by BASS Communications/ BASS
(Aug. 27, 2003 - Montgomery, AL)... Nine years ago, veteran
Texas pro Alton Jones guided then-Gov. George W. Bush on a fishing
trip to Lake Aqilla. The pair was recently reunited in the great
This time it was on the first green of
the Ridgewood Country Club near Waco, where Jones lives, and
Crawford, which serves as the President's southern White House
while visiting his home state.
It was on the golf course that a gracious
President Bush greeted Jones and Charles Pack, a mutual friend
who hosts a local television fishing show. Pack had pre-arranged
the meeting with the President, who fishes his own 80-acre stocked
bass lake on his Crawford ranch.
"It was probably the most amazing
thing I've ever experienced," Jones said. "He remembered
all about our fishing trip, and I was surprised to learn that
he follows the (CITGO Bassmaster) Tour. He knew that I had had
a real good season.
"It was a thrill to talk with the
president. He is a genuinely nice, sincere person."
When Jones and Pack arrived on the course
(after submitting to a government background check), President
Bush recognized them and waved to them to join him and his entourage
(which included 19 golf carts). As they ducked under the security
barrier, they were immediately confronted by Secret Service agents.
The President instructed the agents to allow them to continue
toward the green.
Jones said he talked with President Bush
for seven minutes after the Commander-In-Chief introduced him
to each of his playing partners. Jones said, "He said, 'Hey,
guys, this is Alton Jones, and he's on the pro tour. He's just
completed a fantastic season. Charlie always told me this kid
would amount to something someday.'"
The pair talked about their previous fishing
trip in 1994, and Jones (like the President), a devout Christian,
remarked that he prayed daily for the President. Bush genially
thanked him, and added, 'I really do appreciate that. You know,
when I signed up for this job, I had no idea what I was getting
into. But I've got a strong faith and a family that supports
me and that's all I need,' according to Jones.
After an official White House photographer
snapped some photos, the President told Jones to "keep up
the good work" before heading for the second hole.
The recent Mississippi CITGO Bassmaster Central Open tournament
on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway had a definite female flair
Competing on the pro side, Lucy Mize became
the first female to ever make the finals of a BASS event. The
Arkansas angler finished 35th with 16 pounds, 14 ounces.
Three women fished on the amateur side:
Kim Ponds (wife of former CITGO Bassmaster Classic qualifier
Pete) of Mississippi; Brenda Fann (wife of Open pro Mark) of
Florida; and Melinda Mize (Lucy's daughter).
For the first time in 20 years, veteran Texas pro and renowned
luremaker Lonnie Stanley will not be competing in BASS tournaments.
The reason: recent shoulder surgery.
The former BASS MegaBucks champion recently
underwent a two-hour operation to repair rotator cuff injuries
that likely occurred in his former career operating heavy construction
"It had gotten so bad that I had four
bites on the last day at the (BASS Central) Red River tournament
last year and I couldn't hardly set the hook," he said.
"The pain was so bad that I was shy about even setting the
DID YOU KNOW?
The Central Open tournament was the first BASS event ever held
on the Tenn-Tom Waterway.
Georgia's Jim Murray turns 29 on Aug. 28, while fellow Georgian
Tom Mann, Jr., becomes 51 three days later. On Sept. 2, Texans
Jay Yelas (38) and Kelly Jordon (33) will be blowing out
candles. Legendary Arkansas angler Larry Nixon turns 53 on Sept.
3, while Florida pro Bernie Schultz becomes 49 a day later.
IF I HADN'T BECOME A BASS PRO ... Joe Thomas would likely be wearing a brown
uniform and making deliveries. "I worked for UPS in college
before I started my fishing career," the Ohio pro said.
"It's a good company. I'd probably have had a career with
THEY SAID IT.
"We had some brutal conditions this year. I don't remember
fishing in so much rain, sleet, hail, lightning, cold, and rough
water. Just miserable conditions. I caught a 4-pounder laying
on my back at Santee Cooper because it was lightning so bad.
That's what I'll remember about this season." Busch BASS
Angler of the Year runner-up Alton Jones reflects on the 2003
CITGO Bassmaster Tour season.
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