Alton Jones drew a short straw for takeoff, landing second to last at 51st for Day 1. That means he’ll be about 20 minutes behind the first anglers to leave Lake Conroe Park for Friday’s 7:20 a.m. CT scheduled blastoff.
“Obviously, if you have a good starting spot for the first day of the tournament, there’s a good chance you may not get on it for boat 51, if other people have found it,” he said. “You know, this time of year in the spring, it’s not like the fish are going to be bunched up and somebody is going to win the tournament making one cast on a spot.”
Jones, who won the 2008 Classic on Lake Hartwell, said if there’s a community hole you just slip right into the mix and get after it. He admits there is an early bite on Lake Conroe, so starting 20 minutes later could hurt some on Day 1.
“But it will help you on the second day, because I’ll be boat No. 2 going out. It all turns around,” he said. “You can’t get spun out. This is not going to be a spot tournament. This is going to be an area tournament.”
As reigning Toyota Angler of the Year, Gerald Swindle has the honor of leading out the procession, followed by defending Classic champion Edwin Evers. The rest of the order was selected by random draw.
Skylar Hamilton, an Elite rookie fishing his first Classic, was up near the front as he drew the fourth position.
“It’s a blessing. It’s always good to have an early boat number, especially somewhere you don’t know,” he said. “If there are a couple spots that are well-known, at least on the first day, I’ll be able to get to them pretty quick.
“That second day, not so much when the field is reversed. Usually the first day you can figure stuff out and hopefully have some more areas. On the first day, if you have a couple community holes or places that you know are going to get beat up, you can go in there and catch a couple fish early.”
Hamilton said he’s been fortunate so far this season with high draws early, which he’s turned into two checks in his first Elite season, including a 22nd at Cherokee Lake.
“I’ve had a lot of good boat numbers this season, it’s worked out good,” he said.