UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Erie

Cox has heart

TRENTON, Mich. - In a week of amazing weights in the 2005 EverStart Northern opener, pro Chris Cox of Appleton, Wis., capped it with an astounding win by way of a two-day final-round weight of 45 pounds, 2 ounces. Perhaps just as amazing is the fact that Cox achieved all this in the wake of a near-fatal heart attack earlier in the year. After his first year of fishing the Wal-Mart FLW Tour as a pro last season, Cox had a scary start to 2005. He said he'd been suffering from what he thought was heartburn for several days leading up to an ice-fishing trip he was about to take with his young son in January. When his condition worsened, he drove himself to the hospital instead, where he was told he was lucky to have made the trip. Not long after, he had a heart attack that required emergency life-saving measures to bring him back. "I was dead on the table ... they shocked me three times," Cox said minutes after his comeback win Saturday. Cox is only 38, but a hereditary heart condition related to "bad cholesterol," which he said should be manageable from here on out, almost made him a victim. Three stents and eight weeks of rehabilitation later, Cox was back to doing what he does best: fishing and fathering - his wife just gave birth to a baby girl three weeks ago. It was clear from his stellar performance this week in the EverStart Series Northern Division opener on the Detroit River that Cox is hardly the victim type. Just ask his opponents. Pro Chris Cox of Appleton, Wis., won nearly $20,000 along with a fully rigged ranger boat for winning the EverStart Northern opener on the Detroit River.Cox, who has qualified for the EverStart Series Championship both years he fished the Northern Division, blew everyone away with an astounding sack weighing 24-15 Friday - it would have broken the 25-pound mark if not for a dead-fish penalty - and then sealed the deal today with another massive stringer weighing 20-3. All totaled, he weighed in a staggering 84 pounds of smallmouth bass over the course of the four-day tournament, worth nearly $20,000 in cash plus a new fully rigged Ranger boat. "It was a common reef ... a rock pile about 20 yards long," Cox said of his tournament-winning location, which he had entirely to himself until today. The rock pile is in Lake Erie, exactly 35.7 miles from the launch site on the Detroit River. This morning he said there were a few local boaters, who had likely heard about his king-sized sack Friday, who followed him there. But the company was not enough to shut down the location, though he moved to his secondary area for a while later in the day, not far from other top-10 sticks including runner-up Eric Struif and Erie-Detroit River king Steve Clapper. "It slowed down for a little bit there, so I moved to my secondary area," he said, which wasn't too far away. But it was his more pristine reef that truly made the win possible - that and a steady bite all week at an exact depth of 26 to 27 feet. "I fished (a Detroit River tourney) two years ago, and everybody knew about (the reef)," Cox said. "But either everyone forgot about it, or they weren't biting for anyone in practice. I don't know." The winning baits: Chris Cox drop-shotted a cucumber gobie with a Lindy rattling weight to win the EverStart Series event on the Detroit River.Cox spent about six days prefishing, getting reacquainted with the rock pile, "fine-tuning the location" and marking its highest point. He dead-sticked a cucumber Poor Boy gobie tube with gold flakes, "just laid it and dragged it," pretty much throughout the entire tournament, he said. He said the real element of his drop-shot rig that brought so much success, however, was the 1/2-ounce Lindy rattling weight that drug behind on the rocks. So far this year Cox has only fished a Wal-Mart BFL event and some local tournaments, including some with his wife. But he is registered for the entire Northern Division season and is considering trying to sign up for the EverStart event on Lake Champlain later this year. With a quick lead out of the gate for the points race in the North, Cox may very well be championship-bound as well, so 2005 could easily shape up to be the biggest year of his career - and it's clearly already been a life-changing one. Pro Eric Struif of Lake Villa, Ill., was the runner-up at the EverStart Northern opener on the Detroit River with a final-round catch of 10 bass that weighed 42 pounds, 7 ounces, worth $9,600.Struif satisfied with second Pro Eric Struif of Lake Villa, Ill., made a valiant effort today to make up a 3-pound, 12-ounce deficit for a shot at winning the Northern opener - and that after hauling in a huge 21-3 sack Friday. Though he improved by an ounce and landed the largest sack of the day at 21-4, Struif had to settle for second place a second day in a row with a final-round total of 42-7. But the finish was not sour grapes; he said it was sweet, not to mention worth $9,600. "This goes down as one of my best tournaments," he said. "This fishery is incredible." Struif - who fished a tube, a drop-shot with a 4-inch worm or a Senko all week - said his area was productive for four days straight as well. Struif was one of the only pros, if not the only angler, who improved with each day: 18-0, 21-1, 21-3 and 21-4. "I had a lot to make up," he said. "I'm always hopeful ... but Chris is a great fisherman." Pro Kota Kiriyama of Birmingham, Ala., placed third in the EverStart Series event on the Detroit River with 10 bass weighing 37 pounds, 1 ounce,  worth $8,650.Kiriyama debuts in EverStart Series with third-place finish Pro Kota Kiriyama - who has recently relocated to Birmingham, Ala., and is not now living in California as was reported earlier this week - got bit this week, and not just by quality bass, but also the EverStart bug. The BASS veteran was fishing his first Wal-Mart FLW Outdoors event this week, and he said he had a great time making such a big splash. "I love the EverStart; I'm pumped," he said. "I like the format here. This is my first tournament with you guys, and I really like the organization." Later he said he intends to sign up for more events - some more Northern Division tourneys with any luck. "I've never been to a place like this where I can catch this many smallmouths," he said. And catch them he did. He bagged an impressive 37 pounds, 1 ounce over the finals, worth $8,650, by fishing Lake Erie in Canadian waters, in roughly the same area where most of the top 10 competitors were finding success. He said he fished a green-pumpkin or watermelon tube with "a what do you call it - jighead? That's all you need." Pro Steve Clapper of Lima, Ohio, placed fourth in the EverStart Northern on the Detroit River with nine bass weighing 35 pounds, 3 ounces, worth $7,650.Master of the Erie-Detroit-St. Clair system finishes fourth Pro Steve Clapper of Lima, Ohio, is renowned for his mastery of the Detroit River, Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair, all of which were open to competitors this week. In fact, he recently won his fourth Detroit River BFL event, and has logged many, many other wins and top-10s on these bodies of water. It was Erie he chose this week upon with to work his Northern magic, hauling in 35-3 over the final two days, worth $7,650. Clapper improved his catch today by one fish and nearly 2 pounds. "I'm just happy I got this far," he said. "I've seen a lot of fish caught, but I really scrambled." Clapper's "scrambling" on Erie is the average angler's good day. He made the top-10 cut and then placed fourth fishing a few rigs: a prototype swimbait, and a "Big Dude" jighead by Right Bite with a ¾-ounce Dream tube, "jerking it hard." Pro Michael Woolley of West Bloomfield, Mich., landed an 18-11 sack today for a final-round total weighing 33-15, worth a check for $7,150.Woolley moves up to finish fifth Pro Michael Woolley of West Bloomfield, Mich., landed an 18-11 sack today for a final-round total weighing 33-15, worth a check for $7,150. He said the key to his success was in the details of the underwater structure he found on Erie. The humps he chose to fish had subtle, 2-foot drops where he found his fish. "You look around for differences in bottom change - like rolling humps," he said. "Those fish are hiding in those pockets. They may seem little, but a 2-foot change is a big change for a fish." Woolley was casting and then dragging a drop-shot rig over the humps. He fished a Senko wacky-style for his bigger fish as well as a watermelon-cream gobie. Rest of the best All of the top five pros caught limits, and rounding out the top 10 to conclude the EverStart Series Northern event on the Detroit River: 6th: Art Ferguson III of St. Clair Shores, Mich., 10 bass, 33-5, $6,150 7th: Bryan Coates of Amherst, Ohio, seven bass, 29-9, 8th: Dick Shaffer of Rockford, Ohio, seven bass, 26-3, $4,650 9th: Charlie Hartley of Grove City, Ohio, seven bass, 25-13, $4,150 10th: Scott Emery of Livonia, Mich., six bass, 17-5, $3,650 The next EverStart Series Northern Division event will be held Aug. 3-6 on the Mississippi River near Onalaska, Wis.

Tags: headline-story  patrick-baker 

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Matual Masters Erie

David Matual of Chicago, Ill., leaned on his spot hard and sacked up the biggest bag of day three weighing 22 pounds, 6 ounces. For his final-day rally he claimed the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division victory on Lake Erie with a three-day total of 65 pounds, fending off Jared Rhode by a mere 7 ounces. Drop-shotting over shallow reefs delivered all of Matual’s fish and earned him a check worth more than $31,000. READ MORE »

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Lake Erie Day 3 Midday Update

Lake Erie put on a different face for day three of the final Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event. After a rough day one, yesterday’s calm and mostly sunny conditions offered comfortable running and fishing conditions. Today was still a far cry from the brutal waves of day one - and prior practice days - but windier conditions and overcast skies seemed to present a more challenging scenario. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns From Lake Erie Day 2

Pennsylvania pro Dave Lefebre and Ohio pro Jared Rhode tied for the day-two lead in Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division action on Lake Erie with 43 pounds, 9 ounces. Both pros caught their fish on drop-shots. Here are the details of the rest of the top five. READ MORE »

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Lefebre, Rhode Tied at the Top

Notching his second day of 20-plus pounds, FLW Tour pro Dave Lefebre tallied 43 pounds, 9 ounces and tied day-one leader Jared Rhode for the day-two top spot at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. Lefebre caught his 22-3 limit on Rapala DT-10 crankbaits, while Rhodes tempted his 19-15 catch with drop-shots. READ MORE »

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Lake Erie Day 2 Midday Update

With winds shifting from yesterday’s northerly blow to a warmer southerly direction, day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie brought calmer conditions with greater ability to methodically work key spots. Offshore, waves ran 1 to 2 feet, with leeward areas behind the Lake Erie Islands nearly flat. READ MORE »

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Rhode Cracks 23-10 for Erie Lead

Jared Rhode played his cards and the gamble paid off better than expected, as the pro from Port Clinton, Ohio, took the day-one lead at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie with a limit catch weighing 23 pounds, 10 ounces. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns from Lake Erie Day 1

Taking off this morning, the FLW Tour pro from Erie, Pa., knew the day’s north wind would keep him from making a long run to a big-fish spot close to his home. However, keeping it local and fishing a little past Pelee Island to the west delivered a solid second-place catch. READ MORE »

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Lake Erie Day 1 Midday Report

Winds have subsided considerably since practice, but Lake Erie’s still showing her temperamental side to Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division anglers fishing the last divisional event out of Sandusky, Ohio. READ MORE »

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Top 10 Patterns from the Forrest Wood Cup

If you don’t believe that summertime bass fishing in the dog days of August is all over the map, just take a look at the top 10 patterns from the best bass pros on earth at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Brad Knight captured the Cup by mining one small creek end for four days. But beyond that, the rest of the top 10 patterns ran the gamut, from targeting schoolers over 40 feet to wolf packs of bass on the bank to brush piles to grass to mud flats and everywhere in between. Here’s a rundown. READ MORE »

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Knight Slays Ouachita

Lancing, Tenn., pro Brad Knight won the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart on Lake Ouachita with a four-day total of 51 pounds, 12 ounces. In front of a standing-room-only crowd at Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs, Ark., Knight weighed in 11-07 on day four to surpass Jacob Wheeler, who started the day with a 12-ounce lead. Fishing in just one area all four days, Knight locked up the first win of his FLW career. He earned $500,000 for his victory and pushed his career earnings total to more than $688,000. READ MORE »

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Forrest Wood Cup Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

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Wheeler Back in Front

Jacob Wheeler loves Lake Ouachita. It’s where he fished his first Forrest Wood Cup in 2011, and it’s where he’ll take the tournament lead into the final day of competition at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Wheeler, the 2011 Cup champion, led this tournament on day one and slipped a couple spots on day two. He now has a very slim 12-ounce lead over Tennessean Brad Knight. The anglers will square off tomorrow on Ouachita starting at 7 a.m. against the rest of the top 10 pros for the top prize of $500,000. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 3

Jacob Wheeler may have regained his lead in the Forrest Wood Cup on day three, but Brad Knight is right on his heels. Going into the final day, the two pros are separated by just 12 ounces. The margin is tight, and what’s going to make the final day fun to watch is the difference in the two anglers’ strategies. Wheeler is running a topwater pattern on the main lake, and fishing new water is part of his plan. Knight, however, has caught almost all of his weight from one 250-yard stretch of bass-rich creek channel. He literally knows every target he is fishing by heart. On the surface, Knight’s area looks to be the better bet. But he has shared the general area with Brandon Cobb and Mark Daniels Jr. for three solid days. And the bad news, at least for Knight, is that both Cobb and Daniels will be sharing the water with him again on the final day as both made the top-10 cut. READ MORE »

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Forrest Wood Cup Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

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Ramie Races into the Lead

On the back of a 17-pound, 14-ounce limit, which is the biggest of the tournament thus far, Ramie Colson Jr. jumped from seventh place to take over the lead at the halfway point of the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart. Colson’s two-day total is 31 pounds, 1 ounce, which puts him almost 3 pounds ahead of Tennessee’s Brad Knight. The Forrest Wood Cup, which is hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, moves into its top-20 round on Saturday. The top 10 pros after Saturday’s weigh-in advance to Sunday’s final round for a shot at the $500,000 top prize. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 2

At times, bass fishing can be a lot like real estate, where the three most important rules are location, location and location. The 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita presented by Walmart is starting to become a bit of a real estate game where location is the primary consideration in who climbs the leaderboard. And those mining the backs of creeks and tributaries are on the prime pieces of real estate. Consider that after day two, four of the top five pros are concentrating their fishing efforts in the back ends of creeks or rivers. All of these areas fit a classic late-summer, early-fall pattern where shad pack into the back of creek ditches that meander through shallow flats. READ MORE »

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Forrest Wood Cup Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

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Wheeler Hunting History

It’s never been done before, and it hasn’t happened yet, but Jacob Wheeler is in prime position to become the first two-time Forrest Wood Cup champion in history. Wheeler, of Indianapolis, Ind., brought in a 16-pound, 2-ounce limit of Lake Ouachita bass on the first day of the Cup, which is presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 1

After day one of the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita, several things have come to light. For one, this event is not likely to produce a runaway win for anyone like it did when Scott Martin won here in 2011. Second, when the pros said Ouachita was going to be stingy, they meant it – only 29 of the 50 pros checked in limits today. Third, firm patterns are hard to come by on Lake Ouachita in August. Jacob Wheeler took the lead on day one in the event that’s presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. With the help of a 5-pound bass, Wheeler weighed in a limit of 16 pounds, 2 ounces, but he had to sample a lot of different areas for his catch. Here’s how the rest of the top five got it done. READ MORE »

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Forrest Wood Cup Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »