Fifty of the best bass anglers in the world converged on Wheeler Lake in Huntsville, Alabama, this morning for the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world-championship of professional bass fishing. The four-day competition, which awards a top cash prize of $300,000, will feature a full field of anglers Friday before cutting to the top 20 on Saturday, and to the final 10 on championship Sunday.
Pro John Cox of Debary, Florida, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 11 ounces, to take the early lead after Day One on the water. Cox holds a slim 1-pound, 13-ounce, lead over Brandon McMillian of Clewiston, Florida, who caught five bass weighing 14-14, good for second place.
Cox said he spent his day on the south end of the lake dissecting a 300-yard creek arm off of the main river. He said it was one of four arms that he had hit during practice.
“I was on my way into a hole that I figured no one could get to, and I ended up catching them on the way back there,” said Cox, who won the FLW Tour event on Lake Hartwell earlier this season. “It took about 40 minutes to get in there. There were a lot of logs I had to go across.”
Cox said he caught 10 fish along his path using a variety of baits including a buzzbait, spinnerbait and a Yamamoto Senko.
“I saw some duckweed in a tree and caught one on a frog, and then another from a clump nearby,” said Cox. “I flipped and casted all day. I caught my largest fish in the morning – a 3-pounder – when I finally got to the back of the creek.”
Heading into Day Two, Cox said he is confident that some sizeable bass will still be in his area.
“I’m thinking I can go back in there tomorrow and catch them again,” said Cox. “The fish were healthy, thick and eating good. I like how the area was setting up. I don’t know if I can get the same weight as today, but 13 pounds is a definite possibility.”
The top 20 pros after day one on Wheeler Lake are:
1st: John Cox, Debary, Fla., five bass, 16-11
2nd: Brandon McMillan, Clewiston, Fla., five bass, 14-14
3rd: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., five bass, 14-7
4th: Joseph Webster, Fulton, Miss., five bass, 14-2
5th: Walmart pro Mark Rose, West Memphis, Ark., five bass, 13-15
6th: Bill Chapman, Salt Rock, W. Va., five bass, 13-8
7th: Yamamoto Baits pro Shinichi Fukae, Palestine, Texas, five bass, 13-7
8th: Shane Lehew, Mooresville, N.C., five bass, 13-3
9th: Quaker State pro Matt Arey, Shelby, N.C., five bass, 12-8
10th: Cody Meyer, Auburn, Calif., five bass, 12-1
11th: Terry Bolton, Paducah, Ky., five bass, 11-13
12th: Brandon Cobb, Greenwood, S.C., five bass, 11-6
13th: Scott Martin, Clewiston, Fla., five bass, 11-2
14th: Todd Auten, Lake Wylie, S.C., four bass, 10-12
15th: Darrel Robertson, Jay, Okla., five bass, 10-11
16th: Dan Morehead, Paducah, Ky., five bass, 10-8
17th: Livingston Lures pro Stetson Blaylock, Benton, Ark., five bass, 10-7
18th: Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., five bass, 10-2
19th: Old Spice pro Greg Bohannan, Bentonville, Ark., five bass, 9-15
20th: Tyler Suddarth, Valdosta, Ga., five bass, 9-12
For a full list of results visit FLWFishing.com.