Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 03/11/2017

Story and photo courtesy of FLW Communications

LEESBURG, Fla. – Mud Hole Custom Tackle pro John Cox of DeBary, Florida, retained control of the leaderboard Saturday at the FLW Tour at the Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Ranger Boats for the third straight day with five largemouth bass weighing 10 pounds, 4 ounces. If he retains his lead Sunday, Cox will earn his fourth career FLW Tour win and best 163 of the top bass-fishing anglers in the world competing for a top cash award of up to $125,000.

“Today was not very good for me,” said Cox, who retained his lead despite weighing in the second-smallest limit amongst the top-10 Saturday. “I ran all over the place trying new places. I locked to (Lake) Apopka today for the first time this week. I was mainly sight-fishing, but I think I’m going to have to scrap that tomorrow and just go fishing.”

Cox said that with no real pattern to go on, he has been forced to change his baits each day. He said a Yamamoto Senko has his been his most productive bait this week, but he’s also caught fish on a Dirty Jigs swimjig, a fluke and pitching a jig. He welcomed the changing weather conditions that are currently being forecast for Sunday.

“Nothing went wrong for me today, it was just tough,” said Cox. “Hopefully the little bit of wind and rain that is being forecast tomorrow will make things exciting. So much can change here, even overnight. I’m pretty much just going to try to feel it out as the day goes.

“All that I know is I’m so happy to be where I’m at. I’ve dreamt of this moment – to be leading an FLW Tour event on my home lake. I cannot wait to get back out there tomorrow.”

Cox’s three day total of 15 bass weighing 54 pounds, 14 ounces, gives him a 2-pound, 2-ounce advantage over North Carolina pro Shane LeHew, who advanced to the final day cut of 10 pros in the No. 2 spot with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 52-12.

“I’ve caught the majority of my fish this week sight-fishing,” said LeHew, who earned his first career top-10 cut in FLW Tour competition. “I’ve been throwing a white Bizz Baits Killer Kraw and a Bizz Baits Sassy Stick.

“I’ve ran out of bed fish. I had one 2½-pounder left, and I caught him today. Now I’m going to have to go chunk and wind. I probably caught around 40 fish today, and I lost a 4-pounder, so I’m around some fish. Hopefully tomorrow I can make something happen,” added LeHew

The top 10 pros advancing to the final day of competition on the Harris Chain of Lakes are:
1st:  Mud Hole Custom Tackle pro John Cox, DeBary, Fla., 15 bass, 54-14
2nd:  Shane LeHew, Catawba, N.C., 15 bass, 52-12
3rd   Matt Reed, Madisonville, Texas, 15 bass, 52-8
4th: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 15 bass, 51-13
5th: Bradley Dortch, Atmore, Ala., 15 bass, 51-7
6th: Joshua Weaver, Macon, Ga., 15 bass, 47-0
7th: Rusty Trancygier, Hahira, Ga., 15 bass, 46-14
8th: Chris Whitson, Louisville, Tenn., 15 bass, 45-6
9th:  J.T. Kenney, Palm Bay, Fla., 15 bass, 44-10
10th: Aaron Britt, Yuba City, Calif., 15 bass, 44-10

Finishing in 11th through 20th are:
11th: Clark Wendlandt, Leander, Texas, 15 bass, 44-5, $12,000
12th: Brandon Cobb, Greenwood, S.C., 15 bass, 43-4, $12,000
13th: Terry Bolton, Paducah, Ky., 15 bass, 42-15, $12,000
14th: Tim Frederick, Leesburg, Fla., 13 bass, 42-8, $12,000
15th: Jim Moynagh, Carver, Minn., 15 bass, 42-7, $12,000
16th: Carl Jocumsen, Frisco, Texas, 14 bass, 41-14, $12,000
17th: Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., 15 bass, 41-8, $12,000
18th: Casey Scanlon, Lenexa, Kan., 15 bass, 38-3, $12,000
19th: Bryan Schmitt, Deale, Md., 15 bass, 36-15, $12,000
20th: Jamie Horton, Centerville, Ala., 14 bass, 35-3, $12,000

For a full list of results visit FLWFishing.com.

Overall there were 96 bass weighing 236 pounds, 9 ounces caught by pros Saturday. Seventeen of the final 20 pros weighed in five-bass limits.

Robert Crosnoe of Inverness, Florida, won the co-angler division and $25,000 Friday with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 33 pounds, 1 ounce, followed by Tyler Woolcott of Port Orange, Florida, who finished in second place with 10 bass weighing 30 pounds, 9 ounces, worth $7,550.

In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field of 326 anglers competes Thursday and Friday. Co-angler competition concludes following Friday’s weigh-in, while the top 20 pros based on their two-day accumulated weight advance to Saturday. Only the top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the four days of competition.

Throughout the season, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of professional bass fishing. The 2017 Forrest Wood Cup will be on Lake Murray in Columbia, South Carolina, Aug. 11-13.

The final 10 anglers will take off at 7 a.m. EDT Sunday from the Venetian Gardens, located at 201 E. Dixie Ave., in Leesburg. Sunday’s championship weigh-in will be held at the Venetian Gardens beginning at 4 p.m.

Prior to the weigh-in Sunday, FLW will host a free Family Fishing Expo at the Venetian Gardens from noon to 4 p.m. The Expo is a chance for fishing fans to meet their favorite anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by FLW sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities.