Chris Jones got off to an ominous start this morning when his motor conked out and he had to be towed by Boat US.
When Jones got back to business at about 9:15 a.m., he relied on his knowledge of the Arkansas River to catch a 13-pound, 10-ounce limit and clinch the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open pro division title. The Bokoshe, Okla., angler finished with a three-day total of 40-1 and earned the top prize of a Nitro Z9/Mercury 225 Pro XS rig valued at $40,000 and $7,253 in cash.
“I ran every single stick that I knew where I had ever caught a 3- or 4-pounder in my life,” said Jones. “I burned a tank of gas in one pool. We just got on one little stretch where I caught five or six keepers real quick. Then we ran to one other spot, and it all happened in about a 30-minute period. I went to one other place where I had caught a big one several other times. The wind was blowing up on a point, and when I threw up there, a 4-pounder ate it.”
Each day Jones fished both grass and wood but found more fish in the wood. “The conditions changed every day. The wind was out of the south, and it was hot Thursday. Yesterday it was cloudy, and the wind pushed out of the north, and the temperature dropped 20 degrees. Today it was a high pressure front.”
Jones caught his fish a variety of ways, including throwing a Spro Bronzeye Frog in the pads and swimming a 1/2-ounce Hawg Hunter jig and a NetBait Paca Chunk. He also caught fish employing erratic retrieves with Bass Pro Shops square bill crankbaits and spinnerbaits. “You had to make the fish react,” he said.
Talala, Okla., pro Terry Butcher took second place with 39 pounds. “My biggest key to the whole week was laydowns (in 1 to 8 feet of water),” he said. Butcher mainly relied on a 3/8-ounce Booyah spinnerbait and tricked some keepers with an XCalibur 100 crankbait.
Others finishing in the Top 5 of the pro division included Trevor Romans of Texas, third, 37-15; Stetson Blaylock of Arkansas, fourth, 37-0; and Brock Mosley of Mississippi, fifth, 36-15.
Republican City, Neb., angler David Padgett won the co-angler side with 20-10 and towed home a Triton 17 Pro/ Yamaha F115LA rig worth $25,000. The software developer for the University of Nebraska Medical Center caught both of his fish the first day working a frog in the grass. The next two days he caught his keepers flipping a Poor Boy’s Tube, and he tricked a key fish today with a spinnerbait.
The Carhartt Big Bass award of $500 for the largest single bass caught during the tournament was awarded to Mosley on the pro side. John Thomas of Oklahoma won the award on the co-angler side.
The Luck-E-Strike Heavyweight honor was awarded to Mosley with 16-7 on the pro side and Randy Morris of Oklahoma on the co-angler side with 10-12. Each received a $250 Bass Pro Shops gift card.
The Livingston Lures Leader award of $250 was presented to the pro angler in the lead on Day 2, Mark Goines. The Day 2 leaders on the co-angler side, Thomas, received a Livingston Lures gift pack valued at $250.