Alton Jones. Jr. 'Fine Tuning' his Game as Bass Pro Tour Opener Approaches
By Dave Landahl
January 2, 2019
Alton Jones Jr. was destined to fish for bass for a living. With a father, Alton Jones, who’s been making a living and achieving greatness catching bass for decades, it’s safe to say that “Junior” had the genetic makeup to chase the same dream of being a pro.
Jones achieved the goal of making it to the tour-level fishing scene when he made the Bassmaster Elite Series in 2017 and is now one of the 80 pros preparing to compete in the MLF Bass Pro Tour. But while making it to the “big dance” is great, Jones will be competing in a format, unlike anything he’s fished previously.
So, this young pro is buckling down, and practicing and preparing like he never has before.
“I think fishing this format will be enjoyable, and I think it will actually be beneficial for my fishing success,” Jones admitted. “Previously, I believe I had problems managing fish too early. By that I mean I’d be on fish, but since I previously fished five-fish-limit events, I would often decide to leave an area I knew had good fish because I was aware if I caught them that day it would only cull up a little, and the next day if they were there, it would be more valuable. Now, I can stay put and catch as many as I can since they will all count. It’s very exciting.”
Practicing his fish-handling skills
In addition to being able to stay on a spot and catch as many bass as possible, there are other changes for Jones and the other MLF Bass Pro Tour competitors preparing for the 2019 season opener on the Kissimmee Chain in Florida. Specifically, proper fish handling and potential penalties.
“One of the things I’ve worked at coming into the MLF Bass Pro Tour is fish handling,” Jones said. “I’ve been seriously fine tuning it. I fished on a private lake this offseason to practice proper fish landing and handling. On one lake, I caught 230 bass in a day trying to train myself how to land the fish and release them so I don’t incur any penalties. A two-minute penalty of not fishing if a schooling bite is happening can be the difference between winning and losing.
“Practice doesn’t make perfect, but practicing perfectly does. That’s what I’ve been working on.”
Counting on at least one go-to bait
Because catching as many fishing as possible is a priority, Jones has his sights set on one must-have bait for most shallow water bites.
“I’m going to have my squarebill crankbait ready,” Jones said. “For me, it’s the Booyah Flex Squarebill. I throw it almost anywhere. I can’t wait to use it, especially on Toho. I’ll know now if I leave a big bass on a bed, I can go out and catch several cruisers on the squarebill that will more than make up for the fish I left. Then, I can decide if I want to take the time to go back to the bed.
“I’m truly jacked up with the possibilities of the numbers and size of fish we are going to show off this year. Very exciting.”