COLUMBIA, SC -
Sunday night the Fishing League Worldwide Forrest Wood Cup champion was determined. Two anglers from the Palmetto State, including Prosperity's Anthony Gagliardi were in contention but rookie Justin Atkins is this year's champion with three impressive hauls after a weekend of fishing on Lake Murray.
Colonial Life Arena was packed for the final night of weigh-ins to see who would win the three day competition. Over 68,000 thousand were in total attendance for this year's event.
Gagliardi was one of the final three to weigh-in after making into the top 10. He totaled 51 pounds and 3 ounces which was good for fifth place.
Rookie Justin Atkins and Clemson product Brandon Cobb were the final two to weigh their bags. They were the top two coming into Sunday's final. Cobb totaled 54 pounds and 10 ounces and wound up in third behind Travis Fox (56 lbs, 11oz).
But Atkins, Cobb's roommate, wins his first Forrest Wood Cup with 15 bass totaling 59 pounds and 4 ounces. He wins the Cup and the $300,000 grand prize.
He talked about what it was like going up against two South Carolina anglers who know Lake Murray to a T.
"I mean Brandon (Cobb), my roommate, has put in more time than anybody here. He knows this lake like the back of his hand. Anthony (Gagliardi) knows this lake definitely better than anywhere else. Both of them put a lot of time into this. Anthony has won here. To come out on top it you know just kind of solidifies that feeling for me that I'm supposed to be here, that I can do it and it gets me excited for next year at Lake Ouachita," Atkins said.
The Palmetto state anglers acknowledged that they came up short of their goals but for Gagliardi of Prosperity and Cobb, a Clemson product, this weekend was more about the fan support they received as the pro fishermen representing South Carolina in this mega fishing event.
Even if a Tiger like Cobb was in enemy territory. He didn't notice it too much which there was a lot of fans out on the water watching him.
"I didn't notice any Clemson fans. There were so many boats around me that I couldn't see much but I know when he said a Clemson grad in the stadium I heard plenty of screaming but I was thinking I better keep quiet around these parts. In Columbia you don't want to get too Clemsony around here," Cobb said with a chuckle.
Gagliardi believes FLW and the Forrest Wood Cup will continue to come back to the Midlands.
"There's a little bit of disappointment obviously finishing in fifth place and I wanted to win but to stand up in front of that crowd and look around and see that whole-that whole arena was filled up to watch a tournament weigh in. That's special," Gagliardi said.
He went on to add, "Columbia, they need to be proud of themselves for the turnout that they showed and the support they showed and it's one of the main reasons we've come three times and they're going to be one of the main reasons that we come here again. That goes a long ways and we really appreciate that."