PADUCAH, Ky. - Only six anglers remain in the hunt at the final Bassmaster Elite 50 series event on the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, where zeroed weights heading into Friday's round set the stage for a complete shake-up of the leader board. Texan Alton Jones skipped from third to first place as the 12 anglers vied for the opportunity to make the top six and stay alive for Saturday's grand finale.

Jones' day three weight of 12 pounds, 8 ounces came on a Yum Houdini worm that he is split-shotting and throwing into current.

"I've improved my position a little bit," Jones said. "I'm not catching big stringers where I'm at, you know, it hasn't coughed up any big fish yet, but it's a four-day event and consistency over a long haul will usually hold out. I hope it holds up for another day. .

"Today I only fished that area for about two hours and then just tied up and just twiddled my thumbs for the rest of the day. It's produced probably about 25 keepers for me in the last three days. It's a really good spot; it's a strategically located spot, the kind of place that certainly has the potential to reload every night."

Jones' fellow Texan David Wharton jumped to second place Friday with a day three weight of 11-14. Wharton had a brush with danger as storms moved through the area and lightning came a little too close to his boat for comfort.

"I don't do well in lightning, I'm telling you," Wharton said. "That stuff scares me. I had a pretty good day today. I didn't catch any more fish today; they were just bigger, you know.

"I'm catching them on a small, shallow-running crankbait, a Norman Baby N. It's got a little square bill and runs about 3 feet deep. I'm also Texas rigging a Zoom Brush Hog."

Wharton took home some money for his catch Friday. He won the $1,000 Busch Heavyweight award for the heaviest sack of all the anglers who participate in the voluntary program. The 11-14 catch also contained a 4-pound, 2-ounce lunker that earned him an additional $1,000 from Purolator for the Purolator Big Bass of the Day.

Michigan's Kevin VanDam is still holding on to the lead in the Bassmaster Elite 50 points standings and, because he made the Super Six for the final day with a weight of 7-1, he is expected to retain the lead and the $150,000 grand prize.

Joining Jones, Wharton and VanDam are California's Skeet Reese (10-3), Missouri's Rick Clunn (9-7) and local favorite Mark Menendez (6-14). Clunn, who holds the most ever and most consecutive qualifications for the CITGO Bassmaster Classic (28), fell just short of his bid for one of the Elite 50s' 10 spots in the world championship. The popular pro would have had to lead Friday's round and win the tournament to make the 2004 Classic.

North Carolina's Dustin Wilks is still fighting for one of the world championship spots, but did not make the cut to the Super Six and finished the tournament in 8th place, earning 268 points. He is currently in 10th place in the Elite 50 standings and, depending on the outcome of Saturday's weigh-in, he may be locked into a Classic spot.

The Paducah Bassmaster Elite 50 event will conclude Saturday at J.R.'s Executive Inn. Launch will be at 10 a.m. with weigh-ins beginning at 7 p.m.

The BASS Sponsor Expo is also at J.R.'s Executive Inn Saturday. Fans can enjoy the interactive expo beginning at 10 a.m.

The Bassmaster CastingKids program sponsored by CITGO will be held in conjunction with the BASS Sponsor Expo Saturday from 3 p.m.-6 p.m. at the Executive Inn. Children between the ages of 7 and 14 can participate in the contest with the chance to earn scholarships.

Fans can catch the final event of the Bassmaster Elite 50 series on the Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers in two parts, Saturday, June 26 and Saturday, July 3 at 10:30 a.m. ET/9:30 a.m. CT on ESPN2.

BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer, which includes the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 series, is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.

Sponsors of the Bassmaster Elite 50 series include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops, and BankOne.

Local Sponsors include J.R.'s Executive Inn/McCracken County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit