Lunker Lessons: Lake Amistad

Mike Iaconelli, Runnemede, N.J., boated the biggest bass of his professional career — and one of the biggest in BASS tournament history — at 11 a.m. on the first day of the 2009 OPTIMA Batteries Battle on the Border held on Lake Amistad.

 "It was unbelievable," Ike said after the weigh-in. "I was so excited when I hooked up with that fish. It was a long fight, about six or seven minutes, and I could feel my heart beating through my chest. I was so exhausted when I finally got it in the boat, I actually threw up. It was absolutely crazy. We fish our whole lives just to catch a fish like that. I will treasure this memory."

 But don't let his excitement confuse you. Ike's catch was no accident. He targeted big fish spots in practice with just that sort of monster in mind.

 "I tried to mark staging areas near spawning spots during my practice. I found three and every one of them produced for me throughout the tournament. The one where I caught my giant was typical. It was at the mouth of a spawning creek off a point that dropped from about 20 feet of water into over 100.

 "The exact spot I fished was a flat shelf on that point at 40 feet. I stayed way back — the water this week was gin clear and the fish were real spooky — and made long casts onto the shelf with a Berkley 3/4-ounce Ike's Finesse Jig, in green pumpkin and orange. I used a Tru-Tungsten Double Tail Grub for a trailer to give it more bulk.

 "The idea when you're looking for big fish is to find the spot on the spot. In this case it was the shelf at 40 feet along the point as it dropped off into really deep water. I'm sure there were fish scattered all over that point. But the biggest ones were on the shelf. Whenever you're looking for big fish, try to find the spot on the spot. That's where they'll be."

 Tackle: A 7-foot, 2-inch Team Daiwa Mike Iaconelli Signature Series Casting Rod (heavy action), a Team Daiwa Steez casting reel (6.3:1 gear ratio) and 20-pound-test Berkley 100 % Fluorocarbon line.