Alton Jones, Jr. has learned a few keys to success in the Bass Pro Tour format. Photo by Phoenix Moore

My take on the first two MLF Bass Pro Tour events and my performance is that it’s going as planned – not perfectly, but it’s going well.

I learned that the limited amount of practice time is difficult, but isn’t really a detriment to success. You just have to practice a little differently.

Now, I make sure I shake off fish when they hit in practice. I feel that really allows me to come back during the event and catch them. If I hooked them during practice, they may not bite again during the first day or two of the event.

Fishing this format is certainly challenging, but you just need to adapt to the conditions at hand quicker than in other events. I’m always looking for new fish now. During the Kissimmee Chain event, in the Knockout Round, I fished brand new-to-me water to start that day. Those sorts of adjustments are really key, you always have to be ready to change in these events.

It’s like practicing everyday.

Now, one thing for sure that is pretty tough for me is the SCORETRACKER.

I love it, don’t get me wrong. I thought I was prepared for it, but it adds a different level of stress. When you aren’t performing well and the numbers get read off, it’s easy to spin out. It got in my head on a couple of days. I started to fish faster and not as thoroughly.

I regained my composure, but I really need to make sure SCORETRACKER doesn’t spin me out in the future.

One thing people have asked me about quite a bit is how I have changed the way I fish in this fast-paced format. Well, my overall gameplan didn’t change. For me, on-the-water decision making is the same. I still fish, have fun, and fish where I think the big fish and numbers are.

My two basic baits over the first event were a 6-inch Yum Dinger with a lightweight Texas rig, or the same bait wacky rigged. That was on Toho. On Conroe, I flipped and pitched a 4.25-inch Yum Bad Mama. It’s a very skippable bait.

I used braid, tied on a fluorocarbon leader, and skipped that thing under docks and anywhere I could get it.