It’s safe to say that the Jones’ love the Major League Fishing (MLF) General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops all-star event. Two years ago, at Heavy Hitters 2021, Alton Jones, Sr., of Lorena, Texas , put on a sight-fishing clinic at North Carolina’s Shearon Harris Reservoir to earn the Heavy Hitters title belt and the top payout of $100,000.
At Heavy Hitters 2022, his son Alton Jones, Jr., didn’t win the title belt, but he was the big winner at the event, as the Waco, Texas pro weighed the biggest bass in both the Knockout and Championship Rounds to earn the $50,000 and $100,000 Big Bass Bonuses and walk away from the event with $165,000 in winnings.
On Saturday, Alton Jr. got his title belt.
Jones weighed in 19 scorable bass Saturday weighing 81 pounds, 15 ounces – a whopping 59 pounds higher than his closest competitor – to run away with the 2023 title and win the General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops.
The victory was the second major MLF win of the younger Jones’ career.
“Man, what a day,” Jones said in his post-game interview. “Everything went right. I felt really good about my chances when I got to Bussey, flipping the willows with a white Geecrack Bellows Shad. I had one little stretch of cypress trees that I really wanted to fish. After spending the first period in another area I decided to roll over there and fish it.
“I was going to fish that one stretch for just a little bit, but then I caught one,” Jones continued. “Then I caught a short, and then lost one. I kept making these marks for myself as I’m moving down the bank – I’m going to fish 10 more trees and if I don’t get a bite, I’m out – and then I’d catch one. Then another one. After the fifth or sixth bite I figured okay, maybe I’m not going to be leaving this today. And we didn’t.”
Jones boated 19 scorable bass – for comparison, the other nine competitors only caught 21 bass combined. The key techniques for Jones was flipping the Geecrack Bellows Shad and also throwing a spinnerbait with the Bellow Shad as a trailer.
“I did several things today, but the main staple – every bass I caught today came in some way, shape, or form on the Geecrack Bellows Shad,” Jones said. “I was flipping it in the willows, and when I got around those cypress trees I was throwing it on the back of a spinnerbait as a trailer. I caught them on my signature series Kistler Chungus rod – it’s just appropriate, catching chungus’ on the Chungus. I used 20-pound Gamma (fluorocarbon line).
“What a week,” Jones went on to say. “It was such a grind, so difficult just to make it to Bussey Brake. To trick those bass on Caney to get here, then catching them the way I like to catch them. On my own bait, on my own rod. This week has just been a magical, magical experience.”
Also adding to his trophy case this week, and his bank account, is reigning MLF REDCREST Champion Bryan Thrift of Shelby, North Carolina. Although Thrift boated just one scorable bass Saturday, it was the right one. Thrift caught a 9-pound, 6-once giant in Period 2 flipping a jig to win the Heavy Hitters $100,000 Championship Round Berkley Big Bass.
“I had one bite all day long, and it was for 100 grand,” Thrift said in his post-game interview. “Wow, that is just unreal. I caught it flipping, and I’m not a very good flipper. I don’t like flipping at all. So I have to give credit to my equipment. I was flipping a 7-foot, 6-inch (Original) Hydrilla (Grass Flippin’) rod from Fitzgerald Fishing with a Fitzgerald Fishing VLD10 reel. I was throwing 25-pound P-Line (Tactical) 100% fluorocarbon line, flipping a ¾ ounce weight with a punch skirt to get that one big bite. And it worked out. We didn’t get many bites, but we got the right one.”
The top 10 pros from the General Tire Heavy Hitters Championship Round on Bussey Brake finished:
1st: Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas, 19 bass, 81-15, $100,000
2nd: Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, five bass, 22-15, $50,000
3rd: Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., four bass, 15-0, $20,000
4th: Randy Howell, Guntersville, Ala., three bass, 13-9, $68,000
5th: Josh Bertrand, Queen Creek, Ariz., two bass, 11-2, $15,000
6th: Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky., two bass, 10-11, $14,500
7th: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., one bass, 9-6, $113,500
8th: Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla., two bass, 7-3, $12,500
9th: Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., one bass, 3-10, $36,000
10th: Ryan Salzman, Huntsville, Ala., one bass, 3-2, $8,000
Full results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.