BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — It was 209 days ago that Chris Jones made a symbolic and personal vow.
His commitment began on Feb. 24, 2013. Jones walked into the BOK Center in Tulsa to watch his friend Jason Christie weigh in at the Bassmaster Classsic. Blue wristbands bearing the name of the event were handed out to fans at the door of the arena.
Jones took his, slipped it on and made the vow before even taking a seat.
“I vowed that I would not take it off until I qualified for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic,” he said.
The bracelet can now - well, almost - come off. Today Jones succeeded at his goal by winning the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open #2.
The win comes with an invitation to compete in the Classic. The catch? Jones only needs to compete in the final Open next month on Mississippi’s Ross Barnett Reservoir. In doing so, he will complete the qualification criteria to have fished all three Open events in the season.
“I knew that if I had a shot at making it then this schedule would give me the best shot,” he said.
Jones finished in 20th place at the season opener held on the Red River. Then, he set to work at home. Nights were spent intensely researching satellite imagery of the Arkansas River. Google Earth was a favorite bookmark. Spring came and he turned to fishing the river.
“I spent hours on that river and went in literally every backwater where I felt like I could win it,” he said. “And I did look at that bracelet all the while as a reminder.”
The tireless research and practice paid off two weeks ago. Jones and his father won a team tournament on the river. The stage was set to continue the streak.
Jones wasn’t the only winner. His son Hunter, 7, gets a coveted trip to Disney World.
“He is a Disney fanatic and I told him that we’d go if I won,” said the father. “I promised him that if I did not win, that I’d go to Ross Barnett and try and win it there.”
The bracelet can come off in earnest after Ross Barnett in mid-October. And Hunter gets to live out a fantasy, as will his father in February at Lake Guntersville.