Lisa Cox had a front row seat to Jared Miller’s wild ride on Day Three of the Elite Series Alabama River Charge presented by Star brite. Cox served as Miller’s Marshal when he took a dramatic run through the whitewater below Jordan Dam. If you haven’t seen the video, check it out before you read the rest of this story.
Miller and Cox arrived at Jordan Dam after bravely running up the rapids of the Coosa River. In normal conditions, water levels would have been much lower, and the only boats you’d see in this area would be canoes, kayaks, and maybe a jet boat or two. But because of heavy rains, Jordan Dam was spilling water over its floodgates, and generating power as well, creating lots of turbulence and higher water in the river below.
“I knew about the rapids below Jordan Dam,” said Cox, who lives in Pace, Fla. “We have a friend who lives in this area that was going to take us fishing there. On Saturday, the water below the dam was rocking and rolling.”
Miller had followed Brent Chapman up near the dam. Chapman stopped about a half mile below the dam, while Miller continued until he and Cox could literally reach out and touch the massive structure, originally built in 1928. At this point, they were in a mist created by waves and the water coming down from the dam. “It was exciting up there but I was a little nervous, too,” said Cox.
After fishing near the dam for 20 minutes or so, Miller decided to move back through the rapids and head downstream. That’s when things got particularly exciting. Soon after entering the powerful current, Miller’s boat came to a dead stop when it hit a submerged rock. “It got a little crazy when we hit the discharge coming out of the dam,” said Cox. “When our boat hit the rocks, I got thrown sideways against Jared.”
Cox, an experienced angler, reacted quickly and moved toward the bow of the boat, to help balance it out. Miller trimmed his Yamaha engine, gunned it, and the boat came loose from its precarious position. “Water came into the boat and I was a little worried we were going to sink,” she said.
The short story is they did not sink. Miller steered the boat into a calm eddy nearby. He smiled at several spectators perched on the banks and said, “Was that as scary for you as it was for us?”
Miller continued on to safer waters, weighed in 13 pounds that day and finished 13th in the tournament, barely missing the cut for Day Four. That’s his best finish in a season and a half on the Elite Series. “After a day like this, I wish he’d had 20 pounds to weigh in,” said Cox.
Later in the day when some fans on Bassmaster.com accused Miller of being reckless, Cox was the first to defend him, posting these comments on the site, “One of those things that can happen to ya on the river. Jared was awesome on handling the situation. Immediately after we hit the rocks, he was asking me if I was ok. Then did what he had to do to get us out of the mess. He's a great guy and I wish him the best of luck with his fishing career.”
Cox knows of what she speaks, having Marshaled for several other Elite anglers. In 2011 at West Point Lake in Georgia, she Marshaled for Greg Vinson and Gerald Swindle. Earlier in the Alabama River Charge, she Marshaled for J Todd Tucker, and Takahiro Omori.
In civilian life, Cox is part owner of Gulf States Automation and the vice president of operations. The company automates things like heating, cooling and lighting in buildings.
“I love to fish,” said Cox, who has competed in Toyota Bassmaster Weekend Series and B.A.S.S. Nation tournaments with her husband, Wayne. She finished 8th in a tournament on the Alabama River last year. “If I could fish every weekend, I would.” Her wild ride with Jared Miller has not dampened that desire one bit.