On The Water With Mike Iaconelli | Bass Fishing

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 ask
Mike if they were in my shoes. Mike graciously agreed to answer any and all
questions that were thrown at him so I broughtthem all. The result is a seemingly random
stream 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 water
with 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 pros
are 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 think
everybody’s trying to supplement; most guysI know are trying to supplement their income
by doing other things, by doing seminars,by guiding. There’s enough things in the fishing
industry that you can do that can keep youbusy and keep you working, so. And then that
plus just the normal things that everybodydoes to save money, you know. Trying to cut
back on costs, I think that’s across the board,that’s everybody. Glenn: So are there any misconceptions about
pro anglers?Mike: You know, I’d say just the biggest general
one is that we’ve got, like secret baits anddifferent equipment than everybody. We’ve
got all the same stuff, you know? The mentalside is where the difference is at. It’s not
the equipment, you know. Glenn: You don’t have women chasing you around
like rock stars or anything?Mike: No. No. Very little of that. Mostly
just 50 year old men from Alabama. Glenn: Occasionally when I fish a tournament
and I just decide I’m going to fish it forfun, I sometimes do better than I do than
if I’m really hard core about it. That everhappen to you?Mike: Yeah. Well. what you’re talking about
there is, it’s something called fishing themoment, which means a lot of times when you’re
fishing a tournament you get so locked into what you didn’t practice or what you thinks
going 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 week
or 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 tournaments
where you didn’t feel you were on top of yourgame?Mike: Oh yeah. I mean there’s events where
you feel under-prepared but, you’ve alwaysgot to make the best of what you got and you
always got to believe you can win. Glenn: Do you ever win one of those tournaments?Mike: Oh yeah. Yeah, there’s been tournaments
where I’ve won or at least have done wellenough to get a check and get points where
you thought all was lost going into the event. Glenn: At this level of fishing, tournament
strategy is pretty darn important. Mike: It is important, yeah. Strategy is probably
more important than anything else. You wantto think about the rod and the reel and the
bait 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 statement
but I really feel like the Classic is wonbefore the actual Classic starts. The pre-practice
period, the strategy. All that stuff is whatwins a Classic. The hard work is leading up to the actual
event. Once you get to the event you wantit to be just fish catching. You want to have
to take all that other stuff out of the equation. So, it’s a big part of it. My strategy stays
the same. I do a lot of research. My tournamentfishing’s based of a lot of research and preparation
but in the Classic everything’s a win mentality. Win, win, win. That’s all you’re thinking
about. No points, no consistency, you’re justthinking about the winning fish, that’s it. Glenn: Is you’re strategy, overall, for this
season going to be any different from previousseasons?Mike: No. No. The same two goals, number one
goal 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 winning
the classic. They’re always the two numberone goals. Glenn: What is you’re opinion of angler’s
ownership of spots during a tournament?Mike: Well there’s, the thing with Bass fishing
is there’s a lot of unwritten rules, kindof gray areas, and that’s one of them. There’s
no rule about spots. But here’s the way theunwritten rule reads, first day of the tournament
everything’s fair game. I mean, first dayof the tournament, you go out and you fish
what you found at practice but after thatyou’ve kind of established yourself so, give
you an example, if I’ve come in here and I’mthe only boat here the first day, I come in
with 30 pounds and then the second day, like10 boats show up here, that’s kind of unethical
so that’s basically the rules that we use. And again, it’s an unwritten rule but eventually
it’ll come back around if you break that ruleand dishonor somebody. It’ll come back around
eventually and bite you. Glenn: You ever wish you could take a year
off just to relax?Mike: Yeah. Yeah, I do. Glenn: What would you do?Mike: Probably fish. Probably do a lot of
different types of fishing, saltwater fishing. It’d be nice to just be able to stay at home
with the kids for a long period of time. Glenn: What’s the weirdest thing you ever
caught?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 trash
cans and, man, I’ve caught some weird stuff. Fishing rods, with fish on it. Glenn: We then moved to a new location, one
of many moves we’d make that day. But beforewe could get to the main channel, we had to
cross a stump laden flat, for those of youwho have never done this before, here’s a
textbook example of the way to do it. To protectyour boat and motor, take your time and go
slow. When the boat hit’s a stump, it doesthat. No harm, no foul. Simple as that. Mike, what was the defining moment when you
decided 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 and
I think I was 23 years old, I was a sophomorein college and I won the tournament. That
I 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 that
win. Glenn: So Mike, what’s you’re scariest moment
on the water?Mike: Scariest moment on the water is there’s
a couple. Big waves is always one. You getto Lake Erie and the waves are giant, that’s
always scary. But probably the scariest momentI ever had is about five or six years ago
I was out on the West Coast fishing the CaliforniaDelta and I got ejected from the boat going
about 70 and that’s definitely no fun. I hadmy vest on which was key, you know, key. I
definitely 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 line
of rods and there’s a lot of anglers out therethat have their own line of rods and reels
and lures and that sort of thing. How muchinvolvement does that take from the angler
to develop those?Mike: It takes a lot. I mean, I know for me
at least. Let me say that. I don’t know insome of the other cases but for me it’s, most
of the time any of the stuff that we’re designing,that’s signature stuff, is at least, at the
very least, a year out. Most of the time it’stwo years out. You know with Diawa, we were
working on those rods, we started that processabout two years ago. And it’s just the process
of 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’s
not 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 takes
a long time so it’s a long process but it’sworth it, I love it. That’s one of the things
to this sport that I love is being able todesign stuff. For me it’s total hands on and
like I said, it’s usually a year or two out. Another example is that with Tru-Tungsten
I’m designing a Flick Shake Head and thisis going on the second year and finally we’ll
have it at ICAST this year but it takes awhile to get things right. Find the right
hook, find the right shape, you know, theright size. All those things, it takes a lot. Glenn: Now what about the boat graphics on
your boat? Did you play a hand in that? Didyou design that?Mike: Oh yeah. Yeah. I have a hand in almost
everything. I work with a company that designsthe graphics and we try to put certain elements
in there that relate to me and my brand andthen obviously we try to sign the sponsors
so that’s pretty neat too. Glenn: If they could bring back one old, discontinued
lure, which one would you want them to bringback?Mike: Oh man. I’d say probably a couple of
my favorites that are long gone, one is justthe old Bagleys; I mean they still do make
Bagleys, you know they say they’re like theoriginals but there’s something about that
old wood and the old components that makethose Bagleys classics. I’d say probably another
one would be a bait by Bomber made a LongA. It was a jerk bait, it was a Kevin VanDam
signature series Long A, suspending jerk baitin clown color. And I tell you, I swear to
you, I still have five or six left and theycatch more fish than any of the ones they
make now. They still make that same bait butagain, something’s changed. The plastic or
the material, something’s different. So itwould be those two for sure. Glenn: You know given the amount of time you
spend on the water I’m sure you’ve seen yourshare of weird things. Have you seen any strange
wildlife?Mike: You know the deer, deer crossing the
water, 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, albino
deer. That was pretty cool. Glenn: So Mike, what’s the one defining moment
that changed your life forever?Mike: There’s a couple. I’d say the first
one was in 1994 I won an amateur BASS tournament,Lake Norman, top 150 and first place was a
fully rigged bass boat so that kind of gaveme the opportunity to compete at a different
level, before that I had a Jon boat. The secondwas right here, winning the Federation National
here in ’99. Made my first Classic, firsttime I got some national exposure and sponsors
kind of started filtering in. And then thelast one was the Classic. Winning the Classic
in 2003 was absolutely a key moment for metoo. Glenn: How did the Classic change your life?Mike: It’s everything. I mean, it kind of
gives you some security in this sport, youknow, to win that title and there’s I think
there’s only less than 50 guys that have everwon that thing so it really, from a business
standpoint, gives you a foundation in fishing. Glenn: Hey Mike, under what, if any conditions
would you fish a deer hair jig over a rubberskirted jig?Mike: The hair jigs, you know, that’s something
growing up in the Northeast, something I havedone for a long time. I really feel like hair
is at its best when the water’s super cold. That’s when I use them. I have a box, I use
deer hair, I use rabbit, I use marabou andit really doesn’t get pulled out until that
water 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 to
do with baits is I try to match the bait tothe metabolism of the fish or the activity
level of the fish and in that real cold water,their metabolism is real low. They’re not
feeding a lot. They don’t want something witha lot of action. And if you ever look at the
action of a hair jig, it has action, don’tget me wrong, but it’s more subtle and neutral
and 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 lot
of action I want a big grub trailer, so I’malways trying to match the bait to the mood
of the fish. Glenn: What is your least favorite technique?Mike: Least favorite technique I would say
is fishing extremely deep water. I’m talkingabout water that’s 40, 50, 60 foot deep. I’ve
learned how to do it and I’m getting betterat it but when that jigging spoon bites on
and you’re catching them out of 60, 70 footof water, I’m not very good at that. Glenn: What is your opinion on line visibility
for Largemouth Bass?Mike: I think, to me, line visibility relates
more to the water clarity that it does tothe species of the fish. Basically, the clearer
the water the more you got to be concernedabout it. In that dirty, muddy water like
what we have here the less concern you haveabout line visibility. For me, when line visibility
is 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 when
fishing finesse techniques for smallmouths?Mike: Oh it’s important, especially for a
pressured smallmouth. I’ve seen it where,you know, the difference between eight and
six 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 makes
a 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. So
my general rule of thumb is I try to get awaywith the lightest line possible. And that
really means I look at the cover. If I’m inopen water I fish six and four, if I’ve got
moderate cover I’m usually fishing eight orten and if it’s real heavy cover I’m using
12 or I’m using Fireline with a fluorocarbonleader. Glenn: When you were fishing for Blues in
the episode of City Limits how come you weren’tusing steel leader?Mike: Because I didn’t know any better. Honestly
though, it’d funny because you get caughtin the Bass fishing world and there’s not
a whole lot of that stuff going on. I’ve fishedfor Blues before, I knew that they had sharp
teeth and I should use a leader but I didn’teven think of it, I was so excited. You get
there and you see them fish busting and youjust want to cast. So that was a boo-boo but
I’ll remember that next time. Glenn: If you could have any super power what
would it be?Mike: Well I suppose x-ray vision so I could
see underwater and figure out how many thousandsof fish I’m going over. Glenn: So Mike, what fishing techniques do
you feel you invented or modified or maybeimproved that perhaps no one else knew before?Mike: You know, that’s a pretty hard statement
because I think over time there’s a lot ofpeople in different areas that all kind of
figure the same thing out. So I don’t wantto take credit for anything totally, but I
tell you, there’s two techniques that I’veworked on pretty hard. One is a technique
called pitch skipping, which is basicallya cross between a skipping cast and a pitch
cast. It basically let’s you get jigs andstuff way back under docks with bait casting
equipment. That’s one, the other one is atechnique called ripping, which you get a
medium to deep diving crankbait and you purposelythrow it in the grass and really violently
jerk it out. You know, I’ve won several tournamentsdoing that and they’re two techniques that
I’ve worked hard on but I’m not going to takecredit for them though. Glenn: So when you’re at a tournament and
you’ve had a bad day how do you stay focused?Mike: Well, you got to regroup. You got to
look at what you’re doing and try to imaginewhere the fish are. Like I said, that’s one
of the things I’ve struggled with over theyears to remain positive. You got to do it
though because you never know when it’s goingto happen. It could happen five minutes before
you weigh in, you could catch two fish thatwin you the tournament so you really got to
just stay focused. I know it’s hard but. Glenn: Can you share with us some of the techniques
you use to stay focused?Mike: Well, one of the things is just some
visualization techniques, you know. I liketo sometimes imagine I’m the bait. You throw
the bait in there and you kind of imaginewhat the bait’s doing and in you’re mind you’re
thinking, okay. It’s going over rock, it’sgoing over wood. And so by focusing on the
bait, pretending kind of, imagining you’rethe bait you focus on the technique a little
more. Glenn: Now Mike, this year BASS removed the
co-anglers from the tournaments. Do you thinkthat’s a good or a bad thing?Mike: Yeah. That’s a tough question. I’ve
kind of got mixed emotions about it, you know. Part of me thinks it’s a bad thing. I started
as a co-angler and I felt like that was animportant stage, you know, to getting to the
pro level. So I kind of, I don’t like it forthat respect. But part of me, the other thing, and I think
this is where they’re coming from on the rule,is to be a true professional sport you’ve
got to eliminate any of the other factorsthat could play and so it’s not that they’re
trying to get rid of the co-angler just toget rid of them but they’re trying to even
the playing field. And I think in a sport,to reach the top professional level I think
it needs to happen. I don’t know man. That’sa tough one. I’ve got real mixed emotions
about that. Glenn: How do you go about breaking down a
lake in two and a half days that you haveabsolutely no experience on?Mike: Man. That’s a hard thing to do. I tell
you, 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, back
issues of magazines, trying to find out somebackground on the fishery, that’s part of
it. The next thing is buying maps in advance,getting a look at the lake before you ever
get there and then what you could do withthat is you can guesstimate where the fish
are going to be. And really what I’m talkingabout is seasonal pattern. If you know the
general seasonal pattern, what the seasonalpattern will be you can kind of break that
lake down, at least in half before you getthere. Those are some of the things I do to
try to figure it out. Glenn: What do you feel is your biggest mistake
as a pro angler?Mike: Not fishing the moment. You know I talk
about it all the time, but our human natureis to go back to a spot over and over. A spot
we’ve caught them at our whole lives or aplace we caught them in practice two days
ago. 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 to
become a totally instinctive fisherman andfish the moment every time. It sounds easy
but it’s a hard thing to do. Glenn: Now Mike, where do you think you’re
going 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. Whether
it’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 blocked
the entrance into a small bay. What Mike doesnext is unbelievable. Yeah. He’s fishing over
that pile of logs. Now at this moment I’mthinking to myself, “What happens if he catches
one? I really got to see this. ” Come on Mike. Just catch one. Seriously, if you would have
caught a four pounder over that log . . . Mike: That would have been awesome. Glenn: Do you think you could have got him
over?Mike: I would have just kept winding as hard
as I could. Wind, wind, wind, wind. Glenn: You’re probably wondering by now if
Mike caught any fish, it was a slow day fishingno doubt, but he did manage catch a few but
it seemed as though he do it only when I happenedto have the camera turned off. So I only have
a few catches on tape and those are just ashe gets them into the boat but here are the
best 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 that
stem edge but out on kind of these hardersticks. That’s good, that’s a good bite. That’s
the kind right there. That’s the kind that’s going to win the Classic
right 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 wood
though. Second one that came off wood. Fishedthrough all them pad stems and never going
to bite. Get to a piece of wood and got afish. How about that? How about that? How about
that! Now I just need to find about 10 morelogs like that.

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