UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Hartwell

John Cox Making Most of Opportunities

John Cox Making Most of Opportunities
John Cox

Ask any professional bass fishing fan who they think will win any given tournament on the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit schedule and one name will probably pop up more than any other: John Cox.

Cox is a hammer. There’s no other way to describe his ability and clout in the professional fishing world. His resume is stacked. Four Pro Circuit wins (including an FLW Cup) and 32 top 10s across all FLW competition. Seven FLW Cup appearances in nine years on the Pro Circuit. One giant personality and zero ego.

Cox is a superstar. There’s no way around it.

Just don’t tell him that.

“I don’t even look at it like that,” he says of being called a superstar of the sport. “Every morning I wake up, and it’s amazing I get to go fishing every day and take care of my family. I love my job.”

The best part of what Cox does for a living is that it’s both a job and a passion. And in 2020, he’s taking on a much larger workload – if you can even call it that. He certainly wouldn’t.

In addition to finishing second in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit standings last season, Cox finished runner-up in the Bassmaster Central Open standings and fourth in the Eastern Open standings, qualifying him to fish the Pro Circuit and Bassmaster Elite Series this year. While many pros were faced with some either-or decisions this offseason, Cox chose both – fishing the Pro Circuit and Elite Series – and he’s not even a bit nervous about doing both.

“I’m super excited I’m able to fish the Pro Circuit,” he says. “I’m excited for both trails, completely equal. I can’t wait. I’m just thrilled to be there. I’m thrilled to be fishing both.”

That’s not false excitement or lip service, either. When Cox talks and talks some more about his enthusiasm, he really means it. He’s a kid in a candy store. Two candy stores, in fact.

 

Preparation now, success later

While fishing a full season on the Pro Circuit and two divisions of the Opens last season, Cox oftentimes had three boats and as many trucks scattered across the country. He was flying from tournament to tournament, boat to boat, all in pursuit of big bags and big checks.

With that scramble came three times the headaches. Tackle organization and equipment upkeep were near the top of the list. 

With a similar workload ahead of him this year, Cox has been dedicating almost all his time this offseason to preparation for the 2020 season.

“I probably have about 100 hours in on working on my tackle,” he says. “Everything was pretty much a disaster after the season because I was flying back and forth from so many places. Everything was a mess.

“It’s one thing when you go out there and don’t have to worry about anything; you can fish a lot different. I’m just trying to get everything ready.”

But not all of Cox’s time has been spent on tackle and maintenance and tournament preparation. He’s also spent some time on his personal life.

To close out 2019 – perhaps one of the best fishing years of his life – Cox put a bow on the decade by marrying his girlfriend of three years, Melissa. The two tied the knot and set out on their honeymoon across the western U.S., spending New Year’s in a truck and on a four-day journey from northern California to Lake Tahoe to Death Valley and eventually Las Vegas.

 

John Cox

What lies ahead

The Pro Circuit schedule kicks off with Sam Rayburn Reservoir on Jan. 23. It’s a lake at which Cox finished 32nd to begin last season, and he has a prior top five at Big Sam on his resume from 2014. In other words, it’s an exciting first stop for what should be an exciting season for Cox.

“It’s going to be great,” he says. “Last year, it blew me away how good everybody caught them with the high water, but it’s going to really show out this time. I’ve got a feeling there’s going to be some 30-pound bags.

“I’m hoping we get some decent weather. The place is loaded with big fish. Any cast you have a chance to catch an 8-, 9-, 10-pounder. When you have the opportunity to catch one that big, it just keeps you going, even in that cold weather.”

In fact, 10-pounders might be the rule rather than the exception for Cox at the start of 2020. No wonder he’s so excited.

After Rayburn, Cox will head back to Florida and his own backyard for an event on the St. Johns River. From there, it’s Lake Chickamauga, where he’s won before, and then back to Florida for the Pro Circuit and the Harris Chain. 

That’s a stretch that could legitimately include multiple double-digit bass. And big fish are what get Cox out of bed in the morning.

“The opportunity to catch big fish is going to be so huge at all these events,” he says. “I’m thrilled. I’m so thankful that everybody is allowing me to do both and sponsors are all about it.”

 

John Cox

2020 vision

It all comes down to this: Can Cox juggle two major trails and remain at the very top of the bass fishing world?

There’s really nothing in his recent history that suggests he can’t. When Cox blasts off, he’s convinced he has a shot at winning, every single time.

“That sounds so bad. I don’t want to sound like that guy,” Cox says of approaching every tournament as if he can win it. “’He’s nuts. He thinks he’s going to win every tournament.’ Every one I’m going into, to do this you have to have that kind of confidence that you feel like you could have an opportunity to win. My thing is to try to make the final day every time, and if the opportunity comes, try to snatch it up.”

It's a mentality that wasn’t necessarily spawned from success so much as failure. 

“When I first started, there were so many times I was out of money and completely broke and had to borrow money just to get home,” Cox admits. “I don’t want that to ever happen again. I got a taste of how awful that was. It makes me fish a little harder every time out there.”

Of course, success has played its own role. With each top 10 and each win, Cox has learned a little more about what it takes to be the best.

He also has quite a bit of experience on most of the lakes he’ll fish this year.

“I’m just excited,” Cox says. “It’s always fun when you go to a place and you already have a pretty good idea of where you’re going to fish and what you’re going to throw. The pressure side of the unknown part of it; you don’t have that. You kind of have somewhat of a game plan of what you’re going to look for.”

 

Old dogs and new tricks

Cox is a shallow-water angler. If his rod tip can’t touch the bottom, he’s probably cranking up his Mercury to find somewhere it can. That’s not to say Cox can’t fish offshore, but it’s not his preference. He’s going to do it his way. 

Still, that doesn’t mean Cox is set in his ways. He’s always looking for new approaches to expand his repertoire and cash more checks.

Like a flamethrowing pitcher who added a curveball to his arsenal in the offseason, Cox has been toying around with a technique that has often given him little confidence in the past.

“I’ve been really playing with a lot of the new crankbaits that Berkley has,” he explains. “I’m blown away with some of the scenarios when I needed to throw those baits that I didn’t have them and didn’t have any confidence in them. I really worked on that pretty hard this year. 

“I’ve got chills thinking about it. I’m normally a soft plastics, topwater, frogs, ChatterBait, spinnerbait guy. When we went to Grand Lake last year, I saw where I should have laid the ChatterBait down and my rod box was frozen; I couldn’t get my crankbait rod out. I caught some, but I ended up losing the tournament because I didn’t pull it out soon enough.”

Cox went on to finish fourth in that event, but he’s not reflecting on the success. He’s looking back on the failure of not winning, dissecting the issues and figuring out a way to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

 

John Cox

The ultimate goal

Every successful tournament angler has drive and determination. Some want the reward of knowing their hard work paid off. Some are driven to be the best to ever do it.

Cox doesn’t pursue the superstar label or the prestige that goes with it. He wants to win because it’s fun, and because the higher he finishes, the bigger the check he gets.

“Every once in a while, it works out really good and you catch them, but I’m out here every day just grinding,” he explains. “A lot of guys are better at casting, or they might have more lure selection than I do, or they might have nicer, shinier boats, but I just keep trying to get paid.”

The money isn’t the reason Cox fishes. If he won the lottery, there’s a good chance he’d be back out on the water the very next day. And the day after that. But it’s the primary reason he fishes tournaments – and now two major tournament trails – and it’s all with the goal of providing for his family.

Ask Cox what his primary goal is this season and he’ll probably tell you he wants to cash a check in every event. For some anglers, that means money in the bank, or a new truck, or a bigger house. For Cox, that just means more opportunities to keep fishing. 

Because, when you boil away the travel and the weigh-ins and the interviews, it all comes down to one thing: John Cox loves fishing. He’s excited about it. Just ask him. 

Tags: flw  tackle-warehouse-pro-circuit  john-cox  justin-onslow  article 

McKendree University Moves to Top at Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance on the Harris Chain

McKendree University Moves to Top at Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance on the Harris Chain

LEESBURG, Fla. – Illinois’ McKendree University’s team of Nathan Doty and Jacob Louis moved to the top of the leaderboard Thursday on Day Two of the 2020 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance at the Harris Chain of Lakes after... READ MORE »

Sam Houston State University Takes Early Lead at Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance on the Harris Chain

Sam Houston State University Takes Early Lead at Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance on the Harris Chain

LEESBURG, Fla. – The Sam Houston State University duo of Bryton Kurtz and Jackson Carrell grabbed the early lead Wednesday after Day One of the 2020 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance. The Bearkats team brought a five-bass... READ MORE »

Kritsberg Hits Jackpot With Strickland Mega-Bag

Kritsberg Hits Jackpot With Strickland Mega-Bag

Warren “Butch” Kritsberg has only lived in Florida for a few years, and he’s still learning a lot about fishing the Harris Chain of Lakes. Fortunately, he now has a lot of new intel about where and how to catch giants after riding along with Laramy Strickland on the second tournament day of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event, which was presented by Bad Boy Mowers. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from the Harris Chain

Top 10 Patterns from the Harris Chain

Each day of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the Harris Chain of Lakes was markedly different from the day prior. Most of the field struggled a bit, and the final 30 anglers were left scrambling to figure out how to find and catch fish in the post-frontal conditions that are often so detrimental for Florida largemouths.  READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from the Harris Chain

Top 10 Baits from the Harris Chain

At Florida’s Harris Chain, in late winter, it’s a good bet the same handful of baits are going to produce more than any others, from Lake Harris down to Apopka. During the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event on the Harris Chain, presented by Bad Boy Mowers, it was Texas rigs with black and blue plastics, jerkbaits, Carolina rigs and a few other moving baits that most often got the call.  READ MORE »

Lake Hartwell Set to Host Toyota FLW Series Tournament

Lake Hartwell Set to Host Toyota FLW Series Tournament

SENECA, S.C. – The 2020 Toyota Series will continue its season next week at Lake Hartwell, March 3-5, with the Toyota Series at Lake Hartwell tournament. Hosted by Visit Oconee, the three-day tournament will feature the best regional bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to... READ MORE »

Elberton’s Partain Earns Win at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Lake Hartwell

Elberton’s Partain Earns Win at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Lake Hartwell

LAVONIA, Ga. (Feb. 24, 2020) – Boater Kerry Partain of Elberton, Georgia, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 15 pounds, 5 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at Lake Hartwell in Lavonia. For his victory, Partain earned $5,336... READ MORE »

Local Rookie Strickland Wins Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers

Local Rookie Strickland Wins Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers

LEESBURG, Fla. (Feb. 23, 2020) – Pro Laramy Strickland of Bushnell, Florida, brought five bass to the scale weighing 15 pounds, 4 ounces, to win the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at the Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers Sunday. Strickland’s three-day total of 15 bass totaling 61 pounds, 4 ounces gave him the... READ MORE »

Strickland Hangs Tough on Harris

Strickland Hangs Tough on Harris

The final day of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the Harris Chain was a bit tougher than expected. After putting over 30 pounds on the scale on day two of the weather-shortened derby, Laramy Strickland worked up 15 pounds, 4 ounces on the final day for a 61-4 total to earn the win. For the win, the Bushnell, Fla., rookie took home $100,000 and a big win over a stacked top 30 that included some of the best anglers in the country and some superstar Floridians. READ MORE »

Local pro Strickland Catches Mega Limit, Takes Lead at Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers

Local pro Strickland Catches Mega Limit, Takes Lead at Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers

LEESBURG, Fla. (Feb. 22, 2020) – Local pro angler Laramy Strickland of Bushnell, Florida, caught a five-bass limit Saturday weighing 31 pounds, 6 ounces, to vault to the top of the leaderboard at the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at the Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers. His two-day total of 10... READ MORE »

Strickland Sticks 31-Pound Megabag

Strickland Sticks 31-Pound Megabag

Florida cold fronts are supposed to shut the fishing down, but that wasn’t the case for many of the leaders through two days of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the Harris Chain. Rocketing into the lead from 35th place, Laramy Strickland popped a 31-pound, 6-ounce megabag to put his leading total at an even 46 pounds. In second, Jimmy Washam stayed steady, weighing 21-13 for second and a 41-13 total. In third, Hunter Freeman also made a big jump, hammering out 25-14 on day two to get up to 39-6. READ MORE »

Day Two of Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers Postponed Due to High Winds

Day Two of Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers Postponed Due to High Winds

LEESBURG, Fla. (Feb. 21, 2020) – Day Two of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at the Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers has been canceled due to inclement weather. With a lake wind advisory in effect from 10 a.m. ET until later this evening, conditions on the lake were deemed unsafe by Daniel Fennel... READ MORE »

California’s Salewske Leads Day One of Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers

California’s Salewske Leads Day One of Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers

LEESBURG, Fla. – Pro Rusty Salewske of Alpine, California, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Thursday weighing 26 pounds, 10 ounces, to jump out to the early lead after Day One of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at the Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers. Pro Miles Burghoff of Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee... READ MORE »

Registration Now Open for 2020 Wiley X High School Fishing Camp presented by Tackle Warehouse

Registration Now Open for 2020 Wiley X High School Fishing Camp presented by Tackle Warehouse

BENTON, Ky. (Feb. 20, 2020) – FLW announced today that registration is now open for the third annual Wiley X High School Fishing Camp presented by Tackle Warehouse, scheduled for July 22-24, on the Murray State University campus in Murray, Kentucky... READ MORE »

Salewske Cracks 26 at Harris Chain

Salewske Cracks 26 at Harris Chain

Day one of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bab Boy Mowers on the Harris Chain was a catchfest, but it wasn’t quite the sight-fishing showdown that some hoped for. In the lead, Rusty Salewske weighed 26 pounds, 10 ounces. Just ounces behind him, Miles Burghoff wrangled 26-8. In third, Jared McMillan put 22-1 on the scale to kick things off. READ MORE »

Wiley X Teams with FLW

Wiley X Teams with FLW

FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, announced today a multi-year sponsorship agreement with Wiley X, one of the most trusted brands in the world for safety eyewear, high-performance sunglasses, and optical/protective sports eyewear for youth. Effective immediately, Wiley X becomes the official sunglass provider of FLW and assumes title sponsorship of the FLW High School Fishing Camp, the ultimate summer camp for serious high school anglers, their parents, boat captains and coaches. In addition to the High School Fishing Camp, Wiley X has also been named the presenting sponsor of the new Major League Fishing (MLF) College Faceoff events. READ MORE »

Wiley X Named Official Sunglass Provider of FLW

Wiley X Named Official Sunglass Provider of FLW

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: BENTON, Ky. (Feb. 19, 2020) – FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, announced today a multi-year sponsorship agreement with Wiley X, one of the most trusted brands in the world for safety eyewear, high-performance sunglasses, and optical/protective sports... READ MORE »

Toyota Series Set To Visit Lake Chickamauga for Central Division Opener

Toyota Series Set To Visit Lake Chickamauga for Central Division Opener

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: DAYTON, Tenn. – The 2020 Toyota Series will open the Central Division with a tournament next week at Lake Chickamauga, Feb. 27-29, with the Toyota Series at Lake Chickamauga. Hosted by Fish Dayton and the Rhea Economic and Tourism Council, the three-day... READ MORE »

Exploring Harris with Tim Frederick

Exploring Harris with Tim Frederick

To say Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Tim Frederick loves fishing in Florida would be an understatement. The Leesburg local and fifth-year Pro Circuit veteran calls the Harris Chain of Lakes home, and his only FLW win came just a bit farther south on Okeechobee in 2018. After a 22nd-place finish in the Toyota Series Southern Division opener on the St. Johns River last week, Frederick has fully turned his attention to his home bodies of water. READ MORE »

Harris Chain of Lakes Readies for 2020 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance

Harris Chain of Lakes Readies for 2020 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: LEESBURG, Fla. – The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit anglers fishing in Leesburg this week won’t be the only anglers enjoying the big bass factory that is the Harris Chain of Lakes. The best college fishing teams from across the country are also making their way to the Harris... READ MORE »