Later, gator!

On Tuesday during pre-fish for the Central Open, Marty Trent and his brother Kerry practiced back in a marshy cut, working a frog on vegetation. Marty saw movement in the water and thought it was a bass approaching his bait.

Not quite.

The gator chased his frog, with Marty trying to reel it quickly away and Kerry taking photos. Score one for the four-legged predator, who made off with Marty's favorite frog lure.

Murray still with zero

I've followed Tommy Murray for the first two and a half hours of this final day and he hasn't boated a fish in front of us yet. His co-angler Brandon Clayton did boat a small keeper on the smaller sized River2Sea Whopper Plopper. 

Murray threw a variety of baits that he hoped would clue him in. I saw him throw a walking-style topwater, a spinnerbait and he also flipped a soft plastic. 

Today's conditions are slick calm with warmer forecasted temperatures than Days 1 and 2. Since this event has progressed the wind has lessened and today it isn't present. A slick calm Red River can make it an even tougher day for some. Those in the ultra shallow backwaters have to be even quieter as they operate as well as bait presentation. 

I'm on my way to third place Luke Estel to see how the Illinois angler is fairing. 

Jones with a limit

Alton Jones, Jr. now has a limit. Moments after James Overstreet snapped this photo he added a fifth bass to the livewell at exactly 9 a.m.

Every pound and ounce will matter today.

There is a lot of company at the top. Going into today he held a 2-ounce lead, with only 1 pound of weight separating the top 5 anglers.

“My areas get better later in the day,” announced Jones.

That could be the best news of the day for Jones. Yesterday his biggest bass came around midday.

Murray in second

Tommy Murray of Texas started the final day of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open on the Red River is second place, just two ounces behind young Alton Jones Jr. 

Murray jumped into contention on Day 2 after he hauled in the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the tournament so far with a 6-2.

He started his final day in White House, which is obviously named after a big white house that sits adjacent to the Red River. 

This area is exactly like you would picture the Red River. It has some really stained water color and is full of stumps. 

3 keepers for Alton

Alton Jones, Jr., now has three keepers in the boat, including this chunk going into the livewell.

He eluded to doing something different and by all accounts that is true.

He is flipping a drop shot rig.

That rig, of course, is normally used on light line and in open water to catch bass suspended over deep structure.

For Jones, the tradeoff is fishing his drop shot rig on 14-pound test line, with a bait cast outfit. The heavier line allows him to fish the rig through shoreline cover, while the beefier drag and gear ratio of the bait caster help him winch in the bass.

Alton's secret

Alton Jones, Jr., said he got a good night’s rest, likely the best of this two-week road trip.

Tonight I’m really going to sleep good.”

“Yesterday was the day to be nervous,” he said.

Jones had reason to be nervous. Two things were on the line. First, making the Top 12 and second, gaining much needed points for an invitation to the 2017 Bassmaster Elite Series. Jones wants to join his father on the tour after a near miss last week in the Northern Open.

“I feel good about the points, now I want the win,” he said.

Jones will have two very special guests this afternoon at the weigh-in. We don’t want to spoil it all and disclose who they are, but it will be a special moment.

“I talked to my dad last night and he told me to fish as best as I can,” added Jones.

This one is for you

The smile on his face says it all.

Alton Jones, Jr., set a personal goal to catch 12 pounds on this final day of competition on the Red River.

As of now Jones believes he’s got that weight.

What’s cool about all of this is this back story behind his roommate and travel partner, Sam George. Yesterday he stopped to check on his pal while fishing the river. With no chance of making the Top 12, George tipped Jones off about a key area where he might find success today.

What Jones holds in his hand is the proof. Jones told us he wanted to give a shout of thanks out to George.

Sam George, this one is for you!

The Gator Hole

I found 3rd place angler Luke Estel fishing in his backwater pond that he refers to as the "Gator Hole." He started the day less than half a pound behind Alton Jones Jr. and the Illinois pro has two fish in the box thus far. He said they were just normal keepers and nothing indicated they were special in size. 
"The way I see it is I'm just three bites from possibly going to the Bassmaster Classic," Estel said. 
That has to be a great feeling knowing that anyone in the Top 12 can catch a big largemouth and vault into a top position and be that much closer to fishing the Super Bowl of bass fishing. 
Estel started this event with 11 pounds, 2 ounces and followed it up with 10 pounds, 7 ounces. That gave him 21-9 for 2 days and had him 7 ounces off the pace. 
Estel has been primarily flipping a Black and Blue Strike King Rage Bug, but he said he found these fish earlier in the week on a spinnerbait. The windier and cloudier practice day allowed the spinnerbait to shine, but with the lessened breeze each day of this event he has relied on a flipping routine. 
He has confidence in this area and has hooked 4 good fish in this spot the first two days and landed 3 of those bites.
"I know there will be a couple of limits caught today, but I think one or two of those quality fish in here will elevate a normal bag into a tournament winning sack," Estel said. 
We are a few minutes from the halfway point of the day, which means Estel has four hours to catch 3 more fish. 

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