Florida pro takes FLW Tour Red River lead into second day, Lauer takes co-angler lead
by Patrick Baker
FLW Press Release
SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER CITY, La. He had to run the gauntlet to do it, but Debary, Fla., pro John Cox was able to access his Red River sweet spot again Friday, where he caught another five-bass limit weighing 14 pounds to hang on to the Walmart FLW Tour lead on day two with a total weight of 28-10.
“Today I had to get on my spot pretty quick,” he said, adding that he barely made it to the lock on time this morning to enter Pool 4 downstream before making yet another long haul to his backwater area that is only accessible through a narrow, shallow culvert.
In order to make it through this seemingly impassable tunnel underpass, he is fishing in a relatively small aluminum boat with a light outboard engine. He has even taken a few batteries out of the boat to lighten the load and is relying on only one to start the engine and run his trolling motor.
“Everybody else is going like 60, 70 (mph), and we’re going about 30,” he said with a laugh. “Then the takeoff after the lock has just been crazy ? about 10 boats wide.”
In other words, Cox is getting left in their wakes. But eventually he made it to the culvert, and then the real work began, including trying to blast his way through the tunnel with little water for the propeller to grab and then using a 2-by-4 to push the boat the rest of the way out.
“Today (the water) was super low … we were just fighting our way in there,” he said. “The boat bottomed out. We really only fished a couple hours. Then it took us 45 minutes to get out.”
But they were a productive couple of hours, and Cox was able to get a good limit fishing the conditions, which was rapidly falling water. Yesterday Cox relied on flipping to bag his limit, and today he found success with a swimbait and ChatterBait.
Cox said yesterday he believes the bass got into the backwater area during the recent high-water events in the region and that they may not be able to get out through the culvert, which puts his mission into perspective. Though his area is highly secure from fishing pressure and has led to him enjoying a 7-pound-plus lead going into day three of this four-day event, he said he will not attempt to access it again because the water has fallen too far. Tomorrow he will fish his backup spot much closer to the launch site in Pool 5.
Ehrler climbs to second
Anyone familiar with the ranks of FLW Outdoors professional fishermen knows National Guard pro Brent Ehrler by now, a man who has won the Forrest Wood Cup and the EverStart Series Championship as well as four other events for nearly $1.7 million in career earnings with the organization. He has also placed in the top 10 in 26 different tournaments, and has positioned himself well to do it again.
Ehrler’s limit Friday weighed only 8 pounds, 6 ounces, but when added to his 13 pounds from yesterday, his two-day total of 21-6 was good enough for second place.
Yesterday Ehrler reported covering lots of water during practice and on the first day of the tournament, fishing “anything shallow” with a combination of crankbaits, creature baits, frogs and and vibrating jigs.
“I eliminated some water today; I finally narrowed it down to two areas in Pool 4, and now I’m just going to go back to them and call it a tournament,” he said, adding that his farthest spot is about 25 miles downstream from the lock. “I’m still just throwing reaction baits and flipping.”
Reynolds drops a slot
Mike Reynolds of Modesto, Calif., managed another limit of bass today for 6-10 to give him a two-day total of 20-9 and third place in the Pro Division.
“Today was nothing like yesterday; yesterday was just a special day,” he said.
Part of what made Thursday special was the 5-2 kicker that anchored his day-one limit and landed him Snickers Big Bass honors. But while he didn’t land a largemouth today anywhere near that size, he was still upbeat about his performance thus far and his chances in this FLW Tour Major event.
“I feel great. I’m not running a long ways; I shouldn’t have a lot of boat pressure,” he said. “If it’s my turn … I’m just going to keep fishing, keep my fingers crossed, and ? you never know, I could maybe win this thing.”
Reynolds is fishing upstream in Pool 5 in two areas about five miles away from the launch site at Red River South Marina. His go-to bait has been a B&M 3/8-ounce spinnerbait (chartreuse and white) with gold Colorado blades.
Consistency paid off today for pro Clint Brownlee of Tifton, Ga., when he sacked a 9-13 limit that he added to his 10-10 weight from day one for a two-day total of 20-7 and fourth place.
Brownlee said the Red River, with its abundant backwater areas and swift current due to recent high water, has been fishing similarly to the Flint River in his home state of Georgia, making him feel almost at home here. He has fished in Pool 5 close to the launch site, burning less than a half a tank of fuel so far this tournament.
“For me, it’s been all about getting into a backwater, getting set and then grinding it out all day,” he said.
Brownlee is making passes with a topwater buzzbait and then following it up with a pass with a Zoom Trick Worm in 2 to 3 feet of water, keying on wood and grass. Brownlee’s backwater area is about 3 feet deep and is fed by a ditch with water about 4 feet deep.
“I feel like the fish are coming to me in that ditch,” he said.
Rose in fifth
National Guard pro Mark Rose of Marion, Ark., climbed to fifth place today despite only weighing four bass for 7-4; his 12-10 limit on day one helped him combine for a two-day total of 19-14.
Rose said his practice didn’t exactly set the Red on fire, but he “caught a few fish,” so he has stuck to “one little backwater” in Pool 5 so far. He has been catching his largemouths on a white Strike King KVD 1.5 crankbait.
“I’m going to do something different tomorrow,” he said. “I’ve milked what I’m doing for all it’s worth.”
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 pros at the Walmart FLW Tour Major on the Red River after day two:
6th: Gary Yamamoto of Palestine, Texas, two-day total of 19-12
7th: Terry Bolton of Jonesboro, Ark., 19-11
8th: Christian Romans of Carrollton, Ky., 19-11
9th: Glenn Chappelear of Acworth, Ga., 19-9
10th: David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., 19-4
The Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division went to M&M’s pro Jim Moynagh of Carver, Minn., for a 5-5 lunker worth $500.
David Lauer of Lady Lake, Fla., took over the lead in the Co-angler Division today with a five-bass limit weighing 8 pounds, 11 ounces to give him a two-day total weight of 18-3.
“If you do good on this side (of the boat), you have to have good pros,” Lauer said, giving credit to his pro partners.
Lauer caught six keepers Friday, the last and largest of which came with just a few minutes to spare in his fishing day. Not only that, but when he got the big bass to the boat and tried to swing it in, his rod broke.
“I grabbed the line and hand-lined it in,” he said.
Lauer said he caught two of his keepers today on a spinnerbait, two on a Yamamoto Swimming Senko and the rest pitching and flipping a creature bait on a 1-ounce weight into heavy grass.
Keith Carson of Debary, Fla., climbed a spot Friday to second after catching a 7-15 limit for a two-day total of 17-12.
Carson is pro leader Cox’s practice partner, so he was with Cox when they decided to check out the culvert earlier this week that has helped pave the way to a tournament lead. The two remembered it from a tournament they fished here a couple of years ago. Perhaps not coincidentally, they are both doing much better this week than in 2009.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers after day one of the Walmart FLW Tour Major on the Red River:
3rd: Timothy Sisk of Gastonia, N.C., two-day total of 16-4
4th: Billy Dehart of Burlingame, Calif., 15-11
5th: JR Wright of Truckee, Calif., 15-8
6th: Mike McDonald of Randleman, N.C., 14-4
7th: Richard Peek of Centre, Ala., 13-15
8th: Mark Denney of Somerset, Ky., 13-8
9th: Patrick Bone of Cleveland, Ga., 13-5
10th: Jeff Sprague of Forney, Texas, 13-2
The Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division and $250 went to Anthony Brooks of Cornelia, Ga., for one that weighed 3-15.
FLW Tour action resumes on day three at 6:30 a.m. when the full field takes off from Red River South Marina, located at 250 Red River South Road in Bossier City, La.