I'm in the Bassmaster Classic

The math worked in my favor. I claimed the last Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year slot for next year’s Bassmaster Classic. That’s a lot of weight off my shoulders. Before we talk about all of that, however, I want to say something about my friend, Pete Gluszek, and his win at the Bassmaster Northern Open on Cayuga. I didn’t have a chance to do that last week because of my travel schedule.

Pete and I fished B.A.S.S. Federation Nation of New Jersey events back in the day and basically grew up together in this sport. Actually, we met at one of those events. We’ve been fast friends and business partners since that day.

I owe a lot of my career to him. He turned pro before I did. I was able to watch him as he progressed. That let me avoid some mistakes I surely would have made. Not all of those lessons were directly related to catching fish, either. He’s really good at the business side of our sport.

He taught me how to manage my travel, develop and handle sponsors and manage my money. A lot of anglers have to learn those things by trial and error. I didn’t. I had a mentor in Pete who would give me the inside scoop on what was really happening. He’s special.

Another great thing about his win is that we’ll be able to fish the 2013 Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake out in Tulsa together. I can’t wait for that to happen. It’ll be just like back in 1999 when we fished the one on the Louisiana Delta together. There’s nothing like mutual success.

Congratulations, Pete!

Now, let’s talk about the last couple of weeks. I said I wanted to go to the Open on Cayuga Lake to try to get in the grove for the last Elite event on Lake Oneida. I did that. And, we were able to come pretty close to figuring out what I’d need to make sure I was in the Classic. That worked out, too, but not exactly the way I planned.

My practice on Oneida was horrible. I’m not exaggerating when I say it might have been the worst one I’ve ever had in my pro career. When I launched by boat on Thursday morning I wasn’t looking for five big bass. I was looking for two or three keepers. But then things turned around. Everything started going my way. It was magical. I opened the tournament in first place.

Friday was tougher, but I managed to boat five more to at least stay in the running. Saturday was a really nasty experience. Stop and think for a minute. Visualize anything going wrong that you can think of. Now you’re getting a taste of what that day was like for me.

When it was over, I had two small bass in my livewell. But, and here’s the thing, as I look back on it I realize it was one of the best days I’ve ever had in tournament fishing.

I’ll tell you why next week.

You can also find Mike Iaconelli on Facebook and Twitter.

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