BASS Statement: Disqualification of Michael Iaconelli’s Catch

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – BASS tournament director Trip Weldon announced Saturday at the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer that Michael Iaconelli’s catch for the day was disqualified after the defending champion fished in an off-limits area. Weldon said the area is off limits because it is a live-release area for many local tournaments, though not for the Classic.

Weldon said the New Jersey pro caught one bass from Lake Wylie on Saturday and would not add its weight to the 15 pounds, 15 ounces he caught on Friday.

"At the tournament briefing on Tuesday night, we handed the briefing sheet to the anglers and it says the bass live release area will be announced at the tournament briefing. I announced that it was from the far side of the boat ramp over to the riprap where it meets the lake under the bridge. Behind the no-wake buoy.

"Mike called me today around 12:30 or so and asked me exactly where the off-limits was. I said, ‘Mike, if you're looking at T Bones (Restaurant) and go over to the riprap out where it meets the lake, from there past the boat ramp behind the no-wake buoys is off-limits.’

"I found out later that he went inside there and fished the docks, including the dock that goes parallel to the walkway to T Bones Restaurant, clearly behind the no-wake buoys, and I disqualified his catch for the day.

"He did it after the phone call. Evidently he misunderstood me, but I think I was clear both in the briefing and also our phone conversation. Mike's a great champion … I hate it, but that's the way it goes."

Despite the loss of his catch, Iaconelli finished the day in 22nd place and made the cut for Sunday’s final round.

“Bottom line is I made a mistake,” said Iaconelli, who is in 22nd place. “I wouldn't intentionally fish an off-limits area in the Bassmaster Classic or any other tournament.”

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