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Forrest Wood Cup leaders fishing Ohio, Allegheny

| Friday, July 31, 2009

The Forrest Wood Cup might as well have come to the two rivers.

After the first day of the championship bass fishing tournament closed yesterday, nine of the top 10 leaders fished primarily in the Ohio or in the Allegheny rivers.

Mike Iaconelli and Scott Suggs fished the Allegheny. Both caught a limit of five fish — Suggs for 7 pounds, 12 ounces and Iaconelli for 7 pounds, 10 ounces. That's good for fourth and fifth in the standings after the first day.

Further, when everyone launched around 7 a.m. yesterday, about 35 boats, nearly half the field of 77, were heading up the locks of the Allegheny River.

The reason• They're just going with the flow.

"The nice thing about the Allegheny is that it's got the best flow," said Iaconelli, one of the tournament's favorites. "River fishing revolves around flow. So you've got the best flow, the best clairty ... That's why the Allegheny is a hot spot."

Even if the best fishing might be in the Monongahela. After all, that's where Kevin Van Dam fished to win the Bassmasters Classic in 2005 and where angler David Fritts said the biggest fish might be this year.

Problem is, much of the Monongahela is blocked off now because Bill Taylor, director of operations for FLW Outdoors, cut off the legal fishing grounds where the Youghiogheny breaks off from the Mon in McKeesport. He thought it was closer to the West Virginia border than it actually is, and he didn't want any licensing problems to arise from two-state fishing.

The legal fishing area in the Mon now cuts off after about 14 miles from the point. Both the Ohio and Allegheny are open for about 35-36 miles from the confluence.

Regardless of the distance discrepancies, though, it's the current that's drawing the anglers to Allegheny and the Ohio. Though the water is muddy in spots due to Wednesday's rain, Iaconelli said the fish haven't gone anywhere.

"There's a lot more flow in that Allegheny side right now," said Andy Morgan, who caught five fish for five pounds, good for 17th place. "Catching those fish is easier on that side."

Iaconelli, though, fished in both the Allegheny and the Ohio, where Union City native and first-day leader Dave Lefebre (8 pounds, 13 ounces) was located, according to a report on the tournament's website.

Lefebre wouldn't say for sure where he was, though, and other anglers preferred not to give up their spots as well. But Iaconelli said nobody is really fishing in a secret area.

"I don't think anybody has anything strictly to themselves," he said. "I'd venture to say that 90 percent of people here are rotating between the same stuff. They just don't realize it."

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