Iaconelli's 'Lightning Strike' Carries Him to Championship Sunday - Major League Fishing

Iaconelli’s ‘Lightning Strike’ Carries Him to Championship Sunday

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MLF pro Mike Iaconelli caught a 6-pound, 3-ounce largemouth during his final 30 minutes of the Knockout Round.
April 13, 2019 • Mason Prince • Bass Pro Tour

DAYTON, Tenn. – If you live within a 10-mile radius of Lake Chickamauga, you probably heard Mike Iaconelli at some point between 3 and 3:30 p.m. ET.

“I’m hoarse from screaming so loud,” Iaconelli joked after the Knockout Round of the Econo Lodge Stage Four Presented by Winn Grips. “I had a lot of downs today, and for all of that stuff to happen in the last 30 minutes like it did, I honestly did freak out a little.”

That “stuff” Iaconelli is referring to is his flurry to end the Knockout Round, the flurry of fish catching that he has never experienced.

“I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and I don’t remember ever having a 30-minute run like I had today,” Iaconelli explained. “It was really special.”

A Wild Final 30

With 30 minutes remaining in the round, the New Jersey pro was sitting below the Elimination Line and nearly 10 pounds away from 10th place.

“I had a game plan that I stuck with all day, and not including that last 30 minutes I had a really rough day,” Iaconelli detailed. “I lost a lot of fish, and that’s to be expected with the way I was fishing. I was also in a bad rotation several times today. Either I was behind one of the other competitors or I was behind a local. That’s not my fault or theirs, it’s just my rotation was off.”

Iaconelli’s timing was off for a majority of the day, but during his final 30 minutes, he decided to cover some water he had already fished. After an afternoon of following other anglers and multiple missed bites, his decision-making paid off in a big way.

“My timing was right,” Iaconelli said simply. “I had hit that spot earlier in the day and only caught a 1-pounder from it. I decided to make one last pass on it because it was near another area that I wanted to fish to end the day. All of the sudden it was just gangbusters.”

The Run Begins

Iaconelli pulled up to his spot along the banks of Lake Chickamauga and immediately pulled out a 2-pound bass followed by a 1-5.

“When we pulled up to the spot I looked at my official and I said to him, ‘Hey man, you never know what can happen,’” Iaconelli recapped. “I joked about catching an 8-pounder to get back in it, and then I catch that 6-3. Then, what felt like 30 seconds later, I pull out that 4-1.”

That 13 pounds, 9 ounces of bass in 15 minutes rocketed Iaconelli up SCORETRACKER™ and into the Top 10. But he still wasn’t done. He was able to collect five more bass for 9-10 over the final 15 minutes to move his total weight to an impressive 59-8 and a third-place finish. He will not forget those final 30 minutes for a long time, especially because he knows just how rare the moment was.

“When something like that happens, it’s like being struck by lightning,” Iaconelli compared. “I know I’m doing the right things and I’m working hard, but it’s not all me. That’s a lightning strike.”

Ike’s First Championship Round

Iaconelli heads into Sunday to compete in his first Championship Round of the Bass Pro Tour Season. He was close to making a Championship Round during Stage One in Florida, but was knocked into 11th place in the final minute to send him home. While he had different results today, he still takes a very important lesson from the disappointment in Florida.

“I’m getting better at managing my emotions, both good and bad,” Iaconelli said. “What happened in Florida sucked, and I didn’t manage my emotions right. Today I’m excited, but I’m trying not to get too excited. It feels good to know in the first four Stages I’ve felt like I’ve had an opportunity to do well in every one. You’ve got to make it to Sunday to have a chance to win, and luckily I’m going to have a shot to win.”

Iaconelli and the nine other anglers in the Championship Round will go “lines in” on Lake Chickamauga at 7:30 a.m. ET Sunday. The coverage starts with SCORETRACKER™ on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MLF NOW! Live Stream beginning at 10 a.m. ET.