Billy Davies' men earned their third win in as many games in 2013-14 by taking a 3-0 victory against Bolton, who saw Darren Pratley dismissed for a second bookable offence.
Jamie Mackie opened the scoring at the City Ground after just two minutes, and second-half strikes from Andy Reid and Henri Lansbury sealed the points for Forest.
|RESULTS IN FULL
Watford sit just behind the leaders in second after they shared an entertaining 3-3 draw with Reading at the Madejski Stadium.
Adam Le Fondre's early strike and a brace from Jem Karacan had put the hosts in a comfortable position going into the final 15 minutes, despite Marco Faraoni's second-half goal for Watford.
But a Diego Fabbrini-won penalty, converted by Troy Deeney, and a 90th-minute goal from the man himself helped Gianfranco Zola's men steal a draw.
Watford are joined on seven points by Blackpool, Burnley and Queens Park Rangers after Saturday's action ensured they would lock out the top five places.
Burnley earned a 2-0 home win over Yeovil Town thanks to late goals from Keith Treacy and Sam Vokes, while a last-minute Tom Hitchcock goal gave QPR a slender 1-0 victory over Ipswich Town.
Blackpool, meanwhile, were the victims of a 90th-minute goal, as Marvin Emnes helped Middlesbrough to a 1-1 draw after Chris Basham had opened the scoring.
Charlton Athletic also pulled off a comeback to take a point, overturning a 2-0 deficit to grab a draw against Barnsley.
Local rivals Derby County and Leicester City were arguably involved in Saturday's headline clash, though an own-goal from goalkeeper Lee Grant proved the only difference between the sides as Derby slipped to a 1-0 defeat.
Early pacesetters Wigan Athletic also endured a disappointing day, following up their 4-0 victory over Barnsley with a 1-0 defeat to Bournemouth in their second league fixture of the season.
Elsewhere in the Championship, Brighton and Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town both earned 1-0 wins away from home as they beat Birmingham City and Millwall respectively.
And in the day's earlier game, Leeds United came from behind to grab a 1-1 draw at home to Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday.