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2021 may be remembered for many reasons. If the first three months are any indication, however, this may forever known as “the year of Josh Jones.”
For those unfamiliar with Jones, the Oklahoma-based crappie angler has absolutely turned the fishing world upside-down over the past year.
…by catching bass!
In the End, It’s All About the Crappie
As perhaps the preeminent expert of effectively using the Garmin Panoptix Livescope, Jones, a crappie guide, built quite the reputation in 2020 by constantly putting his clients on massive slabs.
Later in the year, as the angler began hauling in some sizeable largemouth bass, more people started taking notice. Eight pounders soon became nine, then ten. By early 2021, it seemed like Jones was catching trophy-sized bass almost every day.
Perception soon became reality.
Within a three week period between February 21 and March 10, Jones had (according to Josh Alwine of High Percentage Fishing), completed arguably the most impressive bass fishing run in recorded history. Alwine noted Jones’ tally across this period as:
- 15 lbs. x 1
- 13 lbs. x 1
- 12 lbs. x 1
- 11 lbs. x 9
- 10 lbs. x ~10
- 8 lbs. x ~25
Considering most anglers would be thrilled to have any single one of those fish in any given year, the thought of the entire batch coming within three weeks in unfathomable.
Recently, Jones has been charging clients one thousand dollars to fish with him for the day. The goal is not to land a trophy lunker (which is a potential added bonus), but to learn exactly how he is using Livescope to catch these giants.
For the crappie lovers out there, however, you know how hard it is to resist the thump. For Jones and co-angler Josh Reynolds, “the thump” also carried high stakes and bragging rights this year.
Starting Strong and Moving Ahead
Putting bass on the back burner for a week, Jones and Reynolds had a solid first day at the 2020 American Crappie Trail Lucas Oil National Championship on the Alabama River. The duo closed the first day of fishing only a pound and change behind leaders TC Lloyd and Eric Cagle. They were sitting nearly a pound and a half ahead of third place (the team of Brett and Robert Luther).
By the end of the second day, however, the tides had turned.
With a 14-fish total of 25.93 pounds, Jones and Reynolds have moved a comfortable two pounds ahead of Lloyd and Cagle, with the Luthers nearly three pounds behind.
Barring a miraculous change of fate, it appeared that Jones’ status within the fishing world was set to reach even greater heights, along with the raging debate about the effect of evolving electronics on tournament fishing.
Coming Full Circle
Many recall the controversy regarding Jones’ appearance at the Crappie Masters National Champion on the Ouachita River back in September 2020.
Jones arguably had a national-championship winning stringer, catching roughly a dozen two-plus pound fish on the event’s second day. When he brought the fish the weigh in, however, they were all dead. This mishap not only cost Jones the Crappie Masters national title, but also led to loads of speculation as to what may have happened.
Therefore, entering this week’s tournament, the stakes were even higher. Not only did Jones have a chance to secure the national title, but he and Reynolds could also win Team of the Year – and two Ranger boats – with a strong performance.
As the field cut to just twenty-five boats on the final day, tensions rose as anglers faced a mixture of stress and high winds. Hosts Angie Morgan and Sam Heaton even noted before the weigh-in that several of the teams were unable to pull their seven-fish limit.
At the end of the day, it was ultimately Jones and Reynolds standing tall with a winning total of 39.09. This was enough to edge out TC Lloyd and Eric Cagle, the runners-up, who hauled a total weight of 36.60.
Third place went to the team of Matthew Rogers and Clint Pipes with 34.27.