Cox Leads Day 1 at Wheeler - Major League Fishing

Cox Leads Day 1 at Wheeler

Florida pro catches 16-11 to open the Forrest Wood Cup
Image for Cox Leads Day 1 at Wheeler
John Cox Photo by Garrick Dixon. Angler: John Cox.
August 4, 2016 • Rob Newell • Archives

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.”

John Cox

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.”


Complete results


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)


Complete results


Day 1 Stats

Total limits: 39

Average bag: 9 pounds, 0 ounces

Average number of fish: 4

Total catch weight: 451 pounds, 14 ounces

Total number of fish: 225


Tournament Details

Forrest Wood Cup Takeoff Show: 6:30 a.m. CT at Ditto Landing, 293 Ditto Landing Road, Huntsville, Ala.

Takeoff: 7 a.m. CT at Ditto Landing

Weigh-in: 5 p.m. CT at Von Braun Center (Propst Arena), 700 Monroe Street SW, Huntsville, Ala.

FLW Expo: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4:40 p.m., at the Von Braun Center – More info: Seminars and Celebrities and Giveaways and Contests

Format: All 50 pros fish Thursday and Friday. The top 20 pros based on two-day cumulative weight make the cut to fish on Saturday. The top 10 anglers based on three-day cumulative weight make the cut to fish on Sunday. The winner is the angler with the heaviest four-day cumulative weight.