SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Before this week, Mike Iaconelli had no confidence in throwing a frog.
“On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being my most confident baits, a frog would have been down there about two or three,” said the 39-year-old Runnemede, N.J., resident. “The only thing lower than that is like jigging a spoon.”
That changed in a big way for Iaconelli this week. It’s not like the previous Bassmaster Classic champion and Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year needed another weapon in his bag, but he found one.
Iaconelli finished sixth in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open on Oneida Lake with a three-day total of 44 pounds, 4 ounces, and almost all his bass were caught on a frog.
“A lot of that is just getting out there and getting confidence in a bait,” Iaconelli said. “You do that in the offseason, you do that when you’re practicing. The more you get involved as a professional bass fisherman, the less time you have to learn new things. I knew the frog was something I needed to improve on, and I never did.”
But at the urging of his roommate, Oneida Northern Open champion Ish Monroe, Iaconelli got serious with a topwater frog this week.
“I have to give him some credit,” Iaconelli said. “He kind of gave me the nudge to go up there.”
By “up there,” Iaconelli means right on the bank. His hands were a mess after catching about 40 largemouth at Oneida Lake on Saturday.
“A lot of guys are assuming you’re fishing shallow when you can see the bottom,” Iaconelli said. “But I’m saying up on the bank. There’s a difference between shallow water and on the bank. These fish were on the bank.”
Iaconelli used mostly a Snag Proof Ish’s Phat Frog, but also a Spro Dean Rojas Bronzeye Poppin’ Frog to smash the bass at Oneida this week.
“It’s something I can add to my arsenal now,” Iaconelli said. “Before I was like, I can catch a few on a frog, and I carry them in my boat but I don’t like throwing them.
“Now it’s like, dude, if the conditions are right, a frog catches big fish. It’s just awesome that I’m going to leave here with a good finish with some money, but more important, I’m going to leave here with a new bait in my arsenal.”