Practice reports from most pros indicated that perhaps the Upper Chesapeake Bay should be renamed the Dead Sea, but Mike Iaconelli knows certain spots of this massive waterway are alive and well, and Ken Cook’s Bassmaster Classic victory here 24 summers ago taught him the critical importance of finding those particular hot spots.
“The 1991 Classic was the first Classic that was super close to where I grew up, so I paid really careful attention to it, and the thing I remember most is how Ken Cook found an area that seemed to have more activity in it than most,” says Iaconelli.
Many pros reported having less than five bites throughout three long days of practice this week. Iaconelli had 37.
“I had 15 bites on Monday, 13 on Tuesday and nine on Wednesday. They might not all have been bass – but here’s the deal – even if they’re catfish or striped bass – those bites are signs of the circle of life being alive in those areas where I’m getting bites – and that tells me bass are in that area too,” says Iaconelli.
“The circle of life,” grins Iaconelli. “Sounds weird, but really man, you’re looking for places where there’s healthy vegetation that attracts the little microscopic plankton that baitfish and bluegills like to eat, which in turn draws predator fish like stripers, catfish and bass.”
If Iaconelli sounds like a freshman biology student, there’s good reason for it. First, the animated pro graduated college with honors, but mostly he remains a sponge for every small historical detail of the places and patterns that lead to victory in previous B.A.S.S. events over the past 25 years.
“I still carry folders with me filled with maps and old Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times articles that tell the winning patterns and locations of tournaments from years ago like the ’91 Classic,” says Iaconelli. “I have a folder with me this week filled with articles about the Upper Chesapeake, and there’s a lot of nights, around 9:00, just before bed, when I’ll sit and just pore over that stuff.”
“The spot Ken Cook won on is just around Turkey Point. It’s only a 10-15 minute boat ride from this launch. I have no plans to fish there today, but it still produces bass,” says Iaconelli.
“Ken found a spot that was alive,” concluded Ike.
If the disproportionate number of bites Iaconelli had in practice is any indication, apparently Ike has found a few very lively areas too.