Inside BASS: Iaconelli’s Overlooked Performance
If Michael Iaconelli can hang onto to his lead and win the coveted CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year title, he will likely look back to his worst — and most overlooked — performance so far this season on the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series.
The New Jersey pro enters this week’s Elite Series battle on New York’s Oneida Lake (the Empire Chase presented by Mahindra Tractors) with a 30-point lead over Arizona’s Dean Rojas with four tournaments remaining. He has enjoyed a magnificent season that includes a victory at Lake Guntersville in Alabama and six other top-20 finishes. The only blemish was his 39th-place showing at the recent Bluegrass Brawl on Kentucky Lake in Kentucky. But when it comes to his most recent finish, looks can be deceiving.
“Everybody views Kentucky Lake as a bad tournament for me,” Iaconelli said. “They asked me if I am depressed about it. But they don’t understand. I had the most hideous practice and then to be able to go out and salvage a limit every day, that was amazing.
“I climbed from 61st to 48th to 39th and I’m sure proud of that, even though it doesn’t look great on paper.”
Iaconelli is especially proud of his third-round performance, which he considers the most pivotal day of his season.
“That, at the end of the year, is going to be a very critical day and a very critical tournament — just to be able to escape there with what I did,” he said.
BASS CARE. The Elite Series pros and their co-angler partners received kudos from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation for their care and handling of the bass that were caught in a recent tournament, transported to the weigh-in and later released.
The Tulsa World newspaper reported that the department closely monitored the Sooner Run in June on Grand Lake and documented that only 3 percent of the 1,849 bass caught during the event perished.
“These professional anglers did things very well and were a good example for other tournaments to follow,” Brent Davis, tournament coordinator for the Grand River Dam Authority, told the newspaper.
Tulsa World outdoors writer Sam Powell wrote: “This remarkably high survival rate for bass caught and released in a tournament is a testament to not only the emphasis Bass Anglers Sportsman Society places on fish care, but also to the commitment of most tournament anglers these days to protecting the fishery resources of the many different waterways they visit during a long and grueling season.”
The credit for the BASS live release success goes to a variety of groups, including the Elite anglers, the BASS tournament crew, the organization’s Conservation department as well as Gene Gilliland, senior fisheries biologist for the Oklahoma wildlife department. Gilliland co-authored a booklet published by BASS, “Keeping Bass Alive,” which is a guidebook for anglers and tournament organizers (available on the Conservation pages of http://www.bassmaster.com).
HELPFUL HAND. Christiana Bradley of Virginia, a competitor on the Mercury Marine Women’s Bassmaster Tour presented by Triton Boats, likely will never forget her last visit to Lewisville Lake in Texas – or the people of that city.
On her way to the lake on a practice day in May, Bradley’s boat trailer was damaged by a metal fence. Unable to move the trailer, Bradley felt her situation was hopeless until some nearby residents sprung into action. One was an employee of the city of Lewisville who called in reinforcements.
“Within 20 minutes, at least seven city of Lewisville employees were under my trailer working to help me get to a repair shop,” Bradley wrote in a thank-you letter to city official Bob Monaghan. “They got my trailer to the point that I could drive it to a welder’s shop in less than an hour. They were amazing. Those guys were so helpful and so incredibly courteous, respectful and comforting.”
Because of the Good Samaritans, Bradley was on the water by noon and appreciative of the practice time she was provided. She finished 61st in the event.
“Your city is lucky to have such good people working for it,” she wrote. Also, the Bealeton, Va., angler recently was featured in a television commercial for a local car dealership that will air in the Washington, D.C. area.
WRAP RAP. The Elite Series boats of Gary Klein and Charlie Youngers feature the logo of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's Xtreme Bulls Tour.
“Jana and I have always watched rodeo,” Klein said of his wife. “We’ve got a huge population of rodeo guys that love to fish. The key is doing cross-promotion, which we plan on doing at some of the PRCA events this year.”
DID YOU KNOW? The first angler to ever win $100,000 in a tournament was Ken Cook. The Oklahoma pro pocketed the sport’s biggest check by winning the Super BASS Tournament on the St. Johns River in 1983.
PRO BIRTHDAYS Alton Jones will be 43 on July 13. Bradley Stringer will turn 33 on July 27. Both are Texans and Elite Series pros.
IF I HADN’T BECOME A BASS PRO … WBT competitor Robin Babb would devote her full attention to a variety of duties in her hometown of Livingston, Texas. Babb and her mother own and operate the Out to Lunch Café in Livingston, which specializes in homemade breads, soups, salads and deserts. She is also a real estate agent who helped found the Livingston Specialty Merchants Guild. In addition, the entrepreneur is the chairwoman of the Livingston Main Street Advisory Board and on the board of directors of the Livingston-Polk County Chamber of Commerce.
THEY SAID IT. “Guys are really cleaning up their act. I’m seeing more guys that are leaner, meaner, fishing machiners. It’s not acceptable to wear the jeans with the holes in them anymore. We’re wearing tight jerseys. The sport is really evolving into a sport that’s really appealing to TV. ESPN made a commitment to bass fishing and in return, we have to make it look appealing for their audience.” – Elite Series pro Byron Velvick on the changing image of the professional angler.
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BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.
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