Pete Ponds had part of it right. He predicted that the high water would have a huge impact on this event by spreading the fish and the fishing. And he also said the spawn would control the event.
All of the top finishers factored fish movement to and from the beds in their successful patterns. Iaconelli emphasized that by catching a 12-pound, 13-ounce giant — one of the largest bass ever caught in BASS competition — from a staging spot in 40 feet of water.
Ponds also talked about the clear water and the need to make long, accurate casts. Again, that's exactly what happened during the four-day competition. In places, the water was so clear that anglers could see the bottom at 30 feet — more in some cases. Staying away from the bass by making long, accurate casts was important.
Ponds did a good job on some of his weight predictions, too. He predicted a Friday night cut weight of 30 pounds. In fact the last angler to survive that cut — Randy Howell — had a total of 26 pounds, 8 ounces. His Top 12 cut weight prediction of "52 or 53 pounds" wasn't all that far off the mark either. The man to claim that last spot was Todd Faircloth with 54 pounds, 13 ounces.
He badly missed the mark with his winning weight and big bass predictions, however. Ponds said it would take 64 pounds to claim the first place slot. In fact, Jason Williamson boated 96 pounds, 6 ounces on his way to victory.
And his big bass call of 9 pounds couldn't have been more wrong. Iaconelli claimed that honor with 12 pounds, 13 ounces on the first day. Even worse for Ponds was the fact that a number of double-digit bass were brought to the scales.
To be fair, however, the weather played a big role in this event.
"I totally missed the effect of the weather," the Madison, Miss., resident admits. "I thought the cold front conditions would hold the weight down over the course of the event. I was right for the first two days, but when the sun popped out on Saturday all bets were off.
"The frustrating thing for me is that I knew what would happen on Thursday and Friday but wasn't able to take advantage of that knowledge. I ended up finishing in 57th place and not getting a check. As a professional angler, that hurts. That's not what being a pro is all about.
"Saturday and Sunday was another ball game, though. Jason (Williamson) was able to put together a 33-pound, 13-ounce bag on Saturday and a 34-pound, 12-ounce bag on Sunday. That sent the total weight through the roof. I don't think anybody could have predicted that."
Taking everything into consideration, Ponds ended up in the middle of the pack — literally and figuratively — on this one. He earned a grade of C.