Back-to-basics approach helps Jones

CELEBRATION, Fla. — When Alton Jones explains his early-season success on the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series, less is more.

The Waco, Texas, angler has been one of the hottest and most consistent performers this season on the new Elite Series. With years of professional experience to draw on, as well as a strong record in BASS competition, Jones is going about his business very simply in the 11-event, $7.5 million Series.

"At the start of each season, I like to have a theme for what I do," said Jones, a four-time BASS tournament winner. "This year, it's back to the basics.

"I'm trying to focus on my strengths and use my methods, not what someone else is doing," said the 28th-ranked angler on the Bassmaster Elite Series Power Index. "Just because I hear that Dean Rojas is tearing 'em up with a frog, I'm not suddenly going to start flipping a frog. It's better for me to fish my own strengths."

In an effort to "fish smarter," Jones said he is paying special attention to seasonal patterns. "I'm listening to what the fish are telling me," he said.

The results have been strong. Jones qualified for last week's Bassmaster Memorial in Texas, where he placed 35th. He also led the recent Southern Challenge presented by Berkley on Alabama's Lake Guntersville for two days before ultimately finishing second, and he finished seventh in the inaugural Elite Series event, the Battle on the Border presented by Mercury Marine, in Texas.

So what's on Jones' list of goals now? Adding another BASS win to the four he already has as well as winning the Angler of the Year title. (He's currently in 29th place.) He's also starting to look toward the 2007 CITGO Bassmaster Classic, bass fishing's most major event.

Helping him along the way are sponsors Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Outboards, XCalibur fishing tackle, YUM fish attractor, Silver Thread fishing line, Minn Kota Manufacturing Co., Legacy Outfitters and Lifeline Youth & Family Services.

"I'm very pleased with the direction BASS is headed. We're taking it to a place we've never seen before," Jones said. "I bet that looking forward, there will be a line of guys wishing they were here. I think that's what BASS is creating."