False ment’s entry fee was $ 600, which doesn’t seem like much today but was considered fairly hefty at the time. Fishing six events meant Jones was away from home for only about eight weeks a year. “ Jimmye Sue used her vacation to travel with me to two or three events each year,” Jones noted. “ We weren’t apart much, even early on.” Being together so much set the tone for the rest of Jones’ pro life. With the advent of the FLW Tour Jones started competing in both B. A. S. S. and FLW events. “ I was com-peting in 12 tournaments each year, six B. A. S. S. competitions and six FLW tour-naments, pre- fish-ing and prac-tice,” Jones said. “ But dates gradually started conflict-ing with each other. I’d have to choose one over another, and ( ulti-mately) one tour over the other. I decided to fish B. A. S. S. ( as an Elite Pro).” Jones now competes in about 12 events each year. Jones, his wife, and their three children, Little Alton, 16, Kristin, 13, and Jamie, 10, spend the en-tire year together. The youngsters are home- schooled, so they’re able to accompany their parents in the family’s motor home wherever the pro tour leads. So far this season the Jones family has Photos Courtesy of ESPN/ B. A. S. S. Communications grass. BASS.
False journeyed to Florida’s Harris Chain of Lakes and Kissimmee Chain, Falcon Lake and Lake Amis-tad, both in Texas, and Clarks Hill Lake in Geor-gia. Next up is South Carolina’s Lake Murray, followed by trips to Alabama’s Wheeler Lake, Kentucky Lake, the Mississippi River near Fort Madison, Iowa, New York’s Lake Erie/ Niagara River and ending up at Oneida Lake, also in New York. The Jones family returned to South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell for a sort of pro angler’s holiday in between the Clarks Hill, Georgia event and the Lake Murray tournament. Alton Jones didn’t have to fish that week, but he wanted to fish – for stripers – and so he did. “ When I really want to kick back and relax I’ll fish for bluegill and crappie,” Jones admitted. “ There’s just something so relaxing about wait-ing for a cork to go under.” Compared to the nail- biting suspense of a hard- fought bass tournament it’s little won-der that the pro yearns for a lazy, hazy day of nightcrawlers dangling tantalizingly beneath a red- and- white bobber. Concentration is of para-mount importance to any top angler, but non-stop concentration can wear on a fellow. At the recent Bassmaster Classic, for example, Jones used a Cotton Cordell C. C. jigging spoon while fishing a deep water pattern. He caught a limit with his first seven casts in the first spot he tried, then continued fishing hoping to cull smaller fish already caught and to replace them with any larger bass that might be boated. Jones also used a ¾ - ounce Booyah Pigskin Jig with hand- tied Buckeye Lures’ Mop Jig brown-and- purple skirt, and a ½ - ounce Booyah A- Jig with the same skirt at the Classic. He tipped each jig with a 3 ½ - inch black/ blue flake Yum chunk to give it the larger profile that Hartwell’s big fish apparently craved.. Each morning Jones would vertically- jig the spoon in deep ditches near standing timber, although the spoon bite effectively died the first day. The remainder of the time the angler was slowly crawling a jig over wood in the same ditches. The fish Jones caught were holding in 30- to 35- feet of water. “ The mouths ( of pockets) where ditches wiggled out of the timber pro-duced best,” Jones explained. “( Being in) tim-ber made the bass feel safe during the winter, ( while) the ditches made those areas more attractive by providing bass with a direct route to spawning areas as soon as water warmed.” About two years ago Jones made what turned out to be a career-altering decision. He talked with his good friend, Mississippi B. A. S. S. Elite pro Pete Ponds, and then asked to try out one of Ponds’ Ar-dent XS 1000 baitcasting reels. Jones liked what he saw and felt when he handled and then cast with the reel. “ I could tell it was a quality product,” Jones stated. “ But I was totally impressed by how far and how effortlessly the Jones also said, " High quality engineering and con-struction that's done right here in the U. S. A. goes into making every Ardent reel, and that's impressive, too." Photos Courtesy of ESPN/ B. A. S. S. Communications