MASSENA, N.Y. (WWTI) — Over 150 anglers threw out their casts on Thursday for the first day of the Major League tournament on the St. Lawrence River.

During the first day, Berkley Pro Angler John Cox from DeBary, Florida took the early lead after weighting a five-bass limit of St. Lawrence River smallmouth. His weigh-in totaled 24 pounds, 12 ounces. Cox shared that he was surprised that the took home the top spot on day one.

“I am in absolute shock to be leading this thing,” Cox said. “I’m not kidding, this was probably the worst practice that I have ever had before. Coming into today I was thinking, ‘If I can somehow catch 18 or 20 (pounds) and maybe catch a couple tomorrow I could get out of here with a check.’ And I would have taken that. I was shooting for 50th place. So to weigh what I did today is just unreal.”

Cox is in a slim seven-ounce lead over Arkansas Pro Joey “Cowboy” Cifuentes, who caught five bass weighing 24 pounds, five-ounces for second place.

Overall, there were 711 bass weighing 2,270 pounds, 12 ounces caught by the 153 pros on Thursday, which included 124 five-bass limits. Following the first of four competition days, the top ten pros on the St. Lawrence River are as follows:

  1.  John Cox, DeBary, Fla., five bass, 24-12
  2.  Joey “Cowboy” Cifuentes, Clinton, Ark., five bass, 24-5
  3. Ron Nelson, Berrien Springs, Mich., five bass, 23-7
  4. Miles Howe, San Juan Capistrano, Calif., five bass, 22-10
  5. Matthew Stefan, Junction City, Wis., five bass, 22-7
  6. Alex Davis, Albertville, Ala., five bass, 22-0
  7.  Erik Luzak, Fenelon Falls, Ontario, Canada, five bass, 22-0
  8. Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., five bass, 21-8
  9. Tom Monsoor, La Crosse, Wis., five bass, 21-2
  10. Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 21-0

In Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit competition, the full field of 154 anglers compete in the two-day opening round on Thursday and Friday. The top 50 pros based on their two-day cumulative weight advance to Saturday. Only the top 10 pros continue competition on Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the four days of competition.

This is stop six of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Savage Arms. Anglers will take off at 6:30 a.m., Thursday through Sunday at the Massena Intake Boat Launch.