Glenn: Hi. This is Glenn May of BassResource. com. Recently I had the opportunity to go fishingwith Bassmaster Classic Champion Mike Iaconelli,but before I went, I asked our forum memberswhat questions that they would like to askMike if they were in my shoes. Mike graciously agreed to answer any and allquestions that were thrown at him so I broughtthem all. The result is a seemingly randomstream of questions in this video. Mike did a great job of answering them all. I learned a number of new things and I hopeyou will too. Here now is my day on the waterwith Mike Iaconelli. Glenn: So with the way the economy is going,I know BASS has cut back a little bit on theirschedule, is there anything that the prosare doing?Mike Iaconelli: Yeah. I mean it’s tough times. There’s no denying that it’s tough for everybody. Fishing industry is no different. I thinkeverybody’s trying to supplement; most guysI know are trying to supplement their incomeby doing other things, by doing seminars,by guiding. There’s enough things in the fishingindustry that you can do that can keep youbusy and keep you working, so. And then thatplus just the normal things that everybodydoes to save money, you know. Trying to cutback on costs, I think that’s across the board,that’s everybody. Glenn: So are there any misconceptions aboutpro anglers?Mike: You know, I’d say just the biggest generalone is that we’ve got, like secret baits anddifferent equipment than everybody. We’vegot all the same stuff, you know? The mentalside is where the difference is at. It’s notthe equipment, you know. Glenn: You don’t have women chasing you aroundlike rock stars or anything?Mike: No. No. Very little of that. Mostlyjust 50 year old men from Alabama. Glenn: Occasionally when I fish a tournamentand I just decide I’m going to fish it forfun, I sometimes do better than I do thanif I’m really hard core about it. That everhappen to you?Mike: Yeah. Well. what you’re talking aboutthere is, it’s something called fishing themoment, which means a lot of times when you’refishing a tournament you get so locked into what you didn’t practice or what you thinksgoing to happen. Most of the time when yourfun fishing, you’re just fishing the moment. You’re just out there fishing, you’re notreally worried about what happened last weekor the other day. And when you can free you’remind up like that, that’s a good thing. Glenn: You ever fish one of those tournamentswhere you didn’t feel you were on top of yourgame?Mike: Oh yeah. I mean there’s events whereyou feel under-prepared but, you’ve alwaysgot to make the best of what you got and youalways got to believe you can win. Glenn: Do you ever win one of those tournaments?Mike: Oh yeah. Yeah, there’s been tournamentswhere I’ve won or at least have done wellenough to get a check and get points whereyou thought all was lost going into the event. Glenn: At this level of fishing, tournamentstrategy is pretty darn important. Mike: It is important, yeah. Strategy is probablymore important than anything else. You wantto think about the rod and the reel and thebait but, you’re game plan and the mentalside of it is really the most important thing,you know. I can tell you, I’ve said this beforeand people think this is a strange statementbut I really feel like the Classic is wonbefore the actual Classic starts. The pre-practiceperiod, the strategy. All that stuff is whatwins a Classic. The hard work is leading up to the actualevent. Once you get to the event you wantit to be just fish catching. You want to haveto take all that other stuff out of the equation. So, it’s a big part of it. My strategy staysthe same. I do a lot of research. My tournamentfishing’s based of a lot of research and preparationbut in the Classic everything’s a win mentality. Win, win, win. That’s all you’re thinkingabout. No points, no consistency, you’re justthinking about the winning fish, that’s it. Glenn: Is you’re strategy, overall, for thisseason going to be any different from previousseasons?Mike: No. No. The same two goals, number onegoal is Angler of the Year and the secondgoal is the Classic and they’re the same. Trying to win Angler of the Year and qualifyingfor the Classic and then hopefully winningthe classic. They’re always the two numberone goals. Glenn: What is you’re opinion of angler’sownership of spots during a tournament?Mike: Well there’s, the thing with Bass fishingis there’s a lot of unwritten rules, kindof gray areas, and that’s one of them. There’sno rule about spots. But here’s the way theunwritten rule reads, first day of the tournamenteverything’s fair game. I mean, first dayof the tournament, you go out and you fishwhat you found at practice but after thatyou’ve kind of established yourself so, giveyou an example, if I’ve come in here and I’mthe only boat here the first day, I come inwith 30 pounds and then the second day, like10 boats show up here, that’s kind of unethicalso that’s basically the rules that we use. And again, it’s an unwritten rule but eventuallyit’ll come back around if you break that ruleand dishonor somebody. It’ll come back aroundeventually and bite you. Glenn: You ever wish you could take a yearoff just to relax?Mike: Yeah. Yeah, I do. Glenn: What would you do?Mike: Probably fish. Probably do a lot ofdifferent types of fishing, saltwater fishing. It’d be nice to just be able to stay at homewith the kids for a long period of time. Glenn: What’s the weirdest thing you evercaught?Mike: Oh boy. That I can say on tape? Man. I don’t know, I’ve caught different speciesof fish, I’ve caught shopping carts and trashcans and, man, I’ve caught some weird stuff. Fishing rods, with fish on it. Glenn: We then moved to a new location, oneof many moves we’d make that day. But beforewe could get to the main channel, we had tocross a stump laden flat, for those of youwho have never done this before, here’s atextbook example of the way to do it. To protectyour boat and motor, take your time and goslow. When the boat hit’s a stump, it doesthat. No harm, no foul. Simple as that. Mike, what was the defining moment when youdecided to become a pro angler?Mike: I’d say it’s in 1994 when I fished,back then they were called BASS top 150’s. I fished on Lake Norman, North Carolina andI think I was 23 years old, I was a sophomorein college and I won the tournament. ThatI thought was a defining moment. It definitelylet me know I could compete at a higher level,gave me my boat; I won a boat. I had a Jonboat before that. So definitely would be thatwin. Glenn: So Mike, what’s you’re scariest momenton the water?Mike: Scariest moment on the water is there’sa couple. Big waves is always one. You getto Lake Erie and the waves are giant, that’salways scary. But probably the scariest momentI ever had is about five or six years agoI was out on the West Coast fishing the CaliforniaDelta and I got ejected from the boat goingabout 70 and that’s definitely no fun. I hadmy vest on which was key, you know, key. Idefinitely could tell I wouldn’t be here ifit wasn’t for the vest and escape with a concussion. But hitting water at 70 feels like hittingconcrete. Glenn: Mike, I know you have your own lineof rods and there’s a lot of anglers out therethat have their own line of rods and reelsand lures and that sort of thing. How muchinvolvement does that take from the anglerto develop those?Mike: It takes a lot. I mean, I know for meat least. Let me say that. I don’t know insome of the other cases but for me it’s, mostof the time any of the stuff that we’re designing,that’s signature stuff, is at least, at thevery least, a year out. Most of the time it’stwo years out. You know with Diawa, we wereworking on those rods, we started that processabout two years ago. And it’s just the processof going back and forth with blanks. You know,they’ll send you something, give your feedback,they’ll send you another one and back andforth. And that goes on for a long time and it’snot just functionality. It’s the look, it’sthe graphics, it’s the type of material, foam,cork, the composition of the graphite. There’sso many things that go into it and it takesa long time so it’s a long process but it’sworth it, I love it. That’s one of the thingsto this sport that I love is being able todesign stuff. For me it’s total hands on andlike I said, it’s usually a year or two out. Another example is that with Tru-TungstenI’m designing a Flick Shake Head and thisis going on the second year and finally we’llhave it at ICAST this year but it takes awhile to get things right. Find the righthook, find the right shape, you know, theright size. All those things, it takes a lot. Glenn: Now what about the boat graphics onyour boat? Did you play a hand in that? Didyou design that?Mike: Oh yeah. Yeah. I have a hand in almosteverything. I work with a company that designsthe graphics and we try to put certain elementsin there that relate to me and my brand andthen obviously we try to sign the sponsorsso that’s pretty neat too. Glenn: If they could bring back one old, discontinuedlure, which one would you want them to bringback?Mike: Oh man. I’d say probably a couple ofmy favorites that are long gone, one is justthe old Bagleys; I mean they still do makeBagleys, you know they say they’re like theoriginals but there’s something about thatold wood and the old components that makethose Bagleys classics. I’d say probably anotherone would be a bait by Bomber made a LongA. It was a jerk bait, it was a Kevin VanDamsignature series Long A, suspending jerk baitin clown color. And I tell you, I swear toyou, I still have five or six left and theycatch more fish than any of the ones theymake now. They still make that same bait butagain, something’s changed. The plastic orthe material, something’s different. So itwould be those two for sure. Glenn: You know given the amount of time youspend on the water I’m sure you’ve seen yourshare of weird things. Have you seen any strangewildlife?Mike: You know the deer, deer crossing thewater, I see that all the time. That’s wild. Every time I see it I never get tired of that. But one time fishing Kerr Reservoir in VirginiaI saw a white deer, all white deer, albinodeer. That was pretty cool. Glenn: So Mike, what’s the one defining momentthat changed your life forever?Mike: There’s a couple. I’d say the firstone was in 1994 I won an amateur BASS tournament,Lake Norman, top 150 and first place was afully rigged bass boat so that kind of gaveme the opportunity to compete at a differentlevel, before that I had a Jon boat. The secondwas right here, winning the Federation Nationalhere in ’99. Made my first Classic, firsttime I got some national exposure and sponsorskind of started filtering in. And then thelast one was the Classic. Winning the Classicin 2003 was absolutely a key moment for metoo. Glenn: How did the Classic change your life?Mike: It’s everything. I mean, it kind ofgives you some security in this sport, youknow, to win that title and there’s I thinkthere’s only less than 50 guys that have everwon that thing so it really, from a businessstandpoint, gives you a foundation in fishing. Glenn: Hey Mike, under what, if any conditionswould you fish a deer hair jig over a rubberskirted jig?Mike: The hair jigs, you know, that’s somethinggrowing up in the Northeast, something I havedone for a long time. I really feel like hairis at its best when the water’s super cold. That’s when I use them. I have a box, I usedeer hair, I use rabbit, I use marabou andit really doesn’t get pulled out until thatwater temperature gets in the mid 40’s. Butfrom the mid to high 40’s to freezing water,that’s when I really use it. That’s when Ilove it. Glenn: And why is that?Mike: Well, one of the things that I try todo with baits is I try to match the bait tothe metabolism of the fish or the activitylevel of the fish and in that real cold water,their metabolism is real low. They’re notfeeding a lot. They don’t want something witha lot of action. And if you ever look at theaction of a hair jig, it has action, don’tget me wrong, but it’s more subtle and neutraland that’s the mood of the fish. Now in thesummer, when the fish are wired, you know,they’re metabolisms super high, I want tojig with rubber. I want something with a lotof action I want a big grub trailer, so I’malways trying to match the bait to the moodof the fish. Glenn: What is your least favorite technique?Mike: Least favorite technique I would sayis fishing extremely deep water. I’m talkingabout water that’s 40, 50, 60 foot deep. I’velearned how to do it and I’m getting betterat it but when that jigging spoon bites onand you’re catching them out of 60, 70 footof water, I’m not very good at that. Glenn: What is your opinion on line visibilityfor Largemouth Bass?Mike: I think, to me, line visibility relatesmore to the water clarity that it does tothe species of the fish. Basically, the clearerthe water the more you got to be concernedabout it. In that dirty, muddy water likewhat we have here the less concern you haveabout line visibility. For me, when line visibilityis a concern and you’re talking about clearwater, visibility two, three feet or more,then fluorocarbon’s the best line to use. It’s invisible. Glenn: Hey. Is line diameter important whenfishing finesse techniques for smallmouths?Mike: Oh it’s important, especially for apressured smallmouth. I’ve seen it where,you know, the difference between eight andsix is unbelievable, or the difference betweenfour and six make a difference. Like I said,especially pressured smallmouth. Clear water,heavily pressured fish, the light line makesa big difference. Not even necessarily thefish seeing it but the action of the bait,especially with fluorocarbon, the lighterthe line, the more action that bait has. Somy general rule of thumb is I try to get awaywith the lightest line possible. And thatreally means I look at the cover. If I’m inopen water I fish six and four, if I’ve gotmoderate cover I’m usually fishing eight orten and if it’s real heavy cover I’m using12 or I’m using Fireline with a fluorocarbonleader. Glenn: When you were fishing for Blues inthe episode of City Limits how come you weren’tusing steel leader?Mike: Because I didn’t know any better. Honestlythough, it’d funny because you get caughtin the Bass fishing world and there’s nota whole lot of that stuff going on. I’ve fishedfor Blues before, I knew that they had sharpteeth and I should use a leader but I didn’teven think of it, I was so excited. You getthere and you see them fish busting and youjust want to cast. So that was a boo-boo butI’ll remember that next time. Glenn: If you could have any super power whatwould it be?Mike: Well I suppose x-ray vision so I couldsee underwater and figure out how many thousandsof fish I’m going over. Glenn: So Mike, what fishing techniques doyou feel you invented or modified or maybeimproved that perhaps no one else knew before?Mike: You know, that’s a pretty hard statementbecause I think over time there’s a lot ofpeople in different areas that all kind offigure the same thing out. So I don’t wantto take credit for anything totally, but Itell you, there’s two techniques that I’veworked on pretty hard. One is a techniquecalled pitch skipping, which is basicallya cross between a skipping cast and a pitchcast. It basically let’s you get jigs andstuff way back under docks with bait castingequipment. That’s one, the other one is atechnique called ripping, which you get amedium to deep diving crankbait and you purposelythrow it in the grass and really violentlyjerk it out. You know, I’ve won several tournamentsdoing that and they’re two techniques thatI’ve worked hard on but I’m not going to takecredit for them though. Glenn: So when you’re at a tournament andyou’ve had a bad day how do you stay focused?Mike: Well, you got to regroup. You got tolook at what you’re doing and try to imaginewhere the fish are. Like I said, that’s oneof the things I’ve struggled with over theyears to remain positive. You got to do itthough because you never know when it’s goingto happen. It could happen five minutes beforeyou weigh in, you could catch two fish thatwin you the tournament so you really got tojust stay focused. I know it’s hard but. Glenn: Can you share with us some of the techniquesyou use to stay focused?Mike: Well, one of the things is just somevisualization techniques, you know. I liketo sometimes imagine I’m the bait. You throwthe bait in there and you kind of imaginewhat the bait’s doing and in you’re mind you’rethinking, okay. It’s going over rock, it’sgoing over wood. And so by focusing on thebait, pretending kind of, imagining you’rethe bait you focus on the technique a littlemore. Glenn: Now Mike, this year BASS removed theco-anglers from the tournaments. Do you thinkthat’s a good or a bad thing?Mike: Yeah. That’s a tough question. I’vekind of got mixed emotions about it, you know. Part of me thinks it’s a bad thing. I startedas a co-angler and I felt like that was animportant stage, you know, to getting to thepro level. So I kind of, I don’t like it forthat respect. But part of me, the other thing, and I thinkthis is where they’re coming from on the rule,is to be a true professional sport you’vegot to eliminate any of the other factorsthat could play and so it’s not that they’retrying to get rid of the co-angler just toget rid of them but they’re trying to eventhe playing field. And I think in a sport,to reach the top professional level I thinkit needs to happen. I don’t know man. That’sa tough one. I’ve got real mixed emotionsabout that. Glenn: How do you go about breaking down alake in two and a half days that you haveabsolutely no experience on?Mike: Man. That’s a hard thing to do. I tellyou, a lot of it for me is research. Stuffyou can do before you ever get to the fishery. You know, I’m real big on doing research,historical research, doing web searches, backissues of magazines, trying to find out somebackground on the fishery, that’s part ofit. The next thing is buying maps in advance,getting a look at the lake before you everget there and then what you could do withthat is you can guesstimate where the fishare going to be. And really what I’m talkingabout is seasonal pattern. If you know thegeneral seasonal pattern, what the seasonalpattern will be you can kind of break thatlake down, at least in half before you getthere. Those are some of the things I do totry to figure it out. Glenn: What do you feel is your biggest mistakeas a pro angler?Mike: Not fishing the moment. You know I talkabout it all the time, but our human natureis to go back to a spot over and over. A spotwe’ve caught them at our whole lives or aplace we caught them in practice two daysago. You’ve got to learn to fish instinctive. We were talking about fun fishing earlier,if you could learn to fun fish every timeyou go out, that would really help you tobecome a totally instinctive fisherman andfish the moment every time. It sounds easybut it’s a hard thing to do. Glenn: Now Mike, where do you think you’regoing to be in 20 years?Mike: Oh man. That’s a hard question too. I don’t know. I really don’t know, but I cantell you that I hope that I’m fishing. Whetherit’s tournament fishing or whether it’s aTV show working somewhere in the industry. This is what I really love to do. So, I hopeI’m fishing. Glenn: Then we came upon a log jam that blockedthe entrance into a small bay. What Mike doesnext is unbelievable. Yeah. He’s fishing overthat pile of logs. Now at this moment I’mthinking to myself, “What happens if he catchesone? I really got to see this. ” Come on Mike. Just catch one. Seriously, if you would havecaught a four pounder over that log . . . Mike: That would have been awesome. Glenn: Do you think you could have got himover?Mike: I would have just kept winding as hardas I could. Wind, wind, wind, wind. Glenn: You’re probably wondering by now ifMike caught any fish, it was a slow day fishingno doubt, but he did manage catch a few butit seemed as though he do it only when I happenedto have the camera turned off. So I only havea few catches on tape and those are just ashe gets them into the boat but here are thebest two. Mike: This is the kind I was looking for,I wanted one bite, and is all I wanted. That’sa good fish right there, about a three pounder. That’s a good one, look at him, you thinkhe wanted that thing? That’s a good fish,nice fat fish. Right there, right on thatchannel ledge, I already got a waypoint there,we’ll put another one there. He come off too,he come off a little bit. Not right on thatstem edge but out on kind of these hardersticks. That’s good, that’s a good bite. That’sthe kind right there. That’s the kind that’s going to win the Classicright there man. Yeah. All right. Look howshallow that fish was right up on this laydown,horizontal laydown. Unbelievable. Unbelievablehow shallow that fish was. Got to be woodthough. Second one that came off wood. Fishedthrough all them pad stems and never goingto bite. Get to a piece of wood and got afish. How about that? How about that? How aboutthat! Now I just need to find about 10 morelogs like that.