Lake Murray site of rookie angler's first win, biggest prize in bass fishing

Lake Murray site of rookie angler's first win, biggest prize in bass fishing
Source: FLW
Source: FLW

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - FLW rookie angler Justin Atkins will always remember Lake Murray.

It's the lake where he reeled in the first win of his career and it was a big one. Atkins won the $300,000 FLW Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray this weekend.

At the final weigh-in inside Colonial Life Arena Sunday, Atkins' five-bass limit tipped the scales to 22 pounds and one ounce. It's the second-heaviest limit in the 22-year history of the Forrest Wood Cup.

Over three days Atkins weighed in 15 fish totaling over 59 pounds to secure the championship of bass fishing.

"I mean it's fishing dude," Atkins told the crowd Sunday. "It was so meant to be. I could just tell by the way things were going today it was going to turn out pretty good.  Thanks, Columbia, South Carolina! This is the best crowd I've ever seen in my life! Lake Murray is awesome! There are some giants in there."

He is a native of Florence, AL and a graduate of Mississippi State. Click here to read more about his win.

Prosperity native and 2014 Forrest Wood Cup winner Anthony Gagliardi finished fifth on his home lake. He finished the season in third place for the 2017 Angler of the Year standings.

Atkins ranked 22nd in the Angler of the Year standings. He was runner-up in the 2017 Rookie of the Year standings.

Heading into the final day of competition, Greenwood native Brandon Cobb led the field with roommate Atkins in second place. Cobb finished third.

This is the third time the Forrest Wood Cup has been held on Lake Murray. It was first held there in 2008, then again in 2014.

"The good news, for  fishing fans in general, and Midlands-area and anglers in particular, is that once again, Lake Murray cemented its reputation as one of the premiere bass-fishing lakes in the United States," said a statement from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, who sponsored the tournament. "Justin Atkins' Day Three catch weight was the second highest in FWC history, and all five of the top finishers boated more than 50 pounds of bass during the tournament (tournament anglers are limited to five "keeper" fish each day).

"Big-time professional bass tournaments like the FLW Forrest Wood Cup are also a huge economic boons to the communities that host them," the SCDNR continued. "Estimates for the total economic impact of a tournament like the FWC are measured in the tens of millions of dollars, and South Carolina is fast gaining a reputation as a place where the fishing, the facilities and the fans are exactly what tournament organizers are looking for."

All of the fish caught by the pros this weekend were returned to the lake by SCDNR officers.

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