MASSENA, N.Y. (June 28, 2021)Berkley pro John Cox of DeBary, Florida, caught 23 scorable bass Monday weighing 75 pounds, 15 ounces to win the two-day Qualifying Group B round at the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour General Tire Stage Five at the St. Lawrence River Presented by Berkley in Massena, New York. Cox’s two-day total of 54 bass weighing 175 pounds even earned him the victory by a 23-pound, 11-ounce margin and advances him directly into Wednesday’s final-day Championship Round of competition.

Phoenix Boats pro James Elam of Tulsa, Oklahoma caught a two-day total of 51 bass weighing 151-5 to end the round in second place, and Shelby, North Carolina pro Bryan Thrift finished the round in third place with a two-day total of 51 bass weighing 149-11.

The remaining 38 anglers – 19 from Group A and 19 from Group B – will now compete Tuesday in the Knockout Round, where weights are zeroed, and the anglers compete to finish in the top eight to advance to Championship Wednesday. Wednesday’s Championship Round will feature Group A winner Jacob Wheeler, Group B winner John Cox, and the top eight anglers from the Knockout Round competing in a final-day shootout for the top prize of $100,000.

“Oh my gosh, I feel like I won the tournament, just making it to the Championship Round,” said an excited Cox. “I’ve never won one of these rounds before, so this is a new experience for me. I’m really excited to be able to allow the fish to rest a little before the next round.

“Ten of us are going to compete for $100,000 on Wednesday – I don’t even know what to say. Not sure if I’m having a mild heart attack or if the red bull is just really kicking in,” continued Cox. “I caught a ton of fish today and found some exciting stuff in the third period that should help us out in the next round. On the last cast, there were probably 15 fish that came in when I shook that 4 pounder off. I can’t wait to get back out there – it’s going to be awesome.

“I’ve been using the new 7-foot, medium action Abu Garcia Fantasista Premier spinning rod – it bends perfectly and handles the fish on the light line. I’m throwing 8-pound, Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon, on the Abu Garcia REVO MGXtreme Spinning Reel. It has a super-smooth drag and allows me to fight the fish really well.”

Cox said his key baits came down to the Berkley Powerbait Maxscent The General Worm and the Berkley Powerbait Maxscent Hit Worm.

“I never even had these smaller Berkley General worms until a couple years ago because I figured the 5 inch was plenty small enough,” continued Cox. “They didn’t want the 5-inch today, but they ate this 4-inch one up really well.

“The Maxscent Hit Worm was an accidental win today. I had no idea it would work that well – I’d never heard of anyone catching smallmouth with it. I put it on to save some Flat Worms and they’ve just been killing it today.”

With a full day off, Cox said he plans to take his kids tubing down below the locks and is looking forward to enjoying the family time prior to Wednesday’s competition.

“This event has been awesome. I can’t wait to get back out there for the Championship Round,” said Cox. “This place is full of fish – it’s just been unreal.”

The top 20 pros in Qualifying Group B that now advance to Tuesday’s Knockout Round on the St. Lawrence River are:

1st:           John Cox, DeBary, Fla., 54 bass, 175-0
2nd:          James Elam, Tulsa, Okla., 51 bass, 151-5
3rd:          Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 51 bass, 149-11
4th:           Terry Scroggins, San Mateo, Fla., 49 bass, 149-2
5th:           Bobby Lane, Lakeland, Fla., 44 bass, 132-10
6th:           Jared Lintner, Arroyo Grande, Calif., 41 bass, 127-1
7th:           Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., 33 bass, 126-6
8th:           Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., 35 bass, 125-9
9th:           Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., 42 bass, 125-6
10th:        Britt Myers, Lake Wylie, S.C., 44 bass, 123-14
11th:        Brett Hite, Phoenix, Ariz., 37 bass, 122-14
12th:        Luke Clausen, Spokane, Wash., 41 bass, 116-15
13th:        Fletcher Shryock, Guntersville, Ala., 37 bass, 114-15
14th:        John Murray, Spring City, Tenn., 38 bass, 110-11
15th:        Shin Fukae, Osaka, Japan, 29 bass, 104-12
16th:        David Walker, Sevierville, Tenn., 36 bass, 102-12
17th:        Matt Lee, Cullman, Ala., 32 bass, 100-0                         
18th:        Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla., 31 bass, 96-9
19th:        Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., 34 bass, 96-6
20th:        Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., 34 bass, 94-14

A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.