St. Johns bedding bass moving quickly
Photo James Overstreet - PALATKA, Fla. — If fishing conditions are any indication, you can expect some big changes in the leaderboard Friday at the Bassmaster Elite Series St. Johns River Showdown. Big female bass that are on a spawning bed one day are likely to be gone the next.
"I saw a bunch of big ones (in practice Wednesday)," said Alton Jones. "I thought I was going to go in there this morning and wreck 'em. They were gone. There were about 30 females swimming around in an area the size of a football field, and they were just gone." Read More
Classic In Depth - Alton Jones - Fourth Place
With the experience of a veteran, Jones spent two days at the Red River before the waterway went off limits in December. But, rather than simply drive through the river hoping to see areas that he might fish; Jones went the extra mile.
"I actually only went on the water one of the days in pre-practice," said the Woodway, Tex. pro "I flew over the Red River in a helicopter on the other day because I can observe areas much more efficiently from the air than from just reading a map, or driving it in my Skeeter." Read More
Classic Patterns 2-5
Alton Jones said he only burned a "thimble's worth" of gas throughout the 3 days of competition. He fished directly across from the launch site in Port Lake.
"I caught 20 pounds out of that spot at the 2009 Classic," he noted. "That was the first place I fished on the first day of practice and it was on. I looked around at some other stuff the rest of practice, but I never really found anything as good as that little spot." Read More
2012 Classic - 4th: Jones Anticipated Bedders
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."
2012 Classic - 3rd: Jones Staying Focused
> Day 2: 5, 17-14 (10, 31-11) - Jones was all smiles after a day that saw him move from 16th place in the standings to third. He's trying to join VanDam, Rick Clunn, George Cochran, Hank Parker and Bobby Murray as anglers with multiple Classic wins.
“It’s exciting," he said. "I can’t remember what movie it is, but it reminds me of the line, ‘So you’re saying I have a chance?’ And that’s what you want heading into the final day of the Bassmaster Classic, is to be in contention for a title, and anything can happen.