By MLF Communications Staff
It was a sight-fishing clinic on Shearon Harris Reservoir in Raleigh, N.C. on Wednesday, and Alton Jones was the professor. The Texas angler boated 12 bass weighing 45-09 to dominate the Championship Round and win the top prize of $100,000 at the Major League Fishing Heavy Hitters event.
Jones won by a 15-05 margin over fellow Texan Jeff Sprague, who caught eight bass totaling 30-04. Sprague, however, was not disappointed in his finish as he earned the top Big Bass Bonus of $100,000 with a 5-03 largemouth.
Just 23 minutes into Period 2, Jones caught a 3-03 bass to move into the top position on the leaderboard and he never relinquished it. He showed MLF NOW! viewers why he has long been considered one of the top sight-fishing anglers in the game.
“This feels so, so good. It’s been a while since I’ve won a tour-level event like this and it was a very special day,” said an emotional Jones when he came off of the water. “After my practice time, I knew that I had found several key areas that had the potential to be really special for this event if I could just make the final rounds.
“When we did our morning ride-through this morning and I got on the trolling motor, I found about 10 3-pounders in my first pass through the cove, and I thought to myself, ‘you know what, this could actually happen.’ I didn’t know if they were going to bite, but if they did I was going to have a chance. And sure enough, here I am. I still can’t believe that I’m the Heavy Hitters champion.”
This 5-03 specimen earned Jeff Sprague $100,000.
Jones saw the majority of the fish that he caught on Wednesday on beds, and managed to boat a dozen keepers flipping an “old-school” Texas-rigged Canyon Plastics Gitzit tube (green-pumpkin with purple and black metal flake).
“I really like throwing a tube during the spawn – it’s a bait that will catch a 2-pounder, a 3-pounder, but it will also catch a 10-pounder,” Jones said. “So it’s good bait to fish for numbers and size. My Kistler rods were also very important – I used a Kistler Z Bone. That rod is super-light, super-sensitive and super-strong and helped me out a lot today.”
Jones also shared some of his sight-fishing prowess with the crowd gathered at the takeout ramp.
“Every fish that I caught today was an individual,” Jones said. “I had to figure out what each fish was doing and how to work that particular fish. That’s one of the things that I love about sight-fishing – you treat every fish as an individual. What makes one fish hot, the other fish will ignore. So it’s kind of a thinking man’s game. It’s a stealthy game, because you can see them, but they can also see you. I try to hide from the fish, and I’ve got a few other little tricks that I like to pull and today it all worked out for me.”
Sprague was emotional and exhausted after a long week of competition.
“I scratched by every day this week,” he said. “The first day at Lake Jordan was great – I caught so many fish and had a phenomenal day. The second day, we literally scratched by and barely made it into the Knockout Round.
Then, in the Knockout Round, to tie for the last position in and to get through via a tiebreaker. And now, on championship day, to catch the big bass and win 100 grand and finish 2nd overall, this has just been a stellar week.”
Overall, there were 57 bass weighing 211-10 caught by the final 10 pros on Wednesday, which included two 5-pounders, 13 4-pounders and 42 3-pounders.
(Figure at far right indicates weight of angler's heaviest fish for the round)
1. Alton Jones -- 45-09 (12) -- 5-00
2. Jeff Sprague -- 30-04 (8) -- 5-03
3. Jacob Wheeler -- 26-08 (7) -- 4-11
4. Michael Neal -- 22-12 (6) -- 4-10
5. Bryan Thrift -- 22-08 (6) -- 4-13
6. Andy Morgan -- 18-07 (5) -- 4-07
7. Dave Lefebre -- 17-15 (5) -- 4-00
8. Fletcher Shryock -- 14-02 (4) -- 4-04
9. Brent Ehrler -- 9-14 (3) -- 3-07
10. Ish Monroe -- 3-11 (1) -- 3-11