Notebook: Bait, habitat early keys to Forrest Wood Cup
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Bassmaster and ESPN must be gnashing their teeth. Although the 2005 Bassmaster Classic was considered a success by tournament organizers and the City of Pittsburgh, anglers then struggled to fill their livewells.
Not the case this year. The fishing has been outstanding at the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup, surprising even some of the contest's top fishermen.
In 2005, with low flow and water temperatures hovering just under 90 degrees, the Bassmasters turned in eight five-bass limits in three days of tournament fishing. This year, sluggish weather patterns beginning in the spring delayed the spawn throughout most of Pennsylvania, and pushed the growth cycle back at least a couple of weeks. A cool, wet July and a blast of rain Wednesday gave savvy anglers an edge. By the end of Day 1 weigh-ins, 25 five-fish limits had been recorded among anglers in the pro field.
"I thought I'd be scrounging here, fighting inch by inch," said Union City's Dave Lefebre, who landed more than 20 bass from one hole on the tournament's opening day. "When I found that spot, I didn't know how many fish were there."
Lefebre said it was not his plan to stick to one pool and one lure. It just worked out that way.
"The strategy I entered with was to get confidence in something," he said. "It's such a tough place to fish. To get confidence in what they want to eat was my goal. Bait is the key on this river. In all the spots I tried in that one hole, they went for the same bait whether it was in 1 foot of water or 15."
Keeping mum on his location until the tournament is through, Lefebre said he was motoring past the sweet spot in practice and noticed its ideal habitat.
"I idled over it, saw the rocks, and only spent five minutes fishing it in practice," he said. "But I thought about each rock, each spot and how I would fish it."
The fish weren't aggressive, he said.
When strike zones are narrow, each cast has to be surgically precise to avoid spooking the fish. Lefebre's Day 1 edge was in recognizing the features of a productive pool, not spoiling it with too much pre-tournament fishing, having the right lure in the box and envisioning his presentation over each rock and drop-off before making his first cast.
FLW Outdoors, which runs the Forrest Wood Cup, offers a college fishing program in which student teams enter tournaments with no admission fee and are provided free use of boats. Pennsylvania schools currently participating in the program include Slippery Rock University, Penn State, Messiah College, Mansfield University and Chestnut Hill College. Find details about FLW College Fishing at www.flwoutdoors.com/forrestwoodcup2009.
Hunters have until Aug. 28 to submit applications to hunt in Pennsylvania elk season through the Game Commission's new automated licensing system. Apply at any issuing agent or online (click "Buy Your Hunting License Now" in the upper right corner of the commission's homepage, www.pgc.state.pa.us. Applicants pay a $10.70 non-refundable application fee to get into a computerized public drawing, held on Sept. 11. The agency will award the 59 elk licenses, the first 20 drawn will get an antlered license, the next 39 drawn receive an antlerless license. General hunting licenses aren't required to apply for the drawing, but if you win you'll need one, plus an elk license, which runs $25 for residents and $250 for nonresidents.
Hunters and trappers who want to participate in the state's bobcat seasons have until Sept. 1 to submit applications via the automated system. The agency will award 1,780 permits in Wildlife Management Units 2A, 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4D and 4E. A $5.70 non-refundable application fee is required enter the drawing.
The Game Commission's 2009-2014 Draft Strategic Plan is posted on the agency's Web site for a 30-day public comment period. Visit www.pgc.state.pa.us, and click "Draft Strategic Plan."
First Published August 2, 2009 12:00 am