Mike Iaconelli has been working his way around main lake points with no success. He’s got nothing in the box and is currently cranking and working jigs along shallow, rocky banks.
Lake Shelbyville has a greenish tint to it and is currently several feet low. We’re in and among a small flotilla of six or so boats, some coming and going. As usual, Kevin VanDam has the largest following, his crowd numbering 25 or more.
We’ll stick here for a while and see how Ike does. Iaconelli’s wife, Becky, was due to have the couple’s second child this past Monday, and Ike admitted that fishing isn’t the first thing on his mind.
Photographer Seigo Saito just checked in with us to report on the action downstream, near the dam. Gerald Swindle and Ott DeFoe were nearest the dam. Both fished the area for a short while, without success, and have departed for places up the lake. Brent Chapman, the newly crowned Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year, is staying in that vicinity after boating a small keeper, Seigo said.
Aaron Martens has fished his way to the upstream side of the bridge, still pitching plastics on spinning gear. Finally, he has a keeper. He had to measure this one, and it made the grade, apparently with not much length to spare. The limit here is 14 inches, which makes it even more of a challenge to catch a limit on this lake. Aaron has a gallery of six boats at this point. One of the most popular pros on the tour, he won entry into Toyota Trucks All-Star Week when fans voted him in as one of four wild card entries.
Martens is fishing a Texas rigged soft bait, and it's constantly hanging up in the rocks lining the roadway. He's just inching it along from rock to rock, so it's not surprising that he's snagging the lure in crevasses from time to time.
Finding tournament anglers on sprawling Lake Shelbyville shouldn't be easy, but Steve Bowman and I were able to locate our assigned All-Star, Aaron Martens, right off the bat. He's fishing a riprap bank near the railroad track that crosses the lake. He caught a non-keeper just before we arrived, and I saw him swing on another, which he missed. Whatever he's throwing, he's fishing it on spinning tackle, which means a light-line presentation of some sort.
Martens is one of the best on the Bassmaster Elite Series tour with spinning gear, but he hates to use it. Bowman said Martens told him at the La Crosse Elite earlier this year that he really wished he didn't have to use it. Like any top-ranked professional, though, he'll do what it takes to catch the winning fish.
I talked with Martens before take-off, and he's a little more upbeat than the rest of the 12-man field at Toyota Trucks All-Star Week. In his one day of practice on Shelbyville, he said he boated four keeper bass and shook off two or three more. If he can repeat that performance today, odds are good he'll finish the day in the lead. He just caught another short fish, which won't help him a bit.
There’s nothing like being at a Bassmaster Elite Series event. But if you can’t be in Illinois for the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series All-Star Semi-final and the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series Evan Williams Bourbon All-Star Championship, we’ve got you covered. You can keep up online in a way that will make you feel like you’re on the water yourself.
Here are nine ways we’ll keep you informed:
You get a front row seat to the weigh-ins each day. From the comfort of your home, you can watch the pros weigh in right in front of you on your computer screen without delay. You’ll know who wins at the same time the winner finds out! Tune in to the live weigh-ins at 5 p.m. CT all four days of competition.
In fewer than 140 characters apiece, you can read updates of the tournament as it is happening. From your laptop, phone or desktop, you can watch the event unfold, tweet by tweet.
There are several ways to follow along on Twitter. You can follow the official B.A.S.S. Twitter account, www.twitter.com/BASS_nation, where you’ll get insider info provided by B.A.S.S.’s on-site staff, B.A.S.S. emcees and tournament officials.
You can follow the official hashtag of B.A.S.S., #bassmaster. Anyone connected to or interested in the tournament tags his or her posts with this keyword, and fans can read multiple perspectives on the tournament’s goings-on. Even the pros post with this hashtag, so you could get actual updates from contenders who have spectators on the water tweeting for them. To follow the hashtag, whether you have a Twitter account or not, just go to http://tweetchat.com/room/bassmaster.
You can also follow the pros’ or insiders’ Twitter accounts. Click these links to follow the lists of Bassmaster Elite Series pros, including Kevin VanDam and Mike Iaconelli, or to follow B.A.S.S. insiders, including emcee Dave Mercer and host Mark Zona.
BASSCam is a series of videos shot on the water and uploaded immediately so you can get near-live updates of what’s happening out there, often in the pros’ own words. Videos are posted all four days of competition.
Fans of B.A.S.S.’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/bass, get updates and photos throughout the day right in their newsfeed. You can comment, ask questions and share photos, all within Facebook. Plus, most of the Bassmaster Elite Series contenders have their own fan pages, so you can watch your favorites (and get their fishing advice) all year long.
During the live weigh-ins, fans can watch the Live Leaderboard to see who’s on track to make the cut for Saturday's four-man championship.
B.A.S.S. emcee Dave Mercer and The Bassmasters hosts Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona team up for Toyota Hooked Up!, a live video special, which airs at 3:30 p.m. CT Saturday and Sunday. After the champion has been crowned, you’ll hear from the winner in his own words — while he’s still absorbing the shock of his win.
7. War Room
At the 2012 Bassmaster Classic, B.A.S.S. introduced the War Room presented by Triton, a concept that was extremely popular with fans. The doors to the formerly private TV and production trailers have been pried open, and you now get to hear what B.A.S.S. officials hear, when they hear it.
Even better, if you have a question, just ask it in the comments box below the War Room video, and the producers will make every effort to get your question answered.
The War Room opens at 9 a.m. CT Friday, Saturday and Sunday and provides updates on the hour until 2 p.m. CT.
8. Live Blog
The Live Blog is where our reporters’ on-the-fly updates will be posted throughout the four-day competition. B.A.S.S. reporters take to lakes Shelbyville and Decatur, seeking out contenders and trying to get the scoop, which we then deliver to you, right here.
The very popular BASSTrakk will be running during competition hours all four days. When a contender catches a fish, his Marshal reports the estimated weight, which in turn is posted online so you can see how your favorite pro is doing — and where the fish are.
All nine of these options are completely free! We invite you to tune in, interact and enjoy!