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Spring Bass Tips with Alton Jones Field & Stream

By Mark Hicks
Q: How do I find productive grass and fish it right? On my lake, it dies down during the winter.

A: One of the easiest ways to locate this cover now is to watch for flocks of coots and black ducks. These birds Read More

3rd: Jones’ Confidence Swells

> Day 1: 5, 17-13 Jones came into this event focused on figuring out what the Grand Lake bass would be doing during the midst of a week-long warming trend. So far, he feels like he’s piecing the puzzle together – and he’s not concerned about who he has to catch on the leaderboard.

“It’s a 3-day tournament for a reason and my job is to stay consistent,” said Jones, who finished 31st at Grand in 2013. “If I stay consistent, it really doesn’t matter what (the leader) does. I’m going to catch everything I can catch and we’ll see how the chips fall.”

Jones caught two limits’ worth of bass and culled three times (the other two didn’t help him) as he fished more methodically than some of his competitors.

“The fish were positioned exactly where I thought they would be and that’s been one of the keys for me – figuring out how they’re setting up so when I come into those little places I can fish them with a little more patience than maybe somebody who’s not really sure exactly what the fish are doing,” he said. “That’s been a big advantage for me.”

His confidence in his pattern is such that he went back through areas today that didn’t produce bite is in practice, but had the right mix of structure and habitat.

“I know where they’re supposed to be and not every place that has the right stuff has one, but for example, today I fished several places in practice that were set up right that I didn’t get bites out of, but I was able to go to them today knowing it was the right stuff and I caught a couple key fish where I didn’t get a bite in practice,” he said. “I hope I can stay on top of them. I fished my practice not based on what the fish were doing a week ago, but on what I thought they would be doing with a week of warm weather. I put my eggs in that basket and I knew it would work really well or not at all. Today, it worked really well." Read more


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

Jones Clenches Lead In Bassmaster Elite On Lake St. Clair

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.

Shallow Was The Ticket For Both Species

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

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