Given the countless variables tournament fishing presents, consistency stands essential for success in a multi-day event. Just ask Christopher Jones, who edged Jeff Sprague in a tiebreaker victory at the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event on Grand Lake. The tournament was presented by Ranger Boats and hosted by the City of Grove.
According to FLW tournament rules, ties on day three will be resolved by day-two standings. Both anglers finished with 47 pounds, 3 ounces, but Jones and Sprague placed fourth and fifth, respectively, on the tournament’s second day. Jones was declared the winner.
Fishing the mid-lake area, Jones mostly targeted secondary pockets inside large creeks. He caught his fish 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.
“I was slow-rolling the bait behind the docks,” Jones says. “A lot of them were suspended under the dock cables and on the corners of the docks. I didn’t even waste my time on the fronts of the docks. I’d kick the trolling motor on high and go around to another dock. I burned my trolling motor batteries to the ground every day.”
While it took several dozen docks to amass his winning weight, Jones says one particular structure played a key role.
“I had a place where years ago I caught a 5-pounder, and about four years ago, in a BFL, I had four fish that weighed 13 pounds [off that dock],” he says. “Yesterday, I caught my big one [a 6-pounder] on it, and today I laughed and told my co-angler, ‘I can’t go by this dock without fishing it.’
“So, we ran over there, and the wind was blowing on it from the north. The wind was blowing on it from the south yesterday, so I fished the other side today and caught a 3-pounder. The next cast, I caught a 6-pounder. So on that special dock I caught three of my keepers this week. It’s just one of those special places.”
Jones says he spent a little time each day on a stretch of main-lake riprap where he caught a couple of keepers on an umbrella rig. He used a YUM YUMbrella Flash Mob Jr. with 3 1/2-inch YUM Pulse Swimbaits.
This week presented a mix of weather conditions that followed a significant cold spell a couple of weeks before the tournament. Day one started cold and relatively calm, with a strong warming trend coinciding with big southwest winds on day two. The final round brought more warmth, but a little less wind from the north.
“It was basically the perfect storm because the changing conditions and all the cold weather we had kept them from starting to bite and kept a bunch of guys from catching them,” Jones says. “That kept a lot of non-locals from figuring them out.
“The fish are there, and they’re set up [for their spawning movement]. The water temperature hit 60 today about 1 o’clock, and they started biting.”
Jones’s daily weights were 12-1, 17-8 and 17-10. He caught limits the latter two days, but started with a deficit by falling a fish short of his day-one limit.
“I thought I’d totally lost it on Thursday when I caught four fish,” Jones says. “But those were the four bites I had. I caught everything that bit this week, except for today; I lost one that was 4 1/2 or 5 pounds over a dock cable. It was just one of those weeks when everything went right.”
1. Christopher Jones – Bokoshe, Okla. – 47-3 (14) – $88,700
2. Jeff Sprague – Point, Texas – 47-3 (12) – $16,600
3. Troy O'Rourke – Natchitoches, La. – 44-15 (14) – $12,500
4. Toby Hartsell – Afton, Okla. – 36-1 (13) – $10,800
5. Blaine Covington – Fort Worth, Texas – 36-1 (10) – $9,500
6. Sheldon Collings – Grove, Okla. – 34-5 (11) – $8,550
7. Kevin Ledoux – Choctaw, Okla. – 33-6 (11) – $7,200
8. Curt Warren – Rose, Okla. – 33-5 (10) – $6,200
9. Colby Miller – Elmer, La. – 32-15 (9) – $5,200
10. Jeff Reynolds – Calera, Okla. – 28-7 (8) – $4,100