Alton Jones Sr. Wins Qualifying Round at Bass Pro Tour at Mille Lacs Lake

September 13, 2022
Major League Fishing (MLF) Archive

ONAMIA, Minn. (Sept. 13, 2022) – Pro Alton Jones, Sr., of Lorena, Texas, caught 12 scorable smallmouth bass weighing 47 pounds, 15 ounces to cruise to an easy Qualifying Round win for Group B at the MLF Bass Pro Tour Stage Seven tournament on Mille Lacs Lake in Onamia, Minnesota. Jones’ two-day total of 37 scorable bass weighing 140 pounds, 12 ounces, earned him the Qualifying Round victory by a 35-pound, 15-ounce margin over second-place finisher, pro Cliff Pace of Petal, Mississippi.

The reigning Bass Pro Tour Bally Bet Angler of the Year (AOY), Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tennessee, clinched his second-consecutive Bass Pro Tour AOY title Tuesday, after finishing the Qualifying Round in 6th place. Wheeler now becomes the first pro in Bass Pro Tour history to earn multiple AOY titles, and for his accomplishment the 32-year-old Tennessee pro earned a $100,000 payday from Bally Bet.

“It has been an incredible year,” Wheeler said. “Typically, you can sort of look back and reflect on the season and you can remember those times you’ve stumbled, and this year I’ve just been blessed. I haven’t won a tournament, but I’ve been able to remain very consistent. Every year, it always seems like there is one hiccup, but fortunately there wasn’t this season, and I am so excited to hoist this trophy for the second year in a row.”

Pace caught a two-day total of 27 bass weighing 104 pounds, 13 ounces to end the round in second place, while pro Dustin Connell of Clanton, Alabama, finished the round in third place with a two-day total of 27 bass weighing 100-8. Tulsa, Oklahoma’s James Elam ended the round in fourth place with a two-day total of 28 bass for 100-6. Rounding out the top five was Kalamazoo, Michigan’s Kevin VanDam , who caught 26 bass for 94-1 to advance in fifth place.

The remaining 38 anglers – 19 from each group – now advance to Wednesday’s Knockout Round, where weights are zeroed, and the anglers compete to finish in the top eight to advance to the Championship Round on Thursday. The Championship Round will feature Group A winner Mark Daniels, Jr., Group B winner Alton Jones, Sr., and the top eight finishers from the Knockout Round competing in a final-day shootout for the top prize of $100,000. 

“I’m so thankful to be going straight to the Championship Round,” an excited Jones said in his post-game interview. “That was my goal coming into this event, and I worked really hard during practice and in pre-fishing before the cutoff. I had all my eggs in one basket, which was a little bit risky, but I’ve spent my practice and even time during this event idling, graphing and targeting isolated boulders.

“I’m from the South, and one of my favorite things to do is use my Garmin LiveScope to find isolated brush piles, but here in the North the brush piles are boulders,” Jones continued. “I’m just trying to find and fish as many different boulders as I can.”

With his lead never really at all in jeopardy throughout the day, Jones said he was able to do a little more scouting during the third period, Tuesday.

“Fortunately, during the last period today I was able to do some more idling and graphing and I think I marked another seven or eight more boulders,” Jones went on to say. “I’ve probably got another 15 to 20 that I have not fished yet that should be out of the wind, so I’m really excited to get back out there and do what I can to win this thing.”

The top 20 pros in Qualifying Group B that now advance to Wednesday’s Knockout Round on Mille Lacs Lake are:

1st:          Alton Jones, Lorena, Texas, 37 bass, 140-12 – ADVANCES TO CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND
2nd:         Cliff Pace, Petal, Miss., 27 bass, 104-13
3rd:         Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., 27 bass, 100-8
4th:         James Elam, Tulsa, Okla., 28 bass, 100-6
5th:         Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., 26 bass, 94-1
6th:         Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 26 bass, 91-6
7th:         Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas, 26 bass, 88-13
8th:         Shin Fukae, Osaka, Japan, 28 bass, 87-5
9th:         Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., 22 bass, 80-7
10th:       Ryan Salzman, Huntsville, Ala., 23 bass, 79-3
11th:       Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., 22 bass, 79-1
12th:       Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., 22 bass, 74-2
13th:       Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., 22 bass, 73-8
14th:       Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., 22 bass, 72-7
15th:       Jared Lintner, Covington, Ga., 25 bass, 70-1
16th:       Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 19 bass, 66-4
17th:       Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., 19 bass, 65-6
18th:       Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., 18 bass, 60-13
19th:       Randy Howell, Guntersville, Ala., 15 bass, 58-2
20th:       Jason Lambert, Michie, Tenn., 18 bass, 57-6

A complete list of results can be found at

Overall, there were 322 scorable bass weighing 1,110 pounds, 6 ounces caught by the 40 pros Tuesday.

Pro Cliff Pace won the $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award Tuesday with a smallmouth weighing 5 pounds, 13 ounces. Pace caught the fish in the first period, throwing a drop-shot rig. Berkley awards $1,000 to the angler who weighs the heaviest bass each day, and a $3,000 bonus to the angler who weighs the heaviest bass of the tournament.