JEFFERSON COUNTY, Tenn. – After taking over the lead early in the first period, pro Alton Jones, Sr., of Lorena, Texas, held his ground throughout the day to finish first on Tuesday, catching a five-bass-limit weighing 14 pounds, 14 ounces, to cruise to a Group B Qualifying Round win at the Major League Fishing U.S. Air Force Stage Two Presented by Power-Pole on Douglas Lake. Jones’ two-day total of 10 bass weighing 28 pounds, 12 ounces gave him a 1-pound, 9-ounce margin over second place pro Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas, who finished with a two-day total of 10 scorable bass weighing 27-3.
Link to Hi-Res Photo of Qualifying Group B Winner Alton Jones, Sr.
Link to HD Video – Fish-Catch Highlights of Group B Qualifying Round Day 2 on Douglas Lake
Link to Photo Gallery of Group B’s Day 2 Qualifying Round Afternoon Highlights
It was also another stressful day for anglers around the Toro cutline. Pro Zack Birge of Blanchard, Oklahoma started the day in 22nd before going on a morning flurry to jump to third place by the end of Period 1. Birge then went five long hours without catching a bass yet managed to finish the day in 19th place and move on to the Knockout Round. General Tire pro Britt Myers of Lake Wylie, South Carolina came into Group B’s second day of competition in 33rd place, having only caught two fish on his first day of competition, but managed to rack up the biggest bag of the day – a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds even – to finish the day in 16th. Berkley pro Jordan Lee of Cullman, Alabama dropped below the cutline in the third and final period but caught two key fish in the final hour to finish the day in the 20th spot.
“I’m so happy finishing in 20th place,” said Lee on the MLFNOW! live stream. “I’m drained. I literally feel like I won the tournament.
“My heart can’t take it – it’s beating so fast,” Lee continued, laying down on the floor of his boat. “We gave it all we had boys. I feel bad for the guys who barely missed it, I really do, but sometimes it’s just your lucky day. I’ve been right out of the cut and have been right inside it. Those last two fish today are really what made the difference for us, and I couldn’t be more excited to get to regroup and get on them tomorrow on Cherokee Lake.”
The remaining 40 anglers – the top 20 from each group – now advance to Wednesday’s Knockout Round, where weights are zeroed, and the anglers compete to finish in the top 10 to advance to the Championship Round on Thursday. Weights will carry over from the Knockout Round into the Championship Round, which will feature the final 10 anglers competing for the heaviest two-day cumulative total and the top prize of $100,000.
Among the 40 pros moving on to Wednesday’s Knockout Round are Tennessee’s own Andy Morgan and Michael Neal, both of Dayton, Ott DeFoe of Blaine, Matt Becker of Ten Mile and Jacob Wheeler of Harrison.
Jones started the day in fifth place but caught two fish within the first 45 minutes to jump from 5th to 1st – and never looked back.
“This was a good round, but it was a tough round for me,” said Jones. “I only caught five scorable bass, and I lost one and missed a couple. I just didn’t get a lot of bites today, but fortunately I found a few places that had some quality on them.
“I’m grateful to have made the cut and am ready to move on to Cherokee Lake. It’s great winning the day and winning the round, but it all zeroes tomorrow, so this is just bragging rights at the dock – and I’ll probably do a little bragging while we’re there,” Jones continued, laughing.
Jones is a four-time Qualifying Round winner, and did most of his damage up the river on a jerkbait, although he did catch one key fish on a football jig with a Zoom Baby Brush Hog as a trailer.
“Usually when I do well, it’s because I’ve made a game plan and executed it and bass fishing is no different than any other sport,” he went on to say. “You have to have a plan that you’re confident in. A plan is something you develop as you go through practice and something you develop in preparation before practice ever begins, and the Bass Force app is key to helping me develop my game plans.”
Jones said now it’s time to totally shift gears going into the Knockout Round.
“Cherokee is an entirely different lake, a whole different mindset from what we’ve been fishing over here on Douglas,” said Jones. “We’ve got to forget everything we thought we knew over here about what the fish were doing, and totally retrain ourselves to dial in on what’s happening over there right now, and that’s going to be a big challenge for all of us.”
The Top 20 pros from Group B that now advance to Wednesday’s Knockout Round on Cherokee Lake are:
A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Tuesday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award went to pro Spencer Shuffield of Hot Springs, Arkansas, who weighed in a 4-pound, 13-ounce largemouth on a glide bait in Period 2. Berkley awards $1,000 to the angler who weighs the heaviest bass each day, and another $3,000 bonus to the angler who weighs the heaviest bass of the tournament.
The six-day event, hosted by the Jefferson County Department of Tourism Sports Commission, showcases 80 of the top professional anglers in the world, competing for a purse of more than $805,000, including a top payout of $100,000 and valuable Angler of the Year (AOY) points in hopes of qualifying for the General Tire Heavy Hitters All-Star event and REDCREST 2024, the Bass Pro Tour championship.
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. Now that each two-day qualifying round is complete, the top 20 anglers from each group advance to Wednesday’s Knockout Round. In the Knockout Round, weights are zeroed, and the remaining 40 anglers compete to finish in the top 10 to advance to the Championship Round. In the Championship Round on Thursday, weight carries over from the Knockout Round and the angler with the heaviest two-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.
Anglers will launch Wednesday and Thursday at 8:30 a.m. ET from the TVA Boat Launch on Renfro Road in Jefferson City. Each day’s General Tire Takeout will be held at the boat launch, beginning at 5 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 MLFNOW! live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
On Championship Thursday, March 23, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., MLF will welcome fans of all ages to come in to celebrate the top 10 and crown the Stage 2 Champion at the Trophy Presentation. The final 10 Championship Round Bass Pro Tour anglers will be on hand at the trophy celebration to meet and greet fans, sign autographs and take selfies. The celebration will take place at the TVA Boat Launch on Renfro Road in Jefferson City, Tennessee.
The U.S. Air Force Stage Two on Cherokee and Douglas Lakes Presented by Power-Pole features anglers competing with a 1-pound, 6-ounce minimum weight requirement for a bass to be deemed scorable on Douglas Lake and a 1-pound, 12-ounce minimum weight for scorable bass on Cherokee Lake. 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 2023 MLF 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, fishing for millions of dollars and valuable points to qualify for the annual General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and REDCREST 2024, the Bass Pro Tour championship, held March 13-17, 2024, on Lay Lake in Birmingham, Alabama.
The MLFNOW! broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action Wednesday and Thursday from 8:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET. MLFNOW! will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.
Television coverage of the U.S. Air Force Stage Two on Cherokee and Douglas Lakes Presented by Power-Pole will air as two, two-hour episodes starting at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, September 16 on the Discovery Channel. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with re-airings on the Outdoor Channel.
Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF Bass Pro Tour include: 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, Ark Fishing, ATG + Wrangler, B&W Trailer Hitches, Bally Bet, Bass Cat Boats, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Black Rifle Coffee, Daiwa, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, Ferguson, Fox Rent A Car, General Tire, Grundéns, Humminbird, Lowrance, Minn Kota, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Power-Pole, Rapala, Star tron, T-H Marine, TORO, Toyota, U.S. Air Force, Yellowstone Bourbon, Yo-Zuri and Zoom Baits.
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 Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.