Greenville, SC—Alton Jones of Waco, Texas, reached the pinnacle of the competitive bass fishing world, Feb. 22-24, by capturing his first Bassmaster Classic championship title. This was the 11th Classic appearance for Jones who collected $500,000 for the victory.
The tournament, which pitted the top 50 anglers on the 2007 BASS circuit, was held on Hartwell Lake, a sprawling reservoir along the South Carolina/Georgia boarder. The competitors caught fish from a diversity of structure and cover, both in shallow and deep water. During the course of the three-day mega-tournament, however, Jones focused on targeting large fish in 15 to 40 feet of water, primarily from ditch bottoms along the inside edges of flooded timber.
During pre-tournament practice and the competition itself, Jones used his Humminbird 1197c SI (side imaging) Combo to pinpoint the cover and bass, then methodically fished a 3/4-ounce Pigskin Jig or 1/2-ounce AJ’s Go2 Jig, both soon to be released from Booyah, along the ditch bottoms.
“The fish I was catching were right on the bottom, and an extremely slow presentation was critical to getting bit,” he says.
Jones landed in 10th place, with 17 pounds, 5 ounces, after the Day One weigh-in, then jumped to the lead on Day Two, with an impressive 18-pound, 11-ounce catch. On the final day, he confessed that he was worried that he’d not caught enough weight to hold on to first place. But as it turned out, his 13-pound, 7-ounce bag was heavier than any brought in by the competition. His 49-pound, 7-ounce total outscored that of Petal, Mississippi, angler Cliff Pace by 5 pounds, 2 ounces. He topped third-place finisher, NAFC Advisory Council Member Kevin Van Dam of Kalamazoo, Mich., by 5 pounds, 15 ounces.
Jones, whose career earnings now exceed $1.5 million, is a long-time friend of the NAFC. He’s appeared in a number of feature articles where he’s outlined his proven strategies for catching more and bigger bass. He’s scheduled to appear next in the April issue of North American Fisherman where he’ll explain advanced buzzbaiting techniques.