Columbia’s Lake Murray is renowned as one of the top bass fishing lakes in the country, so it’s no surprise that it’s the site of one of the sport’s biggest events, the Forrest Wood Cup, which takes place August 14-17.
For noncompetitors, though, there’s plenty of fun to be had beginning Friday, when more than 150 vendors and exhibitors will gather at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center for the FLW Expo.
“It’s like Black Friday for tackle,” says FLW’s Vice President of Operations Dave Washburn. “The deals are incredible.” And that’s not all. Parked on a moveable platform, the Ranger boat simulator uses motion and a video screen to give the driver a real-life experience zooming across open water at speeds up to 60 mph.
There will also be a casting pond, where anglers can compete against the clock to ring a bell with a hookless lure and a portable trout pond for kids, where youngsters armed with barbless hooks can feel the thrill of having a fish on the line, without harming the fish.
Fish friendliness is important to FLW, which penalizes competitors if their catch dies on the way to the weigh-in and uses special live-release boat to return the fish to the lake every evening.
Some fish, though, would rather not wait for the ride back. “At one Expo, we had the trout pond set up outside,” explains Washburn. “It had been pouring rain all day. One of the kids caught a trout, but before he could grab it, it flipped off the hook, landed in a puddle and took off swimming into the runoff. It escaped into a storm drain, never to be seen again.”
For more information about the Forrest Wood Cup, visit forrestwoodcup.com.