Alton Jones Skips His Way to Top; 10 Move on for Championship on Shearon Harris

The numbers produced this week at the Major League Fishing® (MLF) Bass Pro Tour Favorite Fishing Raleigh Stage Three presented by Evinrude have been nothing short of astounding: Twenty-seven fish 7 pounds or better, 10 over 8 pounds, and a single-day round of over 82 pounds by one angler.

Thousands of pounds of fat northern-strain North Carolina largemouth have been weighed, scored and immediately released back into the waters where caught.

And even though all of those numbers go away and the weights go back to zero for the 10 anglers competing in the Championship Round on Shearon Harris Reservoir on Sunday, it’ll be tough to bet against Alton Jones, Jacob Wheeler and Jacob Powroznik.

Jones entered Period 3 battling for survival, but then piled up 26-12 in the final 2 ½ hours of competition to finish the day with 49-1 and race past Wheeler (46-1), Powroznik (39-10), Ott DeFoe (36-3) and Jeff Sprague (28-1). That five will be joined on Shearon Harris by Edwin Evers (27-12), Takahiro Omori (26-6), Jared Lintner (24-2), Mark Daniels, Jr. (23-3) and Russ Lane (22-12) in Sunday’s Championship Round.

“I know the bottom line is that it doesn’t really matter who wins today, it’s about who wins tomorrow, but it’s sure fun for a day to be on top of this group of anglers,” Jones said. “To finish first in a group like this is humbling.”

Jones’ Third Period Comeback

“I stumbled in the first period, only caught one fish, but I learned something from that bite,” Jones explained. “That fish told me what to key on: Bushes that were in less than a foot of water. If I wasn’t grinding up mud with my trolling motor, I wasn’t getting a bite. I was fishing extremely dirty water, which made those fish not to be afraid to be up in the super shallow stuff.”

Jones trimmed the appendages off a Yum Bad Mamma to make it flatter and more skippable, and spent the majority of his day skipping as deep into shallow bushes as he could.

“I had to make a very precise presentation,” he said. “I had to literally drop it right on top of them, but I couldn’t cast it and make a splash. Once I figured out where they were sitting, I knew what to look for, but I had to make the right presentation.”

Wheeler Got Off to a Hot Start

Until Jones’ late-afternoon surge, it looked like Wheeler would run away with the Phoenix Daily Leader award. Wheeler, Evers, Sprague, Jones, Omori and a handful of other competitors ran straight to the same upriver area first in the morning – Evers and Wheeler fishing within casting distance of one another for the majority of the first two periods.

Evers started the morning with a 6-4 in the first three minutes of competition, and Wheeler answered with a 5-2 less than two minutes later. The Indiana pro backed that up with a pair of 3-pounders in the next 30 minutes and eventually piled 32 pounds, 14 ounces on SCORETRACKER before 11 a.m.

“It was a good morning overall: I made some good adjustments, I started quick and it didn’t seem to let up through first period,” said Wheeler, who caught the majority of his fish on a vibrating jig and a Googan Baits Bandito Bug

Powroznik’s Pair of 8s Push him Forward

Before competition started on Saturday, Powroznik predicted that some truly big fish would start to show up thanks to the rising water temperatures and an increase in wind on Falls Lake. The Virginia pro proved his own point with a pair of 8-pounders in the third period flipping a V&M J-Bug (an 8-4 and an 8-10 for Berkley Big Bass of the Day). Those fish – coupled with a 5-0 and a 3-5 – catapulted Powroznik from the mid-teens on SCORETRACKER into the Top 5, and on to a championship lake that he’s somewhat familiar with.

“Shearon Harris is a different breed than we’ve seen so far,” said Powroznik, who estimates that he’s fished the lake 12 to 15 times. “We’re going to have some grass to flip, we’ll have some cattails. There’s willow trees and some other stuff that they get on. Shearon Harris is a really good spawning lake. It should be really good.’
On to a New Lake for Championship
Weights will zero as the Championship 10 shift to Shearon Harris Reservoir, a 4,100-acre impoundment of the Cape Fear River drainage that was dammed to provide cooling water for the Shearon Harris power plant (located on the lake’s upper end). While virtually unknown outside the Carolinas and Virginia, Shearon Harris has the potential to produce the biggest weights – or at least, some of the biggest fish – of the young MLF Bass Pro Tour season.
“Shearon Harris, I’ve heard so many crazy things about this place,” Wheeler said. “The conditions are setting up to be unbelievable for what could be just a crazy Sunday of fishing. I have to think that it’s going to be really, really good – I don’t think it’s all just hype.”
Where, When & How to Watch
Championship Round Competition among the final 10 anglers begins Sunday at 7:30 a.m. ET, with live, official scoring available via SCORETRACKER on and on the MLF app. The MLF NOW! live stream starts at 10 a.m. ET, with live, on-the-water coverage continuing until lines out at 3:30 p.m. The Berkley Postgame Show live stream will start at approximately 5 p.m. daily.

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