Fishing fans will have two chances to catch the exciting finale from Fort Worth. For the first time ever, ESPN2 will provide same-day coverage of a regular-season BASS event. Coverage of the Bassmaster Memorial weigh-in at Will Rogers Coliseum will be aired on Sunday, May 21 at 7 p.m. ET. Expanded tournament coverage will be featured on The CITGO Bassmasters Saturday, May 27 on ESPN2 at 10 a.m.
Iaconelli, 33, continued to build on an impressive year during Day 2 of the Bassmaster Memorial, even by his own high standards. The 2003 CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion won the $100,000 top prize at the Southern Challenge presented by Berkley in April and has not finished a CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series event lower than 20th place since then.
“I was fishing with a confidence technique in spinning tackle,” the Runnemede, N.J., pro said. “I am fishing great this year and I am supremely confident heading into Benbrook.”
While anglers fished Thursday and Friday on Eagle Mountain Lake, the field has been cut to the top 12 pros and they will move to Benbrook Lake on Saturday and Sunday to fish a six-hole course. Weights will be zeroed and because Iaconelli is leading the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year race, he gets to choose where on the course he will begin tomorrow.
The fan-friendly pro is going into Benbrook Lake without knowing which pattern he will fish. Although some anglers in the top 12 viewed the lake previously – which is allowed under BASS rules- none of them were allowed to practice, and Iaconelli has no knowledge of the fishery, he said. “Sometimes when you have no preconceived notions, you perform better,” Iaconelli explained.
While Iaconelli has found consistence this season, second-place Wolak is in a sophomore slump. But a strong finish at the first-ever Bassmaster Major would turn the tide for the 29-year-old pro, he said.
“I am looking forward to Benbrook,” the Warrior Run, Pa., pro said. Qualifying for the Majors on the strength of his 2005 Toyota Rookie of the Year win, Wolak on Friday stuck with what vaulted him to the Day 1 lead. He targeted suspending fish in deep water around boat docks with spinning tackle.
Rounding out the top 12 fishing Saturday were Californian Skeet Reese (26-3), Texan Matt Reed (25-8), Arkansan Mike McClelland (24-10), Virginian John Crews (22-0), Floridian Peter Thliveros (21-15), Texan Todd Faircloth (21-3), Louisiana’s Greg Hackney (21-1), Oklahoman Edwin Evers (20-14), Kentucky’s Mark Menendez (20-14) and Alabama’s Randy Howell (19-12).
One unexpected fan in the crowd at Friday’s weigh-in was Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief, who took the stage to greet the competitors and kick off the festivities. “$250,000 is a lot of money and I want you to clap as hard as you can when these anglers cross the stage,” Moncrief urged the crowd.
Twice as Nice
BASS gave away a brand new Triton boat to the observer of the angler who had the biggest bass on Day 2 of the Memorial. When angler Peter Thliveros pulled his big bass out of the bag, Kent Caulfield, who observed Kevin VanDam, thought his chance of winning the fully-equipped, $50,000 boat was gone.
“When I saw that thing, I knew it wasn’t going to happen,” the Cherryville, Kansas, native said. “That fish was huge.” But as Caulfield waited in the wings, looking at Thliveros’ 7-pound fish, he found out that the Florida pro’s observer was ineligible because he was an event employee.
“I had no idea,” Caulfield said. This isn’t the first time Caulfield has won a boat. “Three years ago, I won the first Triton boat that Purolator gave away in a draw out of 200,000 people,” he said. “The IRS loves me.”
He also will be an observer at the Bassmasters Legends at Little Rock in August. VanDam finished in 26th place with 15-18.
Local Sponsors: Local sponsors include the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau
Memorial Major Sponsors: CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Advance Auto Parts and Theraseed®.
BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.
BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com.