A few days ago BassFan posted a look at some early favorites for next week's Forrest Wood Cup at the Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, Pa. At the top of the list were three names Dave Lefebre, Mike Iaconelli and Shad Schenck.

Lefebre gets the nod because he's not only a killer stick, but a local too. Ike finished 5th at the Pittsburgh Classic and seems to thrive whenever he fishes the Northeast.

Schenck, on the other hand, rises to the top because he's one of those rare guys who came up through the ultra-tough Indiana and Ohio River circuits, and the Ohio River he fished in his formative years is the same Ohio River that meets the Allegheny and Monongahela in Pittsburgh.

Interesting about Schenk's resume is that the last time the Cup visited a river

system the James in 2003 he finished 5th. And three of his five FLW Tour Top 10s have come at river systems.

But there's another factor involved too momentum. Schenck's got some of that. He finished a career-best 13th in the FLW Tour points this year, and capped his season with a 12th at Kentucky Lake and 15th at Champlain.

River Lover

"I don't know if this (Cup) is more winnable than any other for me, but it definitely ranks up there in the top," Schenck said. "It's how I grew up fishing and learning to fish all the BFLs and stuff on the Ohio River and when you grow up fishing like that, when you get to a tournament with a tough bite, it's no big deal.

"And I always like fishing rivers. They're my favorite. The fish always relate to current. I grew up on Sugar Creek a big creek near my house and that's where I learned how they relate to the current."

Visited Before

Schenck was one of the pros who made a stop at Pittsburgh prior to the Champlain Tour event. He spent 4 days there and got "somewhat of a plan together," but was mum on what it involves.

About what he found, he did say that a limit each day will get an angler just as far as a 2- or 3-pound bite.

"I didn't catch any largemouths," he added. "I think 90% of the fish weighed in will be smallmouths. There's not enough of the Mon(ongahela) open to mess with (largemouths). You have just a mile of the Mon and that's it. The Ohio River's going to be good for sure, but I really have no idea what people will do. I do believe it'll fish a little bit small, but I hope people travel that way we can spread out a little bit."

Late Peak

Schenck's had his share of up-and-down years, and this will mark his fifth cup in 10 full seasons. As noted, though, his season ended on a big-time up, when he improved 25 spots in the points race over the final two events. He missed the last two cuts by a combined 21 ounces.

The momentum he carries into the Cup has him "excited," and he's well aware of the benefit such positive energy can bring.

"It's the big thing that keeps people going," he said. "I truly believe it's not only knowing water and being familiar with river systems, but being on a good streak and fishing well. And I've been fishing really well. I just missed the cut at Kentucky Lake, and if I'd made it, I had a real good shot at winning. Then at Champlain I just missed the cut by 8 ounces.

"When you get that kind of momentum going, it can do a lot for a guy."

A Few Other Things

BassFans will hear from Schenck again as the official practice matures, but for now, here are a few other factors to think about.

  • Schenck thinks this Cup will be about a lot of different baits. "It's one of those tournament where you can win on a crank, you can win on a spinnerbait, you can win on a plastic, you can win on a topwater. But it's not going to be one consistent bait over the 4 days. When the Top 10 sets in, it'll be 10 guys doing pretty much 10 different things. But you'll have to be versatile. I don't think you can go out and catch 10 or 15 fish a day doing one thing."

  • It's often an advantage to be under the radar prior to a championship, since spectator traffic won't necessarily hurt you. "I think it's always easier to come from behind and just be nice and quiet and sneak your way into the Top 10, then turn heads at that point. But it doesn't bother me either way. This is my 10th year fishing the FLW Tour. You just go through all your checks everything you do and your route and go out and do your job. There's a lot of hoopla out there, and it's a big deal just to get to fish for the million dollars, but it's really just another tournament."


    > About a year and a half ago, Schenck signed his own non-endemic deal with Monsanto. "They're an agricultural company that makes Roundup and insect-resistant corn and soybeans," he said. "They're based out of Missouri. I grew up in agriculture, went to Purdue University for agriculture, and it's been really fun to promote it."