Berkley pro John Cox of DeBary, Florida, won $100,000 at the FLW Tour at Lake Chickamauga presented by Evinrude Sunday with a four-day total of 83 pounds, 9 ounces. The victory was the fourth FLW Tour win of Cox's career – moving him to a tie at No. 7 for the most Tour wins all-time.
Cox brought a five-bass limit to the scale weighing 21 pounds even to clinch the victory by a 1-pound, 11-ounce margin over local favorite Buddy Gross of Chickamauga, Georgia, who brought 20 bass weighing 81-14 to the scale and earned $30,100. Tour rookie Ron Nelson of Berrien Springs, Michigan, who led the tournament coming into the final day, caught a four-day total of 80-5 to finish third and win $25,000.
"I can't believe that I won," said Cox, who also took over the points lead in the ultra-competitive Angler of the Year (AOY) race with just one event left in the regular season. "It was so tough today. I ran all over this place and had a decent limit, but not what I needed. I was bouncing around, then right before I had to check in I remembered a stretch of trees that I hadn't checked.
"It was the last minute, and I really don't know why it just popped in my head, but it did – go to the trees," Cox continued. "It was weird because I had forgotten all about this area. When I pulled up and Power-Poled down, I knew before I even threw in there."
With less than 10 minutes before he had to check-in, Cox boated a pair of 4-pounders from the trees and raced back to the Dayton Boat Dock.
"When I caught the two in the last 10 minutes, I got all worked up," Cox said. "I was running back, and I just felt something. Tears were coming down. It was overwhelming – I don't know. I've won tournaments before, but I've never felt anything like it before. I'm getting chills right now just talking about it. This one was different."
Cox said he used two main baits throughout the week. He threw a Texas-rigged 6-inch Baby Bass-colored Berkley PowerBait MaxScent The General while sight fishing and a white ½-ounce Dirty Jigs swim jig with a white Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Meaty Chunk Trailer to cover water.
"The jig setup really came into play when the rain came in," Cox said. "It was something that I could cover a lot of water with. I really thought the jig was going to be deal today, but I had to completely change gears at the end of the day and go back to the worm."
With just one tournament remaining in the regular season, Cox now shifts his focus to Lake Champlain in upstate New York. He holds just a slim 1-point lead in the AOY race over Polaris pro David Dudley – a three-time AOY winner who already has an FLW Tour win on Lake Champlain on his resume.
"My two favorite lakes are Lake Chickamauga and Lake Champlain, and to finish the season on those two fisheries is great," Cox went on to say. "I've been going to Lake Champlain since I was 20, and I really want to win there. But, I really, really want to win the AOY title. That would be awesome."
The top 10 pros on Lake Chickamauga finished:
- Berkley pro John Cox, DeBary, Fla., 20 bass, 83-9, $102,700
- Buddy Gross, Chickamauga, Ga., 20 bass, 81-14, $30,100
- Ron Nelson, Berrien Springs, Mich., 20 bass, 80-5, $25,000
- Yamamoto Baits pro Matt Greenblatt, Port St. Lucie, Fla., 20 bass, 80-0, $20,000
- Polaris pro David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., 20 bass, 78-9, $19,000
- Ramie Colson Jr., Cadiz, Ky., 20 bass, 76-7, $18,000
- Alex Davis, Albertville, Ala., 20 bass, 74-12, $17,000
- Strike King pro Jared McMillan, Belle Glade, Fla., 20 bass, 74-12, $16,000
- David Williams, Maiden, N.C., 20 bass, 69-9, $15,000
- Lowrance pro Austin Felix, Eden Prairie, Minn., 20 bass, 66-10, $14,000
Complete results for the entire field can be found at FLWFishing.com.
Overall there were 50 bass weighing 172 pounds, 10 ounces caught by pros Sunday. All 10 of the final-day pros brought a five-bass limit to the scale.