Defending Cup Champ Brad Knight Focused On ‘task At Hand’
I spoke with defending Forrest Wood Cup Champion Brad Knight about his defense of the title which begins on Thursday as the 2016 Cup kicks off on Wheeler Lake near Huntsville Alabama.
The Champ was rather low key about the past. He is focused on the ‘now’ with the type of work ethic you expect from winners. “It doesn’t really change anything; won’t change the outcome of this tournament. You’ve just got to go to work like it’s another day at the office.”
As far as high expectations and added pressure, Knight says the pressure is always on at such a big tournament. “The Cup is all about winning. There are no points. You don’t have to worry about finishing in the Top 10 or any of that stuff – just trying to win the tournament, and that pressure doesn’t really change.”
Knight and his fellow competitors completed their first practice round on Sunday. He’s not sure what to make of Wheeler just yet. He didn’t scour the Internet for info before heading to the lake either. “I haven’t gotten any reports. I haven’t really talked to anybody or any of that stuff. I really don’t know. I think it will probably be a combination of things, adjustments to the weather and water levels. I guess it could be one of those deals, like a junk-fishing tournament where a guy could catch a couple out deep, a couple shallow each day.”
One thing Knight does believe is that the shallow bite will affect the outcome of the 2016 Cup. “I definitely feel like it’s gonna play, somehow or another. The thing about the offshore fish is, they are out there, but they can be hard to catch in August. The baitfish start suspending some and the fish creep up in the water column so they’re out there but they’re hard to catch because they’re so far up off the bottom. The ones that are up shallow are going to be easier to catch and they’re unpressured and if you get some flow in some of these backwater creeks the oxygen level gets higher in those areas so I think the fish may be a little more active on the banks, although there may not be as many of them, they may be more catchable.
“On the Tennessee River everybody wants to fish the ledges and use their electronics – and that’s a good thing – it’s the way to do well, usually, but, generally, by this time of year that bite starts getting a little weird, hit or miss. And the shallow bite is not great. It’s not like you’re gonna go out and whack ‘em doing anything, but (the shallow bite) can be a little more consistent at times. I definitely feel like this tournament is going to be one of those times when you’ve got to mix it up and do a little of both.”
After today’s practice round Knight is still trying to find the pulse of the Wheeler fishery. “Today was pretty slow. I didn’t find anything special. We’ll just have to try to put the puzzle together and see what happens come Thursday morning. Game day is what counts.”
A big event such as the Cup comes with distractions including dinner parties and appearances. Knight is ready. “I’ve been to a couple of these now and I kind of know what to expect. Our practice schedule pretty much stays the same as for a regular Tour event. We have a dinner to go to. You definitely have a few more obligations and you have to try to keep your mind focused on the task at hand, but it’s not so bad. The major thing is what you’re fishing for. A lot of guys get caught up in the money and the stuff that goes with it. You’ve got to get focused on the task.”
His experience, in general, as well as his success in having won the Cup last year, give Knight a boost of confidence heading into the unpredictable business of bass tournament fishing played at the highest level. “The main thing is, I’ve been at this for several years and nothing much comes as a surprise now, good, bad or otherwise. Just keep your head down and take each day for what it is and be prepared to make some adjustments because things happen pretty fast this time of year. Try to make the best decisions you can and try to put yourself in position to win.”
With 50 pros fishing 40-plus miles of water, Knight believes the guys will spread out fairly wide this week. “There are going to be guys that stay close (to the launch ramp at Ditto Landing). I think it will be spread out pretty good. I don’t anticipate a whole, whole, lot of having to share water but there will be a couple of places that have some fish on them and 2 or 3 guys will have to share.”
Knight estimates it will take 52 pounds to win the 2016 Cup. “Thirteen a day. I don’t think we’re going to see anything too different but Wheeler is kind of a different animal so I may be off with that prediction, but that’s what I say.”
Asked to rate the fishing on Wheeler right now, on a 10-scale Knight said, “I would probably say . . . a ‘4’. It’s not real good. But nowhere is good right now. It’s August. It’s just one of those deals where bites aren’t easy to come by. Big bites can carry you a long way.”
His big bites carried him all the way last year. In a couple of days, we’ll find out if Brad Knight has the bites to repeat as Forrest Wood Cup Champion.