FLW Tour Final: Cox earns first Tour-level win on the Red River

Florida pro earns Forrest Wood Cup berth in Louisiana stop

Florida’s John Cox weighed in 7 pounds, 13 ounces Sunday (May 22) to clinch the FLW Tour victory he had been aiming for since taking the first-day lead in the Red River event. Cox’s three-day total tallied 48 ½ pounds, earning him a $100,000 check and a berth in the Forrest Wood Cup to be held in July on Arkansas’ Lake Ouachita.

The catch gave him the win by a 5-pound, 4-ounce margin over National Guard pro

“I’m kind of numb,” said Cox, who claimed his first Tour-level title with the win. “I don’t believe it yet.”

Cox said the win couldn’t have come at a better time. He had considered withdrawing from the tournament before it began because of a lack of funds. He wanted to fish the Red River because he had fished it before and thought he might have a chance to win. He considered selling the Power-Poles rigged to his boat to raise funds, but a friend told him not to. The friend let him borrow the money that allowed Cox to compete.

“I’ve got some people to pay back,” Cox said. “My buddy said, ‘Don’t sell those Power-Poles. Those are too sweet.’ Maybe I’ll give him a little extra.”

In addition to owing people money, Cox also came through on a promise to his girlfriend after he claimed the victory. Cox had told his girlfriend they would get married after he won a Tour event. Cox relayed the story to the audience, and then proposed on-stage to his girlfriend.

Cox’s win could be called incredible just for the effort that he put into the competition on the first two days. Cox had discovered a pond that was accessible because of the elevated water level. The only access to the pond, however, was through a large pipe – an opening just large enough for a small bass boat.

Cox fished the first three days of competition from a 17-foot boat powered by a 75-horsepower Mercury outboard with hopes the lighter rig would allow him to access shallow-water areas the other competitors could not. Cox said he made a two-hour run each way to his fishing spot on the first two days, and then faced a 45-minute ordeal of squeezing the boat through the pipe to access the pond.

However, the receding water level did not allow Cox to fish the pond on the final two days of competition, so he fished an area he was familiar with from a previous competition. The area paid off on day three, but proved to be stingy the final day. Cox said he had only two fish at noon and was beginning to get nervous.

“The way the morning started I thought, ‘Man, I’m not going to win this thing,’” Cox said. “I stopped breathing, I think. I think I held my breath from noon until I caught the rest of my fish.

“I thought I was going to throw up I was so nervous.”

With only two keepers in the boat, Cox said he relocated in hopes of catching more fish. When the moved proved unfruitful, he returned to his starting spot at 1:30 p.m.

“I was hopeful an opportunity would come again, and it did,” Cox said.
Cox said he quickly caught three more keepers to round out his limit.

“This place was tough because of the high water, and I just went into survivor mode,” Cox said.

Mark Rose of Arkansas claimed second place with 43-4, while Georgia’s Clint Brownlee wrapped up in third with 40-1. Darrel Robertson of Oklahoma landed in fourth with 40 pounds, and Texas pro Gary Yamamoto took fifth with 37-11.

Complete standings can be found at FLWOutdoors.com.

In the co-angler division, Keith Carson of Florida claimed the $20,000 first-place prize with a three-day total 24-12.