Out of the ashes

Mike Iaconelli: 2006 AOY

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.

Toledo Bend wasn't what I hoped it would be, but it wasn't a complete disaster, either. To tell you the truth, I'm real proud of myself. I managed to salvage a respectable event out of what could have been nothing but ashes.

My practice was mediocre. I had some things going — shad spawn in the morning, crankin' in the afternoon and flipping trees as a backup — but didn't really feel comfortable about what I was catching. I knew it wouldn't be enough.

The first day went great, though. I caught 18 pounds, 8 ounces and ended up tied with Davy Hite and Rick Morris for 10th place. I was really pleased with how things went and felt I was going to have a great tournament. But, I didn't know what was in store for me the next day.

My early morning shad spawn bite disappeared. I fished for hours and caught two fish, a 12-inch spot and a 14-inch largemouth. Undeterred, I switched to my crankbait bite. It didn't produce at first, but I finally hooked a 6-pound-plus largemouth. I thought at the time that would turn my whole day around.

It might have if she hadn't come off about half-way to the boat. I put myself together and cranked some more, but didn't do a thing. I finally went to my backup flipping pattern and put together a small limit so that I would at least make the cut and get to fish on Saturday.

Saturday was nothing special. I junk fished all day, caught a few and ended up finishing the tournament in 35th place. That wasn't all that bad when you consider my second day sack weighed less than 9 pounds. I wouldn't have had anything if it wasn't for the courtesy of one of the new guys on the tour.

I had boat issues Friday afternoon. Fortunately I was in a boat lane when it happed. I tied up to a buoy and waited. Along came Russell Parrish. He stopped, picked me up and brought me and my fish back to the ramp. He didn't have to do that. It was professional courtesy all the way. Thanks, Russell! If I haven't said it before, welcome to the Elites.

The reason I said earlier that I was proud of myself is because I didn't let a mediocre practice and a bad break or two ruin my tournament. Sometimes you have to suck it up and do your best with what you're into. I was able to do that. There was a time it might not have turned out that way. Way back when I'd have let those things get to me, but not anymore.

There's a reason for that. I saw a sports psychologist over the winter. She really helped me with some things. I'll tell you all about it next week. (Hint: I was tired of being angry all the time.)

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