UPCOMING EVENT: ABU GARCIA COLLEGE FISHING - 2020 - Harris Chain of Lakes

Jones grabs lead on Lake Wheeler

Jones grabs lead on Lake Wheeler
Day-one leader Alton Jones (left) of Waco, Texas, shares the spotlight with his daughter, Kristen. Jones used a 16-pound, 10-ounce catch to capture first place in the Pro Division heading into tomorrow's competition.

Huey nets first place in Co-angler Division

FLORENCE, Ala. - After a two-year hiatus from the FLW Tour, Alton Jones of Waco, Texas, signaled that he is once again a force to be reckoned with. Using a five-fish catch totaling 16 pounds, 10 ounces, Jones stormed his way into first place in the $550,000 FLW tourney on Lake Wheeler.

"It always feels good to come in first," said Jones. "There are 174 other anglers who would love to be where I am right now. It's a rather humbling experience."

Although Jones said he felt good about his performance, he acknowledged that there is still a long way to go before he can think about capturing the title.

"It's silly to get too excited on the first day, because the big money comes on day four," he said. "The bottom line is that you have to go out and fish hard every day. Right now, I'm just concentrating on making the top-20 cut."

According to Jones, the key to fishing the cold waters of Lake Wheeler is to slow down lure presentations due to the fact that the frigid waters have kept bass relatively sluggish.

"The fishing is really hard out there right now. But the good news is that there are a lot of fish in the lake," said Jones, who caught his limit today by 11 a.m. "I'm fishing a very typical cold water pattern. And today I was fortunate enough to get some big bites.

"The key is to fish slowly and methodically," Jones continued. "I've seen a lot of guys fishing in the right place with the right baits, but they're fishing way too fast. You really need to slow down."

With four prime locations already scouted, Jones said he will adopt a similar strategy for tomorrow's competition.

"I'm going to target the same fish on Thursday and hopefully, I'll be able to catch about 8 pounds," he said. "My guess is that it is going to take close to 21 pounds total to make the cut. If I can get that type of weight early, I'll go exploring for some new spots."

The bell tolls for Pennsylvania native

Jack Bell of Kane, Penn., used a 15-pound, 9-ounce stringer to capture second place in the Pro Division heading into the second day of competition.

"I couldn't do anything wrong today," said Bell, who caught the majority of his fish on jigs and crankbaits. "I just love Alabama."

As a veteran cold-weather angler from the East Coast, Bell said that the recent string of cooler temperatures has played right into his hands.

"It is really cold out there and the bite has really been funny - you catch one fish here, another fish there and so on all day," he said. "But I really like the weather. For me, the colder it gets, the better I do. Being from Pennsylvania, I'm used to this weather. If we get 10 to 12 inches of snow tomorrow, I'll be happy."

A gambling man by nature, Bell said he is going to risk abandoning his prime fishing locations until the semifinals. That way, Bell argues, he will have a treasure trove of hot spots if he survives to fish the top 20.

"I'm not going back to my favorite spots tomorrow," he said. "I want to save them for the semifinals. I know it's risky, but it's kind of like a chess match. I just hope it pays off."

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top five places in the Pro Division were Marty Stone (third) of Linden, N.C., with a catch of 13 pounds; Charlie Ingram (fourth) of Santa Fe, Tenn., with a catch of 12 pounds, 11 ounces; and Aaron Martens (fifth) of Castaic, Calif., with a catch of 12 pounds, 10 ounces.

Robin Cummings of Cullman, Ala., won the day's Big Bass award after registering a 6-pound, 14-ounce smallmouth bass. Cummings won $750 for his efforts.

Huey hauls in first-place catch

Despite fishing in only the second FLW tournament of his career, Kim Huey of Hutchinson, Kansas, used a 10-pound, 12-ounce catch to capture sole possession of first place in the Co-angler Division.

"In three days of practice fishing I only managed to catch one fish," he said. "And this is my very first trip to Lake Wheeler. So I'm just tickled to death to be in first place right now. I'm loving Alabama."

Although Huey has a firm grasp of first place, he said he won't be taking anything for granted come tomorrow's second round of competition.

"A lot of people are telling me that I can take it easy tomorrow and still make the cut," he said. "But I'm not going to do that. My goal is to go out there on Thursday and catch a couple more fish. You can never kick back and take it easy in a tournament like this."

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top five co-anglers were W.D. "Hoot" Gibson (second) of Bryant, Ark., with a catch of 8 pounds, 10 ounces; Jim Short (third) of Ocean Pines, Md., with a catch of 7 pounds, 8 ounces; Danny Strand (fourth) of Champaign, Ill., with a catch of 7 pounds, 2 ounces; and Chuck Lawless (fifth) of Park Hill, Okla., with a catch of 7 pounds, 1 ounce.

Gibson won the day's Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division after netting a bass weighing 5 pounds, 3 ounces. For his efforts, the Arkansas native took home a check for $500.

Tomorrow's takeoff is scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. at Joe Wheeler State Park, located at 4401 McLean Drive in Rogersville, Ala.

Related links:

Quick Bites: FLW Lake Wheeler, Day 1
Photos
Results
Results of day-one pairings
Day-two pairings
Press releases

Tags: gary-mortenson  headline-story  2002-02-13-lake-wheeler 

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