Two Years After Father Wins Event, Jr. Catches 19 Bass Weighing 81 Pounds, 15 Ounces to Dominate Championship Round and Win $100,000 Top Prize, Thrift Lands 9-6 Largemouth to Earn $100,000 Big Bass Bonus
MONROE-WEST MONROE, La. (April 29, 2023) – 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.
Link to Hi-Res Photo of General Tire Heavy Hitters 2023 Champion Alton Jones, Jr.
Link to Hi-Res Photo of Bryan Thrift’s Championship Round $100,000 Big Bass – 9 Pounds, 6 Ounces
Link to Photo Gallery of Championship Round Afternoon Highlights
Link to Video of Fish-Catch Highlights from Championship Round on Bussey Brake
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.
Overall, there were 40 scorable bass weighing 178 pounds, 9 ounces caught by the final 10 pros in Saturday’s Championship Round. A bass had to weigh at least 3 pounds to be deemed scorable in the Championship Round.
The six-day General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops all-star event was hosted by Discover Monroe-West Monroe and the Louisiana Office of Tourism and showcased the top 30 pros that qualified via the Bass Pro Tour competing in a no-entry fee tournament for a purse of more than $500,000, including numerous massive Big Bass Bonuses and a payout of $100,000 to the winner.
Different from Bass Pro Tour regular-season events, General Tire Heavy Hitters featured anglers competing using the MLF catch, weigh, immediate-release format in which anglers catch as many scorable bass and as much weight as they can each day, while also feeling the pressure and intensity of the SCORETRACKER® leaderboard. A bass must have met the 2-pound minimum weight requirement for a bass to be deemed scorable in the Qualifying and Knockout Rounds, and at least 3 pounds to be deemed scorable in the Championship Round.
Television coverage of the General Tire Heavy Hitters 2023 Presented by Bass Pro Shops will be showcased across six two-hour episodes, premiering at 7 a.m. ET, Aug. 5 and running each Saturday through Sept. 9 on Discovery. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with additional re-airings on the Outdoor Channel. Each two-hour long reality-based episode goes in-depth to break down each day of competition.
Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF General Tire Heavy Hitters Event include: Abu Garcia, B&W Hitches, Bally Bet, Bass Cat Boats, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Builders First Source, Ferguson, Fox Rent A Car, General Tire, Kubota, Lowrance, Lucas Oil, Mercury, Mossy Oak, NITRO Boats, Onyx, Phoenix Boats, Plano, Power-Pole, Shore Lunch, StarBrite, Sqwincher, T-H Marine, Toyota, United States Airforce, Yellowstone Bourbon, and YETI.
For complete details and updated information on Major League Fishing and the Bass Pro Tour, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
About Major League Fishing
Major League Fishing (MLF) is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, producing more than 250 events annually at some of the most prestigious fisheries in the world, while broadcasting to America’s living rooms on CBS, the Discovery Channel, the Outdoor Channel, CBS Sports Network, the World Fishing Network and on-demand on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, the MLF roster of bass anglers includes the world’s top pros and more than 30,000 competitors in all 50 states and 13 countries. Since its founding in 2011, MLF has advanced the sport of competitive fishing through its premier television broadcasts and livestreams and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for bass through research, education, fisheries enhancement and fish care.
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