Can't keep up with the Jones

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. — For the second straight day, the worst of the foul weather held off until after the Elite Series anglers were off Lake Guntersville.

  •  And also for the second straight day, Alton Jones finds himself atop the leaderboard at the CITGO Bassmaster Southern Challenge presented by Berkley.

     Jones shrugged off a drizzly morning and finished the second day of fishing with a 20-pound, 12-ounce limit. His two-day total of 41-7 puts him two pounds ahead of Todd Faircloth who caught a 20-6 limit Friday and has a 39-7 total. Michael Iaconelli jumped from 22nd place to third and has a 38-13 total over two days. Kevin VanDam is in fourth (38-9) and Timmy Horton is fifth (35-15.)

     Jones, who was tied for Thursday's lead, has primarily targeted post-spawn fish using a Booyah spinnerbait and a Booyah jig. He stayed in his primary location for a large chunk of the morning and had little trouble boating the lunkers he needed to maintain his hold on first place.

     "It took me until about 9:30 to get a limit," the Texas pro said. "My first limit was probably 17 pounds. Then I culled two or three times and left that area about 10:30. It's post-spawn fish so there should be more and more of them getting there every day, hopefully."

     Jones lost a large female, however, that could have given him an even bigger lead on the field.

     "She short-lined me on a spinnerbait," Jones said. "She swam around the boat and I had her pretty well-turned. She came up one time and threw it right back at me.

     "She was about a 6-pounder. I had two that were two and half pounds apiece in my sack. So that big fish would have given me another three or four pounds."

     With his limit on board, Jones was able to pre-fish for Saturday's third round. When the sun broke through the clouds around noon, he was able to spot some bass, but he didn't see anything that is going to lead him from his favored area.

     "All it did was give me confidence to stay with those post-spawn fish," Jones said. "I've got two or three other spots that I haven't touched yet. They're not as good as the spot I've been fishing, but they could easily be good for some good fish."

     Faircloth, another Texan, was in seventh place after the first round before making the jump to second. He caught a mix of spawning and post-spawn fish Friday on the main lake. He said his technique of choice has been to Texas-rig a Yamamoto Senko worm and fish over a ridge in approximately 6-9 feet of water.

     "I've got one key area that I started on this morning," he said. "It was the same area I started on the first morning. I had a limit at 7:30 this morning. My first two fish were my biggest two.

     "I probably had everything that I weighed in by about 9, 9:30 this morning."

     New Jersey's Iaconelli landed a 22-pound, one-ounce limit Friday after making the switch from sight fishing on Thursday to post-spawn bass on Friday.

     "I fished one 5-mile area of the lake where the fish have left the beds," Iacnoelli said. "So they're in deeper water. I'm fishing reaction lures because (the bass) are unaggressive. They're lethargic. Most of these females are done spawning. They go out and sit and wait until summer to start feeding again. So I'm using reaction baits to trigger bites."

     VanDam was in 21st place on Thursday, but moved to fourth with a 21-pound, 9-ounce bag Friday.

     "I've got several patterns that I'm fishing and it just kind of worked out today," VanDam said. "I got a good start and caught a good fish early. When you get momentum like that, it just really helps get you on the right roll. I only caught 17 (pounds) yesterday, which makes it tough. I thought I could catch a lot every day. And it changed a lot for me today."

     Also in the top-10 are Dean Rojas (35-9), Terry Butcher (35-5), Denny Brauer (34-15), Takahiro Omori (34-10) and Stephen Kennedy (34-4.)

     In anticipation of heavy rain and possible hail, BASS officials moved Friday's weigh-in from the Guntersville High School football stadium to the school auditorium. The weigh-in was completed by the time severe thunderstorms hit northern Alabama Friday evening.

     The top 50 anglers survived today's cut and will compete tomorrow. Launch is scheduled for 6 a.m.