Alton Jones Grabs Day One Lead of Bassmaster Elite Series at Lake St. Clair

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Bassmaster Elite Series Lake St. Clair Day One Leader Alton Jones - photo by Gary Tramontina - Bassmaster

Bassmaster Elite Series Lake St. Clair Day One Leader Alton Jones – photo by Gary Tramontina – Bassmaster

DETROIT — Weather is always a dynamic element in competitive bass fishing, but it is the biggest factor when the tournament is taking place on big lakes.

The Plano Bassmaster Elite at Lake St. Clair is the final event of the regular season, and many anglers are putting it all on the line to garner a berth in the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro next March.

Texas pro Alton Jones took control of the event by bringing in 23 pounds, 10 ounces of smallmouth bass to the scales after the first day Thursday.

“When you’re fishing the Great Lakes, where wind is a dominating weather condition, my goal is to locate the best drift over the best piece of structure,” the 2008 Bassmaster Classic champion explained. “My practice time was spent finding the right drift, but it only produced small fish for me this morning. I knew they had moved, and after I found them again — only a few hundred yards away — it was a pretty consistent bite.”

Jones expects the bass he found to move again by Friday with another likely weather change. He caught about 15 fish throughout the day and expects the numbers to be similar again in the second round.

“My big-fish spot contributed my best fish of the day, and it gave me several opportunities to cull up,” he said. “I found numerous spots that I’ve devoted my attention to, and I really hope they will hold up as the tournament goes on. But, to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure if they will.”

The stories among the anglers owning the other top spots on the leaderboard offered similar reports. Several small spots produced the right fish, but remaining confident that the best areas will continue to produce is the $100,000 question.

“I have a tendency to stress out about how well I manage a bite,” explained James Elam of Tulsa, Okla. “I’d like to think I perform well under this kind of pressure, but I’m going to have to prove that tomorrow.”

Elam had his limit before noon and brought in 23 pounds, 7 ounces to hold down second.

There’s more to his story, however: At the start of the day, he was inside the 50-angler cut to qualify for the upcoming Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship by a single point. Today’s finish bumped him up in the standings, but he’ll have to finish strong to have an opportunity to fish the championship on Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, on Sept. 17-20.

Claiming third is two-time Bassmaster Elite Series champion Brandon Palaniuk. “I’ve been changing my strategy when it comes to the AOY race. I stopped looking at the points; I’ve been fishing to win. I know I fish better with that mentality, so I haven’t looked at the points standings for a couple of months.”

His mental discipline work today as he brought in 23 pounds, 4 ounces of smallies — including the day’s big bass weighing 6-3.

Rounding out the Top 10 were Brandon Lester in fourth place with a fine limit that weighed 21-10. He’s tied for fourth with Casey Scanlon. Micah Frazier is sixth with 20-8, Jonathon VanDam is seventh with 20-6 ounces, Todd Faircloth is eighth with 20-1, J Todd Tucker is ninth with 19-14 and Matt Herren is 10th with 19-5.

Current AOY leader Aaron Martens weighed 18-5, good enough for 24th place.

“I took a risk and traveled to Huron today,” the two-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year said. “I’m still not sure if I’ll go back tomorrow or if I’ll play it safe and stay closer to the ramp. I know I can catch a pretty good bag out of St. Clair, but I probably won’t make a decision until tomorrow morning.”

Expect the daily average to stay around 21 to 23 pounds, and as is the case with big, Northern waters, tomorrow is another day and patterns are sure to keep changing.

The Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race continues with Aaron Martens on top with 685 points, Dean Rojas is closing the gap with 622 points, Jacob Powroznik is third with 596 points, Justin Lucas fell from second to fourth with 590 points and Edwin Evers is fifth with 565 points.

The tournament will resume Friday with takeoff out of Lake St. Clair Metropark at 6:20 a.m. The weigh-in will be held at the same location at 3:15 p.m., and the top 50 anglers will advance to Saturday.

2015 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, GoPro, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha

2015 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: A.R.E. Accessories, Carhartt, Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels, Huk Performance Fishing, Livingston Lures, Lowrance, Power-Pole, Rigid Industries, Shimano

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2), social media programs and events. For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series presented by Allstate, Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation events, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Costa Bassmaster High School Series, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro.

2015 Plano Bassmaster Elite at Lake St. Clair 8/27-8/30
Lake St. Clair, Detroit  MI.
Standings Day 1

Angler                   Hometown              No./lbs-oz  Pts   Total $$$

1.  Alton Jones            Lorena, TX               5  23-10  100
Day 1: 5   23-10
2.  James Elam             Tulsa, OK                5  23-07   99
Day 1: 5   23-07
3.  Brandon Palaniuk       Rathdrum, ID             5  23-04   98
Day 1: 5   23-04
4.  Brandon Lester         Fayetteville, TN         5  21-10   97
Day 1: 5   21-10
4.  Casey Scanlon          Lanexa, KS               5  21-10   97
Day 1: 5   21-10
6.  Micah Frazier          Newnan, GA               5  20-08   95
Day 1: 5   20-08
7.  Jonathon VanDam        Kalamazoo, MI            5  20-06   94
Day 1: 5   20-06
8.  Todd Faircloth         Jasper, TX               5  20-01   93
Day 1: 5   20-01
9.  J Todd Tucker          Moultrie, GA             5  19-14   92
Day 1: 5   19-14
10. Matt Herren            Ashville, AL             5  19-05   91
Day 1: 5   19-05
11. Charlie Hartley        Grove City, OH           5  19-03   90
Day 1: 5   19-03
11. Greg Vinson            Wetumpka, AL             5  19-03   90
Day 1: 5   19-03
13. Nate Wellman           Newaygo, MI              5  18-15   88
Day 1: 5   18-15
14. Dean Rojas             Lake Havasu City, AZ     5  18-14   87
Day 1: 5   18-14
15. Koby Kreiger           Bokeelia, FL             5  18-13   86
Day 1: 5   18-13
16. Chad Pipkens           Holt, MI                 5  18-12   85
Day 1: 5   18-12
17. Edwin Evers            Talala, OK               5  18-11   84
Day 1: 5   18-11
17. Bill Lowen             Brookville, IN           5  18-11   84
Day 1: 5   18-11
17. Jacob Powroznik        Port Haywood, VA         5  18-11   84
Day 1: 5   18-11
17. Bernie Schultz         Gainesville, FL          5  18-11   84
Day 1: 5   18-11
21. Skeet Reese            Auburn, CA               5  18-07   80
Day 1: 5   18-07
21. Scott Rook             Little Rock, AR          5  18-07   80
Day 1: 5   18-07
21. Chris Zaldain          San Jose, CA             5  18-07   80
Day 1: 5   18-07
24. Aaron Martens          Leeds, AL                5  18-05   77
Day 1: 5   18-05
25. Gary Klein             Weatherford, TX          5  18-04   76
Day 1: 5   18-04
26. Casey Ashley           Donalds, SC              5  18-03   75
Day 1: 5   18-03
26. Takahiro Omori         Emory, TX                5  18-03   75
Day 1: 5   18-03
26. Keith Poche            Pike Road, AL            5  18-03   75
Day 1: 5   18-03
29. Steve Kennedy          Auburn, AL               5  18-02   72
Day 1: 5   18-02
30. Greg Hackney           Gonzales, LA             5  17-13   71
Day 1: 5   17-13
31. Brett Hite             Phoenix, AZ              5  17-12   70
Day 1: 5   17-12
32. Seth Feider            Bloomington, MN          5  17-11   69
Day 1: 5   17-11
33. Jordan Lee             Vinemont, AL             5  17-10   68
Day 1: 5   17-10
33. David Williams         Maiden, NC               5  17-10   68
Day 1: 5   17-10
35. Chris Lane             Guntersville, AL         5  17-09   66
Day 1: 5   17-09
36. Kevin Hawk             Guntersville, AL         5  17-08   65
Day 1: 5   17-08
36. Russ Lane              Prattville, AL           5  17-08   65
Day 1: 5   17-08
38. David Walker           Sevierville, TN          5  17-07   63
Day 1: 5   17-07
39. Kurt Dove              Del Rio, TX              5  17-05   62
Day 1: 5   17-05
39. Fletcher Shryock       New Philadelphia, OH     5  17-05   62
Day 1: 5   17-05
41. Jason Christie         Park Hill, OK            5  17-01   60
Day 1: 5   17-01
41. Matt Reed              Madisonville, TX         5  17-01   60
Day 1: 5   17-01
43. Kelley Jaye            Dadeville, AL            5  16-14   58
Day 1: 5   16-14
43. David Smith            Del City, OK             5  16-14   58
Day 1: 5   16-14
45. John Murray            Phoenix, AZ              5  16-13   56
Day 1: 5   16-13
46. Brandon Coulter        Knoxville, TN            5  16-12   55
Day 1: 5   16-12
46. Fred Roumbanis         Bixby, OK                5  16-12   55
Day 1: 5   16-12
48. Billy McCaghren        Mayflower, AR            5  16-05   53
Day 1: 5   16-05
48. Zell Rowland           Montgomery, TX           5  16-05   53
Day 1: 5   16-05
50. Justin Lucas           Guntersville, AL         5  16-04   51
Day 1: 5   16-04
51. Randall Tharp          Port St. Joe, FL         5  16-00   50
Day 1: 5   16-00
52. Randy Allen            Shreveport, LA           5  15-14   49
Day 1: 5   15-14
53. Boyd Duckett           Guntersville, AL         5  15-13   48
Day 1: 5   15-13
53. Britt Myers            Lake Wylie, SC           5  15-13   48
Day 1: 5   15-13
55. John Crews Jr          Salem, VA                5  15-11   46
Day 1: 5   15-11
55. Morizo Shimizu         Suita, Osaka JAPAN       5  15-11   46
Day 1: 5   15-11
57. Jeff Kriet             Ardmore, OK              5  15-10   44
Day 1: 5   15-10
58. Michael Iaconelli      Pitts Grove, NJ          5  15-07   43
Day 1: 5   15-07
59. Ish Monroe             Hughson, CA              5  15-06   42
Day 1: 5   15-06
60. Hank Cherry Jr         Maiden, NC               5  15-05   41
Day 1: 5   15-05
61. Stephen Browning       Hot Springs, AR          5  15-02   40
Day 1: 5   15-02
61. Matt Lee               Guntersville, AL         5  15-02   40
Day 1: 5   15-02
63. Kevin Ledoux           Choctaw, OK              5  15-01   38
Day 1: 5   15-01
63. James Niggemeyer       Van, TX                  5  15-01   38
Day 1: 5   15-01
65. Dennis Tietje          Roanoke, LA              5  15-00   36
Day 1: 5   15-00
66. Kotaro Kiriyama        Moody, AL                5  14-14   35
Day 1: 5   14-14
67. Keith Combs            Huntington, TX           5  14-12   34
Day 1: 5   14-12
68. Randy Howell           Springville, AL          5  14-06   33
Day 1: 5   14-06
68. Bobby Lane Jr.         Lakeland, FL             5  14-06   33
Day 1: 5   14-06
68. Derek Remitz           Grant, AL                5  14-06   33
Day 1: 5   14-06
71. Kevin VanDam           Kalamazoo, MI            5  14-05   30
Day 1: 5   14-05
72. Cliff Pace             Petal, MS                5  14-03   29
Day 1: 5   14-03
73. Rick Clunn             Ava, MO                  5  13-13   28
Day 1: 5   13-13
74. Jason Williamson       Wagener, SC              5  13-12   27
Day 1: 5   13-12
75. Josh Bertrand          Gilbert, AZ              5  13-11   26
Day 1: 5   13-11
76. Mike McClelland        Bella Vista, AR          5  13-10   25
Day 1: 5   13-10
77. David Mullins          Mt Carmel, TN            5  13-09   24
Day 1: 5   13-09
78. Mark Davis             Mount Ida, AR            5  13-06   23
Day 1: 5   13-06
78. Andy Montgomery        Blacksburg, SC           5  13-06   23
Day 1: 5   13-06
78. Kevin Short            Mayflower, AR            5  13-06   23
Day 1: 5   13-06
81. Kenyon Hill            Norman, OK               5  13-03   20
Day 1: 5   13-03
82. Brandon Card           Caryville, TN            5  13-00   19
Day 1: 5   13-00
82. Jared Lintner          Arroyo Grande, CA        5  13-00   19
Day 1: 5   13-00
82. Marty Robinson         Lyman, SC                5  13-00   19
Day 1: 5   13-00
85. Shaw Grigsby Jr.       Gainesville, FL          5  12-15   16
Day 1: 5   12-15
86. Scott Ashmore          Broken Arrow, OK         4  12-11   15
Day 1: 4   12-11
87. Tommy Biffle           Wagoner, OK              5  12-07   14
Day 1: 5   12-07
88. Chad Morgenthaler      Coulterville, IL         5  12-02   13
Day 1: 5   12-02
89. Cliff Prince           Palatka, FL              5  12-01   12
Day 1: 5   12-01
90. Bradley Roy            Lancaster, KY            5  11-13   11
Day 1: 5   11-13
91. Cliff Crochet          Pierre Part, LA          5  11-10   10
Day 1: 5   11-10
92. Brent Chapman          Lake Quivira, KS         5  11-09    9
Day 1: 5   11-09
93. Mark Menendez          Paducah, KY              5  11-08    8
Day 1: 5   11-08
94. Carl Jocumsen          Queensland TX AUSTRALIA  5  11-07    7
Day 1: 5   11-07
95. Brent Ehrler           Newport Beach, CA        4  11-07    6
Day 1: 4   11-07
96. Terry Scroggins        San Mateo, FL            5  11-05    5
Day 1: 5   11-05
97. Brian Snowden          Reeds Spring, MO         5  11-00    4
Day 1: 5   11-00
98. Davy Hite              Ninety Six, SC           5  10-10    3
Day 1: 5   10-10
99. Gerald Swindle         Warrior, AL              5  09-14    2
Day 1: 5   09-14
100. Paul Elias             Laurel, MS               3  08-13    1
Day 1: 3   08-13
101. Paul Mueller           Naugatuck, CT            4  07-12    0
Day 1: 4   07-12
101. Clifford Pirch         Payson, AZ               4  07-12    0
Day 1: 4   07-12
103. Ott DeFoe              Knoxville, TN            3  07-02    0
Day 1: 3   07-02
104. Joseph Sancho          New Windsor, NY          3  06-05    0
Day 1: 3   06-05
105. Tim Horton             Muscle Shoals, AL        1  03-07    0
Day 1: 1   03-07
106. Ken Iyobe              Tokoname  Aichi JAPAN    1  02-08    0
Day 1: 1   02-08
107. Mike Kernan            Wylie, TX                1  02-00    0
Day 1: 1   02-00
———————————————————————–
Totals
Day   #Limits    #Fish      Weight
1        97       513      1641-01
———————————-
97       513      1641-01