Angler of the Week: Alton Jones
This week we caught up with one of the original Major League Fishing Pros, Alton Jones. Right now he’s at Bassmaster’s Texas Fest, a tournament that benefits the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
“I’ve always been a big supporter of parks and wildlife. You know, Texas Parks and Wildlife has always been on the cutting edge, as far as bass goes, of fisheries management.”
Jones at the 2018 Summit Cup
Jones says Texas, his home state, was one of the first to promote the idea of catch a release.
“You know, 25 years ago, that was a foreign concept because people, they caught bass and they ate them,” Jones explained.
Like MLF, Jones says the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is always working to extend the life of the sport.
“It’s really paid dividends in our state. You can just historically look at the data, and how many more giant bass we pull out of Texas now, how much fishing has grown,” he said.
Now, Texas is known as one of the premiere bass fishing destinations in the world. Jones’ favorite spot is Lake Falcon in the Rio Grande Valley.
“It’s a fabulous place to visit,” he said.
Ironically, Jones says the lake he’s competing on this weekend, Lake Travis, isn’t a favorite of his.
“You catch a lot of small fish in hopes of catching a keeper,” he explained. “You’ll see a few big fish caught. But you’re also going to see a lot of guys struggle.”
However, Jones says MLF’s catch-weigh-release format actually originated at Texas Fest many years ago because it was the first tournament to adopt the catch-and-release format. Jones says a group of pro anglers came up with the idea, and many of them went on to create MLF (Boyd Duckett, Kelley Jordon, Kevin VanDam, and Jones among them.).
“The growth in Major League Fishing has just been so fun to watch,” Jones said.
Jones has been a pro angler for 28 years, has won more than $2 million in tournaments, and he even won the 2008 Bassmaster Classic. But he says fans like to talk to him about MLF more than anything.
“Before they ever say, ‘Hey, I remember when you won the Classic in 2008,’ it’s, ‘I saw you on Major League Fishing.’ And that really says a lot about the notoriety that Major League Fishing has brought to our sport.”
“I feel like every tournament, I’ve got two chances to win.”
His wife, Jimmye Sue, always travels to tournaments with Jones. When he’s competing in a Bassmaster Elite event, he’s often traveling with his son, Alton Jones Jr., as well.
“He’s a full-fledged, bonafide pro. On the same level as I am,” Jones explained.
The pair works together at tournaments, and Jones says they compare notes about what’s working on the lake. He believes competing against his son actually gives him an advantage.
“Really as a dad, I feel like every tournament, I’ve got two chances to win,” said Jones.
Jones and Jimmye Sue have two other children, Kristin and Jamie, but they’ve been empty nesters for years. That is, if you don’t count their four yellow labs (Rio, Baylor, Olive, and Lucy).
“They are kind of like kids to us.”
When Jones isn’t fishing, he likes to take the dogs bird hunting. He recently picked up a new hobby: growing peach and plum trees.
“I’ve always loved working in my garden,” said Jones, “but this is my first chance at trees.”
He says it doesn’t compare to Edwin Evers’ pecan orchard in Oklahoma, but Jones did reach out to his fellow MLF pro for advice.
“In ways, I guess I kind of envy Edwin. He’s got this whole huge orchard, and I’m just starting with 5 or 6 trees. But who knows, maybe 5 or 10 years from now, I’ll have the orchard.”
Jones is having fun caring for the trees, but his dogs recently had fun digging them up.
“The dogs uprooted the trees, pulled the sprinkler system of the ground… So I had to completely replant my orchard, thanks to my dogs.”
Find out how Jones does in Elimination Round 2 of the 2018 Challenge Cup on Saturday, May 19 from 2-4pm ET on Outdoor Channel.
About MLF’s ‘Angler of the Week’
Major League Fishing wants you to get to know your favorite anglers! That’s why we’re putting together a new angler profile every week in 2018. Check our site regularly for the latest and send us your questions for the anglers.