Berkley pro John Cox of DeBary, Florida, already had an impressive resume – four career victories, two runner-up finishes in the FLW Angler of the Year race and the 2016 FLW Cup Championship. Sunday in Texas, Cox added another accolade to the FLW record books.
Cox weighed a five-bass limit totaling 12 pounds, 9 ounces to win with a wire-to-wire victory at the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Cox’s four-day total of 65-15 was enough to get the win by a 2-pound, 7-ounce margin and earn his fifth career victory in FLW pro-level competition. Each of those five victories have come from a different fishery and a different state.
“This was the best win I’ve ever had,” said Cox, who moved into a tie with David Dudley at No. 6 all-time with five career wins. “I usually start off the year pretty slow and get better through the season. To start the season with a win, I don’t even know what to say. I’m so thankful – this is just incredible.”
Cox caught all of his fish on the first two days of competition at one specific spot, making one specific cast with one specific bait. He described the area as a 3-foot high spot with a little bit of sand and rock with hydrilla all around it, right at the mouth of one of the best-known spawning creeks on Sam Rayburn.
“I had to make the same cast the entire time,” Cox said. “I could feel the crankbait come over their backs – it felt like logs – and then one would just smoke it.”
After mining the same spot for the first two days with a Berkley Frittside 5 Crankbait (Lone Ranger- and Ghost Morning Dawn-colored), the area fizzled on Saturday. Cox was forced to scramble for the final two days of competition, but in true John Cox-fashion he was able to find just enough weight to hang on and earn the win.
“The last two days have been the hardest that I’ve ever had to grind, ever, just to catch a limit,” Cox said. “Coming back to the weigh-in today, I thought I had blown it.”
Cox managed to scratch up limits on Saturday and Sunday throwing a Dirty Jigs swimjig with a black and blue Berkley Powerbait Maxscent Meaty Chunk and a Z-Man Original ChatterBait with a black and blue Berkley Powerbait Grass Pig. He also added two small keepers Sunday on an unnamed frog.
“The key was definitely the Frittside crankbait and catching all of them on that spot,” Cox went on to say. “I didn’t even own a crankbait rod until this year.”
Cox’s crankbait was thrown on a 7-foot, 6-inch Abu Garcia Veritas Winch rod paired with an Abu Garcia REVO EXD casting reel.
The top 10 pros on Sam Rayburn Reservoir finished:
1st: John Cox of DeBary, Fla., 20 bass, 65-15, $100,000
2nd: Tommy Dickerson of Orange, Texas, 20 bass, 63-8, $30,000
3rd: Darold Gleason of Many, La., 20 bass, 62-14, $25,000
4th: Corey Neece of Bristol, Tenn., 19 bass, 59-9, $20,000
5th: Ron Nelson of Berrien Springs, Mich., 20 bass, 57-5, $19,000
6th: Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Mich., 20 bass, 56-10, $18,000
7th: Kerry Milner of Bono, Ark., 20 bass, 54-0, $17,500
8th: Sam George of Athens, Ala., 17 bass, 52-13, $16,000
9th: Alex Davis of Albertville, Ala., 20 bass, 52-12, $15,000
10th: Jonathan Canada of Helena, Ala., 18 bass, 51-11, $14,000
Complete results for the entire field can be found at FLWFishing.com.