Cox ‘invents’ new lure on Day 1

Jon Cox

MANY, La. — John Cox needed a crankbait than ran a bit shallower than the Berkley Frittside 5 he was throwing on Day 1 of the Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend.

“I pulled out my Frittside and caught a couple, but it was so shallow that I kept getting trash on it,” Cox said. “I cut the bill in half so it would run down about a foot, and I started jacking ‘em.”

Cox laughed and added, “I couldn’t believe it was running straight. I turned the Frittside into a Coxside.”

On windy, windy day when 96 of 103 Elite Series anglers weighed a five-bass limit, Cox’s had one of 25 20-pound bags. His 20 pounds, 4 ounces, left him in a tie for 24th place. All he wanted to talk about was qualifying inside the top 50 after Day 2 and making it to Saturday.

“I keep looking at the weather,” he said. “I’m like, just please make it to Saturday. It’s going to be nice and calm. I hope we come back here every year. This place is full of fish. Any cast could be a 10-pounder.

“If I can get one more day out of this, I think I can sight-fish the next two days.”

New takes big bass honors with a 9-8

There were no 10-pounders caught Thursday in this tournament, but there were three 9-pounders, topped by Bryan New’s 9-8. And there’s a story behind that bass.

“I caught it on accident,” New said. “I was (Live)Scoping, and I saw one. It was windy, I fired out there, and I don’t think it ever saw my bait, so I just started working it, just in case I didn’t miss the fish. Then I was in a tree, so I just started shaking it. I felt it was a little mushy, so I leaned into it and thought this a pretty good one.”

New celebrated his 34th birthday yesterday. There’s a story behind that too.

“I went out on Lake Murray on my birthday (a few years ago), and on the first cast of the day I caught a 9-3, the biggest bass of my life,” New said. “Today I caught a 9-8, the biggest bass of my life, and yesterday was my birthday.”

New’s big fish came on a Greenfish Tackle Bad Little Shad swimbait head paired with “just a little minnow bait.”

Luke Palmer landed the second-biggest bass of the day, a 9-6, that was big part of his 4th place bag weighing 25-1. Koby Kreiger had a 9-5 in his 7th place limit, which weighed 23-7. He said the big bass came on a Chatterbait about 1:30.

Kreiger thinks a wave of fish is moving shallow to spawn.

“I think they’re coming,” he said. “Late in the day, I probably saw 15 or 20 in two feet of water. They’re coming.”

Milliken ‘a little disappointed’ with 22-9

Ben Milliken may be an Elite Series rookie, but he was one of the pre-tournament favorites after winning the Bassmaster Open on Toledo Bend last April. His three-day total was 77-14 and included daily bags of 29-8 and 26-15.

After three days of practice this week, Milliken predicted a winning weight topping 100 pounds in this four-day tournament. Even though he’s in 9th place after Day 1, Milliken wasn’t happy about his 22-9 total.

“I’m a little disappointed,” he said. “I know there are a lot of 30-pounds-plus bags out there. These Florida strains for some reason the big ones just don’t bite in your area. You can’t do anything to make them bite. This was one of those days. When that happens, usually the next day they do bite.”

McKinney hoping to fish on his birthday

Trey McKinney of Carbondale, Ill., is the youngest angler to qualify in the history of the Elite Series. He’ll be 19 on Sunday. McKinney, of course, would love to fish on his birthday, which would mean he’d finished in the top 10 after three days at Toledo Bend.

“That would be the best birthday present you could ever have,” he said, before acknowledging he’s got work to do before that’s possible.

McKinney is in 21st place with 20-14 after Day 1. He said the early moments Thursday, when he started competition against so many of his bass fishing idols, were head-spinning.

“Just about everything was going through my head,” he said. “I didn’t realize how stressful it was. About three hours in, I hadn’t caught one. I was feeling the not-so-happy side. I was starting to spin out.”

Obviously, he settled down and finished with a good start to his Elite Series career.

“I’ve got to figure out how to go out there without those nerves and just fish my game,” he said.