2006 Major - Memorial Eagle Mountain Lake - Ft. Worth, TX, May 18 - 21, 2006

Memorial: Day Three morning report

Michael Iaconelli held the two-day lead, but now it means little

TV viewers take note: For the first time ever, ESPN2 will provide same-day coverage of a BASS event outside of the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Coverage of the Bassmaster Memorial weigh-in will air Sunday, May 21, at 7 p.m. ET.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Mike Iaconelli held the two-day lead at the Bassmaster Memorial — the tour's first stab at a Major tournament.

But his two-day total of 27 pounds, 6 ounces means little heading into the third day of action here in northeast Texas.

That's because Iaconelli's weight, along with those of the 11 other elite anglers who survived the cut, was zeroed to begin the second phase of this event.

The 12 fishermen began with a clean slate Saturday morning when they launched onto Benbrook Lake in search of the tournament title and the $250,000 first prize that goes with it.

Joining Iaconelli in the hunt for the Memorial title are Dave Wolak, Skeet Reese, Matt Reed, Mike McClelland, John Crews, Peter Thliveros, Todd Faircloth, Greg Hackney, Edwin Evers, Mark Menendez and Randy Howell.

Each of the anglers will be required to fish one of six "holes" in Saturday's "course" format on Benbrook Lake. They'll spend 70 minutes in each hole and have a spare hour to fish in their spot of choice to wrap up the day. The top six anglers will compete on Sunday for the championship.

The format figures to test the skills of each angler. None of them have ever fished on this body of water before, though they plan to employ some of the techniques they used on Eagle Mountain Lake Thursday and Friday to reach this stage of the tournament. Post-spawn tactics are expected to be the norm.

Menendez, who had a two-day total of 20 pounds, 14 ounces, said he knows virtually nothing about Benbrook.

  • It's absolutely starting anew," Menendez said. "I spent about 20 minutes on the Internet last night seeing what I could learn because I couldn't come over here and practice or get a chance to ride around the lake. I learned a little bit about it. I'm just going to take the pattern I used yesterday to get here and expand on it.

    "I'm going to try to run high-percentage places, run a lot of points. I'm interested to see how much timber is here. That's the main difference between Eagle Mountain and Benbrook. That could set the fish up completely different because there aren't any docks here from what I understand."

    Not fully familiar with Benbrook, Menendez came prepared for all circumstances.

    "I've got 15 rods out now, so it will be junk fishing to the max," he said.

    He said the chance to fish a new body of water is exciting.

    "That's the mystery that drives us," he said. "We want to figure that puzzle out."

    Hackney, who often espouses his love of junk fishing, also knows little about Benbrook. But he likes his chances this weekend.

    "This is an even playing field, probably more than it's been all this week," he said.

    "Regardless, if someone came here and rode around, that's the only time they've seen this lake. It's only a very few times when we come to a place that somebody in our group hasn't been on it before.

    "This is my first glance of the lake right now and I'm excited about it."

    Hackney, who by virtue of his Angler of the Year standing, picked second from the 12-person field and chose Hole No. 1 to fish first. Iaconelli, who leads the AOY standings, picked Hole No. 5 to start his day.

    "I just picked it because it would be easy," Hackney said. "It's right here by the dock and easy. Another reason, the lake is almost always the clearest at the dam, at least 99.9 percent of the time. I don't know if that will be the case here, but I want to start with the clearest water early in low light."

    Evers, who finished the second day of the Memorial tied with Menendez with 20-14, was happy about the new start on Benbrook.

    "I'm tied for first right now," he said. "The most of the lake I've seen is right now. It looks like there are some brush piles on that point right there. But that's all I know."

    Evers said not having a wealth of knowledge about Benbrook may be difficult for the field Saturday. He said they will have to rely on instincts to make the cut to six for Sunday's finale.

    "It's not easy," he said. "I rigged about 25 poles. But all I want to do is catch fish. I don't care how I do it."

    Evers fished the docks on Eagle Mountain to make the final 12. With no such structures on Benbrook, he's keeping an open mind concerning tactics on Benbrook.

    "Each hole is a whole different lake in itself," he said. "Hopefully this morning I can get a few bites, figure something out and then take it through the next five holes."

    McClelland visited Benbrook on Thursday after he sat in second place on Eagle Mountain Lake and figured to make the cut to 12.

    "I was a little disappointed to see it wasn't similar at all to what we were fishing over there," McClelland said. "It definitely makes you rethink your strategies. I guess that's what makes these things neat. It's an even playing field.

    "It's definitely different than anything we've been to so far this year. There's a lot of standing timber. There are a few sections of rock, gravel. There's bank vegetation. There are a number of things to fish out here, it's just not what we've been fishing."

    That doesn't necessarily bother McClelland, another noted junk fisherman.

    "I think it sets up well for me," he said. "But the thing is, do you have enough time to really fish the way you need to fish having only an hour and 10 minutes in each hole.

    "I think there's probably some awesome structure fishing in here. And that's conducive to how you want to fish right now."

    Weigh-in is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. at Will Rogers Memorial Center.

    TV viewers take note: For the first time ever, ESPN2 will provide same-day coverage of a BASS event outside of the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Coverage of the Bassmaster Memorial weigh-in will air Sunday, May 21, at 7 p.m. ET.

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