(1st place — 28 pounds, 15 ounces)
Runnemede, N. J., angler Mike Iaconelli showed us once again why he's an angler to watch no matter where or when he's fishing. On his way to winning the first leg of the Toyota Trucks Championship Week, he carried two sacks of bass to the scales separated by only 9 ounces (14-12 and 14-3), and caught the big bass both days (4-11 and 4-3).
"I'd never fished Jordan before. That actually helped me. No matter how hard you try to put it behind you, your past experiences on a body of water influence your decision making. I didn't have that problem this week. I was clueless so I basically started from scratch.
"I considered the season, water temperature, characteristics of the lake and I studied maps. By doing those things I was able to eliminate a lot of the water before I ever got there. That let me spend most of my two days of practice in areas where I thought I could catch winning weights.
"By Saturday morning — the first day of competition — I had nailed down a pretty simple pattern. I was fishing docks sitting in 5-10 feet of water. The best ones were within a long cast of deep water.
"That's all I fished during the tournament. In fact a lot of the ones I fished I'd never fished before. I'd idle up to them and check out the water depth. If it was right I started fishing, if it was too shallow or too deep I moved on to the next one.
"It's one of those times when you have the pattern dialed-in and have absolute confidence in what you're doing. There's no hesitation in your mind or in your presentation. You know exactly what you need to do."
Ike's location information was on the money, no doubt about it. It's also important to note, however, that he had the forage base dialed-in just as tight. During practice he realized that his bass were feeding on bluegill and crayfish. He knew exactly how to take advantage of that.
"I needed a bait that mimicked those two things. I selected a brown 1/2-ounce Berkley Gripper Jig and put a green pumpkin Berkley PowerBait Double Tail Grub on the back of it. That was a perfect combination. It had the action, the profile and the color of either a bluegill or a crayfish. They slammed it, tore it up!
"I had so much confidence in that combo that it's the only lure I used, and I only spent 5 or maybe 10 minutes on each dock with it. If I didn't get a bite quick, usually on the fall, I moved along. I was fishing upwards of 100 docks every day. It was the ultimate run and gun pattern."
Ike fished his docks by pitch-skipping his lure as far back under them as possible. He used his Team Daiwa Signature Series Pitch & Skip Trigger Rod — 7 feet, 2 inches with a medium-heavy action — and a Team Daiwa Steez reel (6.3:1 gear ratio) spooled with 17-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line to do that.