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Local knowledge lifts Jones to win at Eufaula

Local knowledge lifts Jones to win at Eufaula

EUFAULA, Okla. – An Oklahoma native with more success than just about anyone on the state’s largest lake, Chris Jones of Bokoshe, Okla., leaned on his Lake Eufaula experience to find the out-of-the-way area that produced all his keepers during the Toyota Series event.

But it was keen observation and a clutch decision during the competition that ultimately allowed Jones to add a second Toyota Series trophy and another win on Eufaula to his collection.

Noticing that his biggest bites during the first two days had come on a BOOYAH Poppin’ Pad Crasher, Jones committed himself to throwing the frog Saturday morning. The decision paid off in the form of a 6-pound, 8-ounce kicker. The lunker anchored a 17-6 limit — the heaviest bag of the day and second-best all week — which vaulted him from second place after Days 1 and 2 to first. Jones’ three-day total of 46-7 topped Eli Brumnett of Wagoner, Okla., by 2-11.

For the win, Jones earned $30,031 and a trip to the Toyota Series Championship on Wheeler Lake.

Minutes before catching the 6-8, Jones almost gave up on his frog bite. Dissecting flooded willow bushes on the south end of the lake, he had promised himself he would keep the Pad Crasher in his hands until at least 9 a.m.

At 8:57, he hadn’t yet gotten a bite. But he decided to hit one more stretch of bushes before changing tactics. His patience paid off with the biggest bass of the tournament.

“I was fixing to put (the frog) down, and I came around a point of willows and threw it underneath there and caught that big one,” Jones said. “And I knew I had a chance.”

After Day 1, Jones felt confident he was around the winning fish. Making a 33-mile run to the area where he also won a 2011 BFL event, Jones sacked up 17-0 on the opening day, which placed him in second.

A self-described member of the “muddy water mob,” he embraced the dirty water in that portion of the lake, which he believes is the reason he never saw another competitor. With falling water levels making the bite tough on Eufaula, having his fish to himself proved key.

“It was just past experience and knowing that area, and it set up right,” he said. “I really wanted to stay away from the area where they (Bass Pro Tour anglers) fished, and that was the clean areas. And I knew if I could get bit down there that I wouldn’t see another boat, and I didn’t see another boat for three days.”

Jones’ bite faltered a bit on Day 2. Enduring two long stretches without a bite, he weighed in just 12-1. He was able to fill out his limit flipping a junebug YUM Spine Craw and throwing a BOOYAH Mobster swim jig , but the quality he’d caught on Day 1 eluded him. That prompted him to dedicate himself to throwing the frog to start Day 3.

“I had several fish just come up and swipe at my swim jig, but whenever I’d get a frog bite, they’d inhale it,” he explained. “So, I was just committed to it. I knew if I could get around enough of them that I could get the right bites on the frog.”

Jones caught the rest of his keepers Saturday flipping the Spine Craw. Added to his kicker, they proved enough to earn him a fifth MLF win with a throng of friends and family present to celebrate his coronation. His youngest son joined him on the stage at weigh-in, where he shouted out a litany of supporters in the audience. Having them on hand made this victory particularly sweet.

“It means the world to me,” Jones said. “You never know when the last one is going to be, so it’s kind of emotional.”

Here's how the Top 10 finished:

1st: Chris Jones, Bokoshe, Okla., 15 bass, 46-7, $30,031
2nd: Eli Brumnett, Wagoner, Okla., 15 bass, 43-12, $12,637
3rd: Jeff Lugar, Princeton, Texas, 15 bass, 42-1, $9,009
4th: Zane Parker, Kingwood, Texas, 15 bass, 40-13, $7,508
5th: Ty Faber, Pagosa Springs, Colorado, 15 bass, 40-4, $7,257
6th: Phillip Lunceford, Stigler, Okla., 15 bass, 39-14, $6,006
7th: Blake Schroeder, Whitehouse, Texas, 15 bass, 39-1, $5,255
8th: Levi Thibodaux, Thibodaux, La., 15 bass, 38-13, $4,505
9th: Lance Crawford, Broken Bow, Okla., 14 bass, 34-15, $3,754
10th: Charley Slaton, Valliant, Okla., 13 bass, 34-14, $3,003

Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

With all three regular-season events in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division now complete, Cole Moore of Anacoco, La., was crowned the division's Angler of the Year (AOY) and earned the AOY payout of $5,000 with 755 points.

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