I’m excited about Sam Rayburn



Mike Iaconelli during the 2006 season.

I’m super excited about the upcoming Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. I haven’t been back to Sam Rayburn since 2006 when I won the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title. 

I remember fishing the Lone Star Shootout that year in March. I didn’t win, but I did have a good finish — 13th — which started my run for the title. Truthfully, I can’t think about Sam Rayburn without smiling. It’ll always have a special place in my memories.

Beyond that, I think it’ll be a good tournament. According to the information I’ve been able to put together the water’s up so there should be a good bite almost anywhere a guy wants to fish. The competitors who want to go shallow will be able to catch them in the bushes and on the flats.  Other competitors who like to go deep will be just as successful with jigs and deep crankbaits.

That’s the way I like for a tournament to develop. No one style of fishing has any particular advantage. That'll really matter here because the pot is so big. The winner will get a berth in the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. That could be a game changer for any of us.

And, the guy with the biggest bass of all will get a new Toyota Tundra truck. That’s a pretty good deal if your current vehicle has miles on it, but even if it doesn’t you can sell it for a tidy sum of money. I’d guess whoever wins it will keep it, though. Once you drive a new Tundra you don’t want to drive anything else.

With all that said, however, it’s going to take a different mindset to fish this one. If I understand things correctly, we’re all going to have a scale in our boat. Every legal fish we catch will be weighed and then immediately turned loose. The biggest five will count at the end of the day towards our total tournament weight. And I believe we'll take our biggest fish, if it's over 21 inches, to the weigh-in stage.

That takes culling and some decision making — like whether to keep an injured fish and take a chance on it dying — out of our strategies. But we’re professionals so we’ll make the necessary adjustments. The thing I’m worried about is having too much fun catching and weighing bass and then at the end of the day realizing I should have targeted bigger fish. Seriously, that can happen.

We get Saturday off, too. Or, more accurately, we won’t fish on Saturday. We’ll spend it with our sponsors and the fans. That’s pretty neat. I like to interact with other anglers. It’s amazing when you realize that we all face the same challenges and have the same basic goals regardless of whether we’re full-time pros or weekend warriors.

Anyway, this whole thing is going to be a pretty sweet deal. If you’re anywhere near Lufkin, Texas, I highly recommend you stop by and check out what’s happening. If you can’t do that, check out the action here on Bassmaster.com. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.

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