2006 Elite Series - Santee Cooper Showdown: Alton Jones

Editor's note: Following is a statement issued by Alton Jones as told to Steve Bowman, Bassmaster.com Tournament Editor.

MANNING, SC — Alton Jones' disqualification was similar to an earlier decision that took Kevin VanDam out of competition in the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series event on Santee Cooper.

Jones was disqualified late Thursday night, citing a violation of Rule 3 (ii) and Rule 12. VanDam's disqualification, invoked on Monday, involved Rule 12, after he received assistance from his co-angler who idled VanDam around a spawning area.

According to Jones, his disqualification involved his son, Alton Jones Jr., rather than a co-angler partner.

"I knew that I had not done the same thing that Kevin (VanDam) had done," Jones said. "But what I had done, is I drove the boat while Little Alton stood on the front deck and looked for fish. I was in complete control of the boat.

"In (Bassmaster's) interpretation of the rules that's considered getting assistance from someone who was not a competitor."

Jones, who was in second place after the first day of the event, lost credit for a 35 pound, 6 ounce stringer, that would have ranked in the top-10 heaviest 5-fish stringers of all time. It's a loss that Jones says he's okay with.

"Once I figured out it was a violation, I can live with it," Jones said. "Trip made the right call. And I'm so happy that BASS is a company that enforces its rules. That helps elevate the stature and integrity of our sport.

"I hate I'm the one who got caught in the middle of it. But I'm glad they handled it the way it should have been handled."

Jones said the rules involving co-angler assistance changed prior to the 2005 Bassmaster season.

"But we didn't have any spawning tournaments last year, so it never was an issue," Jones said. "That's why it never came up."

Jones, a devout Christian who often uses his success in tournaments to spread his faith, added that he "would never intentionally break a rule."

"And I'm not going to let this set me back," he said. "I'm going to let this light a fire under me to work harder in all the other events. I'm ready for Guntersville.

"This is a speed bump. You go over it, regroup and get back out there."

Jones said the disqualification, while difficult, hopefully will not pose any problems in his run to qualify for the 2007 Bassmaster Classic.

"In any other season and it would be game over," Jones said. "But with more events, we (Jones and VanDam) have time to make up the lost ground.

"I just can't let (the disqualification) distract me."

Jones will resume competition April 20 at the Southern Challenge on Lake Guntersville, Ala. The tournament will be the fourth of 11 events on the Bassmaster Elite Series schedule.