John Cox of Debary, Fla., caught a five-bass limit weighing 14 pounds, 2 ounces Friday to maintain his lead in the FLW Series Eastern Division tournament on Lake Okeechobee. With a three-day catch of 15 bass weighing 62-1, he holds a 10-pound, 11-ounce lead over his closest competitor, National Guard pro Scott Martin of Clewiston, Fla., heading into the final day of competition.
“Today was the first day I actually saw fish and didn’t catch them,” said Cox, who is fishing in his first FLW Series tournament. “I think that’s because they were new fish. It was just rough. The first day they all ate it the first time they hit it. Yesterday they would hit it three or four times before they actually ate it and swam off the bed. Today they wouldn’t pick it up at all.”
Cox relied heavily on sight fishing the first three days of competition and thinks the fish he saw Friday were new fish on beds and were generally more hesitant to bite.
“I’m not a biologist or anything,” Cox said. That’s just what I like to think.
“Tomorrow I’m going to change it up,” Cox added. “I’ve found an area that’s got a ton of big fish cruising and I’m going to go in there and cast to them. If it’s right, I might load the boat in a couple of hours.”
Martin caught a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 51-6 to advance to the final round as the No. 2 seed.
“My pattern right off the bat was to get the (Lake Fork Trophy Lures) ‘Live’ Magic Shad in the grass,” said Martin, who has won more than $1 million in FLW Outdoors competition. “It was just a disastrous morning. I feel like I’m doing it right, but I missed so many fish today.”
Martin’s topwater presentation was a source of frustration Friday as he missed 15 fish and caught three. He didn’t weigh any of his three topwater fish.
“Half of them would just totally miss the bait and blow it out of the water like they were hitting with their mouth closed almost,” Martin said. “I think it’s the progression of the spawn they’re in. They’re a little ‘chasy’ right now and not really wanting to feed. I’m getting the strikes around beds.”
The remaining top-5 pros who will fish the final day at Lake Okeechobee are:
3rd: Team Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., 49-8
4th: J. Todd Tucker, Moultrie, Ga., 48-1
5th: Tom Mann Jr., Buford, Ga., 47-13
The remaining pro anglers in top-10 are:
6th: Scott Canterbury, Springville, Ala., 47-5, $8,500
7th: Randall Tharp, Gardendale, Ala., 46-10, $17,006
8th: Bob Izumi, Milton, Ontario, 44-9, $11,252
9th: Bobby Lane, Lakeland, Fla., 44-9, $9,788
10th: Nicolas Supik, Natrona Heights, Pa., 44-2, $6,500
Overall there were 721 bass weighing 1,630 pounds, 12 ounces caught by 155 pros Friday. The catch included 127 five-bass limits.
In FLW Series competition, pros are competing for a top award of $50,000 plus valuable points in the hope of qualifying for a shot at the 2011 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing.
George Kapiton of Inverness, Fla., won the Co-angler Division and a Ranger 177TR with a 90 horsepower engine and an additional $2,038 in the optional pot Friday with a three-day total of 35 pounds followed by Marlon Crowder of Tampa, Fla., in second place with 33-13 worth $5,000. Kapiton also was the Ranger Cup program winner of $1,500, while Marlon won a $1,000 Cabela’s gift card for being the highest-finishing co-angler to meet Cabela’s Angler Cash guidelines.
Kapiton opened the tournament in fourth place Wednesday with five bass weighing 11-6 while fishing with Tharp. On Thursday he slipped to 10th place with a five-bass catch weighing 6-6 while fishing with pro Clint Brownlee of Tifton, Ga. He wrapped up the win Friday with a five-bass catch weighing 17-4 while fishing with pro Derrick Snavely of Rogersville, Tenn.
“This is surreal, man,” said Kapiton, who notched his first win. “It’s awesome. Just awesome. I’ve fished a bunch and finally (won) one.”
Kapiton said he wasn’t very familiar with Lake Okeechobee, but that didn’t derail his first win. Kapiton said his pro anglers were key to his victory.
“Derrick put me on the six-pounder and let me catch it,” Kapiton said. “It took about 20 minutes. I caught it, and I was ready to go to the house. I couldn’t stand up any more after that.”
Kapiton said he caught his baits on “everything”. He said he fished a chatterbait in dirty water and tried different baits all day with eight rods on the deck.
Rounding out the top-10 co-anglers are:
3rd: Jeff Cummins, Marion, Ohio, 32-13, $4,429
4th: Larry Mullikin, Lauderhill, Fla., 29-3, $2,500
5th: Anthony Goggins, Sylacauga, Ala., 27-0, $2,000
6th: Robert Eid, Key West, Fla., 26-11, $1,500
7th: Philip Jarabeck, Lynchburg, Va., 26-2, $1,250
8th: Jim Folks, Melbourne, Fla., 25-13, $1,543
9th: Richard Rhodes, Calvert City, Ky., 25-4, $875
10th: Anthony Hunt, Tamarac, Fla., 25-3, $750
Co-anglers are also competing for valuable points that could help them qualify for the 2011 Forrest Wood Cup.
Overall there were 483 bass weighing 798 pounds, 10 ounces caught by 136 co-anglers Friday. The catch included 58 five-bass limits.
The remaining five pros will take off at 7 Saturday morning from C. Scott Driver Park located at 10100 W. Hwy. 78 in Okeechobee. Saturday’s final weigh-in will be held at the Gilbert Chevrolet Company located at 3550 Hwy. 441 S. in Okeechobee at 4 p.m.
Fans will be treated to a Family Fun Zone at Gilbert Chevrolet prior to Saturday’s weigh-in from noon to 4 p.m. There will be a drawing for a $300 Cabela’s gift card and drawings for rod and reel combos will be held every 30 minutes during the event. Activities in the Family Fun Zone include a Ranger boat simulator and assorted fishing-themed games. All activities are free and open to the public.
Coverage of the Lake Okeechobee tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on VERSUS. “FLW Outdoors”, will air May 2 from 12:30 to 1:30 ET. “FLW Outdoors,” hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to approximately 500 million households worldwide.
ABOUT FLW OUTDOORS FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world offering anglers worldwide the opportunity to compete for millions over the course of 189 tournaments in 2010. FLW Outdoors has also taken fishing mainstream with FLW Fantasy Fishing awarding the largest prizes in the history of fantasy sports. FLW Outdoors memberships are available featuring numerous benefits including Player’s Advantage. For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing, visit FantasyFishing.com. FLWOutdoors.com