Being a rookie at any professional sport can be tough. This is especially true if the expectations are set pretty darn high for you due to a famous relative having tremendous success in the same sport.
Zoneloc pro Alton Jones Jr. is one of those rookies with a famous relative. His father, Alton Jones, is a former Bassmaster Classic champion, Bassmaster Angler of the Year and a multi-title holder in the sport. The elder Jones is always in the hunt for the biggest prizes in the sport.
Alton Jones Jr. (Joel Shangle/BassFIRST)
So when Alton Jr. made his debut on the Bassmaster Elite Series on Cherokee Lake in Tennessee alongside his famous pops, of course the jitters were expected. But Jones Jr. held his own and kicked the jitters down the road finishing 25th overall and cashing a fat check for $10,000 and launching his career as a pro.
"The first morning at Cherokee felt very unusual for me," said Jones. "I was very nervous. I'd never felt like that before at a tournament. As soon as I landed the first keeper the nerves seemed to go away. Fortunately for me that was on my second cast.
"From there on it was business as usual for me. Just another tournament."
Overcoming a tough practice was key to a solid finish.
"My practice was something I had to adjust to," said Jones. "I caught just a few keepers over three days. I pretty much abandoned my Day 1 plan during the morning of the first day of the tournament.
"I intended on catching a limit quick in deeper water and then going shallow to find the bigger largemouth. Instead, on the first day I caught fish deep and thought this is where it is going to be won. I went to a second deep spot and essentially fished there the rest of the event."
Jones used a Yum Warning Shot on a Zoneloc Drop Shot rig pitching the bait with a Kistler rod for almost all of his fish. Though on his last day he did throw a Bandit crankbait shallow to get a couple of largemouth bass that helped move him up in the standings.
"At the end of my tournament, moving up 20 spots didn't mean more money," said Jones. "For me it means more points toward the end goal of the Angler of the Year race or qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic next year.
"Finishing where I finished also proved to me that I can hang with these guys. I can't wait to get to the next event on Lake Okeechobee. I already have several Zoneloc Punch Rigs set up and ready to go."