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Clent Davis, winner of the Forrest Wood Cup last Sunday on Lake Ouachita, has an advantage over every other angler in the Fishing League Worldwide universe.

He has an automatic berth in the 2019 Forrest Wood Cup, and for the first time, the Cup will return to the same lake for the second year in a row.

I asked Davis if he intended to invest time sinking brushpiles around the lake to sweeten his chances for another victory.

No, he said.

"It will be a different tournament next year, and it won't be won that way," Davis said.

He's probably right. Professional anglers always say you can't fish memories. In other words, you can't return to any place and expect the fishing to be the same, even on the same dates.

Things change. Water levels can rise or fall from where they were the year before. The weather can be different. Subtle things can happen beneath the surface that anglers may never know, but they can move fish into an area or move them out.

On the other hand, Lake Ouachita was remarkably consistent in the Forrest Wood Cups it hosted in 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2018. It also hosted an FLW Tour event in 2010. The 2007, 2011 and 2018 Forrest Wood Cups were won similarly, by fishing deep brushpiles.

Brad Knight won the 2015 event fishing a silted in cove with a modified Carolina rig.

On a side note, Knight's Forrest Wood Cup trophy was on display at a local vendor's booth at the FLW Expo in the Hot Springs Convention Center. An intoxicated visitor to the booth theatrically hoisted the trophy over his head as if he'd just won it. He lost his balance, fell backward and damaged the base of the trophy.

Knight was highly displeased, we are told, but that he handled it more gracefully than one might expect.

On the water, the fishing was tougher than anybody expected on Lake Ouachita last week. It was unusual because almost all 56 anglers said that schooling bass chased shad on the surface all over the lake throughout the day, but they wouldn't bite lures unless they practically hit them in the head.

On Thursday, Rusty Pruitt and I experienced the same phenomenon at White Oak Lake. Bass schooled all around us throughout the day, but we couldn't catch them until sunset, and then only on soft plastic lures.

Davis finally figured out how to catch a good limit last Sunday, when it counted most. He was the only angler of the 10 in the championship round to weigh more than 10 pounds of bass for a three-day total weight of 36 pounds, 13 ounces. That's an average of 12 pounds per day, heavily anchored by his Day 3 weight of 17-13.

That seems meager for Lake Ouachita until you compare it to past Forrest Wood Cups.

The previous three Cups in Hot Springs were four-day tournaments. Knight's winning weight was 50-12, but his weight the first three days (Thursday through Saturday) was 40-5. Duplicating the Friday-Sunday format of this year's Cup, Knight's weight from Friday through Sunday in 2015 was 37-8.

Scott Martin's winning weight in 2011 was 61-1 over four days, but his weight from Friday through Sunday in that tournament was 41-15

Scott Suggs of Bryant won the 2007 Cup with 43-9 over four days. His weight from Friday through Sunday of that tournament was 28-11.

How about the FLW Tour event at Lake Ouachita on May 23-26, 2010?

Brent Ehrler won that four-day tournament with 58-1. His weight from Friday through Sunday was 43-6, composed of schooling "wolfpacks" prowling the shore.

Clearly, summer tournament weights on Lake Ouachita have been consistent for at least 11 years, and deep brushpiles have been consistent producers.

In traveling for the 2019 FLW Tour, Davis won't have time to seed brushpiles on Lake Ouachita this year. However, he said that fishing brushpiles is his one real strength, I'll bet he's marked a ton of them on his GPS.

In Davis and others, we are seeing the potential of college fishing coming to fruition. Davis got valuable experience with the Montevallo University fishing team. Zack Birge, who finished sixth at this year's Cup, fished on Oklahoma State University's team. Austin Felix (14th) fished for the University of Minnesota. Shane Lehew (20th) fished for the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

College experience will become even more important as more anglers come up through that system.

Sports on 08/19/2018

Print Headline: Lake Ouachita consistent in major bass tournaments

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