Wheeler Lake Day 3 Coverage

John Cox

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3:05: Final update

Here's the most important thing you can take away from today's coverage blog: It ain't over.

Joh Cox might have led by almost 6 1/2 pounds coming into day three, but it might as well be a tie between he and Todd Auten. Worst of all for Cox is that his best area is going cold, while Auten seems to be getting stronger.

Oh, and then there's Michael Neal just a couple pounds back, followed by Jacob Wheeler and Bryan Thrift right behind him. If Cox isn't sweating from the heat, he'll be sweating from the pressure of holding off that group of hammers on Sunday's final round at the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup at Wheeler Lake.

The two predominant patterns remain the same: targeting shallow bass around grass and wood in the back of feeder creeks and targeting schooling fish near the main lake. Tomorrow, we'll see which one will produce the next Cup champion.

Join us for the day-three weigh-in via FLW Live at 5 p.m. CT.


Jimmy Reese

1:53: Jimmy Reese shows off a giant

Even if Jimmy Reese doesn't win this derby, no one could say that he isn't enjoying himself.


1:50: Cox back to starting area

Cox returned to his starting area. He says he's seeing fish around, but he hasn't been able to get any to eat. He had one big blow-up but isn't positive it was a bass. Our calculations have him still in the lead, but by less than a pound over Todd Auten.


Todd Auten

1:45: Webster gets in the hunt

Joseph Webster is back in this thing. His latest cull upgraded him to 14 pounds, and his estimated weight has him in sixth place.

Here's our projected top 10 with about three hours left to fish:

1. John Cox - 42.8

2. Todd Auten - 42.23

3. Michael Neal - 37.37

4. Bryan Thrift - 36.63

5. Jacob Wheeler - 36.38

6. Joseph Webster - 34.94

7. Brandon Cobb - 34.87

8. Mark Rose - 34.75

9. Scott Martin - 33.56

10. Jimmy Reese - 33.19


Jacob Wheeler

12:55: Jacob Wheeler still running and gunning

Pretty much Jacob Wheeler is the most elusive bass pro since Andy Morgan. The guy just doesn't fear running in shallow water. Our camera operators are struggling to keep up because Wheeler runs full bore through some really skinny water, and "normal" people won't surpass idle speed to follow.

Anyway, his latest wild run paid off with a 1 1/4-pound bass. It's his fourth keeper.


VIDEO UPDATE: Michael Neal and his schooling bass


Todd Auten

12:43: Auten and Cox are in a dead heat

All Todd Auten needed to do was cull out a dink from his livewell. Well, he did it. Auten's estimated weight is 17 pounds. By our calculations, he's only about a half-pound shy of Cox's three-day total.


VIDEO UPDATE: Jacob Wheeler in action on day three


Brandon Cobb

12:31: Brandon Cobb coming on strong

He's up to 13 1/4 pounds thanks to a 4-pounder and a 2 1/2-pounder. He keeps banging away in the far upper end of a shallow creek.


12:30: Pros are on the move

Two-thirds of the pros in the top 20 are on the move. Some are fueling up to get ready for a return trip; others heading to back-up areas. It seems like most of the guys who've been relying on one or two key areas have finally burned up their fish.


12:00: Scott Martin going strong

The Florida pro is on his way to a second consecutive top-10 cut at the Cup. He just landed a 2 1/2-pounder to cull up to 12 pounds on the day.


11:53: Pea soup

Here's a look at the duckweed and the slop that John Cox has been fishing.

John Cox


Jeremy Lawyer

11:50: Jeremy Lawyer has the biggest bass of the day

Jeremy only has three keepers, but one is the biggest bass that anyone has landed so far today. The estimate is at least 6 pounds.


11:34: Cox is on the move

John Cox is on the move. He left the creek where he's spent two and a half days. Cox has about 10 1/2 pounds in the livewell, but he isn't comfortable knowing that the guys behind him caught mid-teens weights yesterday. So he's leaving to hunt a big kicker.

Cox still has a secret little spot that he's saving, but it's risky to get in and out of it. That'll probably come into play tomorrow.


11:27: Cox keeps pushing his lead

A midday cull boosts John Cox up to 10 1/2 pounds. His total almost 43 pounds for the tournament. He is putting himself into a great position going into the final day. He'll be tough for anyone to catch.


11:15: Auten is day three's top performer so far

Todd Auten's total estimated weight is 14 pounds. That's the biggest of the day so far.

Other top performers are John Cox with 9 pounds, Michael Neal with 11 1/2 pounds, Bryan Thrift with 12 pounds, Scott Martin with 10 3/4 pounds and Joseph Webster with just shy of 10 pounds.

Topwater and spinnerbaits are dominating the top 20 up shallow, but the schooling bite is still strong. The field is split almost 50/50 on the two patterns.


10:38: Another goodun' for Auten

Auten strikes again with another tank of a bass. His third keeper will go 5 pounds. Once again, he's not getting many bites, but his bites are big.


Scott Martin

10:22: Martin wielding a crappie jig

The headline is true. Martin is chucking a little bitty crappie jig for schooling bass. He made the top 10 at the Cup last year by targeting schooling bass too.


10:12: Wheeler gets his second and third

Jacob Wheeler is having a tough morning. He has only three small keepers for 5 1/2 pounds. He lost a small keeper too.

It's been tough for many anglers this morning, except Michael Neal and Bryan Thrift. They both have double-digit weights and are culling keepers.


John Cox

9:40: Who's hot this morning

So who's catchin' 'em? Here's the list of the five pros with the heaviest weights so far today.

Michael Neal - 10 pounds

Bryan Thrift - 9 3/4 pounds

John Cox - 9 pounds

JT Kenney - 7 pounds

Scott Martin - 6 pounds


9:30: Morning fish catch photos

The Forrest Wood Cup marshals are feeding a steady supply of photos from the water. Here are a few:

Scott Martin

David DudleyDavid DudleyCody MeyerBrandon CobbJoseph WebsterBill ChapmanChris JohnstonMark Rose



JT Kenney

9:16: Neal and Kenney

Michael Neal has had good fish busting around him for 20 minutes, but he's caught only one fish from the fray. He's rotating through about four different baits to try to find one they'll take.

Meanwhile, JT Kenney is up a creek still. He caught a 3-pounder a few minutes ago and believes it's one that he missed yesterday.


9:12: Cox breaks the 40-pound mark

In filling his limit, John Cox has reached the 40-pound cumulative weight mark for the tournament. He has about 8 1/2 pounds today.

Jacob Wheeler has just one keeper behind Cox. Wheeler lost about 10 minutes of fishing time when he got stuck on a shallow spot. He's ripping around in some very skinny water. The guy has no fear. Then again, that's part of what makes him one of the best tournament winners in the sport.

Michael Neal has a limit as well for about the same weight as Cox. He needs to improve to make up the 6-pound, 7-ounce deficit that he faced coming in.


John Cox

8:50: No. 3 for Cox

They keep getting bigger for John Cox. His third fish weighs 2 1/2 pounds. He has 5 1/2 pounds.


8:39: Robertson reacts to the conditions

Darrel Robertson has been fishing transition banks with a Senko. With the cloud cover and light rain that's falling today, he's changed it up and is throwing a square bill around shallow logs. Adapting on the fly is key to success in a tough tournament like this one.


John Cox

8:37: Cox lands No. 2

The second keeper for John Cox weighs about 2 pounds. He's slowly pushing out that lead.


8:35: Auten is still on the right quality

Todd Auten isn't catching a ton of fish, but when he gets a bite he gets a big bite. He only has one fish in the box so far, but it's a 3 1/2-pounder, which is the biggest fish of the day so far.


Michael Neal

8:25: Michael Neal is culling

That didn't take Neal very long. He's already culling and has about 8 pounds.

JT Kenney says that he primarily targeted shade around shoreline cover yesterday. This morning the entire creek is shaded. He suspects the bite will be better later in the day when the sun is high and the shoreline shade line is narrower.

Also, it's raining at the lower end. There's a chance of pop-up thunderstorms throughout the day, with most of the small storm cells coming in around midday.


8:22: Cox gets No. 1

It's small, but it's a fish. John Cox's first keeper weighs about a pound.


John Cox

8:07: Top 3 update

Leader John Cox has set the hook once this morning, but the fish on the other end of his line was too short to keep. Nothing yet for him.

Jacob Wheeler is on the board with a 1-pound, 12-ounce keeper. That's his only fish.

Michael Neal has four keepers for 5 1/2 pounds. He caught a ton of fish yesterday and was catching them all day long. Neal said this morning that he was going to stay on the same spot that he fished on day two and hope that the big fish show up again.


7:57: Kenney reports on the conditions

JT Kenney says the water clarity in his shallow creek hasn't changed from day two, but the water level is a bit higher. A little extra water certainly isn't a bad thing for the guys running up these skinny creeks. Kenney is slinging a spinnerbait, buzzbait and frog, and doing some flipping.


7:50: Michael Neal scores first

Michael Neal had a big day two with 15 pounds, 12 ounces, and he's off to a fast start today. Neal is the first angler in the top 20 to land a keeper. It's not big - 1 1/2 pounds - but it's a start.


JT Kenney

7:45: Up a creek

JT Kenney is up a skinny creek this morning. FLW's reporter who's following him says it was a bit of a harrowing run to get into the area. Kenney is chucking a moving bait around grass and shallow wood. The water is a bit stained too.


John Cox

7:15: Cox leads the pack

At yesterday's weigh-in, John Cox told reporters that the fishing in his primary area was a good bit slower than it was on day one, when the fish were unpressured and eager to bite. He had to slow down and work them a bit more on day two.

Still, Cox got it done and expanded his lead. At takeoff this morning, he said that despite the fishing pressure that's started to take its toll on his tiny little tucked-away creek, Cox is still planning to go there first thing this morning. He has backup options if need be, but Cox is banking on this spot for at least the morning.

To see Cox in action on day two, check out the video below:


Top 20 Standings

1st: John Cox, Debary, Fla., 10 bass, 32-5

2nd: Jacob Wheeler, Indianapolis, Ind., 10 bass, 25-14

3rd: Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., 10 bass, 25-14

4th: Darrel Robertson, Jay, Okla., 10 bass, 25-3

5th: Todd Auten, Lake Wylie, S.C., nine bass, 25-2

6th: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 10 bass, 24-10

7th: Walmart pro Mark Rose, West Memphis, Ark., 10 bass, 24-4

8th: Bill Chapman, Salt Rock, W. Va., 10 bass, 22-5

9th: Yamamoto Baits pro Jimmy Reese, Witter Springs, Calif., 10 bass, 22-3

10th: Walmart pro David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., 10 bass, 21-11

11th: Brandon Cobb, Greenwood, S.C., 10 bass, 21-10

12th: Scott Martin, Clewiston, Fla., 10 bass, 21-9

13th: Chris Johnston, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, 10 bass, 21-8

14th: Cody Meyer, Auburn, Calif., 10 bass, 21-6

15th: Ray Hanselman, Del Rio, Texas, 10 bass, 21-3

16th: Joseph Webster, Fulton, Miss., 10 bass, 20-15

17th: Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., 10 bass, 20-15

18th: J.T. Kenney, Palm Bay, Fla., six bass, 20-13

19th: Shane LeHew, Mooresville, N.C., 10 bass, 20-8

20th: Brandon McMillan, Clewiston, Fla., eight bass, 20-7



Temperature at takeoff: 73 degrees

Forecast high: 93 degrees

Sky: partly cloudy

Precipitation: 50 percent chance of afternoon showers and thunderstorms

Wind: WNW at 7 mph


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

Tags: forrest-wood-cup  wheeler-lake  headline-story  2016-08-04-forrest-wood-cup 

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