Alton Jones Jr. is making a serious charge to rise from 82nd place (13-7) on Day 1 to making Sunday's Top 12 final. He did it by essentially starting over yesterday.
"I really just went out practicing," Jones said. "I started on something I wished I would have practiced, but didn't have time to. I was really hoping I could catch 17 or 18 pounds and get a shot at fishing Day 3. To go out and catch almost 27 pounds is really special. And I had a shot to catch 30."
He finished with the big bag of the tournament so far, 26 pounds, 10 ounces. It was an initial miss that would have given him a shot at 30 pounds, but that's when he started getting a clue about how to catch big ones Thursday.
"I lost a 7 and on the next cast I caught a 7-6, which was the big one I had," Jones said. "I noticed a little something there. I went over to the next area and tried to duplicate it. I caught three 5-pounders within 20 minutes.
"It's hard to find what I'm looking for, but when I do, I'm pretty confident I can catch a good one. The fish are definitely in transition, so a lot can change really, really fast."
Apparently, it's not changing too fast for Jones today. BASSTrakk shows him with a 14-8 limit, which has him in fifth place. From 82nd place on Day 1 to the Top 12 on Day 4? That would be quite a story for the Elite Series rookie.
Finally, there's this: It's not Jones' first rodeo on Sam Rayburn. He's said he's fished about a dozen tournaments here, and he's caught a bigger bag than he had yesterday. "Twenty-eight pounds, four or five years ago in January," Jones said.