Winning Attitudes

HOW TOP PROS SET THEIR MINDS TO TOURNAMENT SUCCESS

Tournament fans and participants alike know there’s far more to out-fishing the competition than simply showing up on game day and hoping for the best. Rocketing up the leaderboard requires a winning attitude, built step by step during the weeks and months leading up to an event.

“For me, the process begins with intensive research that gets me into the zone and ready to execute once I get to the lake,” says iconic bassman and top touring pro Mike “Ike” Iaconelli.

Mike IaconelliIt starts with exhaustive investigations, conducted mostly online, for intel on the fishery where he’ll do battle. As these searches turn up data on the system’s bass, forage base, top fishing patterns, key areas and seasonal trends, Iaconelli compulsively compiles the findings in a notebook—often breaking it down into categories headed by buzzwords and grouped according to commonalities.

Next, he tackles mapping. While paper charts once provided the bulk of his cartography, today he leans on digital assets including aerial photos and internet map tools and services. “I want to physically see where I’m going and get the lay of the land before I hit the ramp,” he explains.

Step three entails blending research with mapping to highlight seasonal patterns that will likely be in play during the tournament. “This helps me break huge fisheries into manageable sections,” he says. When prepping for an event on the Sabine River out of Orange, Texas, in late March, for example, Iaconelli keyed on dead-end canals, backwater ponds and other sheltered areas that would attract prespawn bass.

“After I do all that, I prepare my tackle,” he continues. Heading to the Sabine derby, for example, Ike armed himself with deadly weapons including a variety of Berkley Havoc softbaits. “I pack a selection of baits to cover different scenarios,” he says, noting that the straight-and-subtle Havoc Bottom HopperFlat Dawg and Back Slide shine in cool water temperatures, while more active baits including the ribbon-tailed Juice Worm, high-action Devil Spear and lizard-like Boss Dog excel in warmer conditions.

Thanks to such extensive preparation, Iaconelli descends on the tournament waters with a game plan to click here to read more.

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