By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
With the 2018 season nearing the halfway point, Andy Morgan certainly isn't happy about his current position (109th) in the FLW Tour points standings. He isn't stressing much over it, though.
He figured a year like this was coming.
"It's no surprise," the three-time Angler of the Year said. "To keep the pace up that I was on, that's hard to do."
Indeed, it is. He's finished among the top 10 on the points list after each of the past 11 seasons. He's qualified for 15 straight Forrest Wood Cups – the last one he sat out was 2002.
With four tournaments remaining (beginning with next week's stop at Lake Cumberland), he still has a shot at keeping his Cup streak alive. To make it, he'll have to put together a string of high finishes such as he's done several times over the past decade.
"I'd hate to have to go there (Arkansas' Lake Ouachita, site of this year's Cup) and not be able to fish. I like all the people I'd get to see, but if I'm not participating, it's just not that much fun."
Twice in Triple-Digits
Morgan has finished 100th or lower twice in three events so far this year (148th at Okeechobee and 105th at Lanier). Sandwiched between those was a 48th at the Harris Chain, where he said finishing even that high was "pure luck."
Prior to Okeechobee, he hadn't had a triple-digit finish since 2012 at the Potomac River. His last one before that was in 2008 at the Detroit River.
What's been his problem this year? Too many fellow competitors, for one thing, and bad timing, for another.
"I said coming into this year that with 187 boats (22 more than the start of 2017), it was going to be a lot more about spinning rods and pressured fish," he said. "That's about 380 people fishing when you add the co-anglers, and a lot of them practice, too. That's a lot of pressure on a fishery and that hasn't helped anything, for sure.
"I've caught a few everywhere we've gone, but they're not the ones I need to be catching. I'll get a bite or two and think I've got something going, but the next thing you know somebody's in your way. These guys know how to fish these days – they've learned a lot. Places I've caught them in the past, they know where those are. A lot of the history that some of us have gets burned immediately in practice and we end up second-guessing and trying to do other things in other places."
There have been occasions when he's felt like he was in the right places, but obviously not at the right times. For instance, he said he fished some of the same seawalls at Lanier that winner Bradley Hallman exploited, but he never caught a keeper from them.
"(Hallman) had the timing right and I did not. You don't have to be very far off with that to only catch little ones."
Likes Meyer's Chances
Morgan won't add a fourth AOY trophy to his mantle this year, but he thinks he knows who the eventual winner will be: Cody Meyer, with whom he battled neck-and-neck for the 2014 title before prevailing at the last event.
Meyer is currently in 3rd place, 41 points behind leader Jared McMillan.
"I said that if he catches them in Florida, it's over, and he got out of there just fine with checks," Morgan said of Meyer. "He's got two more spotted-bass fisheries (Cumberland and Smith Lake), plus Kentucky Lake, where he's been plenty of times and knows how to play it, and then a smallmouth deal (Lake St. Clair) at the end of the year that'll be another spinning rod-fest.
"It's a done deal."
If Morgan gets hot over the next couple of months, perhaps he'll be back to at least the fringe of Cup contention by the time St. Clair rolls around. If he needs a high finish there, however, he could be in trouble, as he's long disdained the nomadic brown fish that populate the North Country.
"I'm actually looking forward to fishing there so I can learn some more about it, but I'm not looking forward to the (butt)-whoopin' that comes with it. The way those fish move around ... I just don't know a lot about them.
"But who knows, the way this year's gone, maybe I'll go up there and win."