John Cox claimed the lead during Group B's Qualifying Round 1 on Sturgeon Bay. Photo by Charles Waldorf
By Major League Fishing - August 25, 2020
STURGEON BAY, Wis. (Aug. 25, 2020) – Pro angler John Cox of DeBary, Florida, is having a heck of a week. Fresh off of a third-place finish at a major tournament on Lake St. Clair last weekend, Cox drove straight to Sturgeon Bay to compete in the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota, the FLW Pro Circuit Championship. Despite having absolutely no practice time for the event, Cox caught 18 bass weighing 66 pounds, 5 ounces, Tuesday to lead Group B after their first day of competition.
The tournament, fished using the Major League Fishing (MLF) catch-weigh-immediate release format, saw a steady stream of smallmouth bass caught by the 25 pros on the water Tuesday, with anglers catching a total of 243 bass weighing 784 pounds, 6 ounces. Pro Spencer Shuffield of Hot Springs, Arkansas, who finished the season ranked No. 2 in the Angler of the Year standings, sits in second place with 19 bass totaling 61-2 – just 5 pounds, 3 ounces behind Cox.
“Coming off of the water today, I feel like I might have had a mild heart attack,” Cox joked. “It was so intense – all the way to the last second. There was no letting up – guys were catching them, bouncing out of the lead, then back into the lead, it was incredible. I had a lot of fun today.
“When we first started, I was really worried,” Cox continued. “They started catching them, instantly. I got the first SCORETRACKER® update 15 minutes in and guys had 4- and 5-pounders already and I hadn’t even had a bite. I was thinking, ‘Uh oh… no practice. This is going to be really bad.’ But then I found something where we actually got a bite and then we just hammered down and caught everything that we could.”
Cox caught his fish Tuesday on a drop-shot rig, cycling through multiple different Berkley MaxScent baits.
“I don’t catch a lot of smallmouth, normally, but the Berkley MaxScent is definitely the key to catching a lot,” Cox said. “I was mixing it up with the Flat Worm and the Flatnose Minnow, and I even ended up throwing the General some.
“I just tried to catch as much as I could today, because I know how much they move around and they could be gone when we get back out there,” Cox went on to say. “I really wanted to catch at least 60 pounds, so now on Thursday I’m going to have to figure out if I should go practice and fish new stuff or if I try to protect that area.
“With a day off to think about it, I’m going to be a wreck tomorrow. I’m ready to get back out there right now.”
The Top 10 pros after day two (Group B) on Sturgeon Bay are:
1st: John Cox of DeBary, Fla., 18 bass, 66-5
2nd: Spencer Shuffield of Hot Springs, Ark., 19 bass, 61-2
3rd: Joey Cifuentes of Clinton, Ark., 18 bass, 60-6
4th: Matt Becker of Finleyville, Pa., 15 bass, 51-1
5th: Dylan Hays of Hot Springs, Ark., 16 bass, 49-13
6th: Wade Strelic of Alpine, Calif., 15 bass, 43-8
7th: Clark Reehm of Elm Grove, La., 11 bass, 39-14
8th: Mitch Crane of Columbus, Miss., 11 bass, 32-15
9th: Jacob Wall of New Hope, Ala., 10 bass, 32-14
10th: Christopher Brasher of Longview, Texas, 11 bass, 31-14
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Reehm caught the largest fish of the day Tuesday – a 5-pound, 11-ounce smallmouth bass. If that bass remains the largest weighed from Group B after Thursday’s competition, Reehm will take home the $500 Berkley Big Bass Award.
The Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota, the FLW Pro Circuit Championship, is hosted by Destination Sturgeon Bay. The six-day event features the top 50 professional anglers from the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit season angling for a piece of $820,000, including the first-place prize of $200,000.
Unique to the TITLE Championship, the event is being fished using the MLF catch-weigh-immediate release format. A select group of 25 pros (Group A) will compete on Days 1 and 3 (Monday & Wednesday), with the other 25 pros (Group B) competing on Days 2 and 4 (Tuesday & Thursday). The Top 10 pros from each group based on their cumulative two-day total will advance to Friday’s Knockout Round. Only the Top 10 pros will continue on to the sixth and final day of competition Saturday, with the winner earning the inaugural Tackle Warehouse TITLE Championship Belt presented by Toyota.
Attendance is limited to anglers and essential staff and fans are encouraged to follow the event online through expanded broadcast coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com and read the daily coverage, live blogs and photos at FLWFishing.com.
The MLF NOW! broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action every day of competition from 7:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. They’re joined by FLW Live hosts Travis Moran and Todd Hollowell, who will be reporting and providing from-the-water analysis from Sturgeon Bay.
Television coverage of the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota event will be showcased across six two-hour episodes, premiering at 7 p.m. EDT, Oct. 9 on the Outdoor Channel. Episodes premiere in Friday night primetime slots on the Outdoor Channel, with additional re-airings on the Outdoor Channel and the Sportsman Channel.
The 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit featured a field of 150 of the top professional anglers in the world competing at six regular-season events around the country. The Top 50 anglers in the Angler of the Year (AOY) standings after the six events qualified to compete in this event, the inaugural Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota.
For complete details and updated information visit FLWFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit on FLW’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, FLW and its partners conduct more than 290 bass-fishing tournaments annually around the world, including the United States, Canada, China, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Namibia, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Zimbabwe.
FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show while Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros. Acquired by Major League Fishing in late 2019, FLW is expanding its programming in 2020 to the Outdoor Channel and the Sportsman Channel as well as on-demand at MyOutdoorTV (MOTV).