold blades they were hitting on that spinnerbait when it was cloudy out, or silver blades? Water temperature, water depth, whether the water level was rising or falling, etc. Keeping track of that type of detail is really a confidence-builder, and as we all know, confidence is huge in fishing. Fishing is a puzzle, and you won't solve it quickly. It can take years to piece it all together - but you can build upon what you learn, piece by piece, even if you only go fishing a couple of days each month."
"I've been tournament fishing for twenty-five years or more, and I know guys who have been tournament fishing a lot longer than that. The key is to learn something every day. Take even the bad days, and learn something from them."
I actually qualified two times for the Forrest Wood Cup. First, my favorite way was through 2009 FLW Tour, I finished 23rd in the AOY point rankings, making me eligible for the Cup. Second, in the November 2008 FLW East/West fish-off, I qualified for the Cup there through the Eastern Series Division.
As far as what skills or abilities got me to the championship next week, it's kind of a little bit of everything that adds up, but I'd have to say fishing consistency every moment during an event as well as from event to event might be one of the most important keys to qualify for the Cup, and what I strive for in my performance.. If it is meant for me to win in Pittsburgh, it would have to be a great fishing performance where everything goes consistently right for me, every day, every cast, every instinct or decision would have to be flawless for whoever wins the Cup. I hope it's me this time.
For our readers, I can tell you this - if you want to catch fish, as many as you can, you'd better go fishing as many days, hours, every minute that you can. That's what I do to get better at fishing. You should too. Also, Gary Yamamoto's baits will help you to catch them. That's what I use. You should too.
Salt Lake City, Utah
"I didn't do too bad in the FLW Western Series, fishing events within the Western states, and to qualify for the championship Forrest Wood Cup from there, you had to qualify though a fish-off where FLW took the top 30 pros from the West and the top 30 pros from the East and they had a fish-off on Lake Falcon. I had never been there before, but you know, years and years ago, Gary Yamamoto taught me how to fish an 8" grub on similar-looking lakes in Mexico. Actually, Gary used to fish them 10" grubs, but I felt more comfortable with the 8" grubs (which still are pretty beefy) on Lake Baccarac in Mexico. So through the years, I have fished most all the lakes in Mexico, and I've always been highly successful with that 8" Yamamoto Grub, just rigging it on a 5/8 ounce bullet weight, pegging it, and swimming it. You know, fishing it just over vegetation, letting it drop down into holes, whatever the fish dictate, but usually keeping the bait moving, So when I got to Falcon, half that lake is in Mexico, half in Texas, and of course it was just natural for me to put on that 8" Yamamoto Grub and start swimming it. That's how I got into the FLW championship next week."
"As far as what advice I can give readers to help you take the next step with your fishing, absolutely, time on the water is priceless, but most of all, just do things your way. Each fisherman has different abilities, and I see a lot of mistakes that tournament anglers make, or just anglers in general, I see a lot of mistakes that they always want to find out where that honey hole is, or where that secret spot is, and in all reality, there isn't one. They just need to go out and do their own thing, whatever they feel comfortable with, and just expand on that. Obviously, you can learn different techniques or tips from different anglers, and then expand on that - but you really need to go out and do things your way. You'll take some hits or bad days doing that, but you'll be surprised how many times you can go to some lake you've never been to before, do your own thing, something that's never been done there, but you caught them that way on a lake four states away, and you'll be surprised how close you can come to winning any event anywhere doing it your way, because you've got confidence in what you are doing. You've done it before, it's worked for you, maybe not on that lake yet, but somewhere else, you've been successful. Just apply it, and build a pattern around it, and you'll be amazed at how well you will do. So I encourage you to go to an unfamiliar lake and try that. If you do that one or two times, it will build your confidence. I think that is a big step toward growing in the right direction as an angler."
So there you have it from some of the top contenders in our sport and on Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits pro-staff who have earned the right to fish in the FLW Forrest Wood Cup championship event next week in Pennsylvania. Congratulations all!