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(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 outdoors.

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.

FEMALE CASTERS. The recent Mississippi CITGO Bassmaster Central Open tournament on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway had a definite female flair to it.

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).

STANLEY'S MISSING. 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 equipment.

"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 hook."

DID YOU KNOW? The Central Open tournament was the first BASS event ever held on the Tenn-Tom Waterway.

PRO BIRTHDAYS. 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 them."

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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