UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Ouachita

Cox finally closes on Red River

Pro John Cox of DeBary, Fla., caught a five-bass limit weighing 7 pounds, 13 ounces Sunday to lead wire to wire and win $100,000 at the Walmart FLW Tour on the Red River with a four-day catch of 20 bass weighing 48-8.

SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER CITY, La. - Mercury pro John Cox has enjoyed the view from the top of an FLW leaderboard before: Last year he led the opening three days of the FLW Series Eastern on Lake Okeechobee in his home state before snatching defeat from the jaws of victory on the final day, ending it the runner-up; then he led day one of the next FLW Series event on Lake Eufaula, only to finish seventh. He even won the 2010 points race in that circuit. But he has never enjoyed a tour-level win - until today, that is.

The Debary, Fla., pro has been a top-notch grass-roots angler in the Walmart BFL, stringing together two wins, three runner-up finishes and another four top-10 finishes since 2004; he was a consistent Pro John Cox picked up his first Tour win Saturday on the Red River after coming close in the past.performer in the EverStart Series Southeast Division from 2005 to 2007, qualifying for two championships, but top finishes eluded him, including a 2007 tourney - again on Lake Eufaula - in which he led the opening day only to finish 30th; and while he had measured success as a touring pro last year in the FLW Series, his earnings on the season would be just enough to fish a full 2011 schedule on the Walmart FLW Tour (including both Majors and Opens).

In other words, this 25-year-old rookie Tour pro has struggled to stay afloat this year and has even borrowed some money from friends, he said, to continue his quest. So when he sacked a limit of five bass Sunday to contribute to a four-day winning weight of 48 1/2 pounds and complete his wire-to-wire victory march at the Red River, you can bet that success for him felt sublime.

Immediately before the final weigh-in, Cox said of what a win would mean: "It would be amazing ... winning this far from home. I just want to get it off my back and finally get a win. It would give me a lot of confidence."

John Cox started his final day near Red River South Marina.When Cox's 7-13 limit sealed the deal Sunday, it gave him confidence that extended beyond a fishing boat as well. He proposed to his girlfriend via FLW Live with the Red River trophy in hand and a check for $100,000 at his feet - a promise he'd made back at Okeechobee last year, when he said he'd pop the question when he won a tournament: "Cheryn, would you marry me?"

And the kicker to this personal story is a conversation he had with Cheryn, who is expecting, before he left home for the Red River: "We were thinking of baby names and kind of joking around, I said, `If I win at the Red River on lily pads, we should name her Lily,' so I guess she's going to be Lily."

But there was fishing to be done to warrant a celebration, and here's how he did it. On days one and two, Cox accessed a backwater area downstream in Pool 4 via a seemingly impassible culvert; it was an area he learned about at a tournament two years ago. He fished out of a 17-foot aluminum boat with a small 75-hp engine and even took all but one battery out to lighten his load as much as possible. Still, it was incredibly difficult to pass through the tunnel, which was so shallow it caused his boat to bottom out and get stuck (click here to watch video of the process).

Once he broke on through, Cox quickly sacked strong limits of 14-10 and an even 14 pounds over the first two days by fishing a Dandy Baits 1/2-ounce jighead with a green-pumpkin/green-glitter skirt and then a ChatterBait and swimbait.

On days three and four, he "just fished around the ramp" in Pool 5 - including lily pads, where he boated his first keeper early this morning - as well as a backwater fishing hole he found about two miles south. That plan worked well for a 12-1 limit Saturday, but today the water was low enough that he had to access it via a narrow and shallow ditch (sound familiar?), which he could only achieve by making a fast run at it and blasting through the mud.

John Cox"I looked at it and I thought, `There's no way I'm going to idle in there,' so then I throttled it and went in there at about 50 mph," he said, adding that he only caught one there today off a bed on a craw, and that's when he started to get nervous.

"I was a wreck today all the way until the end," he said. "I couldn't cast. I didn't feel like I was in my shoes."

Eventually he went back to the launch site at about 1:30 p.m. and worked the lily pads again with a Producto Buzztail Shad until he finally rounded out his limit in the last 20 minutes of his fishing day.

Cox got the monkey off his back today, and he's clearly a competitor of the highest caliber, so it's reassuring for many fans of professional bass fishing to know that he will use his winnings - along with what he earns as a fishing guide and doing odd jobs - to not only start a family, but also to keep on fishing.

"It would pay for the rest of the year, and I'd be able to fish for bigger fish," he said before the win - that's good news for the sport.

National Guard pro Mark Rose of Marion, Ark., who caught a total of 19 bass weighing 43-4 and earned $32,553, was runner-up.Rose runner-up

National Guard pro Mark Rose of Marion, Ark., added yet another top-10 finish to his already-impressive FLW record, sacking the heaviest pro limit of the day - 12 pounds, 11 ounces - to give him a three-day total of 43-4 and the runner-up finish worth $32,553. Despite falling short of another tournament win, Rose was a good sport.

"I'm very proud of John," Rose said, adding that he didn't buy into some of the negative comments he heard earlier in the week regarding Cox's unorthodox method of accessing his secret fishing hole, including the lightweight boat. "He utilized it real well and did his homework. I hope he wins."
Mark Rose cranked a Strike King KVD 1.5 crankbait to finish second.
As far as the fishing, Rose stuck to the same small oxbow in Pool 5 all week.

"It's a grind out there," Rose said. "I caught all my fish this week on a Strike King KVD 1.5 (crankbait) and a Strike King Premier Pro-Model spinnerbait."

Though Rose had said earlier he knew the rest of the field was "fishing for second place," it didn't stop him from getting excited Sunday as he put together his best tournament day on the Red River.

"I was fired up," he said about landing his two kicker fish today. "It's just been such a grind that that was a positive moment ... and that's what you ned to keep the momentum going. Otherwise you're just getting sunburned and bored."

3rd: Clint Brownlee, Tifton, Ga., 20 bass, 40-1, $28,636.Brownlee falls a spot

Pro Clint Brownlee of Tifton, Ga., went into the final day in second place with the best odds of catching Cox, but it wasn't meant to be. He sacked a 7-14 limit (after 1 1/2-pound dead-fish penalties) from the same backwater oxbow he'd fished all week not far from the launch site.

"My water was down, and the sun was out," he said, adding that the conditions didn't line up well with his topwater buzzbait pattern. "I caught four fairly quick, and when the sun came out, I had to start flippin'."

He caught most of his fish this week on an 1/8-ounce Strike King buzzbait, and some flipping everything Clint Brownlee buzzed a Strike King 1/8-ounce buzzbait over vegetation to finish third.from a Zoom Trick Worm (over the first few days) to a Grandebass Mega Claw and a Big Bite Fighting Craw (today).

"I gave it all I had today," he said, adding that he was still pleased with his performance. "This is my third year fishing the Tour ... this is my first top-10, and I want to come back. It's really hard to make the top 10 - trust me on that."

And for his third-place finish, Brownlee earned $28,636.

Robertson remains fourth
4th: Castrol pro Darrel Robertson, Jay, Okla., 20 bass, 40-0, $23,219.
Castrol pro Darrel Robertson of Jay, Okla., rocketed 15 slots up the leaderboard yesterday and held onto his fourth-place position to end the tournament. He caught a five-bass limit for 10-13 today, giving him a total weight of 40 pounds worth $23,219.

After locking down to Pool 4 the first three days, Robertson stayed with the majority in Pool 5 today.

"I caught it all off of wood, right there at the takeoff," he said. "I had about four lay-downs yesterday where I was catching them, and they had to have a root showing out of the water. Today it had to have brush around it."

Robertson caught his bass this week on a green-pumpkin Biffle Bug, whether he was keying on grass - like early in the tournament - or wood. Today he plucked a limit of bass from wood by 8 a.m. before upgrading a few times.

5th: Gary Yamamoto, Palestine, Texas, 20 bass, 37-11, $18,553.Yamamoto fifth

Gary Yamamoto is a well-known bass pro and highly renowned for his line of soft-plastic baits. After a dry spell on Tour, he put together a Red River game plan this week that earned him a fifth-place finish with a total weight of 37-11 worth $18,553.

With his ever-present dog Isabella accompanying him to the weigh-in stage, the Palestine, Texas, pro had a little fun while in the spotlight - even placing the pooch on top of the weigh basket in a humorous attempt at boosting his already-impressive (and legitimate) 10-4 limit.

"This weekend I was going to go down to the (Gulf) of Louisiana and catch some redfish and some Gary Yamamoto holds up a nice keeper on day four.flounder, but unfortunately I caught too many fish," he said.

Yamamoto fished just south of Clark's Red River Marina all week and was of course fishing with his own soft-plastic baits, including a Yamamoto Craw, a Yamamoto Hula Swimmer and a 5-inch prototype craw with a double tail, all colored black and blue. Today he managed his two kicker fish from a small bush "with two legs" that he had worked earlier in the week - to the tune of at least 20 flips - to no avail.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pro finishers at the Walmart FLW Tour Major on the Red River:

6th: Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., four-day total of 35 pounds, $15,753
7th: David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., 34-10, $14,819 (unofficial Angler of the Year leader after this event)
8th: Mike Reynolds of Modesto, Calif., 34-9, $14,386
9th: Jon Strelic of El Cajon, Calif., 34-6, $12,953 (first FLW Tour top-10)
10th: Christian Romans of Carrollton, Ky., 33-8, $12,019 (first FLW Tour top-10)

FLW Tour action resumes in early June when the circuit visits the Potomac River for an Open event.

Tags: patrick-baker  headline-story  2011-05-19-red-river 

/news/2016-02-07-lake-okeechobee-day-4-coverage

Lake Okeechobee Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-top-5-patterns-from-lake-okeechobee-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Okeechobee Day 3

Across the board, weights fell off on day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats and hosted by Roland and Mary Ann Martin's Marina and Resort and the Hendry County Tourism and Development Council. No one in the top 20 crossed the 20-pound mark. Cloud cover, which prevented the water temperature from rising much above 65 degrees, and low water clarity might both have slowed the replenishment of bass moving into spawn. Tournament leader Bradley Hallman experienced a bit of a stall in the action as well, bringing just four fish to the scales, but he still managed to increase his lead to 13 pounds, 9 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-hallman-extends-lead-on-day-three-at-walmart-flw-tour-on-lake-okeechobee-presented-by-ranger-boats

Hallman Extends Lead On Day Three At Walmart FLW Tour On Lake Okeechobee Presented By Ranger Boats

Anchored by an 8-pound, 10-ounce kicker, pro Bradley Hallman of Norman, Oklahoma, brought four bass to the scale Saturday totaling 14 pounds, 3 ounces to extend his lead to more than 13½ pounds heading in to the final day of competition at the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. Hallman’s... READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-can-anyone-catch-hallman-

Can Anyone Catch Hallman?

Despite catching only four keepers on day three, Norman, Okla., pro Bradley Hallman extended his lead at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Okeechobee. With a day-three weight of 14 pounds, 3 ounces and a tournament total of 64-10, his margin over second-place angler Alex Davis is now 13 pounds, 9 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-okeechobee-day-3-coverage

Okeechobee Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-top-5-patterns-from-lake-okeechobee-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Okeechobee Day 2

Fueled by 25 mph north winds, the Lake Okeechobee washing machine cleansed some livewells today, keeping them free of the 20-pound limits that are so common here when the weather is sunny, 75 and calm. However, a few 20-plus-pound limits still snuck through the rinse cycle to grace the scales. The biggest limit once again belonged to Bradley Hallman of Norman, Okla. He added 25 pounds, 7 ounces to the 25 he caught on day one. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-oklahoma-s-hallman-extends-lead-at-walmart-flw-tour-on-lake-okeechobee-presented-by-ranger-boats

Oklahoma’s Hallman Extends Lead at Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Okeechobee Presented by Ranger Boats

CLEWISTON, Fla. – Pro angler Bradley Hallman of Norman, Oklahoma, brought a five-bass limit weighing 25 pounds, 7 ounces to the scale Friday to extend his lead on day two of the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. Hallman will bring an 8-pound, 8-ounce advantage into day three of the four-day competition that features 169 of the top bass-fishing anglers in the world competing for a top cash award of up to $125,000. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-cales-earns-co-angler-win

Cales Earns Co-angler Win

Co-angler Tim Cales of Sandstone, W.Va., earned his second win with FLW after sacking up 30 pounds, 11 ounces over two days in the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-hallman-way-in-front

Hallman Way in Front

Bradley Hallman is doing his best to make the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats a one-man show. But Alabama pro Alex Davis hopes to spoil Hallman’s hopes of a wire-to-wire victory. Today, Hallman weighed in 25 pounds, 7 ounces to raise his two-day total to 50-07. He’s led the tournament each day thus far. Davis weighed in 20-15 to move from third to second but is still 8 1/2 pounds behind the leader. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-okeechobee-day-2-coverage

Okeechobee Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-04-top-5-patterns-from-the-okeechobee-tour-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from the Okeechobee Tour Day 1

The Walmart FLW Tour has been coming to Lake Okeechobee for the better part of 20 years. And for a vast majority of those years, the north end of the lake has been the business end – where the business of fish catching is done. Today, that tradition was derailed in the first round of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats and hosted by Hendry County Tourism Development Council. Though some boats did sample the Harney Pond area up north, many of the normal fish-producing haunts such as the Monkey Box, Dyess Ditch and Fisheating Bay were complete ghost towns. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-04-hallman-leads-day-one-of-walmart-flw-tour-on-lake-okeechobee-presented-by-ranger-boats

Hallman Leads Day One Of Walmart FLW Tour On Lake Okeechobee Presented By Ranger Boats

Oklahoma pro Bradley Hallman, brought a five-bass limit to the scale weighing 25 pounds even Thursday to grab the early lead after day one of the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. Right behind him in second place is renowned Okeechobee angler Brandon McMillan of Clewiston, who weighed in five bass totaling 22-8. Hallman now brings a 2½-pound lead into day two of the four-day READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-04-hallman-takes-the-lead-with-25

Hallman Takes the Lead with 25

The old saying is that the third time is the charm, but for Bradley Hallman of Norman, Okla., it’s more like the first time is the charm. Hallman is fishing his first Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee. It’s the first day of the first Tour event of 2016, and Hallman sits in first place with 25 pounds even. Norman, Okla., pro Bradley Hallman sacked up an impressive 25-pound limit of bass to take the lead on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour opener on Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-04-okeechobee-day-1-coverage

Okeechobee Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-03-5-key-areas-on-okeechobee

5 Key Areas on Okeechobee

There are many well-known areas on Lake Okeechobee that are commonly talked about around the docks before and after each event, but five key spots in particular will certainly play a role in this week’s Walmart FLW Tour opener. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-03-5-to-watch-on-okeechobee

5 to Watch on Okeechobee

This year, the Big O is giving the 169-boat field a different look than they’ve seen in past years in the form of high, dirty water. The odds could favor the locals more than in years past, though the caliber of skill among the entire field is over the top. Really, it could be anyone’s tournament. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-02-scouting-the-big-o-with-wesley-strader

Scouting the Big O with Wesley Strader

Wesley Strader is known and admired for his unique wit and constant cheer, but his consistency is what has been the true hallmark of his successful fishing career. Last week, that consistency paid off with the first big win he’s had since 2002 at the B.A.S.S. Open on the Kissimmee Chain in central Florida. Now he’s got his eye on starting the Walmart FLW Tour season on the right foot a few hours south at Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-01-okeechobee-practice-with-scott-martin

Okeechobee Practice with Scott Martin

Scott Martin is heading into the first Walmart FLW Tour event of the season with a full head of steam. After earning what might be the first of many Angler of the Year titles in 2015, he gets to kick off the year sleeping in his own bed and fishing Lake Okeechobee, the place where he grew up and where he has caught more than 50 bass weighing more than 10 pounds. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-01-childers-targeted-rocks-for-victory

Childers Targeted Rocks for Victory

Randy Childers of Anderson, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 14 pounds, 7 ounces, Saturday to win the first FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Savannah River Division tournament of 2016 on Lake Keowee presented by Power-Pole. For his victory, Childers earned $4,271. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-01-childers-wins-flw-bass-fishing-league-savannah-river-division-opener-on-lake-keowee-presented-by-power-pole

Childers Wins FLW Bass Fishing League Savannah River Division Opener on Lake Keowee Presented by Power-Pole

SENECA, S.C. – Randy Childers of Anderson, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 14 pounds, 7 ounces, Saturday to win the first FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Savannah River Division tournament of 2016 on Lake Keowee presented by Power-Pole. For his victory, Childers earned $4,271. READ MORE »