Any way you look at it, things will change for Alton Jones next week at the Red River Bassmaster Classic. He'll either hand over his title of reigning Classic champion, or join Rick Clunn as only the second angler ever to win back-to-back Classics.

Yep, it's been a year since Jones lit up Lake Hartwell with his deep ditch and timber pattern.

The official Classic practice begins this Friday, during which the field will have 3 days to explore the fishery. They'll then take several days off before the final practice day next Wednesday.

Jones is already in Shreveport, with his family in tow, where he's doing some filming for ESPN and his sponsor Yamaha. BassFan caught up with Jones and asked him five questions about the upcoming Classic.

Here are his answers.

BassFan: History would seem to put you off the favorites list this year, simply because it's so rare to repeat a Classic win. Have you thought about that?

Jones: I'll say this – I'm the only guy in the field with a chance to repeat, so my chances of repeating are better than anybody else's in the field.

But really, it's a little too early for me to answer that question, because all I've done so far here is scout. We haven't had the official practice period yet – that's coming later this week. So I think I could answer that question a lot better after those 3 days.

Just from doing some scouting, though, I really like how the river sets up. It seems like a place that'll play to my strengths. I love fishing dirty water. I love big line and heavy cover. We'll have all those elements here. Also, we'll know a little more about what the conditions will do in a week or so.

But I feel as confident as I have at any point in the game.

When you won Hartwell, you were able to find something a little different, and that made a big difference. Will there be room for something like that at this Classic, or will there more be a prevalent pattern with the difference being a big fish or two?

I think the weights will be a little tighter at this one. In these shallow-water fisheries, with dirty water, the fish don't have as many options. There's less of a chance that somebody's going to find something different.

But the "different-thing" – that may come into play. There may be some hidden water nobody knows about, with limited access or something – a real secret honey hole. That's possible, but I imagine we'll see the weights be pretty similar across a lot of boats.

What I think is, it'll be the guy who figures out exactly how the fish – and specifically the big females – are positioned, and is able to target them.

When you won the Hartwell Classic last year, you were throwing a jig that almost nobody had seen yet. Are you carrying anything like that this year – meaning, a bait that's still very much in the developmental stages?

Well, I don't know if you can say nobody's seen it, but I'll definitely be carrying some new stuff – put it that way. They're not really known as hot lures yet, but they're things I've been using back home during the off-season that I've been gaining a lot of strength with. They're baits that I'm hoping will produce well.

There is the chance a guy could find a lure that the fish are really keyed on – something they haven't seen. I do have a few things that fish in the Red River probably haven't seen.

Looking at this field, is there anybody who stands out as being especially scary given the setup of this Classic?

I wouldn't say anybody scares me, but there are some guys who I think stand a great chance of excelling. One of them's obviously Greg Hackney, because it's a river fishery and he has some history here.

You know the spinnerbait bite's going to be strong, so you have to factor in KVD. You also should be watching Matt Herren here, who's now an Elite Series pro. I think he has a good chance to be a strong finisher at this Classic.

Last question: Looking at the venue of Shreveport, La., what are your thoughts? Is it a great place to host a Classic?

Yes, it is. I've done several promotional events leading up to this Classic – I made four or five trips down here to Shreveport and different parts of Louisiana – and I can definitely say the folks here are more excited than in any other community I've seen the Classic go to. I think the energy's going to be great.

And you know, this is a lot further west than the Classic's been in a long time, so I think there'll be a lot of people in from Dallas, Houston – the eastern half of Texas.

When you go to an area where there's been a lot of Classics before, the energy might not be as high. But in new areas, the fishermen and the crowds want to be a part of the event and see it all take place. It just creates a lot of excitement, and it's great to be a part of all that excitement.


> Jones will run the same boat wrap he ran last year – a blend of Skeeter and Excalibur. The only difference, he said, is the colors will be a little brighter.