Mike Iaconelli and Cliff Pace made Bassmaster Classic history on day one of this year’s championship on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees as they tied for the lead (a Classic first) at 21 pounds, 8 ounces. Pace (left) caught two of his keepers on a jig, one on a crankbait and two on a jerkbait. Icaconelli said only that he’s mixing some finesse tactics with power fishing. Both agree that remaining atop the 53-boat field will require an equal or greater effort on day two.
“This is one of those lakes that pattern-fish really well; it’s not a spot lake,” said Iaconelli, the 2003 Classic champ and New Jersey native. “Because of that, I think you’re going to be able to run around and fish your pattern.”
Pace, who hails from Petal, Miss. agrees: “As long as you continued to stay dialed in, you’ll never run out of fish. This lake’s absolutely loaded with the right kind of fish. The trick is going to be continuing to figure out how they’re going to bite for three days.”
After the second day of competition, the field is cut to 25 for Sunday’s finale. Rounding out the day-one top-6 are: Hank Cherry, of Maiden, N.C. (20-15); 4-time Classic champion Kevin VanDam, of Kalamazoo, Mich. (19-12); Tracy Adams, of Wilkesboro, N.C. (19-10); and Jason Christie, of Park Hill, Ok. (18-12)
Other day-one notables:
– Cherry struggled with pain and stiffness after slipping and falling on his back the night before.
– Mark Pierce, of Clarksville, TN caught the day’s heaviest bass – 7 pounds, 4 ounces.
– VanDam’s sons Jackson and Nicholas turned 16 on the Classic’s opening day.
– Anglers arrived at the stage to personalized entrance music. Indiana pro Bill Lowen switched from his usual “This Old Duck Blind” tune to “Whistle Baby” at the request of his 4-year-old daughter Nevaeh, who cannot whistle.
The Bassmaster Classic continues with 7 a.m. (CT) launches Saturday and Sunday at Wolf Creek, in Grove, Ok. and weigh-ins both days at the BOK Center in Tulsa. Doors open at 3 p.m.