Jones Jr. dominates on Bussey Brake to win Heavy Hitters, Thrift's 9-6 the $100K big bass - Major League Fishing
Jones Jr. dominates on Bussey Brake to win Heavy Hitters, Thrift’s 9-6 the $100K big bass
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Jones Jr. dominates on Bussey Brake to win Heavy Hitters, Thrift’s 9-6 the $100K big bass

Image for Jones Jr. dominates on Bussey Brake to win Heavy Hitters, Thrift’s 9-6 the $100K big bass
Alton Jones Jr. won Heavy Hitters by a landslide. Photo by Phoenix Moore. Angler: Alton Jones Jr..
April 29, 2023 • Mason Prince • Bass Pro Tour

MONROE-WEST MONROE, La. – There’s winning, there’s dominating and then there’s what Alton Jones Jr. did to win General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops on Bussey Brake. The Texas pro didn’t just win Heavy Hitters, he left no doubt that he was the best angler on the water on Saturday. Jones caught 19 bass for 81 pounds, 15 ounces — the other nine anglers fishing totaled 21 bass for 96-10.

While Jones was cruising to a victory, Bryan Thrift was able to lock up the other $100,000 prize for the Berkley Big Bass of the day. Thrift brought in a 9-6 for his only bass of the day, but it earned him $100,000 on top of his winnings for finishing in seventh place.

Here is how the Top 10 finished on Bussey Brake:

1. Alton Jones Jr. – 81-15 (19)

2. Dakota Ebare – 22-15 (5)

3. Andy Morgan – 15-0 (4)

4. Randy Howell – 13-9 (3)

5. Josh Bertrand – 11-2 (2)

6. Bradley Roy – 10-11 (2)

7. Bryan Thrift – 9-6 (1)

8. Edwin Evers – 7-3 (2)

9. Brent Ehrler – 3-10 (1)

10. Ryan Salzman – 3-2 (1)

Full results

All gas, no brakes for Jones

Jones beat second-place Dakota Ebare by 59-1, which was the second-largest margin of victory in Bass Pro Tour history. Jones’ victory was never in doubt for the vast majority of the day thanks to his decision to fish a key stretch of cypress trees.

“I don’t know what to say other than everything went right today,” Jones said. “I started the first period around some other guys and didn’t have a lot of luck, so I moved over to some cypress trees, and that ended up being the right move for me.”

Jones was flipping a white Geecrack Bellows Shad as well as targeting the base of the trees with a spinnerbait on a Kistler CHUNGUS rod. The original plan was just to make one quick pass through the area, but after he kept getting bit, he had no other choice than to let it ride.

“I was just going to fish one stretch of trees, but I kept catching them,” Jones said. “I kept making marks for myself, telling myself, ‘OK, I’ll fish 10 more trees and then move on.’ I kept just catching them, so I decided I was going to stay there all day long.”

Jones caught 19 bass for 81-15 to win the coveted Heavy Hitters belt and becomes the second Alton Jones to win the event. His father came away with the belt back in 2021 on Shearon Harris, making it two out of the last three seasons that the Texas fishing family has won the belt.

“There’s only four belts in existence and the Jones family has two of them,” Jones said. “It’s such an awesome thing to share and have in common with my dad, I can’t wait for our family to celebrate this one together.”

Thrift’s 9-6 worth $100K

The wily North Carolinian may not like flipping very much, but Thrift’s tune may change a smidge after catching a $100,000 bass thanks to it.

After winning his Qualifying Round, Thrift advanced straight to the Championship Round on Bussey Brake where he knew big ones lived. The North Carolina pro came into Saturday with hopes to go after a win, but after Jones took flight, it was going to be hard to catch him.

So, Thrift began swinging big. He tied on a ¾-ounce weight with a punch skirt and grabbed his 7-foot 6-inch Fitzgerald Hydrilla Grass Flippin’ rod and went to work. Near the end of the second period, Thrift leaned into one after he flipped into brush. What was on the other end was a massive payday.

“I got one bite all day and it made me $100,000,” Thrift said with a chuckle. “You can’t beat that. I caught it flipping, and I’m not a good flipper. I really have to give all the credit to my equipment. My Fitzgerald rod and reel as well as my 25-pound P-Line fluorocarbon helped me get that fish in the boat.”

Other notes from Heavy Hitters

  • There were six anglers who caught a scorable bass over 7 pounds on Saturday – Ebare (7-0), Josh Bertrand (7-0), Randy Howell (7-1), Bradley Roy (7-9), Jones (7-10) and Thrift (9-6).
  • Thrift is racking up some money quickly in the 2023 season. That’s $300,000 for his REDCREST 2023 win on Lake Norman and now a $100,000 bass plus his winnings from Heavy Hitters.
  • Roy was the winner last time MLF came to Louisiana, and he looked to be in contention for another win in the first period before Jones caught fire. Roy takes home a sixth-place finish on Bussey Brake.
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