John Cox of DeBary, Fla. won the FLW Lake Hartwell tournament after losing the lead on day three to Clark Wendlandt. Cox fished a small impoundment off of the Seneca River on the last day, and it paid off for him with a check for $100,000.
Cox is no stranger to this strategy. He secured his first Tour win in 2011 by practicing the same tactic in a pond off of the Red River.
Cox had fished this pond up the Seneca River in practice, and said he saw enough evidence of good fish that he decided to fish it during the tournament. But with the weather cooperating enough to keep him sight fishing for the first part of the event, he decided to save this spot for last, and it was a good decision, especially since deteriorating conditions on the final day made sight fishing difficult.
“I went and checked it during practice this year and had three good bites. I decided right then to just save it as backup because there were plenty of bedding fish down the lake to catch for the first couple of days,” Cox said.
Cox caught a four-day total of 67-6, beating Wendlandt’s 66-15 by less than a pound, and he did it by fishing mainly three lures – Yamamoto Senkos, Zoom Trick Worms, and a 3/8-ounce Z-Man ChatterBait with a Strike King Menace Grub trailer.
Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C. was the highest finishing angler from the Carolinas. Thrift took 5th place with 59-8, and took home $19,000. Fellow North Carolinian Powell Kemp, of Scotland Neck, finished 10th with 54-10, and pocketed $14,000. Shelby’s Matt Arey took 11th with 44-12, winning $12,000. Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C. took 14th place with 43-10, which earned him $12,000.
April 14th marks the next stop for the FLW Tour from Beaver Lake, Arkansas.