Sunday, August 7, 2016

2016 FLW CUP Wheeler Lake Day 3: John Cox Leads as Todd Auten Catches Up Within 9 oz.

Chris Johnston moves to 9th!
by Rob Newell

Forrest Wood Cup leader John Cox of DeBary, Fla., watched his 6-pound, 7-ounce lead get slashed to 9 ounces instantly on day three of competition at Wheeler Lake.
The man responsible for erasing Cox’s leading margin?
Todd Auten of Lake Wylie, S.C.
Today, Auten checked in his biggest limit of the week, 17 pounds, 10 ounces, to leap from fifth into second and create a major threat to Cox’s Cup dreams going into the final day.
Cox’s 11-pound catch today was his lightest of the week, bringing his three-day total to 43 pounds, 5 ounces.
Cox's creek losing its magic as Auten makes dramatic comeback.
(Photo: FLW)
Despite having the gap closed up, Cox still seems very much at ease about his situation.
“I know it was my lightest bag of the week, but I pretty much expected that,” Cox says. “I went back into the same creek I’ve been fishing the last two days, and it’s playing out. I’ve caught quite a few fish out of it, and I think I’ve removed a lot of the quality fish from the area. That’s to be expected when fishing small, residential places like that. Plus, there were a few other local folks fishing back there, which is going to happen. So all in all I’m not shocked or surprised.”

For the first time all week, Cox did venture out of his primary area today to visit another extreme backwater he had been saving. That move turned out to be fruitless and is a bit more disconcerting to Cox.
“I had some high hopes for that place, but it wasn’t any good,” he says. “The good news is that I got that place out of my head, though. I won’t waste time with it tomorrow. I still have one other place I have not been to yet that I will start in tomorrow. If it goes well in there, I will stay. If not, I’m going to have to return to my original creek and hope for the best.”
Cox says the water has come up about 8 inches in the last few days, and that has made access to his remote areas easier for others. That fact, above all, concerns him most.
“When I went in these places during practice, I could barely get in them with my aluminum boat,” he says. “But now, with the water up, they’re not as hard to access, so I have no way of knowing if other anglers have been in them. When it was lower, I knew I was the only one that could get in them.”
With others in the top 10 some 5 pounds behind Cox and Auten, the final day of the Forrest Wood Cup has the appearance of being a two-man race. But enough 15- to 19-pound limits have been weighed in this week to make anything possible.
One thing is for certain: The 2016 Forrest Wood Cup is far from over.

Top 10 Pros
1. John Cox – DeBary, Fla. – 43-5
2. Todd Auten – Lake Wylie, S.C. – 42-12
3. Michael Neal – Dayton, Tenn. – 37-14
4. Bryan Thrift – Shelby, N.C. – 37-13
5. Jacob Wheeler – Indianapolis, Ind. – 37-3
6. Mark Rose – West Memphis, Ark. – 36-9
7. Brandon Cobb – Greenwood, S.C. – 35-9
8. Joseph Webster – Fulton, Miss. – 34.13
9. Chris Johnston – Peterborough, Ontario – 34-3

10. Jeremy Lawyer – Sarcoxie, Mo. – 32-15

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