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Alton Jones
This manatee hung around my boat for quite some time!

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

-James 1:5

That’s my verse of the week. I want to have one for each tournament week for the rest of the season. Fishing is all about making decisions, and I want to make wise decisions with God’s help. Not just in fishing, but in everything surrounding a tournament like how to treat your family, Marshal, fans, and all the things that come up. I pray for His wisdom this week.

I normally don’t get nervous before the start of a tournament, including the start of the Bassmaster Classic. But there’s something about starting a new Elite Series season that gives me butterflies. The Classic is a stand-alone event, but now I’ve got to re-qualify for it and right now I’m tied with everybody, so I guess I’ve got preseason jitters. Last night I was going over my game plan in my mind, and Jimmye Sue pointed out that I was pacing, but I hadn’t noticed. Needless to say, I’m ready to get this thing started.

I’d say I’ve had a decent practice. The first two days were different from the last two, and it seems to me like there are fewer fish on the beds this year than there were last year. A lot of it is because of the extremely warm winter they had here in Florida. However, there are still some on beds. If I can do it, I’ll sight fish. We’ll see how it plays out today.

From a strategy standpoint, a lot of the guys will fish for the fish they’re finding in practice. I typically don’t like to do that. The reason is because the mood you find them in during practice may be different on tournament day. Spending time trying to get a fish to bite on practice day uses time that you could otherwise be spent finding other fish. So I mark fish then move on and find out if they’re catchable come tournament time. If that doesn’t work, though, I do have a postspawn pattern nailed down.

On a related note, I want to say how proud I am of my son little Alton. He and his partner David Ridley won the Bass Champs on Lake Falcon last Saturday. They had five fish that weighed 39-15! They won $25,000 including the Skeeter Real Money bonus cash. Not bad for a college student. He’s proving how much more energy you have when you’re in your 20s rather than being 48 like I am. He left Falcon Saturday afternoon, then arrived in Dallas at 3:30 a.m., then headed to Colorado right then! It was a 16-hour trip to ski for spring break. I could NOT do that now.

Jimmye Sue and the girls have been having a great time here in Florida also. They’ve been spending every day at the beach. My daughters are flying home on Friday and then Jimmye Sue is flying home Sunday, so next week at Okeechobee I’ll be solo for the first time in 14 years.

Take a look at the photo. A manatee swam up to my boat the first day of practice and hung out there! This is really a cool place.

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