Cox Wins MLF Tournament at Lake of the Ozarks

May 6, 2023
Major League Fishing (MLF) Archive

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. (May 6, 2023) – John Cox of DeBary, Florida, weighed in five bass totaling 17 pounds, 9 ounces to hold onto his lead and win the MLF Invitational Stop 4 tournament at Lake of the Ozarks and the top payout of $80,000. Cox’s three-day total of 15 bass weighing 55 pounds, 14 ounces, edged out his longtime friend and tournament partner Keith Carson, also of DeBary, Florida , who weighed in a three-day total of 14 bass for 54-13, good for $50,000. Nineteen-year-old pro Marshall Robinson of Landrum, South Carolina, son of Bass Pro Tour angler Marty Robinson, finished in third place with 53-13 to earn $20,000.   

“Me and Keith have fished together for a long time, and I’ve dreamt of this day – when me and him would be 1-2 in a tournament. And here we are,” an emotional Cox said on-stage. “I truly love this. I am just so thankful. The fact that we get to do this for a living is unreal. Me and Keith used to paint apartments together. I can’t believe we’re here – this is just so unreal I feel like I’m in a dream right now.

“When we left the house this morning, I told him we could be coming out of here with 130 grand to bring back to DeBary, and now here we are,” Cox continued. “This has been just an incredibly awesome week.”

Cox spent the week on Lake of the Ozarks sight fishing, finding bedding bass and fry guarders. Often tucked oddly behind docks or under cables, Cox finesse fished with his signature Abu Garcia Pro Series rod, an Abu Garcia Zenon spinning reel, Berkley FireLine and a 10-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon leader. For baits, he rolled with either a wacky-rigged Berkley PowerBait MaxScent The General or a Berkley PowerBait Jerk Shad. 

One of the differences for Cox may have been that he was fishing for less pressured bass.

“I don’t think there were that many where I was at,” he said. “What Keith was saying he was seeing, there were a lot more fish. I think a lot of the other guys might have been fishing over there. Where I was fishing, they were few and far between, it kind of opened it up to where I had a lot of it to myself. We were talking in practice about making something out of nothing. That’s what I did, I just tried to run into five you can catch.”

Still, even as a good sight fisherman, Cox couldn’t really dial it in.

“I tried to figure a pattern, but every time I thought I figured a pattern, it didn’t play out anywhere else,” he said. “I didn’t catch more than one fish in a creek until today.”

The win was bittersweet for Cox. Although he was thrilled to earn the top payout and automatic REDCREST qualification, he was disappointed that his best friend didn’t get the first major win of his career.

“I felt stuff at that weigh-in that I’ve never felt at any other weigh-in before,” Cox said. “I wanted Keith to win, because he’s my buddy. I always want him to do well.

“It’s bittersweet, but it felt good to win, and to get to go to REDCREST. That’s huge. When I heard that, I was like ‘Please let me win.’ Every time I miss one of those, it’s terrible. I watched it at Lake Norman this year, and I was heartbroken I wasn’t there.”
The top 50 pros at the Phoenix Boats Stop 4 at Lake of the Ozarks finished:

1st:        John Cox, DeBary, Fla., 15 bass, 55-14, $82,500
2nd:       Keith Carson, DeBary, Fla., 14 bass, 54-13, $50,000
3rd:       Marshall Robinson, Landrum, S.C., 15 bass, 53-13, $20,000
4th:        Drew Gill, Mount Carmel, Ill., 15 bass 53-13, $18,000
5th:        Ron Nelson, Berrien Springs, Mich., 15 bass, 52-7, $17,000
6th:        Andy Newcomb, Camdenton, Mo., 15 bass, 49-15, $16,300
7th:        Andrew Nordbye, Guntersville, Ala., 15 bass, 49-10, $15,000
8th:        Shaw Grigsby, Gainesville, Fla., 15 bass, 46-9, $14,000
9th:        Martin Villa, Charlottesville, Va., 15 bass, 46-2, $13,000
10th:     Matthew Stefan, Junction City, Wis., 15 bass, 45-5, $12,000
11th:     Grae Buck, Green Lane, Pa., 15 bass, 45-5, $10,000
12th:     Tai Au, Glendale, Ariz., 15 bass, 44-0, $10,000
13th:     Tom Redington, Royse City, Texas, 15 bass, 43-11, $10,000
14th:     Jordan Collom, Canyon Lake, Calif., 15 bass, 43-8, $10,000
15th:     Jared Lintner, Covington, Ga., 15 bass, 43-3, $10,000
16th:     Robby Lefere, Jackson, Mich., 15 bass, 42-13, $10,000
17th:     Brock Reinkemeyer. Warsaw, Mo., 15 bass, 42-9, $10,000
18th:     Joshua Weaver, Macon, Ga., 15 bass, 42-3, $10,000
19th:     Jordan Hirt, Glenwood, Iowa, 15 bass, 41-10, $10,000
20th:     Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., 15 bass, 41-9, $10,000
21st:      Derik Hudson, Concord, Va., 15 bass, 41-3, $10,000
22nd:    Connor Cunningham, Springfield, Mo., 15 bass, 41-0, $10,000
23rd:     Troy Stokes, Trenton, Mich., 15 bass, 40-12, $10,000
24th:     Charley Slaton, Valliant, Okla, 14 bass, 40-8, $10,000
25th:     Mark Rose, Wynne, Ark., 15 bass, 40-5, $10,000
26th:     J. Todd Tucker, Moultrie, Ga., 15 bass, 40-2, $10,000
27th:     Joe Grafeman, Camdenton, Mo., 15 bass, 40-0, $10,000
28th:     Kyle Schutta, Forest Lake, Minn., 15 bass, 39-11, $10,000
29th:     Thomas Wooten, Huddleston, Va., 15 bass, 38-15, $10,000
30th:     Brian Latimer, Belton, S.C., 15 bass, 38-11, $10,000
31st:      Brad Jelinek, Lincoln, Mo., 15 bass, 38-8, $8,000
32nd:    Dylan Hays, Hot Springs, Ark., 15 bass, 38-7, $8,000
33rd:     Cody Parker, Ball Ground, Ga., 15 bass, 38-5, $8,000
34th:     Jaden Parrish, Liberty, Texas, 15 bass, 38-4, $8,000
35th:     Bobby Bakewell, Orlando, Fla, 15 bass, 38-3, $8,000
36th:     Kyle Palmer, Winchester, Tenn., 15 bass, 38-3, $8,000
37th:     Tyler Stewart, Dubach, La., 15 bass, 38-3, $8,000
38th:     Jeremy Southerly, Fulks Run, Va., 15 bass, 38-1, $8,000
39th:     Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, 15 bass, 37-9, $8,000
40th:     Kyle Hall, Granbury, Texas, 15 bass, 37-8, $8,000
41st:      Rick Chenoweth, Fredericksburg, Va., 15 bass, 37-6, $8,000
42nd:    Hunter Eubanks, Inman, S.C., 15 bass, 37-2, $8,000
43rd:     Austin Culbertson, Moberly, Mo., 15 bass, 36-14, $8,000
44th:     Colby Schrumpf, Highland, Ill., 15 bass, 36-14, $8,000
45th:     Mike McClelland, Blue Eye, Mo., 14 bass, 35-11, $8,000
46th:     Cody Pike, Powhatan, Va., 15 bass, 35-9, $8,000
47th:     Joe Bennett, Ashland, Mo., 13 bass, 35-8, $8,000
48th:     Kyle Weisenburger, Columbus Grove, Ohio, 15 bass, 35-8, $8,000
49th:     Andrew Behnke, Fond du Lac, Wis., 13 bass, 34-14, $8,000
50th:     David Walker, Huntingdon, Tenn., 11 bass, 29-4, $8,000

Overall, there were 240 bass weighing 619 pounds, 15 ounces caught by the 50 pros Saturday. The catch included 45 five-bass limits.

The three-day tournament featured a roster of 150 anglers competing for a top prize of up to $115,000 and an invitation to compete at REDCREST 2024, Major League Fishing’s most prestigious event. The next Invitational event will take place June 17-19 at the Invitational at the Potomac River in Marbury, Maryland.