A coming of age

Today (April 15) Little Alton turned 18. This is a milestone for him, Jimmye Sue and me. We're coming to grips with that fact that our kids are growing up, and Little A will be laving soon to go to college this next year. It's a thing that has made us reflect on the great joy we've had traveling with our family and spending so much time together at home and on the road.

Little A and I were talking in the car on the way back from the boat ramp, and I was telling him that the 18 years that we've had with him have been some of the most joyful years of our lives. I told him just how much I appreciate him and respect the man he's become. I also told him how much I appreciate the time we spend together fishing and doing other father and son stuff. It's all been a great time. Since there aren't many fancy places in town to eat at, we celebrated with a hamburger at a diner about 10 miles from the weigh-in. Having the whole Jones Clan there made it special.

Another thing that makes me sad about him being gone soon is that next season he'll be in college and won't be able to travel with us. He may be available for a tournament here and there, but not like now or before. He takes care of a lot of the workload for both Jimmye Sue and me when I'm out on the water fishing. If there's any work that needs to be done around the motor home, he can do it. He helps me pack, change tires and load and unload the big trailer among other thing. He has also been my official boat cleaner for the past eight or nine years. I'm going to have to take up boat cleaning duties here soon, but I can't find anyone to pay me for it!

We're grateful for all of our kids, and it's been nice reflecting on them and the time we get to spend together. On a fishing note, Smith Mountain Lake is fun. I also feel a sense of relief. This thing was supposed to fish to my strengths last year, but it turned out to be my worst tournament of the year. It's supposed to do the same again and it's working out a lot better so far. I hope that I can be consistent. It would be nice to catch a nice sack like Jason Williamson did, but I haven't seen that kind of fish where I am. I think if you can stay around that 15-pound mark every day you'll be close to making the top 12 cut. I

've read all the stories on bass fishing news Web sites, and it really does seem to be a sight fishing deal. I understand Williamson and Bobby Lane are in the same area, but sight fishing can be funny. The spawn is an interesting animal. What I mean by that is one pocket can be hot one day and completely off the next. The magic can happen in any cove at any time, and it'll happen in every one at some point this spring. The big ones will have to move up into a creek or pocket. It's just a matter of being there when they do. It's like being there when a big deer ruts. Timing is everything.

While we're talking about Little Alton and fishing, he'll be flying home twice on this stretch of tournaments. We'll be gone for seven weeks total. The first time is to fish a tournament and take a final exam, and the second time is for a tournament and to prepare for a mission trip he'll be attending this summer. His youth group will be going out to Arizona to do some ministry on an Indian reservation.

On yet another note, check out the latest episode of Keeping Up with the Joneses. It's about the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department's ShareLunker program. I get to sample a test lake where they're growing these big bass. Most of the fish are only four years old, but there are some chunks. These fish have the best genetics the state of Texas has to offer, and, in turn, the lake has some of the best fishing the Lone Star State has. Check it out and be watching for one next week where Little Alton and I fish Kentucky Lake.

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