Next week is a very big week in pro fishing. Itís the premier event on the FLW Tour Ė this summerís Forrest Wood Cup. Another champion will be crowned.

Iím anxious to attend and judge for myself the razzle-dazzle of the FLW version of the Big Show. Truthfully, although Iíve been to more than a dozen Bassmaster Classics, both as a spectator and behind the scenes, Iíve never attended a Cup.

Obviously, Iíll immediately compare the FLW festivities to the Classic, although I probably shouldnít. It will be awfully hard not to, however, as both label their championship as the ďSuper Bowl of Bass Fishing," thus determining the ďWorld Champion.Ē

Iíve always felt there was no such thing, unless a guy wins both in the same year. Once only a dream of press observers and BassFans, such an occurrence may not be out of the realm of possibility in the near future as more superstars make the transition to two tours. Wouldnít that make for a story?

But itís the overall ďcloutĒ of the Cup that I plan to capture and compare. Iíve heard industry nay-sayers mention that the Cup canít compete with the Classic, yet some competitors tell me itís on par, or even larger. Iíve mentioned in previous pieces that I felt B.A.S.S. has done more to make pro bass bright and flashy lately, while FLW has stuck to its guns and family-based feel, equally important in the world of fishing. Iím anxious to compare their prized possessions.

In recent months, though, Iíve personally seen increased interest in fan appeal from FLW. It was alone in its presence at the big ICAST show last month, its athletes front and center, complete with live broadcasts and autograph sessions. While B.A.S.S. pros were on the floor working sponsor booths, FLW stole the show with the announcement of its 2015 schedule. I pushed my way through a decent crowd to see what the fuss was all about and found Randall Tharp, Andy Morgan and David Dudley in a good olí boy conference at the center of it all, as if discussing more ways to take their competitorsí money.

The history of the Cup is really interesting. No one has won it twice in the tournamentís 17 years Ė although five previous winners are competing in the event and plan to try this season. But some really big names failed to qualify; too many to mention. Perhaps the lack of repeats, coupled with the dramatic overturn of competitors and dominance of ďnewbies," proves the sport is changing.

This year's venue will likely prove to be challenging. Lake Murray in the heat of summer is a ďlimit lakeĒ where 10- to 12-pound bags are considered pretty decent. This should make for a great test of skill, where small intricacies in pattern fishing emerge as winning strategies. Shallow ďjunk-fishingĒ is said to dominate. My money will be riding on the big names known for their ability nationwide over anyone with local history. From what Iím reading, every day is a challenge in the summer at Murray.

FLW is taking the hint given by massive crowds at the TTBC and combining a country music concert and barbecue festival with the event. Rodney Atkins, a premier name, is the headliner, and barbecue is always in style in South Carolina. Good move; especially for me.

There will be live podcasts, updates, demo rides on the lake, seminars and a few side tournaments. Things should be quite exciting. Iíll get all the details and behind-the-scenes news and report back.

Finally, my picks to win the event:

> Anthony Gagliardi: A local who also happens to be a stick.
> Wesley Strader: He's good everywhere, but seems to excel at 12-pound grinders. > > Jason Christie: heís simply the best in the world right now.
> Brent Ehrler: Iíve always felt he was hands-down the overall best on the FLW Tour, and he will likely uncover a mid-depth pattern.

There you have it, Iím off to the Big Show. Or at least one of them ...

(Joe Balog is the often outspoken owner of Millennium Promotions, Inc., an agency operating in the fishing and hunting industries. A former Bassmaster Open and EverStart Championship winner, he's best known for his big-water innovations and hardcore fishing style. He's a popular seminar speaker, product designer and author, and is considered one of the most influential smallmouth fishermen of modern times.)

(Joe Balog is the often outspoken owner of Millennium Promotions, Inc., an agency operating in the fishing and hunting industries. A former Bassmaster Open and EverStart Championship winner, he's best known for his big-water innovations and hardcore fishing style. He's a popular seminar speaker, product designer and author, and is considered one of the most influential smallmouth fishermen of modern times.)