Mud Hole Tackle Pro John Cox Leads Day 1 Of The Forrest Wood Cup With 16.11 Pound Limit. Mcmillan Second
A pair of Florida boys top the leaderboard and even Mark Rose, a noted ledge-fishing expert is beating the banks.
That’s how Wheeler Lake is fishing as we begin the 4-day 2016 Forrest Wood Cup. The deep bite is off, although Joseph Webster caught 14 pounds, 2 ounces offshore. He would be in 3rd place but a dead fish cost him half a pound on the scale and a whole spot in the standings.
Another popular trend this week is to burn a bunch of gas.
Luke Mason, who fishes for the University of North Alabama, took me out in his boat this morning. We followed the guys. Only 2 of them went up river and they stopped about a quarter mile up. Nobody else even turned left out of Ditto Landing. In fact, we saw 6 boats, total, and one of those guys wanted to run way down lake but had motor trouble. We went south past Decatur, so 44 of the 50 boats went farther down lake than that.
Then there’s Cox, who leads with 16-11. He said his water is 20 miles off the main lake. “There’s not even any blue there on the Navionics Chart,” chuckled Cox. The only reason he can access the area is because he runs an aluminum rig, a 20-foot Crestliner. “I just slide over logs that stop everybody else and I keep on going.” Cox is investing 40 minutes, each way, after he leaves the main lake to reach his honey hole. The results justify the effort.
Cox said he is flipping and casting. He believes the area may give him one more good day, but he believes he will have to run new water as the week goes on. “The (specific stretch) where I meant to start today past where I caught my fish today so I haven’t touched my main area yet,” said Cox, adding “Now, I don’t know if those are the same fish I found in practice and they just moved, or if there are more in there. I believe they have moved in there from somewhere because they are healthy looking fish. Usually, fish confined to a pond or such as that this time of year are really skinny.”
Asked why he thinks the fish would have moved from the main lake to a very remote backwater this time of year, Cox guessed, “To get away from Wheeler Lake.”
It’s tough fishing, but that’s no knock on Wheeler. A lack of grass does mean less oxygen in the system, a prime reason Rose believes the bass are hanging in the top of the water column instead of locking onto offshore structure. People generally think of grass as being a magnet to draw fish shallow, but Rose recognized an important piece of the puzzle with the grass/oxygen/deep bite cycle. His observations have landed him in 5th place with 13-15 to begin the tourney.
Brandon McMillan is also fishing shallow, as expected. It’s working better than expected. He hopes to continue in that direction tomorrow. He believes this lake is setting up well for him. “I like to flip. I like it when it’s a grind. I would like to see it stay this way,” grinned McMillan.
Bryan Thrift is in 3rd with 14-7. He is doing what he does – run and gun and burn the banks.
A dangerous Bill Chapman lurks in 6th. A couple of pros told me to watch him. The angler from Salt Rock WV put 13-8 on the scale today. Word is he’s on some good fish and can likely repeat his performance tomorrow.
Luke and I watched Shin Fukae for a little while today. The Yamamoto pro missed 3 strikes in short order before finally boating a tiny fish. I said to Luke, ‘If he’s having to work that hard to catch a fish that small, let’s go find somebody else to watch.’ I’m happy to say it was a bad call on my part as Fukae brought in 13-7 and occupies 7th place.
Shane Lehew is 8th with 13-3. Matt Arey has 12-8, good for 9th. Cody Meyer is 10th with 12-1.
We’ll be out there on Wheeler Lake again tomorrow and at the weigh in show tomorrow evening to bring the action from the Forrest Wood Cup at AnglersChannel.com!
And be sure to tune into the Progressive Bass Wrap Up TV Show which will feature the Cup in couple of weeks on Pursuit Channel.