The weather in the Midwest has been terrible, and it has me longing for the summers I used to spend in Pensacola, Florida with my grandparents. So, what's a better way to inject some of that Gulf Coast vibe into our lives then by heading south and profiling freshwater/saltwater angler and Vibe Pro Fishing Team member, Jeff Jones?
Jeff Jones Mobile, AL
Have we fished together yet? If so, do you remember where?
When and why did you start kayak bass fishing competitively?
During my early teenage years, I would spend a good portion of the summers with my older brother Kenny and his family. He was neck deep into bass fishing tournaments, he would take me along as his co-angler and show me the ropes of bass fishing. He was good! I was....inconsistent at best! One particular tournament we were having a rough day, all 5 of our fish were barely over the 12” minimum. Then, like an inspirational movie, 30 minutes before weigh in, I caught a bass a little over 5 lb and two cast later Kenny caught one that weighed 8-12. We were done and I was hooked, especially after cashing my portion of the few thousand we won.
Kayaks and later salt water tournaments naturally fell into place.
What are some of your accomplishments that you are most proud of in the sport?
Honestly, I’m most proud of getting my kids hooked on kayak fishing. My 7-year-old daughter wants to start a YouTube channel and follow in my footsteps! My 4-year-old son wants to help her!
What are some of the companies that you are sponsored by or pro staff for?
What is your biggest fish to date and what did you catch it on?
My biggest was a black drum, roughly 45” long. I saw this particular fish “tailing” while I was speck fishing but couldn’t get him to take an artificial lure, so I put a huge dab of procure on a soft plastic and looked around for a crab. Eventually I found one and he clamped down on the procure, I netted the crab and broke it in half. I tossed half a crab on a jighead towards that big broom sized tail the next time I saw it. Sure enough, he slammed it and I set the hook. Two seconds into the fight the hook came undone. Using the other half of the crab, I just tossed it out into the channel that the drum swam towards. Literally less than 10 seconds after casting, it was on again! This time I set the hook several times to make sure it was solid. Twenty minutes later it wouldn’t fit in my net and it broke my fish grips! So I hopped in the water, took a few quick pics and let it swim away.
What are your biggest challenges either during tournaments or leading up to a tournament?
Convincing myself I’ve got a good game plan! Haha
Sleep in the car, arrive the morning of the tournament, or grab a hotel?
I’m low cost, so I arrive on time or sleep in the truck.
One piece of equipment that you wouldn’t consider fishing a tournament without?
We all have preconceived notions of what we were getting into before that very first tournament. Have there been any surprises along the way for you? If so, what were they?
I had to learn that everyone fishes the same conditions. Once in a tournament I thought I was way over my head with some of the other competitors, and even considered not going to the weigh in because of the small trout I had. Turns out I took 2nd place, (1/2” short of first) and gator trout award.
Who is one person you would love to kayak bass fish with?
What body of water is your favorite to fish a tournament on? Why?
I really get excited when I get the chance to fish on bayou Cumbest during the fall and winter. I literally grew up fishing that bayou and so did my ancestors! There’s even a lake and an island, (Bangs Lake, Bangs Island) that was named so because of my maternal ancestors. I know that bayou like the back of my hand, and it’s been really good to me in the past.
Are you an old school “rely on my instincts” angler, or do you employ technology more in tracking down where you are going to fish?
I’m definitely an old school/instincts kind of fisherman. I don’t have any electronics on my kayak at all! If you know how to read the water and observe nature, it’ll tell you more than a fish finder ever could! I’ve even got to the point where I don’t even look at tide charts before I go fishing. The fish and the bait they’re after, really don’t move around a whole lot, they just kinda set up shop where they can adapt to the environmental changes using as little energy as possible. I do however spend lots of time on google maps. I look for areas that trout can stay within a hundred or so yard range and have, (in order) protection-from predators, ambush points, and variable depths and bottom types. After finding areas that meet all the needs of a trout, it’s just going there and picking it apart to find the fish.
What would be one piece of advice that you would give to someone considering entering the sport?
Have fun. Seriously! There’s too many people out there that don’t have fun fishing. Don’t be that guy.