Day 3: 5, 14-03 (15, 45-14) - Angler after angler lamented at not being better prepared for the onslaught of spawning fish that eventually became the dominant theme of this year's Classic. Springtime guru Alton Jones, on the other hand, was more than ready for the seasonal shift to kick off.
"I fished this tournament from day 1 as if it was going to develop into a spawn-fest," he said. "I'm always watching the extended forecast in practice and when I saw that warm-up coming, I knew it was close. I'm actually surprised that it didn't happen quicker. Had we not had those cold nights, it would've progressed further."
Photo: B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina
"Even though it's cold outside, if the sun shines, it gets pretty warm inside that car. Those backwaters are the same way. All it takes is a little bit of sun and they warm up really fast.
"You could see the fish come to life mid-morning," he added. "If you went in there first thing in the morning you'd swear there wasn't a bass in there. It was absolutely dead. But by about 10:30 everything came alive and it seemed like every little pad stem had a fish on it."
He said he was fortunate not to have to share his area with too many of his competitors this week, but added that learning how to better manage crowds is something he'll have at the forefront of his mind as the 2012 Elite Series season unfolds.
"(Fishing in a crowd) is a part of my gameplan that I'm deliberately working on this year. In the past I've made the mistake of avoiding fish because I've avoided the crowds. (In the Elite Series) it's difficult to find a place and have it all to yourself. I'll definitely mix it up this year if I have to."