In the second round of action, Iaconelli brought another five fish limit to the scales – one of only two on the day. His catch weighed nine pounds, three ounces, giving him a two-day total of 10 bass and 18-15.
“I slept on it last night and decided to concentrate more on largemouth bass in the second round,” Iaconelli said. “The largemouths may be more unpredictable and are sometimes tougher to catch, but they’re also a little heavier.”
Ike did a bit of everything to catch his bass in the second round, including hand lining a keeper to the boat.
“In 18 years of fishing I’ve never seen this happen,” Iaconelli said. “I set the hook, the line broke at the bail of my spinning reel, and I was mad! I looked down and the fish was still sitting in the same spot, trying to shake the bait off. That’s when I noticed that my line was laying next to the boat. I dove for it, grabbed it and pulled the line, fish and lure all into the boat.
“I think they heard me all the way in New Jersey after that. The fish was a two pounder and really helped me today.”
Michigan pro Kevin VanDam, who was in second place following the first round, zeroed today but only fell to sixth, earning his way into the third round.
While VanDam’s fortunes turned sour, those of 2002 Classic champ Jay Yelas improved dramatically. After weighing in just one bass on the first day, Yelas turned things around in the second round with a five-bass limit weighing 10-14.
Though his catch was the heaviest on the day, Yelas does not participate in the Busch Heavyweight program, so Busch Heavyweight honors and the $1,000 bonus fell to 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle whose four bass weighing 9-15 moved him into fourth place.
Yelas fished a green pumpkin Berkley Power Tube just below the dam in heavy current, casting the bait up into the eddies and shoreline pockets. The technique was strong enough to put him in second place at the end of the day.
Keeping with the trend of former Classic champs, 2004 winner Takahiro Omori moved up from fifth place into third with four bass that weighed 7-7. His two-day total is just 13-9, but it’s more than enough to make the cut to 12.
Florida’s Shaw Grigsby and Texas’ Gary Klein shared Purolator Big Bass honors and $1,000 on Day Two with identical 3-1 largemouths. Grigsby’s fish was one of only two that he weighed in, but it was enough to help him make the cut. Klein was not so fortunate. Though he shared big bass honors, his lackluster performance will push him out of the top 10 in Elite 50 points and out of the Classic picture.
Along with Iaconelli, Yelas and Omori, the anglers making the cut to 12 are Swindle (12-6), four-time Classic champ and ESPN Greatest Angler Debate finalist Rick Clunn (9-5), VanDam (9-4), Alabama pro Randy Howell (9-3), three-time Angler of the Year Mark Davis (8-15), 1999 Classic champ Davy Hite (8-7), Grigsby (8-7), Arkansas’ Mike Wurm (8-2) and Texas’ Zell Rowland (8-0).
Weights for these 12 anglers will be zeroed tomorrow, and they’ll start from scratch on a six-hole fishing course, rotating through the holes throughout the day. With weights so low and the stakes so high, it’s absolutely anybody’s tournament. Only the top six anglers at the end of the third round will qualify for the final round of fishing.
First place honors are worth $100,000, and the top 10 anglers in series points will earn berths in the 2005 and 2006 Bassmaster Classics. Michael Iaconelli has already qualified for both Classics. He’s determined to notch this event in his belt for the sake of the prize money and the prestige of winning the event and the Elite 50 points championship.
Part one of the Bassmaster Elite 50 Series event on Lake Wissota will be telecast on The CITGO Bassmasters on Saturday, July 2 at 10:00 a.m. ET on ESPN2. Part two will air on Saturday July 9 at 10:00 a.m. ET on ESPN2.
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite 50 series, is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.
Sponsors of the Bassmaster Elite 50 Series include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops and Cialis (tadalafil).
Local Sponsors include the Chippewa Valley Sports Commission.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com.