With one event left on the FLW Tour schedule, two past Forrest Wood Cup champions find themselves locked in a tie for 40th place in the Angler of the Year points.
Scott Martin and Scott Suggs have both had an up and down 2013 season and they’ll arrive at Lake Chickamauga for the season finale next week just 2 points behind 39th-place James Biggs, who would be the final Cup qualifier via points were the Cup to begin tomorrow.
Martin, the Cup winner in 2011, started the year with three finishes of 71st or worse. He rebounded with a 10th at Lake Eufaula and was 36th at Grand Lake earlier this month. He finished 7th at Chickamauga when the FLW Tour last stopped there in April 2011.
"I'm going to approach (Chick) like any other event," Martin said. "Chick's a great lake and I like that style of fishing. I want to win. More important than making the Cup, I want to win another tournament. I've won one 4 years straight and I want to keep that streak going.
"If I aim to win and miss, maybe I'll have a high enough finish to make the Cup, but I'm not aiming for 25th or whatever I think it'll take to make the Cup. I'll go there and fish hard start to finish. If it's meant to be, it's meant to be."
Suggs is coming off two brutal finishes at Eufaula and Grand after placing 5th at Beaver Lake in April. The 2007 Cup winner isn't enthused about how small people are anticipating Chickamauga will fish.
"I've had two good tournaments there, but neither were dominant ledge deals like this one's going to be," he said. "If we're going to have these summer ledge-fishing events, I'd rather it be at a place like Kentucky (Lake) or Guntersville where you can spread out. I don't like these kinds of tournaments where everyone's on top of each other."
He'll try not to let it dampen his desire to qualify for his sixth Cup, despite the grueling dead-of-summer conditions that many are expecting at the Red River in Shreveport/Bossier City, La., in mid-August.
"I want to be down there fishing the Red," he said. "It'll be the closest you'll get to Hades in real life."
Coming off his strong finish at Beaver, he failed to keep the moment going at the last two events.
"I'd rather it not be this way," he said. "The last two tournaments have been disappointing. On the last day of practice at Eufaula, I found a big bag offshore and thought I was fixing to wreck 'em. At Grand with the high water, I got on them good on the last day of practice. Instead of fishing willows, I was in people's backyards on isolated bushes catching fry guarders. I had about 40 bites on day 1 doing that, then the water fell out and the fish stopped crushing the Pop-R like they had in practice.
"Going into Chickamauga, I though I could it based on experience and knowledge. Now, I'm hoping to base it mostly on luck. This year, from day 1 all the way through, I feel like I've gotten back to fishing how I ought to be fishing. The last couple tournaments haven't worked out, but that happens to the best of us."