Fishing Tips


Posted 2/8/2012

Of the 49 anglers preparing for the 2012 Bassmaster Classic® world championship Feb. 24-26 on the Red River in Shreveport, La., few feel as confident as New Jersey Pro Michael Iaconelli. Afterall, the Yamaha angler launched his pro career on the Red River in winning the BASS® Federation championship in 1999, and finished second here by less than a pound in the 2009 Classic.®

“I had the winning fish on several times during the ’09 Classic,® too,” remembers Iaconelli, who did win the 2003 Classic® on the Louisiana Delta. “Hopefully, this year I can put it all together. I spent three days running the Red River in November, and I like what I saw.

“Rivers are in a constant state of change, so it’s difficult to predict what the conditions will actually be like on the Red in late February.  I spent my time learning how to navigate into different places and finding the new sandbars and fallen trees, but I didn’t actually fish very much. I did catch some bass in the same area I fished during the 2009 Classic,® but I also found some new areas I’m excited about fishing when the official practice begins.”

Iaconelli hopes the conditions he finds during this year’s event will match those of 2009, in which the river itself was muddy but the backwaters remained reasonably clear. What he doesn’t want is heavy rain just prior to or during the Classic® that will muddy both the river and the backwater areas, as well. A third scenario, clear water in both the river and the backwaters, is possible but not likely this time of year.

“The backwater areas, which are like small lakes, are the most productive fishing spots on the Red River,” explains the Yamaha Pro. “They’re fairly shallow and filled with brush and flooded timber, and some also have vegetation. The majority of tournaments on the Red River are won in these various backwater areas, and I expect this Classic® will also be won that way. If they’re cold and muddy, however, the fishing will be extremely difficult.”

The pros will launch in Pool 5 just south of Shreveport. They can remain in that pool, or lock downriver into Pool 4 and even continue further into Pool 3. Iaconelli fished Pool 4 during the 2009 Classic,® but isn’t sure if he’ll do the same this year. He lost by just 11 ounces to winner Skeet Reese, who fished in Pool 5.

“When you stay in Pool 5, you have a full eight hours to fish,” he notes, “but by locking down into Pool 4 you lose two hours of fishing time, and two more hours if you go into Pool 3. I have basically eliminated Pool 3 myself, but obviously, I like Pool 4. In retrospect, I wouldn’t change anything about how I fished in 2009. I had the winning group of fish down there.”

That will be the biggest challenge the competitors face in this Classic.® It takes a huge commitment to lock downriver, but is losing valuable fishing time worth the gamble?

Iaconelli does not think this Classic® will be won by an angler who makes a ‘milk run’ fishing several different spots each day, even if they’re all in the same pool. Rather, he believes the winner will have to find a general area he has confidence in and stay there all three days, learning it thoroughly and adapting to changing conditions as the tournament progresses. 

It’s a strategy the New Jersey angler excels in, and which he used during the ’09 championship. Weather conditions changed from warm and sunny to cold and dreary that year, forcing him to not only repeatedly re-locate the bass in his particular area but also change lures and presentations each day. 

“All three pools have the potential to produce the winning catch,” concludes the Yamaha Pro, “and I’ll spend the three official practice days identifying the area I’ll fish during the rest of the competition. My 2009 spot still looks good, but I believe I can find one even better.”