UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Lake Wylie

Jones Takes Southwestern AOY

Jones Takes Southwestern AOY
Christopher Jones

After a close battle throughout the final two events of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division season, Christopher Jones of Bokoshe, Okla. netted 719 points to edge out Jeff Sprague for the Strike King Angler of the Year title by just one point. Jones started off the season with a top 10 on Sam Rayburn, then won by a tiebreaker at Grand Lake (he and Sprague both finished with 47 pounds, 3 ounces over three days), and in a tough Fort Gibson event just a few weeks ago, he scrounged up four bass over two days to barely edge out the pro from Texas.

 

Third year’s the charm

Jones has been fishing the Okie Division of the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League for over a decade. He banked three wins and 15 top-10 finishes (one of which was in the 2012 BFL All-American), but it wasn’t until 2011 that he jumped into Triple-A level competition via the Bassmaster Opens. He won an Open on the Arkansas River in 2013, sending him to the Bassmaster Classic, which really helped reinforce that he can compete at a high level.

Fast-forward to 2016, when Jones jumped into the Central Division of the Costa FLW Series and came out swinging. He’d bank back-to-back top 10s on Dardanelle and Kentucky Lake to start the season, and go on to finish fifth at the Costa Championship on Table Rock – qualifying him for the FLW Cup.

“You have to fish against stiff competition if you want to be the best,” Jones says. “So, to win Angler of the Year in this division is special. It was a great year. And, really, it was a year defined by one or two key fish.

“After winning on Grand and knowing I had a chance to win (AOY), I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well.”

While his main focus at the start of the season wasn’t to win AOY, after Jones took the lead two events into the schedule, he turned the majority of his attention to that goal. The fact that he had over six months between Grand Lake and the final Fort Gibson tournament to think about it only fueled the fire.

“I started out the year wanting to make the championship,” Jones admits. “And from there I ultimately want to make it back to the Cup. I usually don’t make pre-trips to lakes for tournaments – except when I fished the Classic and the Cup – but since I live about 45 minutes from Gibson, I made a lot of trips there for the final event. I’ve fished it a bunch, but never really in the fall. I know Sprague has a good amount of experience there, so I wanted to make sure I did my homework.”

 

Not the time to advance

With the success he has had throughout his career, and qualifying to fish the Tour, most would probably jump at the opportunity. Jones, however, knows he’s got a good thing going.

“I have a pretty good job here at home where I can work four days a week and have the time off I need to fish tournaments,” he explains. “I’m a CNC programmer at a machine shop and I love it. I have some friends that fish full-time and it is a stressful thing. I have two boys at home, and having a steady paycheck is a good thing for my family.

“Plus, I’ve had good success in the Costa tournaments, and with Ranger Cup, I can win almost as much as a high-level tournament without being on the road a lot.”

 

Tournament rundown

Starting the season off down in Texas, Jones took home 10th place on Rayburn, but it was a stressful road from there. He’d win on Grand in a tiebreaker on the final day with Jeff Sprague and then tough fishing on Gibson nearly caused the AOY title to slip through his hands.


Sam Rayburn, Feb. 15-17

10th Place

Results

Having never been the massive Texas reservoir before, Jones parlayed a mini vacation with his wife around Christmas time to head down to visit his friend and fellow Costa Series competitor, Dicky Newberry. The goal was to hang out and put in a little time on the lake.

“I wanted to get out there when the grass was still up because I knew when we’d get there it was going to be dying off and you couldn’t see it,” Jones says. “I just thought if I could survive this tournament I’d be good.”

Heavy fog on the final day forced the cancellation of the remainder of the tournament, leaving Jones to sit in 10th.

He worked a couple of drains catching the majority of his fish on a YUM YUMbrella Flash Mob Jr., including a 9-5 that anchored his 23-pound, 12-ounce limit on day one.

“I wish we could have fished the final day because I had an area that I’d been saving. Who knows if they would have been there because the fish were moving, but I’d love to have found out. But looking back on it, that 9-5 was one of the key fish of my season. Without her, I may not win AOY.”


Grand Lake, March 22-24

1st Place

Results

Jones had high hopes heading into the Grand Lake event.

“I was getting just enough bites in practice to where I thought I could do pretty good,” he says. “It was a tough event, but it was also the perfect storm because we were on a warming trend during the tournament and the fish wanted to move to the bank.”

Jones relied on a 1/2-ounce chartreuse and white BOOYAH spinnerbait with a No. 5 gold Colorado blade and a 3 1/2-inch YUM Pulse Swimbait trailer worked around docks to catch the majority of his fish.

Failing to catch a limit on day one had him down, but not out.

“I caught a 6-pounder on the second day when I caught 17 pounds to move into the top 10. Again, that was another key fish for the year. Sprague busted over 22 pounds on the second day and was right behind me heading into the final day. Had I not caught that 6, he would have been ahead of me.”

Both Jones and Sprague would end the tournament with 47-3 total, resulting in a tie. Tiebreakers on day three are settled by whoever was higher in the standings on day two. Fortunately for Jones, it was him.


Fort Gibson, Oct. 4-6

23rd Place

Results

Jones held a five-point lead over Sprague entering the final event of the season on Fort Gibson.

“I really thought about this tournament all summer,” explains Jones. “I just hadn’t fished [Fort Gibson] much in the fall. The water comes up and falls a lot on Gibson, so it was kind of hard to know what to expect. The water was up in the willows weeks before the tournament, and the fishing was awesome.

“But, it started to drop before the tournament and made things tough, but in a way, it was kind of a blessing for me. If the fishing was good, then everybody would have caught them. Because it was tough, I didn’t catch a bunch of fish, but it was enough to get the job done.”

On day one, Jones caught just three fish for 9-1. Fishing was brutal across the board, and surprisingly, it had him in 14th place.

Jones went out the next day and caught just one fish for 2-4 to end up in 23rd place. Sprague would wind up 19th, just four places ahead of Jones, sealing the win for the Oklahoma pro.

“I lost a 4-pounder in a brush pile and it had me sick,” he said. “I really thought that was going to cost me with how tough it was. Looking back, the four fish I caught were the most important because without just one of them, I don’t win the AOY.”


Prizes and standings

For winning the 2018 Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division Strike King Angler of the Year award, Jones earned an extra $5,000 in cash. Additionally, cash payouts of $4,000, $3,000, $2,500 and $2,000 went to the other top five pros. The top 40 pros and 40 co-anglers in the division standings qualified for the Costa FLW Series Championship.

The top 10 anglers in the standings, including AOY points earned:

1. Christopher Jones – Bokoshe, Okla. – 719

2. Jeff Sprague – Point, Texas– 718

3. Tommy Dickerson – Orange, Texas – 706

4. Randy Despino – Colfax, La. – 681

5. Brad Cook – Afton, Okla. – 677

6. Joel Baker – Talala, Okla. – 674

7. Stephen Johnston – Hemphill, Texas – 667

8. Zack Birge – Blanchard, Okla. – 664

9. Derek Fulps – Broken Arrow, Okla. – 638

10. Chad Warren – Sand Springs, Okla. – 635

Tags: kyle-wood  article 

FLW Classics – Week 1

FLW Classics – Week 1

This week’s shows cover everything from the first FLW Tour win for John Cox, to a Tour event on Okeechobee where three pros crossed the century mark and the second College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

Join Facebook Q&As with FLW Pros

Join Facebook Q&As with FLW Pros

With no tournament action taking place and most people staying in and around their homes to help slow the spread of COVID-19, folks are taking to the internet and social media more and more. Here at FLW, we’re using social media to help fans pass the time with some of the sport’s top fishing pros. READ MORE »

Nixon Eyeing Early June Return

Nixon Eyeing Early June Return

You couldn’t choose just one word to describe Larry Nixon’s professional fishing career. But right now, if you had to try, the most applicable word might be “resiliency.” READ MORE »

Berkley Announces Fish Through It Challenge

Berkley Announces Fish Through It Challenge

While tournament fishing may be on hold for a bit, that doesn’t mean you can’t be stocking up on tackle. What better way to load your tackle box than with free tackle! That’s where Berkley’s  Fish Through It Challenge comes into play. READ MORE »

FLW Reschedules Events Through May 3

FLW Reschedules Events Through May 3

This unprecedented action, taken out of an abundance of caution and continued uncertainty of venue availability, will help protect the health and welfare of our anglers, staff, fans, sponsors and host communities.  READ MORE »

Lake Martin on YouTube

Lake Martin on YouTube

The third stop of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit season on Lake Martin was filled with fish catches. Many of the pros documented individual fish, the entire tournament or produced recaps for YouTube. READ MORE »

10 Pro Circuit Highlights So Far

10 Pro Circuit Highlights So Far

We’re almost halfway through the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit schedule, which means we’re far enough along now for a little retrospective on what’s happened thus far. READ MORE »

Sight-Fishing with Swimbaits

Sight-Fishing with Swimbaits

Ron Nelson, the Pro Circuit Angler of the Year leader and a renowned sight-fisherman, used a Keitech Swing Impact FAT for blind-fishing and sight-fishing at Martin and earned a runner-up finish. California’s Kevin Hugo took seventh at Lake Havasu and caught some of his biggest bass sight-fishing with a Little Creeper All American Trash Fish or Sunfish. Though the reasons why they settled on swimbaits varied, both pros can offer valuable lessons for any angler tackling a spawning scenario. READ MORE »

AOY Update: Lake Martin

AOY Update: Lake Martin

Through three events of the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, second-year pro and 2019 Polaris Rookie of the Year Ron Nelson remains atop the Angler of the Year standings after a second-place finish at Lake Martin. READ MORE »

FLW Postpones Events Through April 5

FLW Postpones Events Through April 5

Out of an abundance of caution and the uncertainty of venue availability amid rapidly evolving restrictions, however, FLW will reschedule all tournaments through April 5, except for the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event on Lake Martin in Alexander City, Alabama, for which practice has already begun and extra precautions have been instituted.  READ MORE »

Practice Report: Lake Martin

Practice Report: Lake Martin

March in Alabama can be boom or bust in terms of weather, but luckily this week’s forecast calls for mostly gorgeous springtime weather for the third stop of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Lake Martin. READ MORE »

FLW Postpones College and High School Events

FLW Postpones College and High School Events

FLW, the world’s largest tournament fishing organization, announced today the cancellation and postponement of multiple Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI and High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing events due to travel restrictions implemented by universities and high schools nationwide in response to the coronavirus pandemic. READ MORE »

MLF, FLW Suspend Public Gatherings

MLF, FLW Suspend Public Gatherings

Major League Fishing and FLW announced the suspension of all public gatherings associated with their events through April 12, 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. READ MORE »

ETBU Gets School of the Year Rings

ETBU Gets School of the Year Rings

Tallying up 1,752 points for the season, ETBU beat out Tarleton State-Stephenville by 16 points to earn the Southern Conference School of the Year title. READ MORE »

Bank Battle Set for Lake of the Ozarks

Bank Battle Set for Lake of the Ozarks

When it comes to prespawn in the Ozarks, there may not be a better place to catch a giant bag of bass in the spring than on Lake of the Ozarks. And though the weather has been a little up and down over the last several weeks, things are setting up for a solid start to the Toyota Series Plains Division season March 26-28. READ MORE »

Wheeler Should Produce Mega Mixed Bags in March

Wheeler Should Produce Mega Mixed Bags in March

If you love mixed bags of big largemouth and smallmouth bass (and who doesn’t?), you’re going to want to pay close attention to the Toyota Series Southeastern Division opener on Wheeler Lake March 26-28. Local pro Sam George, who fishes the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, expects to see mid-20-pound limits cross the weigh-in stage, and predicts the winner will almost certainly weigh both green and brown fish. READ MORE »

Big Weights Headline FLW South Africa Event

Big Weights Headline FLW South Africa Event

With 38.03 pounds, the duo of Robbie Olivier and Neels Beneke of Team Gamakatsu Outdoors 365 took home the hardware in the FLW South Africa KZN Region Cast-for-Cash tournament on Feb. 20. Their five-fish limit was more than 12 pounds heavier than the second-place stringer (25.39 pounds) weighed in by Marc Meyer and Oliver Field of Team Stoner Farm. READ MORE »

Georgia to Sanction Fishing as High School Sport

Georgia to Sanction Fishing as High School Sport

FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, The Bass Federation (TBF), the nation’s largest grassroots fishing organization, and the Georgia High School Association (GHSA), announced today that Georgia has become the fifth state to partner with FLW and TBF in offering bass fishing as a sanctioned high school sport starting with the 2020-2021 school year. READ MORE »

AOY Update: Harris Chain 

AOY Update: Harris Chain 

Through two events, the leader of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Angler of the Year race isn’t unexpected, but the standings behind Ron Nelson are in absolute turmoil. With Lake Martin and Cherokee Lake on tap, things could begin to clarify a bit as spotted bass, smallmouths and lakes that actually have rock become factors. So, while we’re about to run through the top contenders, it’s highly likely that the next few events really reshape the standings.  READ MORE »

MLF Announces Details for College Faceoffs 

MLF Announces Details for College Faceoffs 

Major League Fishing (MLF) announced today the schedule, host cities and details for the 2020 MLF College Faceoffs presented by Wiley X. The four-tournament series, held in conjunction with MLF Bass Pro Tour events, will feature 20 College Fishing teams competing in an MLF-style catch-weigh-immediate-release format at each event. Teams qualify to compete in the Faceoffs through their finish in select Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI tournaments. READ MORE »