As John Cox cast his career towards professional fishing, his experience of fishing with friends and family shaped his future determination. Transitioning from Florida’s bass fishing to catching bass across the nation, John Cox forged his fate as a Forrest Wood Cup Champion through friendship, fatherhood, and MHX.
Top 3 Takeaways from John Cox
From bass fishing in Florida with his friend Keith to practicing for FLW in Arkansas with his diapered daughters, the professional fishing career of John Cox has quite the origin story.
Don’t forget to check out the video below!
Check out these top 3 takeaways from the second segment of John Cox: Building a Champion:
1. From Crashing to Catching Bass Across the Nation
Growing up in the Debary Florida, a city that sits on the northern shore of the St. John’s River towards Lake Monroe, John Cox found fishing was a constant fall back. Cox refers to his adolescence, “fishing was always there, but there was other stuff that caught my attention that I wanted to try.”
John recalls, “I remember one time I wanted to be a professional BMXer so I was jumping my bike,” and “I knocked myself out, I was in the hospital for a couple weeks.” Cox leans back and laughs as he explains after that, “I started fishing again and it was like, hey maybe this is what I’m supposed to do instead.”
John’s journey into professional fishing began when he was around twelve-years old with Keith Carson, a childhood friend. Fishing jon boat tournaments across Central Florida, John and Keith consistently finished in second or third place taking home plenty of prize money at their age. “We won like 300 bucks,” Cox laughs as he adds, “it was a lot of money at the time… you can buy a lot of Slurpees.”
Ready to focus on fishing, John joined the Central Florida Bass Anglers. Cox then toured all around Florida’s waterways, flippin’ and punchin’ his way through matted vegetation to catch any and every available bass. Mastering sight fishing in the shallow waters, John Cox found success in Florida yet he and Keith felt themselves yearning to fish outside the Sunshine State.
When fishing in Florida, there’s little environmental variation between bodies of water. Cox and Keith could always count on vegetation since the warm weather remains throughout the year. Fishing elsewhere in a place like Alabama, bodies of water have varying differences across the state.
From creeks made by rain runoff to rocks and sometimes even ice, Alabama’s lakes are a completely different story from Florida. John Cox and Keith Carson knew the fishing outside of Florida would be a challenge, but they were ready.
2. John Cox and Keith Carson Find Ways to Win
With Keith as co-angler and John fishing, they continued fishing and enjoying their winning Slurpees together until it was finally time to move onward and upward from fishing in Florida. John recalls, “coming off that season we made good money,” and naturally felt “the tour was the next step.”
Keith and John rolled the dice and decided to go for it at Red River in 2011. They quickly packed up and got on the road to the tournament, knowing that this was there big shot. John remembers thinking, “this is it, this is our last chance.”
Once the tournament was underway, both John and Keith refused to look back. John recollects, “I was leading the tournament and Keith was in second the whole time.” But then, he drew the co-angler that was leading and had to face a tough decision. “I knew if I went to my spot where I was going through this tunnel, that my co-angler would win and Keith wouldn’t win,” and so that day I decided “I’m not even going to go to that hole… I’m going to give Keith a chance to win this thing.”
Cox knew that if he took the leading co-angler back to his spot Keith would lose, but if he left the spot, Cox could lose the entire tournament. Regardless, Cox left his hole to catch about 12 pounds and “barely keep the lead,” while his friend Keith ends up winning the co-angler side.
Finishing first at Red River, John Cox realized he was going to need a competitive edge to keep winning. Something that would allow him to adapt his fishing equipment and skills to match the various environments of the FLW Tour. Cox knew nothing about custom rod building, but soon it would change his fishing, career, and life.
3. Professional Fishing with the Cox Family
When asked about his daughters, John Cox lights up and brags, “Both my daughters, they’re amazing. I remember them both being in diapers and having them with me practicing.” Although he acknowledges they didn’t have much choice, Cox explains that he “had no babysitter,” so for him, “it was like if I’m going to do this thing, I’m going to take them with me and we went all the way out to Arkansas.”
Throwing their life jackets on for twelve-hour days on the water, Cox and his daughters, Savannah and Lilly, started a family trend as they bonded over catching fish. John can’t help but smile while he refers to his daughters’ fishing, “when they’re catching fish and they go to high five me… that’s when I know that I’m dad.”