Fishing Tips FISHIN' WITHOUT PRE-CONCEIVED IDEAS MAY IMPROVE YOUR SUCCESS Posted 9/23/2009 Sometimes it pays not to practice for a bass tournament, even if you've never been on the lake before. That's how Yamaha Pro Michael Iaconelli fished the two separate two-day tournaments that determined the 2009 Bassmaster® Angler of the Year; he won the first event on Alabama's Lake Jordan and finished fourth in the second contest on the Alabama River to claim fourth overall in the Angler of the Year standings. "I'd never been on Lake Jordan before, and only once on the Alabama River," explains Iaconelli. "Both are difficult fisheries, and I did not want to go into the events with any pre-conceived ideas of what the bass might be doing, because I felt that might have limited me. Water and weather conditions were also changing daily so the fish were changing, too. I wanted to keep my mind open to every pattern possibility. "When bass fishermen are really familiar with a lake or river system, they often expect bass to bite a certain way, but if the fish don't bite that way, they're lost. For me, seeing Lake Jordan for the first time, I felt and fished more relaxed and never tried to force the bass into biting. I fished everything I could and always kept a variety of rods and lures ready." One benefit of the Yamaha Pro's no-practice approach is illustrated by the fact that in winning on Lake Jordan Iaconelli capitalized on one of the most obvious patterns available there, fishing boat docks, which the other competitors overlooked. He boated 14 lbs., 12 oz. the first day and 14-3 the next and won by more than a full pound over his nearest competitor. "I think bass anglers everywhere, from tournament pros to casual weekend hobbyists, can benefit by going fishing every so often the way I did," continues Iaconelli, who's approaching $2 million in career tournament winnings. "It forces you to think more openly on the water and makes you more aware of each piece of cover, every depth change, and each cast you make. "You fish more carefully and more thoroughly, and that's how you learn to become a better angler." One way to start a day on a new body of water is to begin fishing either a large tributary or a major cove, and simply eliminating different options, such as grassbeds, shoreline brush, boatdocks, or rocks. Iaconelli, well-known for his finesse-fishing skills, often begins with smaller lures and lighter lines simply because they do generate more strikes and tell him where bass are generally located. "Fishing 'blind' is never as difficult as anglers often think it is," smiles the Yamaha pro, "and often, it's actually more fun because it's a process of discovery. And if you do fish carefully, you're going to catch some bass."