Alton Jones Jr. Leads Weather-Shortened Knockout Round for Stage Two - Major League Fishing
Alton Jones Jr. Leads Weather-Shortened Knockout Round for Stage Two
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Alton Jones Jr. Leads Weather-Shortened Knockout Round for Stage Two

Image for Alton Jones Jr. Leads Weather-Shortened Knockout Round for Stage Two
February 23, 2022 • MLF • Press Releases

QUITMAN, Texas – In brutally tough weather conditions that had multiple anglers saying it was, “the coldest I have ever been,” Alton Jones, Jr., of Waco, Texas, caught 12 bass Wednesday weighing 52 pounds, 3 ounces to win the Knockout Round and advance to the final day of competition at the MLF Bass Pro Tour Toro Stage Two on Lake Fork Presented by Grundéns in Quitman, Texas. Jones narrowly edged Bass Pro Tour newcomer Dakota Ebare of Brookeland, Texas, who weighed in 12 bass totaling 48 pounds, 11 ounces to end the round in second. 

Normally three 2½-hour periods, Wednesday’s Knockout Round was shortened to just two periods after a major cold front moved into Northeast Texas and brought strong winds, frigid temperatures and freezing rain. MLF officials made the decision to shorten the Knockout Round and, after input from the MLF Angler Advisory Board, postpone Thursday’s final-day Championship Round until Friday. 

“The safety of our anglers and their families, our staff and our fans are priority No. 1,” said Aaron Beshears, Bass Pro Tour Tournament Director. “After speaking with the entire team, including our pro anglers, we all feel that the best decision to be made for this event is to go ahead and postpone tomorrow and finish it up on Friday.”

The final 10 anglers are now set, and competition will resume Friday morning with the Championship Round when weights are zeroed, and the angler that catches the most one-day weight will win the top prize of $100,000.

The six-day event, hosted by the Lake Fork Area Chamber of Commerce, the Wood County EDC, the Sabine River Authority and the Rains County Tourism Board, showcases 80 of the top professional bass-fishing anglers in the world competing for a purse of $805,000.

The Top 8 pros from Wednesday’s Knockout Round that will compete in Friday’s Championship Round on Lake Fork are:

1st:           Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas, 12 bass, 52-3
2nd:          Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, 12 bass, 48-11
3rd:          Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., nine bass, 44-7
4th:           Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., 10 bass, 43-8
5th:           Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., eight bass, 37-11
6th:           Cole Floyd, Leesburg, Ohio, eight bass, 35-2
7th:           Jonathon VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., six bass, 29-4
8th:           Jeff Sprague, Wills Point, Texas, seven bass, 28-4

They’ll be joined by Qualifying Round Winners:

Group A: Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn.
Group B: Alton Jones, Lorena, Texas

Full results for the entire field can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Friday’s Championship Round will be the first Bass Pro Tour Championship Round appearances for Ebare, Floyd and VanDam, and will also mark the first time that both Alton Jones, Sr., and Alton Jones, Jr., will compete against each other on the final day. 

“Going out today, I wasn’t that excited,” said Jones Jr. “In my mind, I thought to even have a shot at making the Championship Round I’d have to get a couple of true Lake Fork giant bites. I ended up getting the ball rolling with a 4-pounder, then two casts later broke off a big one. Those bites keyed me in on a little something and gave me a hint as to a certain bait I should be throwing.”

Although Jones Jr. declined to divulge any bait specifics, he did mention that all of his fish today came cranking.

“For the first time in my career, I didn’t have a bottom or slow-moving bait on my deck today,” Jones Jr. said. “I had three spinnerbaits, three jerkbaits and a couple of crankbaits tied on. I haven’t been able to get bit without a moving bait this week.

“I think this cold front is helping – it’s making the fish congregate and grouping them up,” Jones Jr. said. “I also think it seems to be a little bit of a timing deal. I was fishing around several other anglers that didn’t do well, and I was even catching fish behind myself. I’d miss a bite, then come back through a little later and catch three.”

Friday’s Championship Round will mark Alton Jr.’s sixth Championship Round appearance on the Bass Pro Tour, although he is still seeking his elusive first win.

“My gameplan for Friday is more of the same that I did today,” Jones Jr. said. “I’m going to put all my eggs in two areas, catch as many as I can and hope it works out. I’m not sure how it’s going to go, but if the stars align it absolutely could be my time.”

Rounding out the Top 40 finishers were:

11th:        Chris Lane, Guntersville, Ala., six bass, 23-4, $10,000

12th:        Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., six bass, 22-15, $10,000

13th:        Luke Clausen, Spokane, Wash., six bass, 22-3, $10,000

14th:        Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., six bass, 22-2, $10,000

15th:        Dave Lefebre, Erie, Pa., seven bass, 21-4, $10,000

16th:        Ryan Salzman, Huntsville, Ala., five bass, 21-1, $10,000

17th:        Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., four bass, 20-8, $10,000

18th:        Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., five bass, 16-3, $10,000

19th:        Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., four bass, 15-8, $10,000

20th:        Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky., four bass, 15-2, $10,000

21st:        Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif., three bass, 14-0, $10,000

22nd:       Tommy Biffle, Wagoner, Okla., three bass, 12-6, $10,000

23rd:       Randall Tharp, Port Saint Joe, Fla., four bass, 11-11, $10,000

24th:        Greg Vinson, Wetumpka, Ala., three bass, 10-9, $10,000

25th:        Takahiro Omori, Tokyo, Japan, three bass, 10-5, $10,000

26th:        Scott Suggs, Alexander, Ark., four bass, 9-10, $10,000

27th:        Roy Hawk, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., two bass, 9-4, $10,000

28th:        Russ Lane, Prattville, Ala., three bass, 7-11, $10,000

29th:        Britt Myers, Lake Wylie, S.C., two bass, 7-7, $10,000

30th:        Keith Poche, Pike Road, Ala., two bass, 7-5, $10,000

31st:        Jeff Kriet, Ardmore, Okla., two bass, 6-13, $10,000

32nd:       Randy Howell, Guntersville, Ala., two bass, 6-11, $10,000

33rd:       Terry Scroggins, San Mateo, Fla., one bass, 5-12, $10,000

34th:        Cliff Crochet, Pierre Part, La., one bass, 5-1, $10,000

35th:        Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., one bass, 4-14, $10,000

36th:        James Elam, Tulsa, Okla., two bass, 4-11, $10,000

37th:        Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla., one bass, 3-0, $10,000

38th:        Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., one bass, 2-9, $10,000

39th:        Ish Monroe, Oakdale, Calif., zero bass, 0-0, $10,000

40th:        Mark Davis, Mount Ida, Ark., zero bass, 0-0, $10,000

Overall there were 165 scorable bass weighing 658 pounds, 15 ounces caught by 36 pros Wednesday. The catch included four 7-pounders, three 8-pounders, one 9-pounder and one 10-pounder.

Favorite Fishing pro Dustin Connell of Clanton, Alabama, the reigning REDCREST 2021 Champion, earned the $1,000 Berkley Big Bass award Wednesday, catching a 10-pound, 7-ounce largemouth on a jerkbait in Period 1. Berkley awards $1,000 to the angler who weighs the heaviest bass each day, and a $3,000 bonus to the angler who weighs the heaviest bass of the tournament.

The 40 Anglers in Group A competed in their two-day qualifying round on Saturday and Monday – the 40 anglers in Group B on Sunday and Tuesday. After the two-day Qualifying Round, the anglers that placed second through 20th from both groups advanced to Wednesday’s Knockout Round, while the winner of each group advanced directly to Friday’s Championship Round. In the Knockout Round, weights are zeroed, and the remaining 38 anglers competed to finish in the Top 8 to advance to the Championship Round. Friday, in the final day Championship Round, weights are zeroed and the highest one-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.

The final 10 anglers competing in Friday’s Championship Round will launch at 7:30 a.m. from the Oak Ridge Marina, located at 2949 TX-154 in Quitman, Texas. The General Tire Takeout will be held at the Marina, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend all launch and takeout events and also encouraged to follow the event online throughout the day on the MLF NOW! live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com

The Toro Stage Two on Lake Fork Presented by Grundéns features anglers competing with a 2-pound minimum weight requirement for a bass to be deemed scorable. Minimum weights are determined individually for each competition waters that the Bass Pro Tour visits, based on the productivity, bass population and anticipated average size of fish in each fishery.

The Bass Pro Tour features a field of 80 of the top professional anglers in the world competing across seven regular-season tournaments around the country, competing for millions of dollars and valuable points to qualify for the annual General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and the REDCREST 2023 championship. 

The MLF NOW! broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action on Championship Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT. MLF NOW!®  will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app. 

Television coverage of the Toro Stage Two on Lake Fork Presented by Grundéns will premiere at 7 a.m. ET, Sept. 17 on the Discovery Channel. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with additional re-airings on the Outdoor Channel. Each two-hour long reality-based episode goes in-depth to break down each day of competition. 

Proud sponsors of the 2022 MLF Bass Pro Tour include: 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, A.R.E. Truck Caps, B&W Trailer Hitches, BallyBet, Bass Cat, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Covercraft, Favorite Fishing, Garmin, General Tire, Googan Baits, Grundéns, Guaranteed Rate, Humminbird, Lowrance, Luminox, Mercury, Minn Kota, Mossy Oak, Nitro Performance Boats, Onyx, Plano, Power-Pole, Power Stop, Rapala, Starbrite, Toro, Toyota, Wrangler, Yellowstone Bourbon and Zoom.

For complete details and updated information on Major League Fishing and the Bass Pro Tour, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube.