Florida angler’s victory fitting end to incredible story
FLW PRESS RELEASE
|John Cox's secret lake pay off. $100 000 Grand pay off. |
(Photo: Patrick Baker FLW)
SHREVEPORT, La. – John Cox of DeBary, Fla., caught a five-bass limit weighing 7 pounds, 13 ounces Sunday to lead wire-to-wire and win $100,000 at the Walmart FLW Tour on the Red River presented by OFF! with a four-day catch of 20 bass weighing 48-8.
The catch gave him the win by a 5-pound, 4-ounce margin over National Guard pro Mark Rose of Marion, Ark., who caught a total of 19 bass weighing 43-4 and earned $32,553.
“I’m kind of numb,” said Cox, who claimed his first Tour-level title with the win. “I don’t believe it yet.”
Cox said the win couldn’t have come at a better time. He had considered withdrawing from the tournament before it began because of a lack of funds. He wanted to fish the Red River event because he had fished there before and thought there might be a chance he could win. He considered selling the Power-Poles rigged to his boat to raise funds, but a friend told him not to. The friend let him borrow the money that allowed Cox to compete.
“I’ve got some people to pay back,” Cox said. “My buddy said, ‘Don’t sell those Power-Poles. Those are too sweet.’
“Maybe I’ll give him a little extra,” Cox added.
In addition to owing people money, Cox also came through on a promise to his girlfriend after he claimed the victory. Cox had told his girlfriend they would get married after he won a Tour event. Cox relayed the story to the audience and then proposed on-stage to his girlfriend.
Cox’s win could be called incredible just for the effort that he put into the competition on the first two days. Cox had discovered a pond that was accessible because of the elevated water level. The only access to the pond, however, was through a large pipe – an opening just large enough for a small bass boat.
Cox fished the first three days of competition from a 17-foot boat powered by a 75-horsepower Mercury outboard with hopes the lighter rig would allow him to access shallow-water areas the other competitors could not. Cox said he made a two-hour run each way to his fishing spot on the first two days and then faced a 45-minute ordeal of squeezing the boat through the pipe to access the pond.
“The whole way down there I was thinking, ‘There’s no way I’m getting in there,’” Cox said. “I got there and got ready to go in and my camera guy said, ‘You’re going to go through that?’ I said, ‘I hope so.’ And it was a miracle we worked (the boat) back and forth and somehow got in there. When we got in there we were exhausted and sweaty, but it was worth it.”
The receding water level did not allow Cox to fish the pond on the final two days of competition, so he fished an area he was familiar with from a previous competition. The area paid off on day three, but proved to be stingy the final day. Cox said he had only two fish at noon and was beginning to get nervous.
“The way the morning started I thought, ‘Man, I’m not going to win this thing,’” Cox said. “I stopped breathing, I think. I think I held my breath from noon until I caught the rest of my fish.
“I thought I was going to throw up I was so nervous,” Cox added.
With only two keepers in the boat, Cox said he relocated in hopes of catching more fish. When the moved proved unfruitful, he returned to his starting spot at 1:30 p.m.
“I was hopeful an opportunity would come again, and it did,” Cox said.
Cox said he quickly caught three more keepers for a total of five – the only five keepers he caught during the course of the day.
“This place was tough because of the high water and I just went into survivor mode,” Cox said.
Cox opened the tournament in first place Thursday with five bass weighing 14-10 that he caught on a Dandy Baits jig. On Friday he added another five bass weighing 14-0 using a chatterbait and swimbait to maintain his lead. He then caught five bass weighing 12-1 on a variety of baits Saturday to make the crucial top-10 cut in first place. On Sunday he sealed his victory using a Producto Buzz Tail Shad.
The remaining top 10 pros finished the tournament in:
3rd: Clint Brownlee, Tifton, Ga., 20 bass, 40-1, $28,636
4th: Castrol pro Darrel Robertson, Jay, Okla., 20 bass, 40-0, $23,219
5th: Gary Yamamoto, Palestine, Texas, 20 bass, 37-11, $18,553
6th: National Guard pro Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., 19 bass, 35-0, $15,753
7th: Castrol pro David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., 20 bass, 34-10, $14,819
8th: Mike Reynolds, Modesto, Calif., 19 bass, 34-9, $14,386
9th: Jon Strelic, El Cajon, Calif., 19 bass, 34-6, $12,953
10th: Christian Romans, Carrollton, Ky., 20 bass, 33-8, $12,019
A complete list of results can be found at FLWOutdoors.com.
Overall there were 50 bass weighing 87 pounds, 4 ounces caught by 10 pros Sunday. The catch included 10 five-bass limits.
Keith Carson of DeBary, Fla., won the Co-angler Division and $20,000 Saturday with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 24 pounds, 12 ounces followed by Jeff Sprague of Forney, Texas, in second place with 14 bass weighing 22-7 worth $6,977.
In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are vying for valuable points that could help them qualify for the 2011 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, where they could win up to $600,000 – the sport’s biggest award – and $60,000 respectively. This year’s Cup will be in Hot Springs, Ark., Aug. 11-14 on Lake Ouachita.
Pros and co-anglers are also competing for the prestigious Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year presented by Kellogg’s in 2011 that will be determined by the most points accumulated over the six Tour Majors. The pro winner will receive $100,000, while the co-angler title holder will win a new Ranger 198VX with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard.
The Red River Tour stop presented by OFF! was hosted by Shreveport-Bossier City Regional Sports Authority, and was the fifth of 10 Walmart FLW Tour tournaments of the 2011 season. The Walmart FLW Tour on the Potomac River presented by National Guard will be the next tournament and will be held June 2-5 in National Harbor, Md. The event will be hosted by the National Harbor and boats will launch from National Harbor Marina in National Harbor. For a complete schedule, visit FLWOutdoors.com/PotomacRiver
Coverage of the Red River tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on VERSUS. “FLW Outdoors” will air June 26 from 1 to 2 p.m. ET. “FLW Outdoors,” hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to more than 500 million households worldwide.
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