2011 Elite Series - Evan Williams Bourbon All-Star Championship
Alabama River - Montgomery, AL, Jul 29 - 31, 2011

It’s weird

About the author

Michael Iaconelli

Michael Iaconelli

Michael Iaconelli is the only angler to have won the Bassmaster Classic, Bassmaster Angler of the Year and B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.

I made the cut yesterday. That’s a victory. However, I have mixed emotions about it. This is the first time I can ever remember finishing in seventh place and calling it a victory. It’s weird.

The winning pattern escaped me this weekend. I just couldn’t put it together. Nevertheless, I was able to junk fish and catch enough to advance to the next round. That’s some solace. Bracket fishing is a new experience for me; I don’t think I’ve ever done it before. Other than what I've learned by reading the rules, I’m not really sure what to expect.

Ott DeFoe finished second. The way it’s set up I’ll be fishing head-to-head against him on Friday. The guy who wins that round will advance to the next round regardless of where his weight puts him in the overall standings. As a practical matter that makes everything sudden death from now on.

Even if you have a really heavy sack, you can end up going home. It doesn’t matter who I beat if I don’t beat Ott. (By the way, that’s no easy task.) That would be a heck of a thing — have the second heaviest sack and end up not going on in the tournament. That’s a possibility, you know. Basically, it’s March Madness in July.

The opposite is true as well. I could finish seventh and as long as Ott finished eight I’d advance to the next round. Crazy isn’t it?

When you think about it, you realize one of the things we’ve all been told to do for years doesn’t count anymore. Fish management means nothing. Normally, we don’t fish our spots out if we can help it. We try to save some keepers for the next day. (There are exceptions, but they are few.) Now we can’t do that.

It isn’t about having enough weight to make a cut and survive to fish another day. Under these new rules, no matter how much weight you have it’ll never be enough unless it’s more than your bracket opponent.

Normally, I would tell you that would cause the weights to go down from Friday to Saturday and then again on Sunday. But I’m not so sure. There’ll only be eight boats fishing the first day. The river will easily support that kind of pressure.

Practice will probably be different, too. You’ll have to have several patterns and several spots. If you fish out your primary area the first day, you’ll need something else for the second day. One or two patterns, and one or two good spots, might not be enough.   

As you can tell my mind is racing with possibilities. This is an exciting format, something different. It’s a new way of fishing. Hopefully, I’ll be able to show everyone that I can do it. You never know, we might be doing it again someday. Heck, this could be the wave of the future.

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