As I finish typing last blog, he caught his 4th fish about two pounds and that happens to be a large mouth bass.
The fishing spot Alton Jones has called his own this week is a textbook hole for bass. Current washes through a dip in a dike that crosses a gigantic weedy flat that extends a mile off the Mississippi River channel. Bait washes through the cut, and largemouth and smallmouth stack up to ambush it.
It's a tiny target. Throw too far to one side and you miss the sweet spot; cast a few feet to the other side and you hang up in the rocks. Jones just now snagged in the rocks and broke off his jig. He was back in action within seconds and quickly got into a tug of war with a smallmouth, which quickly let go.
As you may already have read, Jones found the spot during the first Bassmaster Elite tournament at La Crosse in 2012. "When you see a place like that you go, 'Wow, fish gotta live here." He was unable to get a keeper bite that first visit, or the second, in 2013. They certainly living here now.
Conditions are the same, and the pace of the action is similar to previous days, but Jones said he is lagging a little in total weight. Shortly after he said that, he culled again, replacing a 2-pounder with a 2-15. His unofficial weight right now is 12-10.
After thoroughly working an area that surrendered 4 keepers, Seth Feider moved about half mile down river, but a spot that required his armada of 16 boats to run the long way around to avoid shallow water.
He's working the inside edge of a wingdam that is adjacent to a bunch of attractive vegetation. He's caught several smaller fish already, but still looking fir his fifth keeper on he morning.
He seems calm and collected knowing that things will pick up.
We now know more about what Alton Jones calls the finest spot he's ever fished in 26 years of B.A.S.S. competition.
He's fishing a rockpile at the end of a jetty running across an expansive grass flat. The recent rainfall and higher water has created swift current from the river. As a result, the bass are positioning on the down current side to seek refuge from the current. On normal river levels the jetty is out of the water.
Not surprisingly, Jones is casting a Texas-rigged Yum Dinger into the calmer water behind the rockpile to catch his bass.
Local anglers appropriately call the area "The Rock Box."
He just made a biggest move of this morning. He moved about 2 miles to the east side of the lake where wind is blocked, nice and calm. After few cast he just caught his 3rd fish of the day. Another keeper about 1 pound.
Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Ron Wolf
To get his 3-pound average, Alton Jones is having to wade through scads of little v
Bass. "Dinks," he calls,them.
He has been alternating through two Yum soft plastic baits, a Dinger soft stickworm and a Christie Critter craw, and a jig. Even though current is washing toward him, Jones is fishing the lures painstakingly slowly. I've timed his cast-and-retrieves at from 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 minutes each -- unless interrupted by a strike, of course.
Almost every cast comes back with weeds wrapped around the lure. The trick is getting some action time out of the retrieve before the weeds glom on.
Jones has 11-12 right now. He weighs each fish he puts in the livewell and updates us on the running total.
As noted here yesterday, the more time passes, the more the bass fishing stays the same on the upper Mississippi River, apparently. Add one more day to that trend. The weather changes every day, but the bass fishing stays the same.
On Day 1, 88 of 107 anglers (82%) caught 5-bass limits. A total of 485 bass were weighed-in, averaging 2.52 pounds each. Big bass was 4-7.
On Day 2, 87 of 107 anglers (81%) caught 5-bass limits. A total of 487 bass were weighed-in, averaging 2.54 pounds each. Big bass was 6-1.
On Day 3, 38 of 50 anglers (76%) caught 5-bass limits. A total of 226 bass were weighed-in, averaging 2.63 pounds each. Big bass – two of them – weighed 4-11.
Looking back at the 2012 and 2013 Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments here, the 2016 event is shaping up remarkably similarly, slightly better in fact. Check it out:
|Day 1 leader||16-8||18-4||17-10|
|Day 2 leader||32-14||31-7||35-2|
|Top 50 cut||25-8||23-5||24-12|
|Day 3 leader||47-11||47-12||51-9|
|Top 12 cut||41-12||40-14||42-2|
By the way, I'd say I have the best boat driver this week as he came prepared for Championship Sunday and was wielding doughnuts on the final day. Kudos to Chad Richardson this week, it's been fun!
Dennis Tietje didn't waste any time getting home from La Crosse, jumping into a duck blind for teal season, which opened in Louisiana Saturday.
This is Tietje and his limit shot this morning.