Alright, I’m pumped! It’s 5:15am and the boat is in the water. I’m off to find my ESPN Cameraman, Mark Sudol. He’s got the name of the Pro we’re following today and guess who we’ve drawn, Mike Iaconelli!…
Alright, I’m pumped! It’s 5:15am and the boat is in the water. I’m off to find my ESPN Cameraman, Mark Sudol. He’s got the name of the Pro we’re following today and guess who we’ve drawn, Mike Iaconelli! We head over to the boat yard to find Mike getting his stuff ready and checking over the boat. Introductions follow and I find Mike is a very personable fellow. He’s looking for a mechanic because he’s found his trolling motor prop loose during his boat check. How many of us do that every day?
We find that his plan is to lock through to pool 4 and head to Sullivan’s. Now that we’ve got his plan we load up Mark’s camera bag and I tell Mike’s Official observer where I’ll be so when he gets done dropping Mike’s boat in he can find me since he’ll be in my boat most of the day. He got Mike in the water, loaded up with me and we head out to the main river to wait on the blast off.
The adrenaline is flowing as we watch the Pros come out of the Port Lake and start their runs! We spot Mike as he comes out #25 this morning and we’re off running with the Pros we see on TV! The helicopter is overhead and following the Pros. Lots of spectator boats line the river as we fly by at 70mph waving and watching for their favorite angler. Hit the lock and wait until 8:00am for the gates to close. Wow! They never drop this fast if us “regular guys” are locking through! 8:25am and we’re heading out of the lock and the race is on!
We catch up to Mike on a bank in Sullivan’s. He’s heading one direction and Edwin Evers is heading the other. Several spectators are on hand and Mike asks us to keep them back a bit. Mike is a machine while fishing! He’s punching Hyacinth on the bank and throwing a spinnerbait on dry stretches and logs. He picks up his first keeper at 9:00. He decides to change spots and we’re off again. We’re in a little creek on the south side along with Kenyon Hill and 2 more spectators in the creek! Mike is still punching hyacinth and hitting everything that we would but comes up empty.
Off to spot number three. It’s a flat on the north side of Sullivan’s with plenty of stick-ups. He’s in the back fishing an area the size of 2 football fields. Bang! He picks up his second keeper, a fat 5 pounder, right after he changes lures! He’s stoked now and displays the typical Ike antics! Mike is pitching that lure past every stick-up that looks decent, and some that don’t. What do I know; he’s the guy driving the wrapped boat! LOL! Boom! Another keeper. This just energizes him more!
His fishing style is a sight to see. He’s making 20-30 yard pitches that land with nary a ripple! Time is getting short and you can tell by the ferocity of his fishing. Bing! Another keeper. Mike is pumped even more. Pow! Another keeper that limits him out. Mike is looking to cull now and he’s in high gear! He has stopped trying to work the boat loose if he gets hung on a stick-up; he just jumps in the seat, throws on the life jacket, fires the motor up and goes stump jumping! Mike is back on the trolling motor before the big engine stops peeing! I’m thinking, “What is he doing? He’s making too much noise!” Nope, 3 casts later he’s landing a good 3lber! More stump jumping and looky there, another 3lb keeper! I’m flabbergasted! So much for the theory you’ve got to be quiet!!
It’s time to head back before the lock closes at 2:25pm. I’m idling out of the stick-ups and just about to get on plane when Mike passes us on plane 30 yards to the north! He hits another spot on the way to the lock with no luck. 3:00pm and we’re heading back toward the Red River South launch site. He hits a couple spots in the Port Lake and BANG, a solid 3lber which culls him up to 15.5lbs for the day!
This has been a whirlwind day! I drop off Mike’s observer so he can get his boat pulled out. We have to wait for the first flight to get out before we can get a chance to load our boats. It’s 5:15pm and I’m heading for the Century Tell Center weigh-in to take notes. The place is packed and this is just Day one! The Pros are commenting they have never seen this kind of turnout for a first day weigh-in. They also commented that the spectators are probably the best they’ve ever seen! Way to go NW Louisiana!!
Time to head to the house, gas up the boat, grab some dinner and get ready for tomorrow! I don’t know if I can sleep or not, but I hope so because 3:30am comes early!
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