Thursday, May 19, 2011

FLW Tour on Red River Day 1: John Cox Rocks with 14-10

Florida pro leads FLW Tour Red River event on day one, McDonald leads Co-angler Division
by Patrick Baker
(FLW Press Release)
John Cox with a nice pair.
(Photos by Patrick Baker FLW)

SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER CITY, La. — How low can you go? For Debary, Fla., pro John Cox, the answer was low enough to skim through a shallow underpass that led to his Red River hot spot – one that produced a five-bass limit weighing 14 pounds, 10 ounces and put him in first place on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour Major.

“We knew about it from a long time ago,” Cox said of his honeyhole in Pool 4, one lock downstream from the takeoff site at Red River South Marina, adding that he became aware of the backwater area after a 2009 tourney in which he didn’t fare well. “We brought a push-pole; I lightened the boat up completely.”

A few more details about just what it took to achieve Cox’s limbo underneath the road above: a 2-by-4 for a push-pole; a 17-foot aluminum Crestliner powered by a 75-hp Mercury four-stroke engine for maximum flotation with minimal weight; the least amount of tackle possible; and a single battery that he also used to power his trolling motor when he made it through.

Even with the herculean effort to mimic a water bug, it wasn’t easy for Cox and his co-angler partner (Timothy Sisk – 2nd) to pass through the tunnel. In fact, they saw another boat get temporarily stuck trying to thread the same needle.

“I was hoping to catch the water drop just like we did,” Cox said of the falling water level in Pool 4, which helped set off the bite in his area. “I caught a limit in like five flips.”

Cox was fishing a jig made by his friend Andy Scholz, also an FLW Tour co-angler. He fished the ½-ounce Dandy Baits jig with a green-pumpkin/green-glitter skirt in 6 to 7 feet of water. He said he was “just dropping it in, and they were yanking the rod out of my hands.”

Cox’s shallow-water jackpot is fairly secure in terms of fishing pressure, but the flip side of that scenario is that there is no guarantee even he can access it again, especially with the water dropping.

“If I can get in there tomorrow, I can catch ‘em – probably 12 pounds at least,” he said. “But if I can’t, I
don’t have enough gas or battery power … to do much else. I’m kind of all in.”

Reynolds in second slot

Mike Reynolds of Modesto, Calif., caught a limit to weigh 13-15, which put him in second place after day one. He was one of a relatively small percentage of anglers to stay upstream in Pool 5 Thursday.

“I didn’t lock (downstream),” he said. “I’ve never been here before. I practiced three days (in Pool 5); I just wanted to maximize my fishing time.”

That move paid off handsomely when he landed the Snickers Big Bass, worth $500, at about 9:30 a.m. on a chartreuse and white 3/8-ounce spinnerbait with gold Colorado blades. The lunker largemouth was one of eight keepers he caught Thursday, and he plans to stay near the launch site in Pool 5 tomorrow.

Thomas takes third

Hanover, Indiana’s Wes Thomas, wearing Indiana National Guard colors, was another pro who didn’t
lock downstream, opting to stay closer to the launch. He sacked a five-bass limit for 13-7 and third place.

“I stayed in Pool 5 all day,” he said. “I caught most of them on a little crankbait (Excalibur, square bill, shad color) … and two on a frog, walking it in the lily pads.”

He said he believes the key to his area are “bream beds, and those fish are in there runnin’ those bream,” so he barely moved his crankbait to attract strikes.

“I caught all those in one spot – had ‘em by 9 a.m.,” Thomas said.

He’ll return to the location tomorrow, which he had to himself until about noon today when another competitor moved in and caught a couple. He has some backup areas in Pool 5, but said they are not as productive for him.

Eisenmann, Ehrler round out top five

Fourth place in the Pro Division went to Gene Eisenmann of Frisco, Texas. He put together a five-bass limit weighing 13 pounds, 1 ounce for fourth place after day one.

Eisenmann said he “had a horrible practice,” that is until he found a 30-yard stretch in Pool 5 on Tuesday with only minutes left in his fishing day before the one-day off-limits period began. In a short space of time Tuesday, he shook off four or five keepers, so he returned there today.

“I just went there, put my Power-Pole down, turned my HydroWave on and off (a sonic device that mimics the sound of baitfish), and grinded all day,” he said, adding that he had seven keeper bites and culled twice. “I’m not too shallow – 8 to 9 feet. I just sit on my seat and let my worm soak, take my time.”

Fifth place went to National Guard pro Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., who landed five bass for an even 13 pounds. In so many words, Ehrler reported junk-fishing for his catch in pools 5 and 4, though the latter location was more productive for him.

“It was really just a mess of trying everything, covering tons of water,” he said of his practice time and how he dissected this upstream portion of the Red River.

He fished “anything shallow,” using a Lucky Craft B.D.S. 1 square-bill crankbait, flipping a Yamamoto Flappin Hog, throwing a frog and fishing a Phenix vibrating jig.

As far as his plans for tomorrow, the prior Forrest Wood Cup and EverStart Series Championship winner said, “I know a couple areas I’ll try … but I’m going to have a little bit shorter fishing day tomorrow, which isn’t going to help.”

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros at the Walmart FLW Tour Major on the Red River after day one:

6th: Blake Nick of Adger, Ala., 5 bass, 12-14
7th: Micah Frazier of Newnan, Ga., 5 bass, 12-12
8th: Mark Rose of Marion, Ark., 5 bass, 12-10
9th: Lance Vick of Mineola, Texas, 5 bass, 12-7
10th: Terry Bolton of Jonesboro, Ark., 5 bass 12-0

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