Rungs on the ladder

In any sport, there is a climbing process. You start at the bottom and work your way up as you get better. Every angler fishing the Elite Series has done that. No career is perfect, however. There’s always something out there that we haven’t yet earned. In my case, it’s a Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open win.

I’m not complaining. My career has been wonderful. Nevertheless, I sure would like to be able to say that I won an Open before it’s all over. Here’s the thing — I’ve won a tournament at every level of our profession.  My mantel has ribbons and trophies from early club events all the way up to a Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title and, of course, a Bassmaster Classic crown.

Each of them is special, and I’m not talking just about the professional ones.

It’s funny, but when I think back on things I feel as good about my first club victory as I do anything else. True, the professional level wins earned me more money but that doesn’t mean they meant more to me at the time. I can close my eyes and remember that first club win.

I read Bassmaster Magazine and a dozen others to prepare for that event. The win was a real achievement. And it’s all the more special because it proved to me that I could fish with some of the best anglers in the country.

Don’t ever kid yourself about club anglers. Some of them are really good, as good as most pros. They can read water, read fish, adjust to changing conditions, handle pressure and do all the rest. It’s just that for a variety of reasons they never went pro or tried to develop a professional career. Being able to fish with those guys is no small thing. I’m proud to say that I did and that I can.

But this Open thing is really starting to bug me. It’s the one rung in the ladder that’s missing. I’ve come close more than once but have never been able to bring it home. That’s something that I want to fix. Who knows, maybe I can fix it this year.

The Open on Oneida Lake is only about two weeks away. A near as I can remember I’ve had four Top 10 finishes up there so I’m thinking maybe 2013 will be the charm. I’d like that. It would take this thing off my mind.

If it doesn’t happen there, however, I’ll set my sights for the Open on Lake Erie in September. My record there isn’t as good on Erie. I only have one Top 10 (I think) up there. I have had some success on the other big smallmouth waters we fish, though. I’m thinking I have a shot.

So now what I want, and what is lacking in my career, is out in the open (pun intended). If you can find it in your heart to wish me luck, I’d sure appreciate it. Fan support matters.

Mike Iaconelli's column appears weekly on You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter or visit his website,