I am truly honored to be a pro representing Ozark Rods.
Steve Hockett and I got our start in tournament fishing at a crappie tournament on Truman Lake in April of 1996. It took until April of 1997, a year later, before we won our first tournament. In 2005, Steve and I started fishing all the crappie tournaments on Truman. Before that, I fished a few summer tournaments with my dad or another friend, while Steve and I only fished the spring Truman tournaments. Over the last twenty years of crappie tournament fishing, I have won over 50 tournaments on Truman with Steve and other partners.
The first time I fished Grenada Lake was at the Crappie Masters Classic in 2004. I later fished the Grenada Classic in 2007 and 2009 with Tim Logon, getting ninth overall in 2009. I returned with Steve for the Classic in 2013, taking eighth. Steve and I fished Grenada in the spring for the first time in 2011, getting 28th, and making that finish the only time we have been out of the top five in a spring Grenada tournament since. Steve and I took third in 2012, fifth in 2013, first in 2014 (with the largest ever 14 fish weight in a Crappie Masters tournament – 38.92 pounds), second in 2015, and a return to first in 2016.
In 2015, Steve and I fished on other lakes besides Truman and Grenada for the first time, culminating in a ninth place finish in that year’s Crappie Masters Points Race. This past 2016 season, we took second in the Points Race, losing to first by only one point. Overall, we have won seven Crappie Master Tournaments on Truman, Grenada, and Eufaula lakes.
Being a crappie tournament angler, I do everything to the extreme, whether it is spider-rigging or fishing with one pole. I’m an odd duck when it comes to fishing; if I can’t find what I want, I will make modifications to make it work for me. The products I use are what work best for me and are able to withstand the abuse I dish out. Ozark Rods products are the rods I can use and rely on to get the job done.
Q and A with David Cox
Alright, first things first, what kind of equipment do you guys use? “We fish out of a 22 ft. Ranger, we use a MinnKota Fortrex and Humminbird with the 360 and a Lowrance for the GPS. We us 16 ft. Ozark Trolling rods for spider-rigging with Hi-vis 10 lb. P-line, Do-it Molds, #2 red hooks, ½ oz. or smaller egg sinkers, PerottiBuilt individual rod holders, and Grizzly G-5000 reels. When we’re vertical jigging we use the 10 ft. Medium Light Ozark Jigging rod with a small underspin reel, 8 lb. Hi-vis P-line, and usually a 1/8 oz. jig head on a Mustad Ultra bronze hook.”
What’s your favorite fishing tactic? “We’re one-pole vertical jig fishermen all the way, but we’ve learned to enjoy spider-rigging. Nothing beats that THUMP, but there are certain lakes and times of year where you have to spider-rig to be successful.”
How much of the terminal tackle you use do you build yourself? “I make all my own double hook rigs, both minnow and jig rigs, and they’re similar to the Grizzly rigs with the wire separator. I pour and paint my own heads, and make my own plastics. I make a 2 ¼ inch tube jig and a 3 inch solid body similar to the Bobby Garland Slab Slayer.”
What are some of your favorite colors to use? “Orange is my favorite color jighead, in plastics I like black and chartreuse, white and chartreuse, blue and white, and blue and pink.”
You guys are one-pole jig fishermen from central Missouri, how did you become the most successful spider-rigging team on the #1 big crappie lake in the country? “I’m as baffled as anyone else, it just seems like what we do and our style of fishing works at Grenada. I pick up little things every time we fish there. The bite can change, the fish can move in the water column, boat pressure can affect the fish, boat and wind speed, there are just a lot of little variables that can make a big difference down there. One of the most important things at Grenada, and any shallow water lake, is keeping the pole steady and eliminate bouncing. I’ve rigged my boat where I can flip a switch and fill it with water for extra weight, and we put 500 lbs. of lead in the front of the boat, which keeps it from bouncing in the waves. A lot of the time, when you catch one big fish you will catch another one immediately after, so we keep a cooler up front to throw a fish in momentarily so we can keep fishing without having to get up and go to the back of the boat to put a fish in the livewell. We couldn’t live without our Power-poles either, they are a necessity for tournament fishermen.”
How do you spend your time prefishing? “We don’t really have anything set in stone, we’re just looking for big bites. We never go out and try to catch a lot of fish, we’re just looking for 15 quality bites per day. We try to find 3 areas that hold good fish. Ronnie Capps said a long time ago that the most fertile water holds the most fish, and that’s stuck with me. In the spring I’ll try to be as far from the dam as I can get, and in the fall I’ll try to be as close to it.”
One of the toughest aspects of spider-rigging shallow water is getting the fish in the boat, what tactics do you use to land those big pre-spawn Grenada crappie? “When you spider-rig you’re always late. You’re waiting to see a bite and then getting it out of the pole holder and setting the hook, and no matter how fast you are at it, you’re still late. We use stiffer rods so that the second you set the hook the tip of the rod is lifting. The stiffer rods also settle faster when waves rock the boat. We try to be faster with the net than anyone else, as soon as one of us is reaching for the pole the other is reaching for the net, I caught a fish at the classic with the dipnet that came off the hook. With only 5 ft. of line out, as soon as they get to the top of the water we net them.”
What’s your favorite thing about tournament fishing? “I love traveling and fishing and trying to figure new places out, but I really love all the people I get to meet. I’m always open to talk to anyone, and most of us are like that. Crappie fishermen respect each other out on the water, even after leading on day one of a tournament, we very rarely have people come on top of us on day two.”
Alright, last question, what kind of drinks and snacks do you guys keep in the boat on tournament day? “That’s easy, Snickers and a water, orange Gatorade, I drink Mountain Dew and Steve drinks Dr. Pepper, and a couple sandwiches, white bread, Steve likes ham and I like turkey, and I put southwest sauce and pepperoni on it. That’s the secret!”
David and Steve’s sponsors include Ozark Rods, Do-It Molds, and Everhart Outdoors.