LEESBURG, Fla. (March 9, 2017) Mud Hole Custom Tackle pro John Cox of DeBary, Florida, caught a five-bass limit weighing 25 pounds, 11 ounces to take the lead on opening day of the FLW Tour at the Harris Chain of Lakes. The event, presented by Ranger Boats, features a field of 326 of the world’s best bass-fishing professionals and co-anglers 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.

The weather conditions in central Florida were near perfect Thursday, and anglers experienced warm, sunny conditions with a minimal northwest breeze. Although the majority of the bass on the Harris Chain are now in their postspawn phase, there were still quite a few largemouth found on beds by the FLW Tour anglers.

“I think the fish in the canals are pretty much done, but we’re still seeing that last wave of bass come up from the main lake,” said Cox, the reigning Forrest Wood Cup champion with more than $930,000 in career earnings. “I caught three today looking at them. The others I caught casting.

“I had around 10 to 15 fish on beds marked during practice that I went to today, but they were gone,” Cox continued. “Luckily, the wind wasn’t blowing today and it opened up a few areas that were unfishable during our practice time. I just went fishing. I started off near takeoff and just worked my way around most of the chain. I didn’t go through any locks, but I ran the whole tank of gas out.”

Cox said that his history on the Harris Chain definitely helped him on Day One.

“I’ve been fishing here forever. I remember my mom driving me out here with the jon boat and dropping me off at the pier. It is awesome to be here, at a major event, fishing on the lake that I grew up on.

“I really struggled at the first two events this year and I wanted to just get five in the boat today and I was lucky to get five good ones. Now I’m going to go home and try to figure out how to do it again tomorrow.”

The top 10 pros after day one on the Harris Chain are:

1st:          Mud Hole Custom Tackle pro John Cox, DeBary, Fla., five bass, 25-11

2nd:         Shane LeHew, Catawba, N.C., five bass, 23-15

3rd:          Jim Moynagh, Carver, Minn., five bass, 23-9

4th:          Tim Frederick, Leesburg, Fla., five bass, 21-15

5th:          Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., five bass, 21-13

6th:          Carl Jocumsen, Frisco, Texas, five bass, 20-12

7th:          Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., five bass, 19-10

8th:          Matt Wittekiend, Angleton, Texas, five bass, 18-15

9th:          Andrew Upshaw, Tulsa, Okla., five bass, 18-4

10th:        Rusty Trancygier, Hahira, Ga., five bass, 18-2

For a full list of results visit FLWFishing.com.

Cody Bird of Granbury, Texas, earned the day’s $500 Big Bass award in the pro division thanks to a 7-pound, 14-ounce largemouth.

Overall there were 769 bass weighing 1,888 pounds, 11 ounces caught by 162 pros Thursday. The catch included 142 five-bass limits.

Chris Ferguson of Wittensville, Kentucky, leads the co-angler division with five bass weighing 20 pounds, 1 ounce, followed by Trey Shaw of Dunnellon, Florida, who weighed five bass totaling 19-10, good for second place.

The top 10 co-anglers after day one on the Harris Chain are:

1st:          Chris Ferguson, Wittensville, Ky., five bass, 20-1

2nd:         Trey Shaw, Dunnellon, Fla., five bass, 19-10

3rd:          Tyler Woolcott, Port Orange, Fla., five bass, 18-0

4th:          Kevin Thomas, Miramar, Fla., five bass, 17-1

5th:          Tyler Meredith, Oliver Springs, Tenn., five bass, 16-11

6th:          Steven Hatala, Saint Clair Shores, Mich., five bass, 15-12

7th:          Jeffery Mathews, Maitland, Fla., five bass, 15-8

8th:          Robert Crosnoe, Invernes, Fla., five bass, 15-5

9th:          Jeffrey Clark, Hoover, Ala., four bass, 14-9

10th:        Melissa Young, Tavares, Fla., five bass, 14-8

Shaw earned $250 for the Big Bass award in the co-angler division with an 8-pound, 13-ounce largemouth.

Overall there were 546 bass weighing 996 pounds, 10 ounces caught by 154 co-anglers Thursday. The catch included 66 five-bass limits.

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 total purse for the FLW Tour at the Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Ranger Boats is more than $800,000, including $10,000 through 50th place in the Pro division. The tournament is hosted by Lake County, Florida.

Anglers will take off at 7 a.m. EST each day from the Venetian Gardens, located at 201 E. Dixie Ave., in Leesburg. Friday’s weigh-in will be held at the Venetian Gardens beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Venetian Gardens but will begin at 4 p.m.

Prior to the weigh-ins Saturday and Sunday, FLW will host a free Family Fishing Expo at the Venetian Gardens from noon to 4 p.m. each day. 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.

Also for youth, the FLW Foundation’s Unified Fishing Derby will be held at the Venetian Gardens on Saturday from 9-11 a.m. The event is hosted by FLW Foundation pro Cody Kelley along with other FLW Tour anglers, and is free and open to area youth 15 years of age and younger and Special Olympics athletes. Rods and reels are available for use, but youth are encouraged to bring their own if they own one.

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.

About FLW

FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2017 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW conducts more than 274 bass-fishing tournaments annually across the United States and sanctions tournaments in Canada, China, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros. For more information visit FLWFishing.com and follow FLW at FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube and Snapchat.