2013 Bassmaster Classic Grand Lake O' the Cherokees - Tulsa, OK, Feb 22 - 24, 2013

Marshal gets well-rounded education at Classic

Photo courtesy of Dave Stover
Dave Stover took a photo of himself with Mike Iaconelli on the official practice day of the Classic.

Dave Stover, a B.A.S.S. Life Member from Alabama who currently lives in Kansas City, Mo., had a great experience as a Marshal during the 2013 Bassmaster Classic presented by Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa — so much so that he wanted to share his story with others. He learned a lot, he said, from the four anglers he spent time around. He shares his lessons here.

When I learned I had been chosen to be a Marshal in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic, I could barely contain myself. It was a chance to ride with and observe the best anglers in the world, up close and personal.

Practice Day: Mike Iaconelli

I was fortunate enough to get paired with Mike Iaconelli on Wednesday, the last day of practice before the big tournament. Mike greeted me that morning at the dock with a welcome aboard. We shook hands, and then he said, “I look like a wolf man, don’t I?” He had a full black beard and with his black stocking cap on, he truly did look like the werewolf from the I was a Teenage Werewolf movie.

“I’m going to be fishing fast but slow,” said Iaconelli as we were leaving the ramp. What an oxymoron! How could anyone fish fast but slow at the same time?

Iaconelli pointed his boat down river, and within seconds, we were hurtling along at 80 mph. Was this what he meant by fast? My excitement overwhelmed me and I let out an Alabama war cry, a whoop of pure joy. But it sounded more like a scream from a 12-year-old girl to Mike, and he quickly throttled off. I gave him the thumbs-up sign, and off we went again. Two hundred and fifty horses pushing our rocket sled at breakneck speed and me holding on for dear life. Finally, we reached our first fishing spot and Mike went into action.

I was watching a master angler in action. Mike had several rods laid on the front deck, several baitcasters and three or four spinning reels. He selected a baitcast reel with a jerkbait tied on and began casting.

Mike was casting farther than I have ever cast before. He told me he was using 10-pound test. “I like to use between 8 and 10 but never more than 10 in these waters where the water is deep and free of grass and trees. With a rocky bottom being the only real structure and relatively clear water, 10-pound test is the max.”

I began to study his style, pay attention to what he was doing. Mike would cast, reel down the lure then pause. Then he would twitch the bait ever so slightly, reel again slowly, pause then twitch the bait, pause then twitch. Mike repeated this pattern over and over, got a few bites and then decided to leave the area.

We roared off again. I realized this is what fishing slow but fast meant. Fish a little then roar off to another spot, fish a little then roar off to another spot. It all seemed too simple; the same pattern I had used many times but with little success. I was missing something. At the next spot, I decided to really pay attention; there had to be more to it! And there was.

Like I said, Mike would cast his lure very far then reel it down; pause, twitch, twitch, pause, reel slowly; twitch, twitch, pause, reel slowly. He repeated this pattern three or four times with each cast, but he burned the reel, bringing the bait back to the boat fast. Mike knew where he thought the fish were holding; he would cast beyond that “target zone,” reel the bait into the target zone and then fish the bait with a very slow cadence. When the bait was through the target zone, he would burn the bait back to the boat.

Mike was fishing that bait probably 10 to 12 feet laterally very slowly but using speed to bring the bait back to the boat to fire another cast. He was covering a lot of water fast, but fishing slowly. And this method was working.