For two days, John Cox has been the king of the Harris Chain, dominating the FLW Tour event presented by Ranger at the Harris Chain with his favorite sight-fishing technique. But Saturday his sight-fish gave him the slip and now the outliers are moving in on him from all directions.
Cox posted a 10-pound, 4-ounce catch on day three and as a result his nearly 6-pound lead shrank to just over 2 pounds. He still leads the field with a 54-14 three-day total, but now pros from North Carolina, Texas and Alabama seriously threaten King Cox’s throne atop the leaderboard in his Florida domain.
“Would you like me to sum up the day for you?” Cox asks with a laugh. “Okay, well, I burned a lot of gas and I didn’t catch anything – how’s that?”
Cox’s frustration came from the fact that he ran many, many miles and burned a lot of trolling motor battery for his dismal catch.
“I only caught five keepers all day,” he says. “That’s it.”
Piling onto Cox’s disappointment is the fact that the wave he was hoping would move up with the impending full moon tomorrow doesn’t seem to be materializing.
“The fish were just acting so weird today,” he says. “I found one male that had a 5- or 6-pound female with it. I shook the male off several times, trying to catch her first. Then I went ahead and caught him and when I did, she just swam out to my boat, looked at me, and hit the highway – gone. It’s like she knew what was going on – those are the little signs that tell you it’s not really happening.
“Then a little while later I found a couple of 3-pounders locked on two different beds that were side-by-side,” he continues. “It was the perfect scenario because I could work one and then the other, back and forth. And I never got either one of those fish to bite. Again, it was just one of those weird things that doesn’t happen when they’re really locked on and guarding the bed.”
Cox says he did see several big females hanging out in the middle of the canals he was fishing. And the only thing he can figure is that females have not laid eggs yet.
“There are some males on the beds,” he says. “And there are bluegills hanging around. Everything is in place, but nothing is acting right. The males are not very defensive and the bluegills are just hanging out. So I guess the females I saw swimming around have not done their deal yet and therefore the males have no eggs to guard.”
All of this now leaves Cox in a bit of a predicament, with a pack of wolves looking to pounce on another stumble from him tomorrow.
“I said I was going to sight my way through this whole thing, but now I’m having second thoughts,” he says. “I’m really burned out on just staring in the water and I’m starting to think I need to tie on a spinnerbait or ChatterBait and just go fishing tomorrow. We’re supposed to get some clouds and rain so that might be the route I go.”
Top 10 pros
1. John Cox – DeBary, Fla. – 54-14 (15)
2. Shane LeHew – Catawba, N.C. – 52-12 (15)
3. Matt Reed – Madisonville, Texas – 52-8 (15)
4. Bryan Thrift – Shelby, N.C. – 51-13 (15)
5. Bradley Dortch – Atmore, Ala. – 51-7 (15)
6. Joshua Weaver – Macon, Ga. – 47-0 (15)
7. Rusty Trancygier – Hahira, Ga. – 46-14 (15)
8. Chris Whitson – Louisville, Tenn. – 45-6 (15)
9. JT Kenney – Palm Bay, Fla. – 44-10 (15)
10. Aaron Britt – Yuba City, Calif. – 44-10 (15)