‘Ike’ in charge - Major League Fishing

‘Ike’ in charge

New Jersey native Michael Iaconelli nets overall lead during third day of FLW Tour action on Potomac River
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New Jersey native Michael Iaconelli used a total catch of 51 pounds, 9 ounces to take the overall lead during third day of FLW Tour action on the Potomac River. Photo by Gary Mortenson.
June 4, 2011 • Gary Mortenson • Archives

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Like the inevitability of the tides, it only seemed a matter of time before pro Michael Iaconelli of Pittsgrove, N.J., found himself atop the leaderboard during the FLW Tour Potomac River battle. And today was that day. Bolstered by Saturday’s catch of 18 pounds, Iaconelli moved up one spot in the standings for the third consecutive day, capturing the top qualifying position heading into Sunday’s all-important FLW Tour final.

Standing with a three-day total of 51 pounds, 9 ounces, Iaconelli is now in the driver’s seat to capture the tournament title at the venue he calls his “second home.”

“It feels good,” said Iaconelli of his new position atop the leaderboard. “In any event, all you can ask for is to be in the hunt. I have a little fire in my chest right now. I want to win this bad. But I know I’ve got to go out there tomorrow, put my head down and fish hard because it’s feast or famine.”

Iaconelli said that each day he’s becoming more and more locked into the nuanced ebb and flow of the tides. As a result, the New Jersey native said he’s been able to become a better decision maker with each passing hour.

“Every day I’m getting a little more in tune with the rhythm of the tides,” said Iaconelli. “My decision making has been pretty good this entire event. Today I felt like my decision making was about 90 percent perfect. So if I go out there tomorrow and fish perfectly, I should be able to catch 20 pounds. And if I do that, I really think I’ll win this tournament.”

Iaconelli said that one of his advantages is the number of secondary and backup locations he has at this disposal in case his primary locations fail him in the finals.

“One of the strengths for me is that I’m not camping on one spot like some of the other guys in the finals,” said Iaconelli. “I have four key grass areas and I also have a few spots I call hard places. These are areas I can go to fish hard stuff like docks and wood. So I have a lot of options to lean on. And that’s important, especially when you’re fishing a tidal fishery.”

Although “Ike” didn’t want to divulge too many details, he did say that he’s going to head into tomorrow’s finals carrying approximately 10 different rods and bait packages.

“I’ll probably only use four or five of those rods, but I basically have two tools for the hard areas and another two or three for the grass areas,” he said. I’m also using a two-pronged approach, a combination of power-fishing and finesse-fishing techniques. And that’s very helpful.”

Clausen grabs runner-up position

Pro Luke Clausen used a three-day total of 50 pounds, 10 ounces to grab the runner-up position heading into Sunday“Lucky” Luke Clausen parlayed the day’s second-biggest stringer (18 pounds, 7 ounces) in the second overall qualifying position heading into the finals. And he said he couldn’t be more pleased.

“This is just a phenomenal fishery and I’m learning more and more each day,” said Clausen. “I’m really looking forward to going out there tomorrow.”

Clausen, the only angler in the field to have won both the Forrest Wood Cup and Bassmaster Classic, said that although he’s fished well, he still doesn’t quite have a handle on exactly what’s transpiring with his piscatorial friends this week on the Potomac.

“There are some big fish where I’m at but I haven’t been able to exactly figure out what they’re doing,” said Clausen, who boasts a three-day total of 50 pounds, 10 ounces. “I’m catching them on a bunch of different baits, in different areas and on different tides. When I catch them I tend to catch them really quickly, like five, six, seven fish in a row and then it really slows down and I have to go hunting around for something else.”

Clausen said he’s been flipping grass using a combination of Z-Man casting plastics, worms and creature baits.

“I honestly haven’t really figured anything out just yet,” he said. “I’m fishing a bigger area and following the fish in and out with the tides. But my big bites have been so random. It’s been a real grind for me. Tomorrow I could get five big bites or I could get zero. I could catch 16 pounds or 22 pounds. It’s really hard to say right now. But overall, I feel pretty good.”

Lane slides to third

Day-two pro leader Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., recorded a total catch of 50 pounds, 1 ounce to finish the third day of FLW Tour competition on the Potomac River in third place.While Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., didn’t exactly have a bad day – in fact, he landed a healthy day-three catch of 14 pounds, 6 ounces – it wasn’t enough to keep up with the 18-pouind sacks produced by “Ike” and Clausen. As a result, Lane found himself slipping down the ladder into third place overall with a total catch of 50 pounds, 1 ounce. The good news though is that Lane is still only 1 pound, 8 ounces off the lead.

“I’m absolutely still in contention,” said Lane. “But I struggled out there today. It was some tough fishing. I didn’t have as much pressure in my areas, but the tides were weird today. It might have had something to do with the wind. On the first two days, the wind seemed to push the tides in and out faster and that might have made the difference. It was tough out there but I’ve got another day to go fishing.”

Lane said that he’s targeting largemouth bass holding to grass using a variety of flipping techniques and an assortment of custom-designed Berkley Havoc baits.

Like most of the leaders, Lane has his sights set on one thing and one thing only – a tournament title.

“This place is very special to me,” he said. “I’d really like to seal the deal tomorrow.”

Best of the rest

” border=”1″ align=”right” />Bryan Schmitt of Deale, Md., qualified for the finals in fourth place with a total catch of 47 pounds, 9 ounces.

Fifth place belonged to David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., with a three-day catch of 46 pounds, 5 ounces.

Rounding out the top-10 finalists:

6th: Michael Williamson of Fort Smith, Ark., 46-4

7th: Lance Vick of Mineola, Texas, 45-14

8th: Stetson Blaylock of Benton, Ark., 44-10

9th: Chad Morgenthaler of Coulterville, Ill., 44-4

10th: Cory Johnston of Peterborough, Ontario, 44-2

For the rest of today’s standings, click here.

FLW Tour Open competition on the Potomac River continues during Sunday’s takeoff, scheduled to take place at 6:30 a.m. at National Harbor Marine, located at 137 National Plaza in National Harbor, Md.