ANDERSON, S.C., March 20, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Florida pro John Cox, brought a five-bass limit to the scale weighing 16 pounds, 2 ounces Sunday to win the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Hartwell presented by Evinrude. Cox's four-day total of 20 bass weighing 67 pounds, 6 ounces earned him the win by a slim 7-ounce margin over second place angler Clark Wendlandt of Leander, Texas, and $100,000 in the second FLW Tour event of 2016.
"It feels absolutely incredible to win this event," said Cox, who now leads the 2016 FLW Angler of the Year race. "I haven't won a Tour event in five years. Everything just came together for me this week."
Cox said he spent the first three days of the tournament scouring nearly 70 miles of shoreline in search of spawning bass. He said his most productive baits were a wacky-rigged, watermelon-seed-colored Yamamoto Senko and Zoom Trick Worm.
"I ran to as many pockets as I could and caught most of my stringers off of beds," said Cox. "My biggest bass of the tournament, a 6-pound, 11-ouncer, actually came off of a dock. It was crazy because I caught that one as I was targeting a 3-pounder."
On day four, Cox said he decided to concentrate on a ¼-mile stretch of dirty water near Seneca that he called "the pond". He said he rotated between a black and blue jig and a Z-Man ChatterBait in a variety of cover and ended up boating seven keepers.
"I put my head down and got to work," said Cox. "I threw to various pieces of wood and some rocks, basically anything on the bank. Every 200 yards I'd get a bite. I ended up catching each stringer fish from a different piece of cover. It's amazing that I could spend three days running for miles sight-fishing, and then all of a sudden do so well in a such a small area."
The Florida pro said that his decision to stay in the pond ultimately got him the win.
"Every time I tried to leave the area, I'd catch one," said Cox. "I ended up being in there all day. It worked out perfectly."
The top 10 pros finished the tournament:
1st: John Cox, DeBary, Fla., 20 bass, 67-6, $100,000
2nd: Clark Wendlandt, Leander, Texas, 20 bass, 66-15, $30,000
3rd: Jamie Horton, Centerville, Ala., 20 bass, 62-9, $25,000
4th: Jeff Gustafson, Keewatin, Ontario, Canada, 20 bass, 59-14, $20,000
5th: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 20 bass, 59-8, $19,000
6th: Darrel Robertson, Jay, Okla., 20 bass, 59-3, $18,000
7th: Yamamoto Baits pro Larry Nixon, Bee Branch, Ark., 20 bass, 57-14, $17,000
8th: Cory Johnston, Cavan, Ontario, Canada, 20 bass, 56-5, $16,000
9th: Lew's pro Peter Thliveros, Saint Augustine, Fla., 20 bass, 55-0, $15,000
10th: Powell Kemp, Scotland Neck, N.C., 20 bass, 54-10, $14,000
For a full list of results visit FLWFishing.com.
Overall there were 50 bass weighing 130 pounds, 3 ounces caught by 10 pros Saturday. All 10 of the day four contenders caught five-bass limits.
Chuck Kavros of Grass Valley, California, won the co-angler division and $20,000 Friday with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 22 pounds, 2 ounces, followed by Anthony Goggins of Auburn, Alabama, who finished in second place with 10 bass weighing 21 pounds, 9 ounces worth $7,500.
In addition to casting for top awards of up to $125,000 cash in the pro division and up to $25,000 cash in the co-angler division, anglers are also competing for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing. The 2016 Forrest Wood Cup will be in Huntsville, Alabama, Aug. 4-7 on Wheeler Lake.
The Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Hartwell presented by Evinrue was hosted by the Anderson Convention & Visitors Bureau. The next event for FLW Tour anglers will be the Walmart FLW Tour at Beaver Lake presented by Jack Link's.
For complete details and updated information visit FLWFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.