Friday, August 21, 2020

2020 Bassmaster Elite Lake St. Clair Day 2: John Cox Retains Lead with 45-06lbs!

Canadians Cory Johnston 6th, Chris Johnston 7th & Gustafson 76th

By David A. Brown


River smallmouth key to Cox's lead as field is ounces away.
(Photo: BASS)

After splitting Day 1 between the main lake and the St. Clair River, John Cox of DeBary, Fla., devoted his entire day to the latter and retained his lead in the YETI Bassmaster Elite at Lake St. Clair with a two-day total of 45-6. 

“I thought about going into the lake, but I felt so comfortable in the river,” Cox said. “I feel like anytime I pitch my bait out there, I might catch a big one. I didn’t feel any need to leave, so I just hung out.” 

Contrasting Day 1, Friday yielded more quantity than quality, as Cox added 20-10 to his opening round weight of 24-12 — the event’s heaviest bag so far.

“I wasn’t catching giants, but I caught way more fish today,” he said. “The key is if you run into them when they’re in one of (the key spots), you can get right quick.” 

Cox started his day in the St. Clair River delta where he fished the south and middle channels. He focused his efforts on seawalls, docks and other hard structure. Current eddies from the nearby channel were essential to fish positioning.

Mirroring Day 1, Cox caught all of his fish on a drop-shot rig. His top lure for the rig was the Berkley MaxScent Flat Worm, but he also used the Berkley MaxScent Flatnose Jerk Shad.

“I stuck with the drop shot because they were eating it,” Cox said. “I think fish were just moving in and off those banks with eddies.”

Cox made a midday run farther north and fished main-river spots close to Lake Huron but found that the water was not running as swiftly as he’d expected. Abandoning that area, he returned to the delta, where he made two key culls.

“At the end of the day, there was a spot I was trying to recall where it was, but I didn’t enter into my Lowrance,” Cox said. “I had a couple of waypoints I had marked in practice so I said, ‘I wonder if it’s those waypoints?’

“I pulled in and I caught a big one and it had four or five with it, so I threw back in there and caught another big one. Those culled my two smallest fish.” 

Looking ahead, Cox said he plans on sticking with the river. He still has several areas that he has not fished, and the likelihood of his previous area reloading is very good.

“I loved it today; I had so many bites and caught so many fish,” Cox said. “I’m more excited going into tomorrow than I was this morning.”

Clark Wendlandt of Leander, Texas, is in second place with 44-5. He began his day north of the community hole known as the Metro Flat and moved to a nearby spot later in the morning to preserve his main area.

Fishing a mix of crankbaits and drop shots, Wendlandt added 24-5 to the 20 pounds he weighed Thursday. Noting that his fish were not relating to any particular area, Wendlandt said he spent his day rotating between waypoints and searching for roaming schools of smallmouth.

“I started on the exact same place I did yesterday, but after that, I went someplace different,” he said. “I had decided I wasn’t going to fish in that humongous crowd. Yesterday I fished around it for the last part of the day. I just don’t think that (community hole) can hold up, there are just too many boats.” 

Jay Yelas of Lincoln City, Ore., is in third place with 43-15. Fishing a broad flat with low grass and scattered cabbage, Yelas struggled through a slow morning and ended up catching most of his weight after noon. He caught most of his weight on a bladed jig with a Yamamoto Paddletail Zako trailer.

“I got fortunate and got some big ones this afternoon; my biggest was 5-3,” Yelas said. “It was sunny, not a cloud in the sky and light winds. Normally, that’s not the best time to fish moving baits, but it must be that the fish get more active and they’re feeding that time of the day." 

Ed Loughran III of Richmond, Va., is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with his 6-5 smallmouth.

The Top 40 remaining anglers will take off Saturday at 6:30 a.m. ET from Lake St. Clair Metropark. The weigh-in will be held at the park at 3:10 p.m.

After Saturday, only the Top 10 will advance to Championship Sunday with a chance to win the $100,000 first-place prize.

Live coverage of the event will be available starting at 8 a.m. on Bassmaster LIVE at with simulcasts on ESPN2 and ESPN3. Check local listings for ESPN2 times.

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