BOSSIER CITY, La. — Last week was painful for Alton Jones, Jr., who fished his first Top 12 at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open held on Lake Champlain. Jones, hoping to join his father in the 2017 Bassmaster Elite Series, finished just 1 point outside the cut.
“It was an emotional ordeal,” said the second year pro. “I knew I needed to finish second to make the cut.”
Jones finished third.
Following the weigh-in, Jones went back to his boat and idled alone out into the bay. He reflected on what might have been. Nagging at his mind was a costly dead fish penalty at the James River.
“There’s no doubt in my mind I would be in the Elites without those two dead fish,” he said. “It was a mistake that I never will make again.”
On that day he ran out of G-Juice, the livewell additive available from T-H Marine Supplies. The weather was brutally hot, making fish care a challenge.
Jones and roommate Sam George departed Lake Champlain on Friday afternoon after the emotional weigh-in. They made it to Allentown, Pa., and slept in their trucks. The next morning they drove non-stop to Shreveport, a distance of 1,300 miles over 20 hours of drive time. They arrived at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning.
“It was rough, I mean to have fished like that all week and drive was a grind,” he said.
Jones went fishing anyway but the practice session got cut short by fatigue.
“I got the shakes and just decided to go back in, work on tackle and get some rest,” he said.
And call his dad. Alton Jones, Sr., said he was proud of him. That’s where the son cut the conversation short.
“I told him that was all I needed to hear,” said Jones, 24 years old. “I told dad I didn’t really want to talk about it anymore, otherwise I might not be able to hold it together.”
Jones is getting a much-deserved second chance on the Red River. After finishing 15th place in the Central opener he sits inside the Elite Series cut.
Jones will now fish his second consecutive Top 12 after taking the lead on Day 2. After two days of fishing on the Red River his total weight is 22 pounds.
“I think if I can get a top 40 finish at the Atchafalaya then I stand a good chance of getting in,” he said.
That, and not weighing another dead bass, should finally seal the deal.