(Mason Prince – Bass Pro Tour) There’s winning, there’s dominating, and then there’s what Alton Jones Jr. did to win General Tire Heavy Hitters presented by Bass Pro Shops on Bussey Brake. The Texas pro didn’t just win Heavy Hitters, he left no doubt that he was the best angler on the water on Saturday. Jones caught 19 bass for 81 pounds, 15 ounces — the other nine anglers fishing totaled 21 bass for 96-10.
While Jones was cruising to a victory, Bryan Thrift was able to lock up the other $100,000 prize for the Berkley Big Bass of the day. Thrift brought in a 9-6 for his only bass of the day, but it earned him $100,000 on top of his winnings for finishing in seventh place.
Jones beat second-place Dakota Ebare by 59-1, which was the second-largest margin of victory in Bass Pro Tour history. Jones’ victory was never in doubt for the vast majority of the day thanks to his decision to fish a key stretch of cypress trees.
“I don’t know what to say other than everything went right today,” Jones said. “I started the first period around some other guys and didn’t have a lot of luck, so I moved over to some cypress trees, and that ended up being the right move for me.”
Jones caught 19 bass for 81-15 to win the coveted Heavy Hitters belt and becomes the second Alton Jones to win the event. His father came away with the belt back in 2021, making it two out of the last three seasons that the Texas fishing family has won the belt.
Thrift’s 9-6 worth $100K
The wily North Carolinian may not like flipping very much, but Thrift’s tune may change a smidge after catching a $100,000 bass thanks to it.
After winning his Qualifying Round on Caney Lake, Thrift advanced straight to the Championship Round on Bussey Brake where he knew big ones lived. The North Carolina pro came into Saturday with hopes to go after a win, but after Jones took flight, it was going to be hard to catch him.
So, Thrift began swinging big. He tied on a ¾-ounce weight with a punch skirt and grabbed his 7-foot 6-inch Fitzgerald Hydrilla Grass Flippin’ rod and went to work. Near the end of the second period, Thrift leaned into one after he flipped into brush. What was on the other end was a massive payday.
“I got one bite all day and it made me $100,000,” Thrift said with a chuckle. “You can’t beat that.”
There were six anglers who caught a scorable bass over 7 pounds on Saturday – Ebare (7-0), Josh Bertrand (7-0), Randy Howell (7-1), Bradley Roy (7-9), Jones (7-10) and Thrift (9-6).
Eight pros advanced out of the Knockout Round on Caney Creek Reservoir to get a shot at a $100,000 bass and a $100,000 championship. The eight pros joining Bryan Thrift and Brent Ehrler in the Championship Round were: Randy Howell, Dakota Ebare, Edwin Evers, Ryan Salzman, Josh Bertrand, Alton Jones Jr., Andy Morgan and Bradley Roy.