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Jones, who already owns a Classic trophy for his 2008 win on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell, said his good opening round was a result of a good choice he made prior to competition.

“I made a decision in practice, with this warm-up that was coming, I was going to fish where the fish were coming to,” he said. “There were a few of them already in there in practice, and I felt like I knew where they would be setting up when the tournament started.

“It was sort of an educated guess as to where the fish were going, and it worked out well for me today.”

The tournament will resume Saturday, with a full field of a 55 anglers leaving Hard Rock Dock at Wolf Creek Park at Grove, Okla., at 7 a.m. The weigh-in is set to begin at 3:15 p.m. at the BOK Center in Tulsa.

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The ride from Grand Lake to the BOK arena

Posted by Alton Jones on Friday, March 4, 2016

Photo BASS Gary Tramontina - Alton Jones brought in five smallies that weighed 17-4 for a two-day total of 41 pounds, 8 ounces, keeping him in third place.

“By lunchtime I had to move to another location; as a whole, I had to work a lot harder today,” he said. “The bite is changing where I’m fishing, but I know the bass are still in the area — hopefully I can catch them again tomorrow.”

Jones caught his three biggest fish of the day on his first four drifts.

"Then it got tougher," he said. "I think I know why, but I'm not ready to talk about it yet. If it does set up right tomorrow, then I will know why."

He said the stretch that he, JVD and Scanlon are fishing is about 300 yards long with a 50-yard sweet spot in the middle that produces most of the best fish.

"It's getting a lot of pressure and it'll be interesting to see how it plays out," he said. "A real big key could be somebody finding another spot in the same area that's loaded."

His bag was topped by a 4 1/4-pounder. He missed a few bites, but doesn't know whether any would've aided him.

"They weren't committing to the bait today like they had been. Hopefully tomorrow, they'll commit." Read more

DETROIT — Weather is always a dynamic element in competitive bass fishing, but it is the biggest factor when the tournament is taking place on big lakes.

The Plano Bassmaster Elite at Lake St. Clair is the final event of the regular season, and many anglers are putting it all on the line to garner a berth in the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro next March.

Texas pro Alton Jones took control of the event by bringing in 23 pounds, 10 ounces of smallmouth bass to the scales after the first day Thursday.

“When you’re fishing the Great Lakes, where wind is a dominating weather condition, my goal is to locate the best drift over the best piece of structure,” the 2008 Bassmaster Classic champion explained. “My practice time was spent finding the right drift, but it only produced small fish for me this morning. I knew they had moved, and after I found them again — only a few hundred yards away — it was a pretty consistent bite.”

Jones expects the bass he found to move again by Friday with another likely weather change. He caught about 15 fish throughout the day and expects the numbers to be similar again in the second round.

“My big-fish spot contributed my best fish of the day, and it gave me several opportunities to cull up,” he said. “I found numerous spots that I’ve devoted my attention to, and I really hope they will hold up as the tournament goes on. But, to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure if they will.”

The stories among the anglers owning the other top spots on the leaderboard offered similar reports. Several small spots produced the right fish, but remaining confident that the best areas will continue to produce is the $100,000 question.

“I have a tendency to stress out about how well I manage a bite,” explained James Elam of Tulsa, Okla. “I’d like to think I perform well under this kind of pressure, but I’m going to have to prove that tomorrow.”

Elam had his limit before noon and brought in 23 pounds, 7 ounces to hold down second.

There’s more to his story, however: At the start of the day, he was inside the 50-angler cut to qualify for the upcoming Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship by a single point. Today’s finish bumped him up in the standings, but he’ll have to finish strong to have an opportunity to fish the championship on Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, on Sept. 17-20.

Claiming third is two-time Bassmaster Elite Series champion Brandon Palaniuk. “I’ve been changing my strategy when it comes to the AOY race. I stopped looking at the points; I’ve been fishing to win. I know I fish better with that mentality, so I haven’t looked at the points standings for a couple of months.”

His mental discipline work today as he brought in 23 pounds, 4 ounces of smallies — including the day’s big bass weighing 6-3.

Rounding out the Top 10 were Brandon Lester in fourth place with a fine limit that weighed 21-10. He’s tied for fourth with Casey Scanlon. Micah Frazier is sixth with 20-8, Jonathon VanDam is seventh with 20-6 ounces, Todd Faircloth is eighth with 20-1, J Todd Tucker is ninth with 19-14 and Matt Herren is 10th with 19-5.

During the summer of 2014, prior to the release of the 2015 Elite Series schedule, Alton Jones and his son, Alton, Jr., made a trip to the St. Lawrence River for some fun fishing. As it turned out, the experience came in handy for the elder Jones last week.

Jones said he caught the bulk of his weight off some of the spots he and his son fished and the trip served a valuable learning tool.

“I learned the river a lot better and how it fishes and how to attack current and where to push the panic button and be able find largemouth, even on day 4 when they hadn’t been picked over,” Jones said. “We were here just having fun, no pressure.”

Jones established a couple patterns right away in practice. He targeted deeper areas that had a combination of grass and rock with a dropshot rig.

“If there was an eddy in the current and that intersected the grass and rock, if you could find those three coming together, that’s dynamite for smallmouth on a big river,” he said.

When he went shallow, he went down the inside weed line until he found some rock or a point.

“The fish were on those shallow rocks on the inside weed line,” he said. “I fished without hooks in practice because I felt like if I caught one shallow, I wouldn’t have caught them in the tournament.

“When I’d get a bite up shallow, I’d ease up and see them. You didn’t have to fish for them. They weren’t bedding. They were just up there gorging on gobies. When the gobies leave the shallow water, the bass will leave with them.”

With his smallmouth areas starting to fade on the final day, he targeted largemouth in order to get a limit.

“That was an inside weed line in a backwater,” he said. “It was mostly sand, but every 400 to 500 yards there’d be piles of rocks the size of a truck hood. I had seven or eight of those and there were fish on all of them.”

> Dropshot gear: 6’9” medium-heavy Kistler Helium 2 spinning rod, unnamed spinning reel, 15-pound unnamed braided main line, 8-pound Silver Thread fluorocarbon line (5-foot leader), 1/0 Gamakatsu EWG worm hook, Texas-rigged YUM Warning Shot (green-pumpkin), 1/8-, 3/16- and 1/4-oz. unnamed dropshot weights.

> Jones tried to stay as light as he could with the weight depending on the conditions – he used 1/8 oz. when shallow, 3/16 out deep and 1/4 when the wind kicked up. He wanted the most natural fall possible on his bait.

> Tube gear: Same rod, same reel, 8-pound Silver Thread fluorocarbon line, 3/16- and 1/4-oz. unnamed tube jigs, YUM tube (green-pumpkin).

> He said the key to keeping the smallmouth buttoned up was playing them out. The fish he lost seemed to throw the hook the first time they jumped. Full Story At

Load Your Live Well

Did that most recent cold front throw you a curve ball? Did the bite you were on suddenly disappear? There is always a solution to every problem, here’s one that has saved my day on many occasions. After severe cold fronts big bass almost always seek out the darkest shadows they can find. 

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