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Forrest Wood Cup starts Thursday
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Anglers Toshitada Suzuki of Tokyo, Japan, left, and Jason Cordiale of California, right, take off from the boat ramp at Laurel Park Monday in preparation for the Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing. The tournament runs Aug. 5-8. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

There’s big money in bass fishing. Just ask Bill Taylor.

When the FLW Forrest Wood Cup opens at Laurel Park on Lake Lanier on Thursday morning, anglers will by competing for a top prize of $500,000, with large prizes also awarded to runners-up and co-anglers.

“This is going to be very competitive and they’re all going to be giving it their best,” said Taylor, the FLW’s director of tournament operations. “I know if I was fishing a tournament and the top prize was $500, and I didn’t win, I’d be very disappointed.

“So you know these guys are going to be focused for this one.”

In its 15th year now, the FLW Cup is the biggest fishing tournament of the year. It is the Super Bowl and All-Star game all wrapped into one for fishermen looking for that trophy catch and a chance at grabbing the big payday.

For the championship event, the FLW qualifies participants from all of its different circuits, including the East and Western Series. The champion from the Bass Fishing League and Bass Federation — both for the weekend angler — also earned automatic entry.

The FLW College Fishing National Championship team of Jake Gipson and Matt Wercinski, representing the University of Florida, are also in contention.

Every team has one goal in mind: win.

“This is the crown jewel of our sport and a celebration of bass fishing,” said FLW president and CEO Charlie Evans.

According to Taylor, Lake Lanier was cemented as the host site for the 2010 FLW Cup event after doing extensive research into the area, and working with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau, which began planning for hosting this event by attending the 2009 FLW Cup in Pittsburgh.

“It all came together very smoothly,” Taylor said. “The Georgia DNR has been tremendous to work with and helping to organize this event.”

And Evans says that Lake Lanier was aided by the Go Fish Initiative, set forth by governor Sonny Perdue, and the supply of largemouth and spotted bass in the water.

FLW officials first met with Perdue in 2008 to hash out ideas for bringing this spotlighted event on the bass fishing calendar here to the state. Evans said that having no many visitors will have a ripple effect for fishing tourism.

“According to research, Georgia is No. 6 out of all 50 states for sending the most people fishing to other states, but is only No. 21 for bringing in anglers from other states.

“Hosting this event is going to have a real impact on the area in the longterm.”

Nightly weigh-ins and the Outdoors Exposition for the four-day event will be held at the Gwinnett Arena in Duluth. The Lake Lanier CVB will also have a booth on the floor to give further exposure to visitors with what Hall County and Lake Lanier have to offer.

In addition, rod and reel combos will be presented Saturday to the first 300 kids under the age of 14 in attendance. Then on Sunday, a Ranger bass fishing boat will be awarded to a winner of a raffle, but the winner must be in attendance to claim the prize.

Admission to the FLW Fishing expo is free of charge.

Regional events