UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Jones makes it three for three

Jones makes it three for three
Alton Jones of Waco, Texas, used a 12-pound, 9-ounce catch to finish in first place in the Pro Division for the third consecutive day.

Texas native puts on another clinic, fails to relinquish lead for third consecutive day

FLORENCE, Ala. - In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, it was deja vu all over again. Bolstered by a 12-pound, 9-ounce catch, Alton Jones of Waco, Texas, maintained his ironclad grip on first place and further solidified his frontrunner status heading into the all-important final round of competition.

Despite being pitted against some of the greatest anglers of all-time, including the likes of Kevin VanDam, Rick Clunn, Larry Nixon, Clark Wendlandt and Guido Hibdon, Jones has now outfished the competition for the third time in as many days. The remarkable achievement even seemed to catch Jones off guard.

"I really didn't think I'd be leading this tournament after today," said Jones. "But things have been going right for me all week. I really fished hard today and now the pressure is finally off. I'm just going to go out there tomorrow and do the best I can with the hand that I'm dealt."

Fishing a ¼-ounce Riverside jig in the outer bends of creek channels, Jones has seemingly perfected his cold-weather fishing pattern on Lake Wheeler. Not surprisingly, Jones said that he is sticking with the same technique in the finals no matter what the weather brings.

"I'm not going to worry about the conditions tomorrow," he said. "I'm going to fish as slowly as I can and stick with what got me here. I may use some spinnerbaits early tomorrow morning, but the jig is still my money bait. If I'm going to win this tournament, it's going to be with a jig."

Although Jones said he is brimming with confidence heading into tomorrow's competition, he reminded reporters that the day-three leader is guaranteed nothing except a chance to fish one more day.

"The day four lead is the one that really counts," he said.

Wendlandt grabs second place, covets Lake Wheeler title

Despite having a dismal practice session on Lake Wheeler prior to the start of FLW action on Wednesday, Clark Wendlandt of Cedar Park, Texas, proved once again why he is one of the best anglers in the world. Using a 12-pound, 7-ounce catch, Wendlandt vaulted into second place heading into the finals. However, the Texas native acknowledged that second place would not be good enough tomorrow.

"I only caught one fish after four days of practice coming into the tournament, so I feel pretty good right now," he said. "But anytime you make the finals, you want to win the whole thing. It's not very often that you get here, so you have to make the most of it. Anything less than first place will be a disappointment for me."

Although Wendlandt would love to walk away with the title tomorrow, he said that he is going to have his work cut out for him. Not only is Wendlandt worried about the changing water levels, but he also expressed concern over the shortened day.

"If (water management officials) are not pulling water tomorrow, I could be in real trouble," said Wendlandt, who has been targeting smallmouth bass along the currents in the main river channels. "I need the water levels to be low. Also, we're not going to have as much time to fish tomorrow. We're taking off at 6:15 a.m., but weigh-in is at 2 p.m. With the shortened day, you really don't have time to adjust if things aren't working out.

"It'll have to be just right for me to win," he said.

Bringing home the bacon

Basil Bacon of Springfield, Mo., grabbed the third qualifying spot with the help of a monster 6-pound, 3-ounce bass as well as one very productive fishing location.

"I struggled all day long today," he said. "But I was lucky enough to find one spot where all of my good fish came from."

Bacon, who fished a Bandit crankbait almost exclusively, finished the day with an 11-pound, 7-ounce catch.

Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tenn., landed in fourth place after netting a 9-pound, 15-ounce catch.

"I'm happy to be here, but I'm not really sure about tomorrow," said Strader, who is making his second top-10 appearance on the FLW Tour. "I jerked on my fish pretty hard today. I just hope there's something left for the finals."

Keith Williams of Conway, Ark., finished in fifth place after landing an 8-pound, 3-ounce catch. Williams said he is targeting Kentucky spotted bass in 10 feet of water along the main river and largemouth bass in the back of creeks. Williams also said his primary fishing techniques include running crankbaits off small ledges and flipping jigs.

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top-10 qualifiers were Mark Rose (sixth) of Marion, Ark., with a catch of 7 pounds, 13 ounces; Scott R. Martin (seventh) of Clewiston, Fla., with a catch of 7 pounds, 3 ounces; Aaaron Martens (eighth) of Castaic, Calif., with a catch of 6 pounds, 7 ounces; Eric Holt (ninth) of Galena, Mo., with a catch of 6 pounds, 3 ounces; and Larry Nixon (tenth) of Bee Branch, Ark., with a catch of 5 pounds, 15 ounces.

Tomorrow's takeoff is scheduled to take place at 6:15 a.m. at Joe Wheeler State Park, located at 4401 McLean Drive in Rogersville, Ala.

Related links:

Quick Bites: FLW Lake Wheeler, Day 3
Photos
Results
Day-three pairings
Press releases

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

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