Skip to main content

Jones Gets Win on St. Johns

Faircloth's final-day bid comes up pound short

Jones Gets Win on St. Johns
Alton Jones celebrates his victory in the first Bassmaster Elite Series event of the season. (James Overstreet photo)

PALATKA, Fla. — Alton Jones’ Sunday victory on the St. Johns River was all the sweeter for the redemption sprinkled on top.

He finally got the St. Johns Bassmaster Elite Series win that slipped through his fingers last season. That memory, and the fact that he ran out of time Sunday to entice a lunker he could see on a bed, gave the pro from Woodway, Texas, a few tense moments as he was waiting for the final-day trek to the scales. He was feeling shaky despite the 9-pound lead he had going into the day.

But win he did, with 75 pounds, 9 ounces and by a margin of 1 pound, 2 ounces, over runner-up Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas.

“I am absolutely speechless that I won. I entered the weigh-in line today thinking I had lost this tournament. It was a complete reversal of fortune from last year,” he said. “That’s all gone now. It always feels good to win.”


What he won was $100,000 and an instant berth in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic. He also is leading the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.


“That’s what I’m most excited about,” he said. “To have a Classic qualification frees me up to really go for Angler of the Year, take a few more risks in other tournaments this season.”

Jones said on Sunday he tried to ignore his 9-pound lead, knowing one lunker off a bed by one of the pros chasing him would be his undoing.

“I knew I had to go out and pretend like I was 2 pounds behind,” said Jones, who won the Bassmaster Classic in 2008 and has won four other Bassmaster events but had never landed an Elite Series win.

Faircloth’s 20-10 bag of Sunday could have stopped Jones in his tracks if only Jones had stumbled a bit. And Jones almost did. His 12-11 of Sunday was his lightest over four days, and he had to work hard to get that.


“I left it all out on the water,” said Jones, a pro’s way of saying he did everything he could think of to win.

Jones started the St. Johns River Showdown under the radar: 17th place after Day One. He became a big player with his Day Two sack of 28-7 — the tournament’s largest — and he snapped up the lead by more than 7 pounds. By the third day, he was up by 9 pounds.

Jones relied on sight fishing all four days in several areas of the river’s Lake George.


“I wasn’t around a lot of fish, I was just around a few good fish,” he said. “The important thing was to be in an area where the fish were wanting to spawn, and that I probably moved faster than a lot of the guys out there. And not stopping and locking up on the little ones was the key.”

Each day, he intentionally left some of the males on beds so that they’d draw the bigger females he knew he would need to excel at the scales.

He said his primary lure of the week was a 6-inch junebug-colored Yum Dinger; it was the bait that brought him all his fish heavier than 4 pounds. Junebug is the color he automatically ties on when fishing in Florida.

“I have a lot of confidence in that color, and if it’s working, I don’t switch it,” he said.

His largest bass of Sunday, which he described as a “5-something female,” he caught at about 11:30. He said he spent the remainder of the day searching for larger fish, and filling his limit with a few smaller ones. He spent his last two hours of the tournament trying for a bedding female in the 6-pound class.

“I really thought I was going to catch her. She was behaving right, but there just wasn’t enough time to do it,” Jones said. “I knew if I caught that fish, I’d win this tournament. Honestly, I thought that if I didn’t catch that fish, I was really leaving the door open for someone else.”

And he knew the “someone else” was probably Faircloth, but Faircloth ended the day where he began it, runner-up to Jones.

Faircloth said he fished clean, with no mistakes and in keeping with a sight fishing plan that he stuck with.

“I really felt good about today, like I had a shot at the win. I never felt like I was out of it. I knew Alton would have to have a day like he had today for me to catch him, but I was just that one fish short,” Faircloth said.

“I had a 3 1/2-pounder, so if I had caught another 4- or 5-pounder, it would have been real close. I could sit here and go through the ‘woulda-coulda-shoulda,’ but I trusted my instincts and I don’t know what else I would have done differently.”

Like Jones, Faircloth fished Lake George, but he said they didn’t share water. His final two days, he keyed in on a line between eelgrass and dollar-pad vegetation that had a slightly harder bottom attractive to bass as good bedding sites. The bass he got from that area was what pulled him up from 19th place on the first day and into contention by Day Four.

Faircloth’s primary lures were a Yamamoto Senko in watermelon black flake and a Yamamoto Flappin’ Hog.

The other Top 5 finishers in the St. Johns River Showdown were Keith Combs of Huntington, Texas, who climbed from 46th on Day One to take third place with 71-2; Brent Chapman of Lake Quivira, Kan., with a steady performance over four days for fourth place with 67-8; and Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif., in fifth with 64-5.

Local favorite Terry Scroggins of San Mateo, Fla., finished sixth with 60-11, a big move from 35th place on Day One. First-day leader J Todd Tucker of Moultrie, Ga., finished 12th with 51-15.

Bonuses earned by anglers at the St. Johns River Showdown included:

  • Carhartt Big Bass of the tournament, which paid $750, plus another $750 if the angler was wearing Carhartt clothing: Greg Hackney’s 10-9 of Day One
  • Berkley Heavyweight Award of $500 for the best five-fish limit: Jones’ 28-7 of Day Two
  • Power-Pole Captain’s Cash of $1,000 if the winner has Power-Poles installed on his boat: Jones
  • Toyota $1,000 bonus to the leader in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race: Jones

Elite Series competition continues this week with the Power-Pole Slam on Florida’s famed Lake Okeechobee. The event will begin Thursday and run through Sunday at C. Scott Driver Park, Highway 78 West in Okeechobee, Fla. As always, fans can watch the Elite Series event in person and online at Bassmaster.com, which provides free, full access to all pages and features.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Berkley Hit Stick & PowerBait Pre-Rigged Swim Shad

Berkley Hit Stick & PowerBait Pre-Rigged Swim Shad

The Berkley lineup for 2020 includes a new multi-species lure, the Hit Stick which is available in six different sizes ranging from 1 3/8” to 6” in length along with a variety of color patterns.

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

Major League Fishing pros talk about the first lure they choose when targeting spawning bass.

Humminbird CoastMaster - A Closer Look

Humminbird CoastMaster - A Closer Look

Patterned after Humminbird's LakeMaster charts for freshwater anglers, CoastMaster charts bring the same features for salt anglers. CoastMaster delivers unrivaled nearshore and offshore fishing performance.

Make Your Own Tackle Box with Plano Edge Flex

Make Your Own Tackle Box with Plano Edge Flex

Plano's Charlie Davis and In-Fisherman's Rob Neumann talk about the new Plano Edge Flex as part of the 2020 ICAST New Fishing Gear Guide.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

More adjustability and improved balance make these nine compounds even easier to shoot.The Best Compound Bows for 2020 Bows

The Best Compound Bows for 2020

Jace Bauserman - August 24, 2020

More adjustability and improved balance make these nine compounds even easier to shoot.

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers Other Freshwater

Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers

Game & Fish Staff

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use these proven bait rigs for stripers.3 Proven Bait Rigs for Stripers Striper & Hybrid

3 Proven Bait Rigs for Stripers

J.B. Kasper

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use these proven bait rigs for stripers.

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

The The eastern Georgia lake may be best known for its bass, but anglers will find more trophies in these waters than just largemouths. Georgia lake may be best known for its bass, but anglers will find more trophies in these waters than just largemouths.Chase a Mixed-Bag Bite at Lake Oconee Fishing

Chase a Mixed-Bag Bite at Lake Oconee

Larry Larsen - April 28, 2020

The The eastern Georgia lake may be best known for its bass, but anglers will find more...

Editor's Note: Our popular Camera Corner features reader photos and stories from successfulPamela's Story: A Memorable Fly Fishing Encounter Stories

Pamela's Story: A Memorable Fly Fishing Encounter

April 28, 2017

Editor's Note: Our popular Camera Corner features reader photos and stories from successful

An hour here, 30 minutes there, 10 casts after work; sometimes that's all it takes.Perspective: Satisfy Fishing Passion When You Can Stories

Perspective: Satisfy Fishing Passion When You Can

Adam Heggenstaller - June 24, 2020

An hour here, 30 minutes there, 10 casts after work; sometimes that's all it takes.

As the official zone maps of Pool 8 were handed out for the Championship Round of the 2016 Summit Cup on the Mississippi River, the six finalists scoured the maps like scratch-off lottery tickets, hoping their numbers would come up big.Past Experience Squashed by Fishing Zone Boundaries for Championship Stories

Past Experience Squashed by Fishing Zone Boundaries for Championship

Rob Newell, MajorLeagueFishing.com

As the official zone maps of Pool 8 were handed out for the Championship Round of the 2016...

See More Stories

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now