Alton Jones Wins Bassmaster Elite Series 2012 St. Johns River Showdown
Mike Bolton 03.18.12
Alton Jones had one of those “I can’t believe this is happening” days Sunday but still held on for an 18-ounce win on the St. Johns River in the Bassmaster Elite Series.
Jones entered the final day of the four-day tournament Sunday with a seemingly insurmountable 9-pound lead but just couldn’t get the big bite he had gotten the three previous days.
He ended up winning the tournament by just 1 pound, 2 ounces over runner-up Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas. He had a four-day total of 75 pounds, 9 ounces.
“I am absolutely speechless that I won,” Jones said. “I entered the weigh-in line today thinking I had lost this tournament.”
Jones won $100,000 and an automatic berth in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic. He also is leading the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.
“That’s what I’m most excited about,” he said. “To have a Classic qualification frees me up to really go for Angler of the Year, take a few more risks in other tournaments this season.”
Jones said going into Sunday that his 9-pound lead wasn’t an automatic win because there were so many big bass on the bed.
“I knew I had to go out and pretend like I was 2 pounds behind,” said Jones, who won the Bassmaster Classic in 2008 and has won four other Bassmaster events but oddly had never won an Elite Series event.
Faircloth did catch the big bass on bed while Jones couldn’t make them bite. Faircloth caught 20-pounds, 10-ounces of bass Sunday while Jones produced just 12 pounds, 11 ounces, by far his worst catch of the tournament.
Jones started slow on Thursday and found himself in 17th place after the first day. On Friday he racked them with 28 pounds, 7 ounces and jumped into first place by more than 7 pounds. After day three he had increased the lead to 9 pounds. He was sight fishing bedding fish.
“I wasn’t around a lot of fish but I was just around a few good fish,” he said. “The important thing was to be in an area where the fish were wanting to spawn. I probably moved faster than a lot of the guys out there. And not stopping and locking up on the little ones was the key.”
Jones used a 6-inch junebug-colored Yum Dinger to catch most of his fish. He said he spent a lot of time Sunday trying to catch one female bass that weighed about 6 pounds.
“I really thought I was going to catch her,” he said. “She was behaving right, but there just wasn’t enough time to do it.
“I knew if I caught that fish, I’d win this tournament. Honestly, I thought that if I didn’t catch that fish, I was really leaving the door open for someone else.”