For the better part of the last decade, Chevy team pro Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., was a model of consistency. In fact, during a fantastic run from 2003 to 2010, Gagliardi qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup every single season. From 2003 through 2007, the South Carolina pro recorded four straight top-10 finishes at the Cup – an impressive feat by any metric. And when it came to the FLW Tour Angler of the Year race, Gagliardi was pretty much a lock to be in the running for the title at some point in the season.
In 2006, after years of hard work, Gagliardi finally took home the coveted FLW Tour AOY title. He also finished no lower than 32nd in the overall points race from 2004 to 2010, with a top-three AOY finish in 2005 and two 16th-place efforts in back-to-back season in 2008 and 2009.
However, things have not gone quite as smoothly for Gagliardi recently; as he uncharacteristically failed to qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup in two of the last three seasons. Gagliardi has also recorded individual tournament finishes 100th place or lower in five FLW Tour events combined (out of 12 events total) over the course of the 2011 and 2013 seasons. While he performed well in 2012, earning a Cup berth and finishing 27th overall in the AOY race, it is the inconsistencies in his tournament record over the last three years that has the South Carolina native seeking a few answers as of late.
"As it turned out, there seemed to be just one or two things in a few tournaments that really made a difference last year. But Lake Okeechobee, that tournament really hurt me the most. That kind of put me in a hole (a 165th-place finish) that I had to try and dig out of all year,” said Gagliardi. “During the next three tournaments I did really well and was in a position to be in the Cup, but I fished my way out of it. I had a chance during that last tournament of the year (at Lake Chickamauga) to qualify for the Cup and I just wasn’t able to pull it off. I figured if I could have finished that event in the top 20 or top 30, it would have been enough to qualify for the Cup. But instead I finished in (56th place). So it was really an up-and-down season for me – but with a little more downs than I would have liked.”
Gagliardi says that his failure to qualify for the year-end championship on bass fishing’s biggest stage in 2011 and 2013 obviously left a sour taste in his mouth.
“Missing the Cup in two of the last three years has been disappointing,” he acknowledged. “It’s just not the way it should be. Consistency has been my calling card, so I haven’t been too happy with the (year-end standings outcomes) lately. I feel like I should make the Cup every year.”
While Gagliardi admits that it’s tough not having the same level of success that he’s been accustomed to, he says he’s more focused on trying to understand the problems and correct them – although that’s easier said than done.
“I really couldn’t put a finger on what’s happened (lately),” he said. “I really haven’t changed anything. My preparation has been the same and so has my approach. But I’m definitely trying to get back to being a more consistent fisherman.”
However, despite the hiccups in his performance lately, Gagliardi is approaching the upcoming 2014 FLW Tour season with a renewed sense of optimism – albeit cautious optimism.
“The 2014 schedule looks good. There are a lot of lakes where I should do well. But I’m not going to make any assumptions because I thought the schedule suited my strengths the last few years and I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped. So I’m not going to assume anything.”
Assumptions aside, Gagliardi said he’s definitely eyeing a few tournaments in 2014 – two of which are currently slated to take place in his home state of South Carolina.
“I’m really looking forward to fishing Lake Hartwell. And obviously I’m looking forward to Lake Murray – assuming I qualify for the Cup this year,” he said. “I’m also (anxious) to get back after it at Lake Okeechobee. I obviously didn’t do well there last year but normally it’s a pretty good lake for me. I usually finish in the money there and if it’s a sight-fishing tournament, I think I should do well.”
Given his relatively uneven performance recently, are there new techniques that Gagliardi is hoping to add to his arsenal heading into the 2014 season?
“Honestly, I’ve thought that I need to work on just the opposite. I feel like I should actually try to simplify my approach. I don’t want to say that I’m too versatile. But I’ve felt that I’ve had too many options and techniques in my head during the tournament and that I’ve haven’t been as focused as I should be. Sometimes I feel like I’m trying to do too many different things instead of just simplifying what I’m trying to do out there.”
For Gagliardi, the answer to his recent struggles might just be that simple.