Friday, August 5, 2016

2016 FLW CUP Wheeler Lake Day 1: Cox Leads with 16-11lbs!

Canadians: Chris Johnston 25th, Jeff Gustafson 32nd, Cory Johnston 49th
by Rob Newell

Cox being a river rat pays off with big limit as most struggle.
(Photo: FLW)
When it comes to bass fishing in the Southeast, August is a very mysterious month. Quality bass that were so plentiful in the spring and early summer seem to vanish during the dog days of summer with its simmering heat.
Similarly, when it comes to fishing the Tennessee River chain of lakes flowing through north Alabama, Wheeler Lake tends to be the most perplexing. It lacks the lush grass of Guntersville and the defined contours of Pickwick. That’s what makes the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart at Wheeler such an intriguing event.
On a scorching day one of competition, several pros were able to decipher the mystery and put together big bags, but only one was able to step ahead of the pack. John Cox of DeBary, Fla., leads day one with 16 pounds, 11 ounces and has nearly a 2-pound advantage going into day two.
Those who follow the Walmart FLW Tour are likely familiar with Cox’s overall fishing strategy: Use an aluminum boat to get into the hardest places to reach and fish for shallow-dwelling bass that escape the fishing pressure of other more easily accessible areas. Cox has made his strategy pay off with two other FLW Tour wins, including the second stop of the 2016 regular season at Lake Hartwell. Cox is at it again this week on Wheeler, grinding the “tin” as far up a creek as he can get to access untapped water.
“I feel really good about the way this one is setting up,” Cox says. “I tried this at the Red River Cup [2013] and at the Lake Ouachita Cup [2015], and it didn’t work. But this lake has a lot more of those bigger feeder rivers and creeks that you can go way, way back into.”
Cox adds that getting to his primary area is much harder than actually catching the fish once he gets there.
“The place I went to today takes about 40 minutes to get to once I get off the main river,” he says. “It takes a lot of idling, and I have to slide over a bunch of logs. The good thing about today was I caught quite a few bass before I even got to the primary hole I was working toward. Once I got to it, I caught one big one and left. So four of the five fish I weighed in I actually caught before I got to the best place. That really helps in managing the area over four days.
“I think I can get at least another solid day out of it tomorrow,” Cox adds “But after that, I might have to try to get into another one somewhere else.”
Top 10 Pros
1. John Cox – DeBary, Fla. – 16-11 (5)
2. Brandon McMillan – Clewiston, Fla. – 14-14 (5)
3. Bryan Thrift – Shelby, N.C. – 14-07 (5)
4. Joseph Webster – Fulton, Miss. – 14-02 (5)
5. Mark Rose – West Memphis, Ark. – 13-15 (5)
6. Bill Chapman – Salt Rock, W.Va. – 13-08 (5)
7. Shinichi Fukae – Palestine, Texas – 13-07 (5)
8. Shane LeHew – Mooreseville, N.C. – 13-03 (5)
9. Matt Arey – Shelby, N.C. – 12-08 (5)

10. Cody Meyer – Auburn, Calif. – 12-01 (5)

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